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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD BOOK, JUST NOT AS GOOD AS "THE EIGHT"
I read Katherine Neville's "The Eight", two years ago, I thought it was a brilliant book, and I was thrilled to find out that a sequel was announced. As most readers of "The Eight", I preordered "The Fire" and counted the days and the hours until its release. I honestly have to say that I liked the book and I was not exactly disappointed with it, but I can understand why...
Published on 6 July 2010 by Eleni

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to love it - I didn't even like it
As you've probably gathered from the title of my review, I loved "The Eight", like many reviewers of this book. Like many of them too I find myself deeply disappointed. Basically, it's as if all of the things you loved about the original have been carefully cut away, leaving only a rather trite, confusing, uninteresting mess. There is a hell of a lot of, for want of a...
Published on 3 May 2012 by Mr. D. Clark


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD BOOK, JUST NOT AS GOOD AS "THE EIGHT", 6 July 2010
By 
Eleni - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Fire (Paperback)
I read Katherine Neville's "The Eight", two years ago, I thought it was a brilliant book, and I was thrilled to find out that a sequel was announced. As most readers of "The Eight", I preordered "The Fire" and counted the days and the hours until its release. I honestly have to say that I liked the book and I was not exactly disappointed with it, but I can understand why some people were. The problem with writing a brilliant novel is that you set the bar extremely high and it is practically impossible to do it again. So the reason that most people did not like "The Fire", is not that it is a bad book, not a mediocre book even, it simply is that they expected it to be as good as "The Eight" and it just couldn't be.

The idea is the same as with "The Eight"; parallel storylines of fictional and historical characters involved in a 'game' that started in the 8th century AD with the creation of the Montglane Chess and continues to this day. The protagonist is Cat's daughter Xie who is caught up in the game when her mother disappears and the parallel story is set in 19th century involving Lord Byron and Ali Pasha's daughter Haidee. I found the historical characters very convincing, perhaps with a few historical errors, but then again it would take an expert to spot them and this is fiction. The modern characters are complex and well developed but they are not as real as they were in the first book, it almost seems that a loving parent relates his children's story without completely empathising with them.

The story is great; lots of twists and turns, wonderful descriptions especially in the modern plot, romance, suspense and humour, every aspect of "The Eight" is here too. Although I liked the book, I found the ending a little abrupt and disappointing and I wish there was more of the original characters; I kept waiting for Cat, Solarin, and Nim to appear.

This is a good book; if you haven't read "The Eight", however I would not recommend it because I am afraid it won't make any sense to you. But then again if you haven't read The Eight I recommend you read it, as it is a fantastic book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to love it - I didn't even like it, 3 May 2012
By 
Mr. D. Clark "londinius" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fire (Paperback)
As you've probably gathered from the title of my review, I loved "The Eight", like many reviewers of this book. Like many of them too I find myself deeply disappointed. Basically, it's as if all of the things you loved about the original have been carefully cut away, leaving only a rather trite, confusing, uninteresting mess. There is a hell of a lot of, for want of a better description , running-around-all-over-the-place-for-the-sake-of-running-around-all-over-the-place-and-no-other-reason. There's not great truth or revelation in the end, and no sense of satisfaction in getting there, other than a sense of relief that the tedium is over.

If you haven't read the Eight, then please do so - it's great. Do yourself a favour and don't bother with The Fire, though. It's really not worth it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars LIGHTNING DOES NOT STRIKE TWICE..., 7 Aug. 2009
By 
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Fire (Paperback)
I remember reading THE EIGHT when I was in graduate school and had enjoyed it immensely. On the strength of that experience I was fooled repeatedly into buying the next three books of Katherine Neville. All were flops. This one shall be the last because as the sequel to THE EIGHT, it was the most bitter disappointment. I promise to explain this with no spoilers.

First off, the writer either finds fact-verification a boring chore or holds little respect for historic facts - especially when in conflict with one of her irrelevant tangents she runs on off. Allow me to offer a couple of case in points.

The trend is set early on: the Greek city of Ioannina (named after St John or Ioannis) is misnamed "Janina" only to be very tenuously linked later on with the Roman God Janus (one of the few Roman Gods with ...no Greek roots mind you!).
The city is located in the region of Epirus (I vacationed in Parga recently and visited Ioannina, only 60 miles away) whose old borders extent well into southern Albania. Thus, setting the location as "Janina, Albania" manages to contain two mistakes in two words. If she were trying to refer to the borders of the time of narration she should had written: "Ioannina, the Ottoman Empire". Albania was not independent until 1912 - and certainly NOT in the 1820's.

Ali Pasha was NOT an independent ruler as she goes on later. He was a shrewd and very able strategist, Muslim of Albanian origin, who was awarded the Pashilik [~local Governor] of Epirus under the Ottoman rule. When the Greeks fired off their Independence War in 1821 he tried to carve a kingdom for himself. His rebellion was thwarted after much effort by the Ottoman Turks who eventually had to assassinate him.

And if the book contains so many wrong facts about European history I am familiar with, one could only imagine what is going on with the less known and documented Middle-East history! Suspension of disbelief to enjoy a work of fiction is one thing. Bootstrapping made up "facts" to give credence to a bad work of fiction quite another. And the mistakes do not end here.

The writer for some reason even gets her basic gematria wrong: 888 may indeed be the gematria of God but 666 is...not the one of Man. Instead, 666 is the number occultists associate with the Devil. Man's number is traditionally 777 which falls "in between" in a dualistic fashion.

As Neville herself put it in page 364, these are "stories [] that all appeared to be large souffles of inflated mythology, sparsely sprinkled with a cherry-picking of facts". I couldn't put it better myself!

Unfortunately, historic and numerological inaccuracies are the least of this novels' problems. In the acknowledgments Neville thanks her editor for reminding her "not to rest on her backstory". She should had taken his advice - because she did exactly that!
This is a very similar story with THE EIGHT - only (unnecessarily) more convoluted. It adds nothing to the original story: is it just rearranging the furniture. And the new arrangement is simply not working.
The main character is the most confused of them all and makes obvious blunders and idiotic mistakes. For a chess GrandMaster she sure comes across too Forrest-Gumpy!
The plot is paper thin and predictable. Like playing chess with a 6-year old. Obvious questions never get to be asked; conversations either stop abruptly or go into unrelated topics; and characters keep changing sides. Quick reminder Katherine: in chess one knows what color he or she is playing with from the very beginning - and the pieces do NOT change color. That is probably checkers you are confusing this with.

I had to become so frustrated with a book wasting my time ever since her MAGIC CIRCLE.

My advice to Neville: should you be inclined to continue publishing, hire back the editor (or, who are we kidding by now, the ghost-writer) who created THE EIGHT.

My advice to anyone else: Avoid. A HUGE disappointment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What was all that about?, 5 Oct. 2010
This review is from: The Fire (Paperback)
I loved The Eight. I mean I seriously loved it to the extent that I would count is as one of my Top Ten novels of all time. So when The Fire was published I had great expectations. I saved it for my holiday and was hoping it would provide me with a bit of poolside escapism. But No. I was so thoroughly disappointed I cannot begin to tell you.

I don't think I am a stupid person. I like a puzzle. I like a bit of esoteric or arcane mumbo jumbo to keep me entertained. But please....what was this all about? I couldn't follow it at all I'm afraid. I appreciate that we were following clues here, but some of the connections were so tenuous you could have driven a truck through them. I was actually relieved when it ended to be honest. What a shame.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enter Lord Byron and New Perspectives on the Montglane Service and the Game, 29 Oct. 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Fire (Hardcover)
How do you write a sequel to an astonishing work of imagination like The Eight? Very carefully . . . as witnessed by the long delay between the original and the sequel. But perhaps not carefully enough as judged by the challenges of inserting new meaning into well developed material in The Eight.

The Fire has to be seen as a sequel. As a stand-alone novel, the references to The Eight weigh down the book for a new reader in ways that would make the book almost impenetrable . . . and obscure at the same time.

Time has moved forward into the post-Second Iraq War period, creating a balance with the OPEC-related story lines in The Eight. As she did in The Eight, Katherine Neville has also moved back in time to create historical stories that march into the present time. These story lines cross in powerful ways.

The book opens as Aleksandr Solarin accompanies his daughter, Alexandra ("Xie"), to Zagorsk Monastery in Russia for a pivotal chess match in the autumn of 1993 where she will have a chance to earn grandmaster status at the tender age of eleven. While there, Aleksandr spots something that shouldn't be there . . . and it becomes clear that the Game he had sought to end years before has begun again.

You then travel to Albania in 1822 to meet Haidee, a pasha's daughter, who uncovers a sneak attack by Turkish forces on her father. Will she escape its consequences?

From there, the scene shifts to Mesa Verde in Colorado in the spring of 2003 as Alexandra arrives to visit for her mother's (Cat Velis) birthday party to discover that her mother missing, many puzzle clues, and an odd assortment of visitors arriving for the party. Clearly, these people seem to be positioning themselves for the Game. What is Alexandra's role?

Much of the story's charm come from comic appearances involving Lily Rad and adventures involving Alexandra's highly competent friend Key. The historical backdrop is enlivened by the character of Lord Byron who becomes a significant figure in the story.

For those who loved The Eight, The Fire presents a challenge in that it puts a new perspective on that story. Some will see the new aspects as enriching the original story line. Others won't agree.

Like The Eight, I found the ending to be an anticlimax that didn't live up to the rest of the story. This story has a drawback that The Eight didn't have, it often moves very slowly. Much of the book is taken up with locating Alexandra's mother. Characters are also assessed in a few too many ways for my taste in terms of what roles they might be playing in the Game.

If I hadn't read The Eight, I'm not sure I would have finished The Fire. The new stories didn't grip me nearly as much with emotion as the old ones did in The Eight.

If you have read The Eight, I think you should read The Fire . . . if for no other reason than being able to write a review of it where you can assess how it compares to the original novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good sequel, 23 Oct. 2012
By 
Mrs. G. Buttstaedt "gadget luva" (Hampton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fire (Kindle Edition)
I was looking for the first book "The Eight" for my Kindle as my paperback version is now very dog-eared. Came across this instead and it was a no-brainer that I downloaded it immediately.I haven't finished reading yet and find that the story is not quite as exciting as The Eight, which I couldn't put down. But maybe it's a slow starter and will explode later...
All in all a good read but I don't know whether I'll be reading this as often as I read The Eight.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Fire never quite got going for me, 12 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Fire (Paperback)
I love "The Eight" even 10+ years down the line it is still one of my most read again books. I didn't really feel it needed a sequel, but as there was one I had to read it.

It was interesting in parts, the history chapters not being as interesting this time around, but the main characters of Xie and Vartan never quite grabbed me in the same way as Cat and Lily did in the original. I was never a big fan of Solarin in The Eight it was always Nim who captured my attention and I was disappointed there was so little of him in this sequel.

I felt the ending was quite disappointing and have to admit that I struggled with the last few chapters and towards the end didn't really care much what happened.

If you loved The Eight I would suggest you give The Fire a miss and go re-read the original instead.

If you're reading this Katherine any chance you could write a book with Nim as the main character?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Fire, 8 Dec. 2012
This review is from: The Fire (Kindle Edition)
Unfortunately, this novel is a disappointing sequel to the eight. Having read the eight twice I was looking forward to seeing how the story would develop but the narrative was long winded, boring and at times, difficult to follow. I would not recommend this book to anyone!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fire by Katherine Neville, 10 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Fire (Paperback)
Picked up where 'The Eight' finished. Another edge of the seat storyline, will read again and again as I have done with 'The Eight', found different aspects of the story each time I read it and I am positive the same will happen with 'The Fire'. Brilliant author.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Read "The Eight" first., 2 July 2013
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This review is from: The Fire (Kindle Edition)
Having thoroughly enjoyed, and re-read, The Eight I was looking forward to the sequel. If you read The Fire without knowing the back-story I think you will enjoy it well enough, but might well find some of the characters confusing in their relationships and interactions. I don't think The Fire is as well structured or developed as The Eight, but that was always going to be a hard act to follow. The characters are not as charismatic or well-rounded, and I don't think that the storyline flows properly. I will read it again, but presently I am disappointed with the novel as I think a great opportunity has been missed to develop Lilly, Cat and the brothers' histories.
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The Fire
The Fire by Katherine Neville (Hardcover - 3 Nov. 2008)
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