a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Eight (1989)
Katherine Neville

Contributed by Carolyn Adams

This book really is AMAZING. I have read it numerous times and it always gets better. Math plays an important part in this story and the connections made in the plot are fascinating. This book is an intellectual wonder.

Contributed by Vikki

There are two stories set over two time periods that run simultaneously through the book and merge at the end. The first story is about two nuns Valentine and Mirielle who is the main character it is set in France and begins during the year of 1709. The Abbey where the nuns live holds a secret, buried within the walls is a magnificent hess service made of gold and encrusted with jewels that holds a formula within the pieces. The chess set is being searched for and is unearthed and all of the nuns are given pieces of the set to take care of. This story is extremely well researched and is largely set around the revolution in France some of the characters are Napoleon, Marat, Madame de Stael, and Robespierre.

The second story is set in the 20th century America where the chess pieces slowly emerge throughout the story.

The number eight as the title suggests figures strongly throughout the story as a recurring figure used for religious rituals, music, and lots of other references. There are also codes to break. All of the characters are also the pieces on a chess board. The main character in the story set in the 20th century goes from being a white pawn to a white queen, and she eventually check mates the black king. The world is the chess board and other chess theories/formulas appear in this story.

I found the story wonderful it literally takes you across the world, and is a feast for the imagination. The characters are very colourful, there is danger, murder, and romance. Does Mirelle gather all of the chess pieces together and solve the formula? Read the book and see, you will not be disappointed.

Contributed by Anonymous

Stuff like this reminds me of the Celestine Prophecies, good reading for some but I prefer something slightly better crafted.

Contributed by Kirsten

Worth the read. I make a point of reading the novel every year. It never ceases to entertain me. I'm on my third copy of the book now because I keep wearing them out!

More information about this work can be found at
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to The Eight
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Givenchy Code by Julie Kenner
  2. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell / Dustin Thomason
  3. Gospel Truths by J.G. Sandom
  4. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  5. The Sabre Squadron by Simon Raven
  6. El Troiacord by Miquel de Palol
  7. En busca de Klingsor (In Search of Klingsor) by Jorge Volpi
  8. Enigma by Robert Harris / Tom Stoppard
  9. Sharper than a Sword by Alexander Petrovich Kazantsev
  10. The Imitation Game by Morten Tyldum (director) / Graham Moore (screenplay)
Ratings for The Eight:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2.83/5 (6 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.85/5 (7 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction, Adventure/Espionage,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)