- Title: The Eight
- Author: Katherine Neville
- Genre(s): Historical, Thriller
- Publisher: Open Road, July 2015 (first published 1988)
- Source: Audible
- Length: 25 hrs, 50 min (549 pages)
- Trope(s): Kickass Women, Alternate Timelines, Actual Historical Name-Dropping (x1000), Every Possible Thriller Kink You Could Possibly Imagine, Nuns on the Run, Very Convenient Coincidences, Mysterious Men of Mystery, Deep Dark Secrets
- Quick blurb: A 1970s computer programmer gets mixed up in a chess game of epic scope.
- Quick review: Holy cow.
- Grade: B
It was she, and only she, who bored the burden of placing this powerful force into the right hands, hands that would protect it from the greedy or ambitious.
It’s been close to four years since Darlynne (@) recommended this one during my Medieval Mania binge. It showed up on NetGalley last year as a re-release so I grabbed it – and of course it taunted me from my NG Wall of Shame. Then it showed up on Audible and it was the universe telling me to just read the damn book already.
And holy cow.
This book was chock full of…everything.
This book was…Dan Brown on steroids. And crack. And estrogen.
Things you should know about the Lady Computer Programmer (not in chronological order):
- She was a music major which makes her an expert on everything because music is math. And religion. And physics. And chess.
- She crashes an OPEC planning meeting to discuss the 1974 oil embargo, at which Muammar Gaddafi shows up and knocks wine glasses off the tables with a walking stick. (I did not make that up.)
- She and her fat sidekick almost die in the desert when they make a wrong turn while crashing through a highway checkpoint. BUT WAIT! They’re rescued by a transport plane full of Japanese students that just happens to have cargo space for their sun-scorched Rolls Royce Corniche convertible. (I did not make that up either.)
- Shipwreck sex with a Russian chess master while he’s bleeding and concussed.
- Beach sex on a deserted island with the Russian chess master.
Things you should know about the Red-Headed Nun on the Run (not in chronological order):
- Gets pregnant by Talleyrand. Doesn’t get upset when he calls her by her recently-dead cousin’s name while in the throes of passion.
- Doesn’t realize she’s pregnant until Napoleon’s mother tells her.
- Gives birth in the Algerian desert at the foot of a magical rock statue.
- Disguises herself as a fellow nun to stab Jean-Paul Marat in his bathtub. Her guardian Jacques-Louis David paints the dead guy’s portrait.
- Drinks [NO SPOILERS] and becomes the ancestor of [NO SPOILERS].
Thrilling Thriller Kinks (not in chronological order):
- Dead chess master at chess tournament
- Fibonacci numbers
- Man of mystery reachable only by secret hotline phone in his kitchen cupboard
- Secret codes in cave paintings
- Secret codes in bible verses
- Secret codes in baroque minuets
- Barricade crashings (note plural)
- Gunfights (note plural)
- Car chases (note plural)
- Dead body in Mediation Room of the United Nations
- 200-year-old journal that eerily mirrors present day
- Know-it-all phone operator
- Secret police interrogations
- Sand storms (note plural)
- Jewish diamond merchant
- Jewish fur merchant
- Muslim rug merchant
- Fortune teller
- Harmonics theory
- Beheadings (note plural)
- Riots (note plural)
- Bat attack in desert cave (alas, only the one)
- Subliminal painting
- Rented donkeys
- Foot chase through Algiers Casbah
- Midnight escape from KGB over Black Sea cliffs
- Long-lost relatives reunited
- Jewish mysticism
- Muslim mysticism
- Phoenician mysticism
Actual Historical Name-Dropping (in addition to those mentioned above; not in chronological order):
Rousseau, Voltaire, Richelieu, Robespierre, Corday, Pythagoras, Fourier, Philidor, Euler, C.P.E. Bach, Newton, Charlemagne, Wordsworth, Blake, Boswell, Catherine the Great, Potemkin