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The Magic Circle

A book by Katherine Neville

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Reader unable to distinguish between fact and fantasy.

  • Mar 3, 1998
I read the above review by thewest@earthnet and with his/her encouragement feel relieved to review Katherine Neville's book 'The Magic Circle' despite the amazing blaze of feelings the read has conjured. I admit to having pretty much the same impression as 'thewest'. I was stunned (at first) by the amount of information this author was pulling together from such varied sources. As I neared page 500, I realized that no matter how complicated the intertwinings of the narrator's family relations (Ugh, in my opinion-was all that incest meant to be farcical?) were, the author was never, never, never going to pull the whole thing together in time to satisfy all the questions her 'sitings' had churned up. I thought her ending where Sam and Ariel (two cousins-isn't that supposedly illegal?) discuss their revelations regarding the mysterious rune manuscripts was utter balderdash. As a woman, I was disturbed and insulted that Neville thinks the secret to life's mysteries lies in a simple 'positioning'. In 'Thenet's words, 'Give me a break!' I just assumed Neville didn't really have an ending to the story or after 500 pages her editor told her to cut the chaff-the book really should have gone on for another 500 pages to fully satisfy the reader. Are we to assume that Jesus and Miriam, his only true initiate, had assumed the proper positions and hence Miriam's mystical understanding? The conclusion of the book is an example of Occam's razor in its worst application. Trite BS. I am not a historian and I don't claim to know anything about what I read about in 'The Magic Circle'. However, one good thing came from this read, I was very much taken with my own lack of knowledge regarding other cultures, but I am not sure that the things that interested me in the book are based on fact and that scares me. People reading this book will automatically assume that what they read is some semblance of reality. But which is true and which is fiction? Neville should have at least had an afterward explaining where she got her valid material. I suppose that since one did not exist, the entire book was based on fantasy and was an attempt to recaptivate her 'The Eight'audience. Can any historians tell me which parts of the story were based on fact? I've read Marion Zimmer Bradley's series on Avalon and Pauline Gedge's saga which touch on the same time period-the Roman annihilation of the druid's isleof Mona. I feel that it was handled in these books in a more factual way, but now, I am perplexed wondering what I should believe. Yes, fiction is fiction, but even historians infer things by certain events. Historical fiction always seemed to have tha ability to bring a dryer read to life. (A silly but honest statement that doesn't speak much for my education!.

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Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #166
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
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About this book


Neville's reach exceeds her grasp by a long shot in her chaotic third novel (after The Eight and A Calculated Risk), a bewildering attempt to blend historical fiction, New Age adventure and modern techno-thriller. Utah nuclear technician Ariel Behn receives a set of mysterious manuscripts from her Native American cousin Sam, who has narrowly survived their attempted theft. As possessor of the scrolls, Ariel finds her life in similar danger, especially after her company sends her to Russia with handsome, mysterious Wolfgang Hauser. During a torrid affair with Wolfgang, Ariel comes to suspect that he may be after the scrolls himself. At the same time, various members of her glamorous, far-flung family inform her that Hitler, Genghis Khan and the ancient Romans all sought the scrolls, which seem to hold the key to a secret power grid beneath the earth. Alternating family history with thorny historical passages, Neville brings the narrative back to Utah for a ludicrous wilderness showdown among the scrolls' pursuers. Neville has buried a decent story in so many expository layers of far-fetched historical gibberish and New Age nonsense that even her most devoted readers may find themselves exasperated. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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ISBN-10: 034540792X
ISBN-13: 978-0345407924
Author: Katherine Neville
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Ballantine Books
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