17 February 2009

Book Review: The Fire by Katherine Neville

I was unfortunately a little disappointed by this follow-up to Katherine Neville's The Eight even though I wanted so badly for it to be good. I had been meaning to read The Eight for at least 15 years, so I finally put it to the front of the TBR pile when I received a review copy of The Fire.

I enjoyed The Eight immensely. It mashed up historical fiction, modern-day fiction, obscure history, esoteric lore and chess. I loved it. Oddly enough, even though The Fire has all of those things, it was just not as enjoyable. The historical plot line was done quite well, but the modern day plot line being told concurrently was a mess. I felt that the author tried to cram too much information into this one. Many times I found myself wondering if anyone without an interest in esoterica (like myself) could even follow what was happening. Usually an author will set forth enough of an explanation, either via dialogue or context, for things that are not mostly common knowledge. Not so in this case.

Characters coming to astounding conclusions from little information became another irksome factor. I had to assume that they had prior knowledge of which I, as the reader, was not privy. And then there is the character of Key. She has an annoying habit of spouting off aphorisms in what seems like every third sentence. This would maybe have been tolerable if the main character, Alexandra, didn't rattle them off for her in her absence: "As Key would say..."

Overall, I did like the idea of the story, and I liked the subject matters that were touched upon. But the ending was not an ending at all. Maybe that was the author's point, but I found it rather obscure and dissatisfying.