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The Eight by Katherine Neville

In 1972, Catherine Velis, a computer expert, is given an special assignment in Algeria, and when an antique dealer hears about it he approaches her with a request. Even before her departure, strange things starts to happen and she realizes that she is part of something she doesn't understand. Everything seems to be connected to an ancient quest.

People from different parts of the world search for an ancient, moorish chess service given to Charlemagne and hidden in Montglane Abbey. The Montglane service is more a than a chessboard with pieces of gold and jewellery. It contains an immense power that can explain the history of the world, and make the owner of it the most powerful man on earth. 

In a parallell story, the French Revolution is approaching. Dangers are coming to Monglane in France and the novice nuns Mireille and Valentine from the Montglane Abbey have to disperse some of the chess pieces and hide them. They can't trust anyone and have to choose wisely when forming the necessary alliances. The dangerous game involves people like Robespierre, Talleyrand, Newton, Napoleon, Voltaire and Catherine the Great.

In 1972, Catherine enters the game. Together with a mysterious friend, a daughter of a friend and a Russian chess master Catherine encounters many dangers in the search of the chess service. She realizes that of the people searching for it, many are professional chess players. They are all pieces in the game and a pawn is easy to get swept off the board.

The Eight is an adventure that is thrilling as well as intelligent. Neville plays with numbers and information in an extraordinary way, mixing true events with fiction. Even though some of the things seems a little far-fetched and too colorful – everyone seems to be a player in the game and the number eight figures everywhere - it's easy to overlook them. The mixture of chess, ancient secrets, fascinating places and interesting characters makes The eight an entertaining read.

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