Customer Reviews for

Company of Liars

Average Rating 4.5
( 59 )
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5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(17)

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(5)

2 Star

(4)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2008

    Comany Of Liars

    Part historical novel, part horror thriller, Comapny Of Liars at first seems like it wants to be too much of everything. But this sophomore novel by British writer Karen Maitland meanages to weave all these elements into a gripping narrative which is an impressive for its psychological subtlety as it is for its page-turning plot. It is 1348 and the Black Death has England in its grasp. Camelot, a disfigured seller of the 'relics' of saints, is in the southern English town of Kilmington when a man collapses in the marketplace, covered in blue-black spots and coughing blood. After leaping to the defence of Jofre, a young musician not canny enough to tell an innkeeper that he has travelled from the north, the narrator ends up travelling with Jofre and his master, Rodrigo, moving north up the island in a bid to outrun the pandemic. They are soon joined by a creepy rune-reading child and her nursemaid, a runaway teenage couple, a mean-spirited man with a horse-drawn wagon laded with mysterious wares, and a gifted storyteller with a single white swan wing in place of a left arm. As this motley crew try to escape the pestilence pressing in from the coasts, their nights are haunted by the howls of an unseen wolf who mysteriously manages to keep pace with them. And as the dark secrets that each member of the company harbours are gradually revealed, horrific deaths occur one by one, described in stomach-churning detail. For a narrative driven by its action-packed plot, it is stunning how Maitland manages to sustain a gothic, claustrophobic air that at times recalls Edgar Allan Poe. Merry Olde England this is not. Most characters are also fully and realistically fleshed out, especially the narrator, whose own secret is handled in a clever and poignant way. The one exception is that of the rune-reader Narigorm, whose characteristics - pale, female, emotionless, speaks of doom - are rather run-of-the-mill creepy child stuff. The writer's incorporation of the actual historical customs is also fascinating, such as the village wedding held for two cripples: 'It is said that if you marry two cripples together in the graveyard at the community's expense it will turn away divine wrath and protect the village from whatever pestilence or sickness rages around it.' This is a ceremony at once comic and macabre, especially when the villagers proceed to ensure that the wedding is consummated. The only thing that spoils the novel is the rather hokey ending that calls to mind -grade horror movie franchises, the kind with a twist at tjhe end to set up the sequel. This is not a damning flaw though - there are many pages to read before that destination, and this journey really is worth experiencing in and of itself

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

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    Refreshing

    I haven't read a book like this in quite some time. The story had me going from the first few pages. The writing style set a great pace and whirled me into a world I haven't experienced - the plague of 1348. I felt personally invested in the characters and had sympahty for most of them. But at the very, I understood them. Sometimes that is what is most important. <BR/><BR/>I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2009

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    CAN YOU DECIPHER THE LIES?

    The protagonist is burdened with eight seemingly helpless refugees as he flees the pestilence (later to be called ¿The Black Plague) across 1348 England. His willingness to allow them to accompany him and is refusal to sneak away from them later are among the very few clues to his secret. The other members of the party have their own secrets or lies. Revealing a lie leads to death. The reader is challenged to guess the lies or secrets. It was not too difficult to correctly guess the secret being hidden by Pleasance, Rodrigo and Jofre, Cygnus, and Narigorm. I was also close to guessing Osmond and Adela¿s secret as well. The clues for Zophiel and Camelot are much more subtle.<BR/><BR/>The author touches on the nature of truth and good and evil although perhaps a bit superficially or simplistically. However, it is important to believe in evil if you are to believe that the events that transpire are possible. If the idea of using a Ouija board is abhorrent to the reader, this is unlikely to pose a problem. Since the troupe seeks to avoid the pestilence, the reader sees the common horrors associated with The Black Plague from a distance - the mass graves, the stench, and the black crosses drawn on abandoned homes. What the reader experiences directly are the horrors of an empty stomach, lack of shelter and protection from the elements, fear of anyone encountered that could be a robber or that could carry the pestilence, and horror of a grey, wet and muddy environment without the joy of sunshine and warmth. The ending may leave some disgruntled, but few will find it other than surprising.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Loved It!

    What a great book! So different than anything I¿ve read in a long time. This book was full of fascinating characters and a story that hooked me from the first page. I enjoyed this book so much that I didn¿t mind the slightly disappointing ending. The journey up to that point makes it more than worth your time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun period mystery

    I very much enjoyed the mystery, period setting and the complexity of the characters within the historical time period. The ending was certainly a surprise, but somewhat unsatisfying. It left you wanting more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    Absolutely Addictive!

    A friend recommended this book and I opened it somewhat skeptically -- then couldn't put it down! Just when I thought I had figured out the truth about one of the characters, the truth came out and...sometimes I was right, sometimes wrong. All the characters are effectively drawn and engaging -- you can't be ambivalent about any of them, you either hate or like each of them. For anyone who is enamored of England, the Middle Ages, historical novels, this is a "must". It would also make great supplemental reading for a mature Brit Lit class, but I'd be selective in recommending it to high school kids. It's a great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Great Characters

    The character development is rich and empathetic. Their deepth painted wonderful pictures in my mind. Their interaction with each other feels believable for a group of very different people forced to rely on each other's company for both physical and emotional survival.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Like no other...

    No other novel explores the boundaries between superstition and fantasy and perception and reality as does this magnificent work by Karen Maitland. Each chapter is a revelation that leads to the wondrous conclusion. This book is a must read for all intelligent fans of smart fiction. All detractors should either read better books or go back to school.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Superb

    Great read. Loved it.

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  • Posted January 8, 2014

    he plague sends an unlikely group of travelers on a journey to t

    he plague sends an unlikely group of travelers on a journey to try and escape its ugly death but somehow death reaches in and takes what he wants to. This was a tedious read but one that I am glad I stuck with. The ending was most surprising, sharing all the secrets of this band of misfits I was generally shocked by their secrets, which is hard to do for I don't shock easily, I had no idea how deep and unsuspecting secrets can be. Narigorm , a leader of sorts for this group, was my favorite character and the one with the biggest secret of them all. 




    Recommended for: For people who love fictional adventurous travel reads. 

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  • Posted January 7, 2014

    It¿s been three days since I finished ¿Company of Liars¿ and I¿m

    It’s been three days since I finished “Company of Liars” and I’m still not sure what to think of it. Part of the novel is dark, disturbing and unsettling, and the other part is mostly ‘meh’. In this book, we meet with nine travellers, joined together by fate more than anything else, who try to escape from the Plague wrestling its wray through England. The protagonist, Camelot, a scarred, one-eyed seller of relics, is a cynical, sarcastic protagonist, but nevertheless enjoyable to read about. There’s a bunch of superstitution thrown in as well, folklore, and the presence of an unknown evil, which we never truly meet, but is almost certainly there. Whether it is the wolves of the Bishop, as one of the characters proclaims at some point during their trip, or destiny, or the Plague itself, its chasing them, and sending a sense of dread and foreboding at our little group.

    While I generally liked the plot, the references and reimagining of the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, I wasn’t too impressed by the writing. Some passages were pure gold, with descriptions so masterfully crafted they made me jealous. But the pacing was off sometimes, and generally very slow. It took pages and pages to progress from one place to the other, and we got way too much time stuck inside Camelot’s head, which made me feel claustrophobic.

    The ending was a bit disappointing. Up until then, most of the folklore and superstition had been reduced to just that – folklore and superstition. But then, the book takes a complete turn, throw in some supernatural elements and decides to call that an ending. Not that impressive.

    Nevertheless, I did enjoy this book. It’s an intriguing mix of historical fiction, mystery, suspense and atmospheric writing. Too bad for the ending and the dragging passages, or it would’ve been an absolutely great read.

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  • Posted November 11, 2013

    mystery and middle-ages, marvelous

    Each character has a hidden secret. You'll wonder who will reveal their secret next. The beliefs and life in the middle-ages are large factors in the plot. Some members of our book club found it dark and gruesome, but that is how it was then. It is a quick read with plenty to keep the reader interested.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    I am really torn on rating this book. The story and characters

    I am really torn on rating this book. The story and characters were gripping, but a publishing &quot;mistake&quot; drove me mad. Why put each of the internal &quot;stories&quot; in such fine print that even a magnifying glass would not allow them to be comfortably read? Very distracting and inexcusable!




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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Giid Good but not great

    You feek
    K





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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    Wish Ms Mailtand would write more

    Fascinating and a real page turner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

    Entertaining read

    If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this. Great atmospheric tale set during the plague in England. Interesting storyline and characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2011

    This book was great!

    I don't know why but this book grabs your attention and keeps it all the way through. I didn't put it down, the characters are well described, but not so much that you know each one as soon as you meet them. They're running from the plague, which keeps the group moving. Could they really believe to out run it? Each person has a secret, and the secrets are slowly exposed to the other members of the group during the trek toward a "safe" town.I thought the ending was just great! This is one of those books you think about for days after you finish it! I told all my family and friends about this book and I haven't done that since those Dan Brown books came out~

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2011

    Great book, disappointing ending

    I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. I love medieval stories, and this is one of the best i ever read. However, i found the ending to be disappointing. It was like maitland wrote a great book, got to the end, and didn't know how to end it. I just wish there had been a sequel. However, i like this book enough to buy it.

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  • Posted April 21, 2011

    A Must Read

    I have read this book twice and loved it even more the second time.

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  • Posted April 16, 2011

    amazing

    i loved every second of this simply told but belly wrenching story. well written and entertaining. my heart still aches for the 9

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