|Twelve Books In Twelve Months|
Telling the story of two women born two hundred years apart and the mystical chess service that ties their stories together.
Each of their lives involves multiple characters, each representing a chess piece on opposing sides, and everyone searching for the Montglane Chess Service that was once owned by Charlemagne. No one knows the true nature of this set and few have seen it. All that is known is that the person who owns the pieces has the potential to wield great power.
The portion of the story that takes place in the 1790’s revolves around two young novices at the Montglane Abbey in France where the chess set has resided in secrecy for years, becoming a legend. Faced with a very real threat of discovery, their abbess has the set unearthed and scattered across Europe. As pieces become intercepted by various “players” in the game, one of the novices has to gather them back together to prevent an abuse of its power. She comes into contact with many historical figures through the course of the novel, including Jacques-Louis David, Marat, Napoleon, Wordsworth, Blake, Euler, just to name a few. Everyone with a story to tell about the Montglane Chess Service and what secret they think it holds.
In 1972 Catherine Velis is chosen for a big assignment in Algeria for OPEC and takes on a side job of locating a woman who purportedly has some chess pieces she wishes to sell. One thing leads to another including murder, mayhem, a small dog with a penchant for biting ankles, a lot of chess playing, and a Russian maybe-spy for a love interest. Along the way she must learn about this chess service and her role in the “real-life game” in order to keep one step ahead of the enemy.
All in all I really enjoyed this book. I read it as a teenager, but have not read it again in over a decade and decided it would be a good book to start 2011 with. It has all the excitement, intrigue, and plot twists that I remember loving so much back then ... and the ending has the best surprise of all.