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Katherine Neville

Magic Circle, The
Ballantine, 1998

Reviews:

When her cousin is slain by an assassin, Ariel Behn becomes the sole heir to a family legacy: a sinister cache of manuscripts that thrust her into the deadly center of international intrigue--and an old-age enigma that spans the centuries. Whoever assembles and interprets the cryptic clues of this ancient mystery will possess the power to control the fate of the world. What strange powers lie hidden within the manuscripts?. -Amazon.com

- Amazon.com , 12/16/2005


Tesla, Jesus, Alexander the Great, and "Lucky" Heidler too! It has been much too long since this writer has read a novel that truly "was too good to put down". While entirely too much emphasis these days is still placed on the importance of plot, this novel has a grandly complicated one involving secret writings, early Christian conspiracies, heresy, and so much else in a swiftly flowing mystery that confounds and delights. Readers will see much mindful of Umberto Eco, A. S. Byatt, and even a tad of Alexander Theroux within these pages. Neville is unrelenting in her pacing as the story moves gracefully between the early Christian era and just a few years ago. Ariel Behn is an amazing and amazingly real contemporary woman, grandly realized as are most of Neville's other characters, even the cameos from the likes of Nicola Tesla (one of the 20th Century's most intriguing men!), Jesus and his crew, and "Lucky" Heidler, later Hitler. Particularly impressive is her portrayal of Mary Magdalene not as the repentant tart, but as the incredibly intelligent, erudite woman Jesus very likely chose as his primary disciple. The Caesars are here too; the best of them is charming, if terminally and pervertedly deranged, "little boots," Caligula himself. Neville is also quite on point in her description and characterization of the Arch-druid. There's something very comforting and wise in an entirely pragmatic way about the friendship, comraderie, and shared learning of this Celtic magicman and Joseph of Arimathea. Simply everything is in this big expansive novel from nuclear science to alchemical marriage and Native American totemism. Neville is also most appropriately discreet in her boudoir scenes in this age of explicitity and kinkiness, which for this reader is most appreciated. If only she hadn't rushed the ending. Another 75-100 pages, while not overly increasing the "tome-iness" of an already large book, would likely have given time for a more satisfying conclusion. Or maybe there'll be a sequel. I'd love it. Don't believe the negative comments you may see about this book. If you enjoy a grand read that keeps you reading, this is not to be missed. A perfect October kind of book! Stephen Richmond 10/99

- Stephen Richmond, 10/1/1999

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