Review

The Fire

by Katherine Neville

In THE FIRE, the Game continues, and the quest for the legendary
Montglane Chess Service crisscrosses the globe and spans two
centuries --- from a harem in 19th-century Albania to modern-day
Colorado, Alaska, Russia, Georgetown and Washington, D.C. The story
weaves historic and modern events, and features famous figures,
including Charlemagne, Isaac Newton, Lord George Gordon Byron,
Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon.

The Game is a quest for the Montglane Service, a fabled,
bejeweled chess set created in eighth-century Baghdad and presented
to the Emperor Charlemagne. The legendary service, which is rumored
to contain dark and mysterious powers, had been buried for nearly a
thousand years. Then in the 18th century it is exhumed from its
hiding place in Montglane Abbey, France, and the pieces are
scattered across the globe.

According to legend, whoever possesses the mystical Montglane
Service set gains amazing powers. One group seeks to obtain all the
pieces of the set to unlock its secret and possess its power. The
other side wants to hide the chess pieces in all corners of the
world to keep the world safe.

As a preteen, chess prodigy Alexandra “Xie” Solarin
stopped playing chess after witnessing her father’s shooting
in Russia. More than a decade later, she lives a relatively safe
and predictable life in Washington, D.C, where she works at an
upscale, out-of-the-ordinary restaurant with a quirky co-worker for
an eccentric boss.

Alexandra’s calm existence takes an abrupt turn after her
mother leaves a message on her answering machine and summons her to
the family’s ancestral home. When she arrives at the remote
lodge in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, her mother is missing but
has left clues concerning her whereabouts.

The situation is complicated by an early spring blizzard and
arrival of unexpected guests: Alexandra’s colorful aunt Lily
Rad and the handsome and intense Russian master player Vartan Azov,
the last person Alexandra lost against in a chess tournament. Also
showing up are new neighbor Galen March and meddlesome neighbors
Basil and Rosemary Livingstone and their snobbish daughter
Sage.

To find her mother, Alexandra relies on her closest childhood
friend, Nokomis Key. Nokomis also plays a central role assisting
her after she inadvertently learns from Lily that the most powerful
piece of the famous chess set has resurfaced. The Game has begun
again, and Alexandra becomes a player.

The bestselling and much-acclaimed adventure-quest story begun
in THE EIGHT continues in THE FIRE, a complex and thrilling tale
that spans centuries, continents and generations of families
obsessed with the Game, which has the power to change the course of
world events. The story combines elements of science, history,
architecture, magic, religion and superstition, and is peppered
with puzzles, riddles, symbols, exotic locations, mouthwatering
meals, a dash of romance --- and a hint of more to come.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt (dvolkenannt@charter.net) on January 21, 2011

The Fire
by Katherine Neville

  • Publication Date: October 14, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 451 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345500679
  • ISBN-13: 9780345500670