(by Katherine Neville, 1998)
I'm still trying to figure out how it is that this book hasn't had the success of the Da Vinci Code. It's an absolutely brilliant intriguing thriller, and is much richer in content. If I had to compare the two, I'd say that the Da Vinci Code was eau de toilette, while this book is essential oil - thick with historical and mythical detail, rich and overpowering and overwhelming .. I LOVED it. I liked Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code too, don't get me wrong (although I preferred Angels and Demons) but as a person who really loves stories and words, I found this book far more satisfying.
It gave me glimpses into the lives and stories of so many historic figures - Jesus, Nero, Alexander, Genghis Khan, Hitler - to name just a few. It took me through times and cultures - ancient Greek mythology, ancient Greek history, early Christianity, the Roman Empire, Nordic legend, the Anglo Saxons, Nazism, the Cold War .. I went to Russia, Jerusalem, Rome, Scotland, Vienna, Paris, London, Syria .. so many little delicious side dishes. And through it all there was a story of adventure and intrigue, romance, treasure hunting, code breaking. It was like one of those really good chocolate chip cookies where the cookie part is delicious and chewy, and every bite has just the right amount of chocolate chips. Hell, it was more than just one cookie. It was a FEAST. It's been a while since I read such a satiating book! Which is probably why I keep comparing it to food: I felt very well fed by the time I finished it!
So how come there is no storm about this book? I think one reason it hasn't had the same commercial success is that it would be harder to make a movie of. And also that the print is smaller .. DVC is like fast food, this book is a nice satisfying meal for people who really like to read. Then there's the hero - it's a girl. And perhaps the touchy subjects it touches - or rather, prods - all the religions and "isms". And finally, the name: The Magic Circle. I'm not sure why, but I feel this is the wrong title for this book! But if you come across it, don't judge it by its cover, pick it up and take it home! I don't think you'll be disappointed.