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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Labyrinth - Kate Mosse

Alice Tanner sometimes has dreams of life in the past. When she’s invited by a friend to help in an archaeological dig in the south of France, she finds herself in an oddly familiar landscape, and in the center of activities that will bring to a conclusion events that began in the 13th century.

Alais Pelletier is the daughter of the steward of the ruler of Carcassone in the 13th century. She’s newly married to one of the Viscount’s chevaliers, and learning to adjust to married life. This was the time that what is now called the Cathar movement of Christianity was strong in the south of France. The area was not subject to the French king in the north, and the northern barons used the Cathar heresy as an excuse to invade and subjugate the south.

Against this historical backdrop, which is well researched, and rich in detail, is the search for the Grail. Alais learns that her father has ties beyond those to the Viscount of Carcassone. He is one of the guardians of the Labyrinth trilogy, three ancient scrolls that will unlock the secret of the Grail. Alais’ life is forever caught up in the story of these scrolls, and Alice in the 20th century, picks up the threads of that story and follows it to the conclusion.

The historical parts of this book are lovely. The author’s clearly done her research, and brings an incredible air of authenticity to Alais’ story. You can almost hear the sounds of the old city of Carcossone. Alice’s story was a bit slower to me. I also felt like it became a giant exposition dump towards that end. I liked the book, but didn’t love it, and while I wouldn’t rule out reading another book by this author, she won’t be at the top of my must find list. I definitely recommend this book if you like reading history come alive, but I’m not sure I can recommend it for the overall story.

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