LABYRINTH - Kate Mosse
For such a massive tome, the time passes quickly on the read of LABYRINTH. Almost chatty in places for an historical drama, it manages to spin out its tale of holy secrets through the ages in a very comfortable, easy style that invites the kind of coffee and chat it generated during its creation (a six year process). The work in progress of author Kate Mosse on LABYRINTH was live on-line during the novel's creation and spurned a massive amount of interest from the snippets of plot details and historical data that were released en route. Similar has been done with SEPULCHRE, the second standalone work from this author.
The past mirroring the present premise never quite washed with this novel - the modern day scenes read something like a movie-of-the-week thriller and did little to enhance the read. The elusiveness of a plot driver in LABYRINTH was pure frustration - such a long wait for resolution, and when it supposedly came, could it be truly regarded as such? This is a book, perhaps mostly for the ladies, very much written in the melodramatic vein of "the young lady in jeopardy with only her fragile wits and sensibilities", who, of course, somehow manages to find her way through to the truth - delicious, if you are in the mood for such a thing. Those seeking some sort of immensely satisfying historical experience with gratifyingly plausible answers for the past deeds of those pursuing some kind of religious enlightenment - pass on this one.
LABYRINTH is though still an immensely entertaining read as you are caught up in the perils of Alais, her wisdom and bravery, her skills in medieval apothecary, tackling tasks that we assume were mostly foreign to women of her station, British author Kate Mosse shows great affection for her home of Carcassonne and brings the past of the town to bloody glory with her impassioned descriptive narrative. It is quite the love affair of a place, not so much of the story, that dominates this book.
Two young women, born hundreds of years apart, share a bond.
In the modern day French city of Carcassonne we have Alice Tanner who takes a very right turn on an archaeological dig, discovering a long-forgotten tomb. What she experiences that day causes her question all that she knows about herself, and for what purpose she lives her life for. Some very rich and powerful people have been waiting for this discovery for hundreds of years, and are prepared to be extremely ruthless in obtaining what they believe the two people in the tomb may have died for. Something that they now believe Alice has taken for herself.
In the year 1209 Carcassonne is in turmoil, and it is up to Alais, daughter of one of the city's nobleman-in-service to protect a legacy that has been kept secret since the death of Christ. Three ancient books, carried by three very different people must one day come together. That day comes when Carcassonne is under threat and needs her people the most. It is the time of the persecution of the Cathars for their tolerance in accepting all into the Cite walls, regardless of religious denomination or creed. It is not safe for anyone to be travelling through the countryside alone but travel she must, and Alais sets forth to meet the call on behalf of her father.