32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2012
I've read all Kate Mosse's previous books, and (apart from The Winter Ghosts) I've liked them all. Now comes Citadel, which continues very much in the same vein as Labyrinth and Sepulchre. To put it simply, if you liked those earlier books, I think you'll like Citadel too.
As you'd expect, this is a complicated story that's rich in historical detail. The backdrop is the Second World War, as resistance fighters struggle against occupying German forces. Mosse creates a very vidid atmosphere, with strong characters and some very effective scenes. You really get a sense of the danger being faced by the characters, and Mosse crafts several very emotional moments. But there's also something else going on, and I don't want to spoil it for you except to say that the mystery - built up for some time - pays off well closer to the end. This is a book that really delivers on its promises.
The main character, Sandrine, has some well crafted moral dilemmas, and her ultimate fate isn't obvious from the start. I thought she was possibly Mosse's strongest protagonist to date, in the sense that she feels like a real person rather than just a character in a book. I'm not easily drawn into novels, but I genuinely cared about Sandrine. Mosse creates a very interesting character and then lets the reader explore the book's mysteries from Sandrine's point of view. It's a tactic that works brilliantly.
Like I said earlier, if you liked Mosse's earlier books, I think you'll very much enjoy Citadel. Of course, that also means that if you didn't like her earlier books, you'll probably feel the same way. Citadel is very much a continuation of her earlier work and style. I'm a sucker for these historical tales that add in a dash of mystery, along with hints of some greater force working behind the scenes. Citadel is a big book (my copy is almost 700 pages) but I read it in three days flat. Highly recommended!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2012
After being a fan of Kate Mosse and having read her previous novels, I must say I simply loved this one, falling in love with the characters (all over again), and finding myself not wanting the story to ever end. After reading a good book like this one, you are involuntarily left with a gaping hole... hard to find an equally good book to fill that gap now.
It's like having said goodbye to a dear friend.
I love the way Kate Mosse has shown history to repeat itself over and over again. Life is one big spiral.
This book really touched me!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2014
This is the first book I’ve read by Kate Mosse and I have to say wow. First I should state that this is a mammoth of a book: 680 pages. Luckily I was able to read it on my Kindle since I wouldn’t want to lug this book around. However, considering I was glued to my Kindle for several days in a row, I probably would have carried the book with me. I had a really hard time putting this one down and I blame Mosse for keeping me up past my bedtime several times in one week. I kept saying just a few more pages.
I love historical fiction and my specialty in grad school was World War II. Yet I didn’t study the French Resistance much. Not only did I enjoy learning more about this aspect of WWII, I loved the characters: Sandrine, Raoul, Baillard and many others. Even though this is about the war, the beginning starts off slow. I didn’t mind one bit since I enjoyed getting to know the characters and the setting. Once the action picked up, I found myself reading as fast as possible. Occasionally I had to stop and go back a few paragraphs since my mind couldn’t keep up with my eyes, but it was hard to force myself to slow down.
Citadel made me think, cringe, cry, cheer, and then think some more. The ending tugged on my heartstrings. It’s the type of book that once you finish you have to take a deep breath, sad that it’s over, but glad you read it. Now I need to track down copies of her other novels.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
"Citadel" is the first book by Kate Mosse that I have read. I received an ARC from the publisher, and the review expressed here is my own opinion.
I have read hundreds of books, both fiction and nonfiction, about WWll -- and topic of great interest to me. Surprisingly, I have read very little about France and its role in the war, so I was really looking forward to reading "The Citadel". As with any well-written novel, there are several story lines in the book. The primary story is about a core group of young women, Sandrine, Marianne, Suzanne, Lucie and Liesl, as well as other supporting female characters, who become fierce activists in the French Resistance. Their little group becomes known as "Citadel", a name taken from a family home in the country.
Within the pages of the book, is a smaller, but not unimportant story, about Arinius, a religious man of the fourth century, who is on a journey to hide one part of a Coptic Codex banned by the Catholic church.
In addition, several male characters, some immensely evil and some inherently principled, are bent on locating the hidden Codex for different reasons. Audric Baillard, a good guy, wants to find the Codex because it is said to have the power to protect the Languedoc from foreign invaders. Leo Authie is intent on finding the Codex for his own personal gain, and will stop at nothing to find it.
A few more characters typical to WWll stories such as male resistance fighters, a persecuted Jewish man and the collaborators are also relevant to the story.
Mosse does a fine job of interweaving the various tales together, and does not shy away from relating the horrors of this war. She also excels at developing the characters. What I found most difficult about "Citadel" is that it started out slowly, and uses so much French (that is not translated -- especially in the beginning of the book), that a French dictionary would be most helpful to reading the book. The book is quite long, and a slow start is not a motivator to finishing the book (although I did). The book could have been tightened up a bit without losing any of the importance of the story. A map of the Languedoc and the areas discussed in the book would also have been conducive to understanding the scope of how large or small this part of France is. It was difficult to imagine distances, either in mileage or travelling time frames, which hindered the action in the story. A map of the Bastide is included, but this map is really just a small part of the area covered by Arinius and the Resistance.
"Citadel" is a fine tribute to the mostly anonymous women Resistance members. That is the strength of the book. But the slow beginning, the French vocabulary that is in some cases above the basic knowledge of French of many readers, and the inability to really comprehend the distances traveled for the purposes of the characters made the story less compelling than I would have liked. If you are very familiar with French culture, geography and history, it will probably have great appeal to you. As it was, I did not learn as much as I would have liked from a book of this scope.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Kate Mosse works hard to please her fans but I think "Citadel" is an example of an author trying to do too much. It is part historical novel, love story, and tale of the supernatural; a little too ambitious in scope.
Had she concentrated on the main theme of the role of women in the French Resistance, she could have scored big. The need to throw in a ghost army was unnecessary and a let down in the end. In order to support this theme, mosse developed characters like Audric Baillard, the immortal who is as boring as he is centuries old. I know that Mosse is trying to tie everything together in her trilogy about Langeudoc, but I found it all to be a bit tedious at times.
As usual, Mosse is at her best when using her well researched knowledge and wonderful descriptive knack to keep the reader going. Despite this, I found by the time I got to about five hundred pages (of six hundred eighty nine total), that I just wanted it to be over.
And the end is no happy ending, which, for a brief time made me wish I had not invested the time. Upon reflection, it was the most realistic end to a story about German atrocity and the martyrs they left in their wake.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I anxiously awaited the publication of this final volume of Mosse's trilogy only to learn it was released in the UK for sale but is not scheduled for USA release until early 2014. Thankfully Amazon at long last listed bookshops in the USA through whom copies were available for purchase! So once again I fell under the spell of the France region of Languedoc, the Cathars, and another esoteric quest, this time set during the Nazi occupation during the late 1930s/early 1940s. Kate's usual double plot lines do not let the reader down. In her final volume of the trilogy familiar characters, some who died in the previous books, are resurrected since the current timeline predates their demise. The plot pays tribute to the brave men and women, mostly women, who endured the German occupation and horrors of the Nazi regime. Mosse captures the fearful and austere existence of everyday provincial French folk and how they held fast to their heritage and love of country and family, and especially what they endured for the sake of freedom in their efforts to support the French resistance movement. Vive la France!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2014
Carcassonne, France, in July 1942 is a city on the edge. Caught between the past and the present, the residents of this French city know that by helping the German occupiers, they will possibility hurt a neighbor. But when it comes to putting food on the table, they have little choice. Every resident in Carcassonne, young and old, has suffered.
Sandrine and her older sister, Marianne, carry on alone after their father died two years ago in the war. They endure along with their housekeeper, Marieta, who is now like a mother more than ever. Sandrine, always the stubborn one, is young and truly unaware of what the war means, not only for her and her sister, but also for the city and the country. She goes about her day oblivious to what is happening around her. While out one morning, she comes across a man lying injured in the river and goes to help. As she’s dragging him out of the water, she’s attacked by an unseen person. But before she passes out, she manages to grab hold of the necklace the man is holding.
Sandrine awakes on shore in the arms of another man she doesn’t know but immediately trusts. She passes out again but comes around after friends of her sister stop to help her. Not knowing any better and unwilling to listen to anyone, she goes to the police, telling them of the attack and what she saw, setting in motion events that will lead her down a dark path in the months and years to come.
At the time, Sandrine may not have understood the weight of her actions, but months later she is fighting as part of the resistance alongside her sister and friends --- an all-female group of French resistance fighters called the Citadel. In trying to protect their homes and neighbors, they smuggle in goods, help smuggle out refugees, and work to sabotage the occupying German forces. Part of the work these women are doing also includes a dark side --- they are looking for a document called the Codex. Legend has it, when the ancient text is read aloud, it will awaken the spirits of the land that will come forth to save those who believe. Sandrine and her friends are working not only to find the Codex, but to keep others from finding it as well. Unwilling to let it fall into enemy hands, they risk everything they have.
Beyond the heroics these ladies take on, there are still the quiet lives they live among themselves --- the love that exists amid death and destruction, the simple act of sitting down to a meal and laughing at something silly. Those things still happen to the characters, and that makes it all the more endearing. Sandrine starts out as a stubborn teenager unwilling to listen and so unaware and disinterested in everything going on around her. When she finally opens her eyes, there’s so much to take in, yet she doesn’t crack under the pressure --- she simply stands to help and do what she can for the people and places she loves. Through the death of another, she finds love, which somehow manages to grow and carry her through very difficult times.
One thing I enjoy about Kate Mosse’s books is the mysticism/magical realism. She manages to infuse her stories with a bit of the supernatural --- something just this side of mystical that fits into the story. In this case, the Codex is that something that gets tossed in but feels very much part of the story and these characters’ lives. This doesn’t always work in stories, but Mosse does it flawlessly.
Coming to the end of the book was difficult. The setting and the characters are not easy to leave; you see the characters make very difficult decisions --- the right ones for them, but choices that will change everything. There is closure at the end, making for one satisfying read. CITADEL manages to be a love story full of intrigue and mystery while chasing ancient texts through the French countryside. All I can say is, time spent with this novel is time well spent.
Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Citadel is the third installment and the concluding volume of The Languedoc Trilogy; the previous novels being Labyrinth and Sepulchre. Having not read either I can assure you Citadel stands on its own. It is an impressive time-slip novel, which of late, as many of you may know, has become one of my favorite new genres.
Citadel is set in a southern region of France, Carcassonne, which seems to evoke not only an eerie beauty but also the feeling that the veil between this world and the past as well as the future is thinner than elsewhere; reminding me of Romania or Transylvania in the emotion the region seems to evoke. The Languedoc Trilogy is centered on a quest for an ancient Christian Codex; a manuscript believed to have the power to raise a sleeping army. Citadel continues this theme with the story lines of Sandrine Vidal, a member of the French Resistance in the Languedoc between 1942 and 1944, and that of a fourth‑century Roman Gaul, Arinius.
Sandrine has an interesting story that adds to the allure of Citadel; she is a young naive woman, living with her older sister Marianne, and has followed her sister into the French resistance in their local village. During a resistance demonstration a bomb is detonated and innocent people are injured. It is at the demonstrations that she meets Raoul, who somehow saves her life but she is unable to find him. Needless to say once she does the two begin an intense love affair, despite that Raoul is accused of the attack on the demonstration and is being hunted by the Gestapo. If that wasn’t enough he tells the women that he has a map, which is thought to indicate the location of an ancient codex; so powerful that possessing it could alter the course of the war, putting them all in even greater danger as Raoul is being pursued by men who believe he has found the Codes itself.
It is at this pivotal moment that Sandrine realizes that the time has come to take a stand against the Nazi’s or submit to them. She decides to take a stand. Sandrine, along with the assistance of Raoul and Marianne, form a female-only Resistance group, the Citadel. These women take increasingly dangerous jobs in their fight for freedom and who, over the next two years, fight a guerrilla war against the German occupation. Then Sandrine meets Monsieur Baillard, a man who has spent centuries looking for the Codex and he believe that Sandrine is the crucial person he needs to finally summon the ancient power of the Codex. Evidently, Baillard is a character that has made an appearance in each of Mosse’s installments in her trilogy. He is a mysterious and at times sinister character; could his motives to find the codex be what he claims they are?
Meanwhile, back in 342 AD, Arinius is also facing testing times. He has a sheet of papyrus strapped to his chest and is making his was to the fortified castellum of Carcaso– a place of safety for Gnostics and Christians during this uncertain Dark Age. Arinius is struggles across France to hide the papyrus; he believes to be a heretical document, in these early uncertain days of Constantine’s newly Christian Roman Empire.
I found Citadel completely engrossing and it helped me understand why the historical time-slip novel intrigues me as it does. History has a tendency to repeat itself and so parallels within history are often easy to discern. Mosse gives us the end of the Roman Empire and the last days of Hitler’s Third Reich. I recently heard a theory that Shakespeare wrote Henry V as a means of reminding Elizabeth I of how wars were won despite seemingly insurmountable odds. At the end of the day neither the reader nor the writer nor the historian will know the unquestionable truth. It is the informed speculation that makes the study of history so intriguing and thankfully always will be.
Kate Mosse has given her reader an epic, a novel of near 700 pages, but it never felt like one of Hercules’ labors. Instead it is filled with emotion, intrigue, danger and suspicion combined with Mosse’s ability to combine these emotions to create driven narrative pace. Additionally, and almost as a bonus, Mosse is a writer who has mastered the ability to capture the feeling of a time and space for her reader, but to actually evoke the same emotions brought on by the sights, sounds and smells encountered by the characters right through to her reader. Citadel was all these things and still also historically compelling, filled with memorable characters all set within that wonderfully eerie setting which brings the conclusion of the Citadel and The Languedoc Trilogy to its climatic gut-wrenching conclusion.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Slow to start but worth the effort. Great story. Recently visited languedoc-rouiissilon and the Cathar areas and visualised the scenes
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The book is set mainly during the Vichy government in Southern France during World War 2. It concerns the resistance but it also has elements of the supernatural. I found the historical aspects of the book interesting, however, the story itself is not that we'll put together. The plot develops slowly and the super natural parts do not make sense.