Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A-Z Wednesday: Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Title: Labyrinth
Author: Kate Mosse
ISBN: 9780399153440
Publisher: Putnam/2006
Pages: 528

In this elaborate thriller Labyrinth, two women strangly mysteriously linked across eight centuries, take up the search to find the legendary Holy Grail and guard its secrets from those who would use its power for evil ends. Kate Mosse spins an electrifying story of intrigue and hazard, with female characters who don't wait for men to lead. With valour and shrewdness, they plunge headlong into the everlasting search for truth. In this grail quest, women aren't helpless creatures to be rescued by knights in shining armour. They hold on their own, are central to the action, with the capability to change the course of history. The villains, in both eras too, are women. The climactic moments where the good and evil women are face to face and fight it out is very gripping...

Story in a nutshell:

July 1209: in Carcassonne, France, a young girl is given one of the three secret books, by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alaïs cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she memorises them and knows that she must protect it. It takes great sacrifice and lots of faith on her part to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe - a secret that stretches back thousands of years to the deserts of Ancient Egypt . . .

July 2005: Alice Tanner, a British Volunteer, stumbles upon two skeletons during an archaeological dig in the mountains outside Carcassonne. Inside the hidden cave where two skeletons lie crumbling, she experiences an overwhelming sense of malevolence, as well as a creeping understanding and familiarity. She can somehow make sense of the mysterious ancient words carved into the rock. Though she cannot comprehend fully, Alice realises she is trapped in a terrifying sequence of events for which she has no control and her destiny is somehow linked with the fate of the Cathars 800 years before.

Their stories are told in alternating chapters as both take utmost care to hide and protect their secrets. As history unfolds over the centuries, both find themselves entangled in the history and evil that surrounds them. The novel moves between past and present, one life reflecting and mirroring the other. Most of the characters in both eras are mirrored.

As one might expect of a labyrinth, it turns out that there are truths beyond the truths sought. There are twists and turns, memories to be retrieved and reclaimed, lovers' misunderstandings to be reconciled, fragments of the past to be salvaged and old betrayals to be, very satisfyingly, revenged. It has all these and more ingredients for a good novel.

Mosse's love of the location around Carcassonne is clear from her generous descriptions of the city and the surrounding countryside; and her research into the details of the historical facts and language is markedly wide-ranging. The novel does hold attention till the end despite some loose ends.


Suko said...

"Truths beyond truths sought"-- sounds intriguing! Thanks for your review.

Anonymous said...

Very different, very interesting!!

Thanks for playing!!

Anonymous said...

I've been seeing this book at my library, but somehow never picked it up.

It definitely sounds interesting and well-worth a read.

There is a sequel also for this book - Sepulchre. You might want to try that out too.

Unknown said...

This one has been sitting on my favorite charity shop's shelves for some weeks now... maybe it's time I bought it!
Here's my book

Unknown said...

I tried to read this recently, but couldn't get into it. I'm pleased that you enjoyed reading it, but it didn't hold my attention at all.

Unknown said...

Sounds like this book has it all.
Mine is Here

Nise' said...

I have seen this book and now may pick it up.

Zia said...

Sounds like a good book.

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

I prefer lighter reading! LOL The cover is interesting though.

Here's mine:

kayerj said...

excellent choice.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fascinating book. I love that the story revolves around women, good and evil.

Book Dragon said...

I have this one sitting on my shelves, just haven't read it yet.

Sequel? Oh, man, I've got to start reading the books on my shelf!

Thanks so much for commenting on my post

Bryan R. Terry said...

My sister-in-law gave me this book for Christmas last year. I really should get around to reading it.

My L Book is HERE

Irene said...

Sounds gooooood.Here is mine.

Christina said...

I've seen this book, but I've never really taken the time to find out about it. Sounds interesting

My L book

Anonymous said...

There are references to Cathars in this post. Please remember that the work of Kate Mosse is a work of fiction, not to be confused with historical fact.

As a factual clarification, the term “Cathars” derives from the Greek word Katheroi and means “Pure Ones". They were a gnostic Christian sect of tolerant pacifists that arose in the 11th century, an offshoot of a small surviving European gnostic community that emigrated to the Albigensian region in the south of France.The medieval Cathar movement flourished in the 12th century A.D. throughout Europe until its virtual extermination at the hands of the Inquisition in 1245.

There are an ever increasing number of historians and other academics engaged in serious Cathar studies. Interestingly, to date, the deeper they have dug, the more they have vindicated claims that medieval Catharism represented a survival of the earliest Christian practices.

Thank you!
Brad Hoffstetter
Communications Division
Assembly of good Christians

Some credible sources:

Teddy Rose said...

I read this book with my f2f book club about when it came out in paperback. I really liked it but also found some "loose ends". Great review.