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Labyrinth Hardcover – March 7, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Mosse's page-turner takes readers on another quest for the Holy Grail, this time with two closely linked female protagonists born 800 years apart. In 2005, Alice Tanner stumbles into a hidden cave while on an archeological dig in southwest France. Her discovery—two skeletons and a labyrinth pattern engraved on the wall and on a ring—triggers visions of the past and propels her into a dangerous race against those who want the mystery of the cave for themselves. Alaïs, in the year 1209, is a plucky 17-year-old living in the French city of Carcassone, an outpost of the tolerant Cathar Christian sect that has been declared heretical by the Catholic Church. As Carcassonne comes under siege by the Crusaders, Alaïs's father, Bertrand Pelletier,entrusts her with a book that is part of a sacred trilogy connected to the Holy Grail. Guardians of the trilogy are operating against evil forces—including Alaïs's sister, Oriane, a traitorous, sexed-up villainess who wants the books for her own purposes. Sitting securely in the historical religious quest genre, Mosse's fluently written third novel (after Crucifix Lane) may tantalize (if not satisfy) the legions of Da VinciCode devotees with its promise of revelation about Christianity's truths. 8-city author tour. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mosse's epic adventure weaves together the present and the past in an entertaining Grail-quest tale. In the present, Alice Tanner, a volunteer at a French archaeological excavation, stumbles across the skeletal remains of two people in a cave, as well as a ring with an intricate labyrinth engraved on it. Her discovery attracts the attention of two unsavory figures: Paul Authie, a sinister police inspector, and Marie-Ceile de l'Oradore, a wealthy, powerful woman. When the ring that Alice discovered and the friend that invited her out on the dig both disappear, Alice begins to fear for her safety. Interlinked with Alice's story is that of 17-year-old Alais, newly married to a handsome chevalier and living in thirteenth-century Carcassonne. The threat of French invasion grows every day, but Alais and her father are more concerned with protecting three sacred books that reveal the secret of the Grail. The Crusaders want the books, but two people much closer to home are working against Alais and her father, desirous of the promise of eternal life that the Grail offers. Although the novel contains lulls in places, the medieval story is exciting. Expect demand. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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I loved the way this book started, with naive young-for-her-age Alice Tanner volunteering at an archaeological dig in south-western France. Something draws her up the hillside. She finds an old buckle. Then there is a rumbling sound and a huge boulder moves aside to show a door in the rock.
Yes, I know this strains credulity, but the writing was so good, I bought it.
After this set-up, we move back into the past, from July 2005 to July 1209. Alice Tanner is now 17-year-old Alais Pelletier, the favorite daughter of a Bertrand Pelletier, steward to Viscount Trencavel, who holds court at Carcassonne.
Storm clouds are rumbling over this regions as a huge army of French barons and Catholic priests is sweeping south to stamp out the Cathar heresy and grab those southern lands. Alais and her family get caught up in the “ethnic cleansing” that follows, as the northern French lords impose their ways upon the south, and try to eradicate the culture.
As others have remarked, this story is too long. I agree. I found myself skipping large chunks of it towards the end. And I think the reason for that is because the author (perhaps in a rush to finish this book) allows her writing to become careless. For example, she puts large chunks of explanation into the mouth of Audric Baillard, which is boring for the reader to read. This is a pity, because the beginning of this book shows that Ms. Mosse can write compelling prose. Three stars.
The plot was annoyingly transparent and the characters were exasperatingly shallow and underdeveloped, but the overall story *does* tickle the imagination. It reminded me of the Druid saying "the songs of our ancestors are also the songs of our children." That said, beware of the whiplash that the frequent time shifts in this book can cause!
Two things I do appreciate are Ms. Mosse's research into the story of the Cathars and her appreciation of southern France.
As a once-fluent Francophile, I had no problems with the French terms used, nor did I have any problems with the L'Occitane dialect used. Of course, I have no problem even when I am completely unfamiliar with a language, as I use online dictionaries if I don't know a word....and I *do* love learning new words. Native English speakers can be so damn lazy! Come on people, learn a thing or two! I do agree with others who've panned the poorly-executed similes and metaphors! Ugh, I was disgusted with quite a few.
If you're looking for an easy, quick, read that is imaginative, this book might interest you. If you're looking for * literature*, don't bother with this novel: though it's partially a piece of historical fiction, it also reads like a trashy romance novel.
I found it very repetaive in some of the narrations describing center characters, i.e. "the errand boy".
It was not a book you can put down and pick up a few days later.
It was recommended by a friend,. I might try another of her books for comparison.
Donna J. Kidman