It's not often that the sequel to a bestselling novel takes 20 years to finally reach bookstore shelves, but that's what happened with Katherine Neville's long-awaited follow-up to The Eight, a cult classic that impressed many readers as a more intelligent and literary precursor to Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code.
Neville's latest tells the story of the search for a fabled chess set that contains the secret to immortality. Journeying from century to century and location to location as the players pursue the chess set, The Fire impresses as much for its literary aspects as it does for its action, puzzles and suspense.
The Fire is not a conventional page-turner; the narrative is densely layered, filled with fascinating historical details and lush character sketches. But the plot is all the more meaningful for that level of attention Neville clearly lavished on it. This is a book to be savored as it's read, and admired for the beauty of its accomplishment.
From the Chicago Sun-Times, October 19, 2008