Sunday, November 9, 2008
Review of Katherine Neville's "The Fire"
Another review of "The Fire." I'm a little more than half-way through the book now, savoring a section of a chapter at a time, usually wrapped in an afghan with a glass of wine near by, late at night, when the house is creaking and groaning with noises you never hear during the day. Great read - and, yes, even more complex as far as "puzzle" and working one's way through the symbolism to get to the truth of the matter. Neville is a few years older than I am and may want to retire - can she write a sequel to the sequel? I'm not ready to say goodbye to this "never-ending" game on the global chessboard and the unique insights she brings to her readers! Please, KN, bring us more! 'Fire' more complicated than 'Eight' By OLINE H. COGDILLSouth Florida Sun-Sentinel Published: November 09. 2008 12:01AM Before "The Da Vinci Code," there was Katherine Neville's "The Eight." More than 20 years ago, this ambitious debut by a computer consultant mixed a magical chess set dating back to Charlemagne with mythology, music and math. Set during 1972 and 1790, "The Eight" flitted from New York and Algeria back to the French Revolution. It featured more than 60 characters, many of them historical figures such as Robespierre and Napoleon. With such far-flung settings and a plot that at first blush would seem to be a mess, "The Eight" should not have worked. Yet it became a cult classic, one of the finest, most original examples of historical thrillers, opening the door for novels steeped in mythology, before it all got tangled up with Dan Brown. While Neville has written two other novels, "The Fire" (Ballantine Books, $26) is the long-awaited sequel to "The Eight." Just as ambitious and far-reaching as its predecessor, Neville re-creates her fresh approach to storytelling. In "The Fire," the search for the chess set is now up to Alexandra Solarin, the daughter of "The Eight's" heroine Catherine Velis, and her mother's best friend, Lily Rad. The story smoothly moves from contemporary Colorado, Washington, D.C., Russia and Algeria, then back to the 1800s Rome, the Loire Valley and Morocco. Lord Byron, Keats and Napoleon make cameo appearances. A chess set has never been more exciting than this one created by Neville. Characters and the scenery are vividly portrayed. However, "The Fire" is even more complicated than "The Eight" and it is easy to get lost in the story's various mythologies and myriad of characters. The plot lags in the middle before Neville gets her elaborate chess game back on track. A 20-year wait for a sequel is too long, though "The Fire" nicely wraps up some secrets and twists that were never solved in "The Eight." Readers will want to first learn what "The Eight's" fuss was all about before tackling "The Fire."