Years before the entire world got wrapped up in Da Vinci Code fever, I was enthralled by The Eight, a book about a fictional chess service given to Charlemagne that possessed mystical properties. The author, Katherine Neville, follows the tale of the fictional Montglane service when it is unearthed from its resting place beneath Montglane Abbey, France, in 1790 and distributed among the nuns, who are charged with keeping it safe. One of those nuns, Mireille, finds herself in the midst of a revolution and entangled in the mystery of the service, encountering such historical heavy hitters as Napoleon Bonaparte, Catherine the Great and many more. Centuries later, in the 1970s, accountant Catherine Velis is sent to Algiers on a mission; when one of her old friends asks her to look for pieces of the Montglane service, she enters into a world of danger, intrigue and the enigma of chess. As black and white battle for possession of the service and the ultimate secret it contains, Mireille and Catherine become intertwined across the ages in ways they’re just beginning to understand…

Published in 1988, The Eight was Neville’s first novel; I describe her as the intellectual’s Dan Brown. Her books contain all the cryptic puzzles and historical information of Brown’s, but without the inane dialogue and one-dimensional characters. And now -- finally! -- she’s come out with a sequel to The Eight. Buy both The Eight and her brand-new novel, The Fire, when she stops in Boulder today at the Boulder Book Store (1107 Pearl Street, Boulder, 303-447-2074, or tomorrow at the Tattered Cover (2526 East Colfax Avenue, 303-322-7727, Both signings start at 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen