Friday, March 8, 2013
The Fire by Katherine Neville
Synopsis From Back Cover:
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 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 the Game has begun again.
1822, Albania: Haidee, the young daughter of a powerful Ottoman ruler, embarks on a dangerous mission to smuggle a valuable relic out of Albania and deliver it to the hands of the one man who might be able to save it. Haidee's journey brings forth chilling revelations that burn through history to present day.
I don't know how the rest of you feel about sequels, but I'm always a little leery of them. Unless a book or movies was planned to have a sequel to it, then for many reasons that unplanned sequel just doesn't seem to work. Many times, the problem can be as simple as the new installment not being as interesting as the first. Or it could go to the extreme of completely changing the first one, leaving the reader/watcher feeling cold towards both of them. Thankfully, The Fire is closer to the first situation.
What's worse, is I wish I could completely explain my reaction to this book, but I can't. I loved the first book, The Eight, so much that I have read and reread it many times over the years. I feel in love with the characters, and the historical flashbacks didn't annoy me the way they normally do. Sadly, with The Fire, I didn't fall in love with the new characters, and actually was wanting more of the old characters. Nor did the flashbacks work as well for me. Despite including Lord Byron in them, they seemed even more convoluted and forced this time around.
I guess my biggest issue with the characters is that I just didn't care about Alexandra as much as I did for Cat and Alexander. Where the parents kept me invested in what was happening on the page, their daughter, while not a horrible character, didn't do the same. It's not that I didn't like her, I just kept comparing her to her mother the entire time. The little page time Cat gets, perked me up and kept me far more engaged during her appearances than at any other time in the book. And the way Alexander is treated annoyed me. What happens to him in the beginning, though horrifying, was better than the odd way in which he was returned to the reader. It was a poor use of him.
If it wasn't for Lily getting a lot of page time in this book, I'm not sure I would have appreciated it as much. Of the new characters, Nokomis included, they were interesting, but they just didn't have the same punch as the first group. I didn't dislike any of them, but they never felt real to me. The villains of the piece were probably the weakest of all the new characters. They just were never developed in the way they should have been. At least in The Eight, they were essential to the lives of all the other characters. This time around, they are more of a peripheral group, all on their own.
My last gripe, and I may be alone on this one, is the way the "teams" seemed to blend and change. In the first book, it's clear that the black team is good and that the white team is bad. With The Fire, the author plays with that concept a little bit too much, making individuals on both teams good and bad, blurring the lines and forcing a rethink of the Game itself. I guess within the context of this book, it makes sense, but it seems to be changing the actual history of the Game in order to get to this point. It just didn't feel "right" for whatever reason.
Now I'm not saying I hated the book, because I didn't. I love The Eight so much, that any opportunity I have to revisit the world Katherine Neville created is well worth my time. And I also think it would be safe to say that if she ever decides to write a third book, I'd read that too. My only regret is that I didn't love it as much as I did the first one. I wish I could have not let my feelings for the first, reflect on the way I reacted to the second. But I don't think there is any way to do that, so what's the point on worrying about it.