The Eight - Katherine Neville

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Sometimes when you read a book, you just feel "better read." You learn something.

I picked up "The Eight," by Katherine Neville, for a business trip, expecting a fast, escapist fare of some sort of race to solve a recently discovered ancient riddle, a la Dan Brown or James Rollins.

This turned out to be true of the book, but fast would only be a fitting term if one recalibrated one's appreciation for speed, such as fast as molasses.

What slows one down in such a desirable fictional escapade? Bonaparte, Pythagoras, Benedict Arnold, Charlemagne, the French Revolution, Catherine the Great, Benjamin Franklin, and... notable figures in history ad nauseum. There's actually a bit too much name dropping in a genre that demands at least a measure of same.

The plot can readily be digested at Amazon. It is, in part, supported by the assemblage of the host of historical characters, but it stands well enough on its own. Overall, there's a sense that the author is reaching the level of "literature" rather than "fiction," and "The Eight" falls squarely in the category of the latter. The characterizations are disappointingly thin, and the dialogue, at times, is amateurish or forced. But, the story manages to draw one along, albeit at a pace short of eagerly. Was it worthwhile? Yes. Definitely. But not for the story but some of the subject matter within.

One aspect of the book is geography, specifically Tassilli n'Ajjer, a mountain range in Algeria, where something critical to the plot is hidden. But in wandering the verbiage through the area, one is forced to say, given the advantages of the Internet, "I want pictures!"

sahara

tassili

sahara1

The top two pictures are linked to some interesting details about the area.

Though the Philosopher's Stone was central to one of the Harry Potter books, it was the focus in this book that led me to research it.

More interesting from an observable standpoint are Fibonacci numbers. The Fibonacci sequence has been around since Mr. F first observed the pattern in 1202 A.D., surfacing more recently in the TV Series "Fringe." Google search this term and you can get lost for a long, long fascinating time as one explores nature, music, natural organization, the Mayan calendar, art, the Milky Way and on it goes.

Another interesting point within the book was The Knight's Tour. Although each of these topics obviously touch the plot, using chess as a central device in a book is an interesting idea, yet poses quite a formidable challenge to keep reader interest.

But, all things said and done: You read books; you learn stuff!

As an aside, below are the original and re-release covers of the book in paperback.

eight theeightnew

Marketing has come a long way graphically, and it's interesting that both reference the more popular works of the day (Umberto Ecto vs. Dan Brown).

1 comment :

  1. Did you ever think that early man's cave drawings likened to the graffiti of today? It would be very interesting to go thousands of years into the future and see what correlations to our society are made based on the drawings on wall left behind.

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