From the publisher:
2003, Colorado: Alexandra Solarin is summoned home to her family’s ancestral Rocky Mountain hideaway for her mother’s birthday. Thirty years ago, her parents, Cat Velis and Alexander Solarin, believed that they had scattered the pieces of the Montglane Service around the world, burying with the chessmen the secrets of the power that comes with possessing them. But Alexandra arrives to find that her mother is missing and that a series of strategically placed clues, followed swiftly by the unexpected arrival of a mysterious assortment of houseguests, indicates that something sinister is afoot.
When she inadvertently discovers from her aunt, the chess grandmaster Lily Rad, that the most powerful piece of Charlemagne’s service has suddenly resurfaced and the Game has begun again, Alexandra embarks on a journey that takes her from Colorado to the Russian wilderness and at last into the heart of her own hometown: Washington, DC.
1822, Albania: Thirty years after the French Revolution, Europe is poised on the brink of the War of Greek Independence. Ali Pasha, the most powerful ruler in the Ottoman Empire has angered the Sultan and is about to be attacked by Turkish forces. So he sends the only person he can rely upon – his young daughter, Haidee – on a dangerous mission to smuggle a valuable relic out of Albania, through the mountains, and over the sea to the hands of the one man whom ight be able to save it.
Haidee’s journey from Albania to Morocco to Rome to Greece, and into the very heart of the Game, will result in revelations about the powerful chess set and its history that will lead at last to the place where the service was first created more than one thousand years before: Baghdad.
Blending exquisite prose and captivating history with nonstop suspense, The Fire is an unforgettable story of peril, action, and intrigue.
When I first read Katherine Neville’s novel The Eight, I was dazzled. It really was the first of its kind: a novel with combined history with puzzles and suspense. I couldn’t get enough of it. Now, of course, with the arrival of The Da Vinci Code and all of its knock-offs (for lack of a better word), this is old news. But The Eight stands above all of these; it was incredibly well-crafted and kept the reader hooked.
I was ecstatic when I first heard about The Fire. I wasn’t sure how a sequel would work, but I was definitely willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, while The Fire is an entertaining read, it doesn’t have nearly the charm of The Eight.
First of all, in my opinion it is absolutely necessary to read The Eight before picking up The Fire. The story of The Eight is briefly explained in its sequel, but it really is much too complicated to be understood in a 3 page treatment. In fact, I found myself confused and desperately trying to remember The Eight more than once. Even if you have read it, a refresher might be in order before picking up The Fire.
Now for my main problem with the book. I felt like the main character, Alexandra, had no idea what was going on the entire time. In books like this, there is always a certain amount of guiding the main character goes through, but this went way beyond that. It seemed like she was simply led from one place to another and told more and more of the story. There was no real sense of urgency or suspense; everything had already been planned out for her, and she was merely reacting to what they had done.
Like I said before, it is definitely an entertaining read. However, it lacks the quality that made really shine. There is too much detail, and the book becomes bogged down with it; the story doesn’t move very smoothly. I highly recommend The Eight, and if you’ve read The Eight, go ahead and read its sequel if you’re curious about what happens. But don’t read The Eight just so you can pick up The Fire – if you do, you will be disappointed.