Labyrinth

( 116 )

Overview

July 2005. In the Pyrenees mountains near Carcassonne, Alice, a volunteer at an archaeological dig, stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery-two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth.

Eight hundred years earlier, on the eve of a brutal crusade that will rip apart southern France, a young woman named Alais is given a ring and a mysterious book for safekeeping by her father. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true...

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Overview

July 2005. In the Pyrenees mountains near Carcassonne, Alice, a volunteer at an archaeological dig, stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery-two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth.

Eight hundred years earlier, on the eve of a brutal crusade that will rip apart southern France, a young woman named Alais is given a ring and a mysterious book for safekeeping by her father. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true Grail, and the ring, inscribed with a labyrinth, will identify a guardian of the Grail. Now, as crusading armies gather outside the city walls of Carcassonne, it will take a tremendous sacrifice to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When archaeology volunteer Alice Tanner chanced upon the cave opening, she had no idea that she would be utterly changing -- and endangering -- her life. Inside the cave were the remains of two people, a stone ring, cryptic etchings on the wall, and a small, timeworn leather bag. At her own peril, Tanner discovers that the story of the cave goes back to the 13th century and then far, far beyond. A brisk, well-researched historical thriller.
Ross King
… the novel distinguishes itself by juggling two compelling story lines, unscrambling (and making digestible) chunks of medieval history and offering a pleasing wealth of information about the Languedoc, a region whose landscape and history Mosse loves deeply and knows intimately. Her contagious enthusiasm for the subject and dexterous handling of her material make for an open-throttle narrative drive across 500 pages of white-knuckle twists and turns.
— The Washington Post
Library Journal
"Three secrets. Two women. One Grail." That's how the publisher sums up this first book from the cofounder of Britain's noted Orange Prize, who was honored as a European Woman of Achievement in 2000. While volunteering at a dig in the Pyrenees, Alice discovers two skeletons, several artifacts, and the drawing of a labyrinth. They lead her back to a woman named -Alais, whose father entrusted her with the secret of the Grail at the time of the-Albigensian heresy. Foreign rights sold to nine countries [rights sold in an additional 22 countries]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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. Alais, 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, Alais'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 Alais'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 Vinci Code devotees with its promise of revelation about Christianity's truths. 8-city author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Two women, separated by eight centuries, share a special connection both to each other and to three mystical books of power in this adventure novel by the cofounder of Britain's Orange Prize for Fiction. In the 13th century, French Crusaders were determined to exterminate all religious heretics in the rebellious south, including the Cathars living in Carcassonne. Bertrand Pelletier, soldier and keeper of the "Book of Words," confesses his secrets to daughter Alais, thereby putting her in grave danger. During an archaeological excavation in present-day southwestern France, Alice Tanner uncovers a cave containing two skeletons and a stone ring engraved with a labyrinth. Alice must stay one step ahead of ruthless enemies while conducting her own investigation into the mysteries of the labyrinth. Mosse's obvious love of the region's Occitan language infuses her prose with great passion. However, the trick of alternating story lines becomes confusing, as does the irritating plethora of mystical objects. A flawed work, but, given the popularity of Da Vinci Code-type fiction, strongly recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/05.]-Laurel M. Bliss, Princeton Univ. Lib., NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dan Brown probably need not move over, but he may have to share the wealth with this well-researched tale, set in both contemporary and 13th-century France (Carcassonne), and featuring two intrepid heroines. Written by the British literary insider who co-founded the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction, this is a quickly paced adventure that wears its considerable learning lightly-and of higher literary quality than The Da Vinci Code, to which it will inevitably be compared. Its modern protagonist is 30-ish Alice Tanner, who joins an archaeological dig in the Pyrenees hoping to rev up her uneventful life, and makes an astonishing discovery while exploring a mountainside cave. Two skeletons and a ring bearing a labyrinth design lead, by an agreeably circuitous route, to a mystery related to the story of the Holy Grail, dating back to the culture of ancient Egypt-and attracting various shady characters with vested interests. Meanwhile, in a parallel narrative, teenaged Alais, daughter of one of the Grail's appointed guardians, is entrusted with an invaluable book, one of three that together reveal the Grail's long-hidden secrets. Further complicating Alais's burden is the fact that her family are Cathars, a gentle religious sect who believe that Satan created Earth and God the heavens, and have thus incurred the land-grabbing enmity of northern neighbors who persecute them with genocidal efficiency, in what has since become known as the Albigensian Crusade. Mosse moves briskly between the two narratives, painting an impressively dense picture of life in the farming region then called Languedoc, and devising nifty matching situations and characters (e.g., two obstreperously venal femmesfatale). It all works smashingly until late in the story, when an ill-advised (and quite overlong) summary of the history of the Grail legend brings the drama to a stuttering halt. Fun for most of the way-and very likely to be one of next summer's popular vacation reads. First printing of 100,000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425213971
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/6/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 113,091
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Mosse is the author of the New York Times bestselling Labyrinth and Sepulchre and the Co-founder and Honorary Director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in England and France.

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions From The Publisher
1. In the prologue Kate gives glimpses several leading characters. But she doesn't tell you who is who, which to sympathise with and which to condemn. What effect does this have on how you, as reader, begin the novel?

2. Also in the prologue, there are glimpses of the two time periods. Do you think it is important that, after the prologue, Kate starts the novel proper with 10 chapters set in the medieval past?

3. How did you feel when the action moved to contemporary France in chapter 11?

4. How quickly did you discover that some of the modern characters mirror or echo characters from the past? Which ones did you spot first? What were the clues?

5. Do you see Guilhem as an unhappy character, who never fully atones for his betrayal of Alaïs, or does he finally put things right?

6. Have you ever felt, like Alice, such an affinity with a place that you seem to know who must have previously lived there and the emotions they enjoyed or endured?

7. Some of Kate's medieval characters are real, in the sense that people with those names lived and breathed in the circumstances Kate narrates 800 years ago. Did you notice anything different about the 'real' characters? (For example, Raymond-Roger Trencavel, Agnès de Montpellier, Simon de Montfort and others.) You can visit www.mosselabyrinth.co.uk to learn more about these historical figures.

8. There are very few scenes of violence in Kate's novel, but those few are extremely severe. Do you think they were 'too much', 'not enough' or 'just right'?

9. Kate wanted to tell an adventure story in which active women shaped their own destinies. One journalist called her 'Wilma Smith'! Is this aspect of the adventure important to your enjoyment of the novel?

10. Although the Labyrinth story and the trilogy of special books have a spiritual element, they exist alongside Catharism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, not as part of any of these religions. How do you think Kate handles questions of faith?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 116 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(28)

2 Star

(15)

1 Star

(8)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 116 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2006

    Could not put down...

    I am so glad I bought this book! I am so not disappointed with my purchase. This story takes place in modern-day and 1200s Southern France (Languedoc). There is mystery, love, betrayal, murder, conspiracy...everything that makes for a great story. It's also about something that has intrigued people throughout history...The Holy Grail. Of course, there is the whole labyrinth mystery and what it has to do with the holy grail which makes this story different and exciting from other grail stories. There are some questions left unanswered in the story, but keep in mind that the grail is something we may never completely know or understand. I enjoyed how this story went back and forth in time and I particularly liked how there was a parallel between the characters in the present and the characters 800 years prior. Kate Mosse did an excellent job in her descriptions of the people and places. The writing is also excellent. If you like history, mystery, grail, and interesting places, read this book. You won't be able to put it down, and when you're done reading you will want the story to continue. I hope Ms. Mosse writes more stories like this in the future. She has a new fan in me!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2008

    A great mystery in Southern France...

    I was immediately drawn into this story which takes place in Southern France, in the Languedoc region. Sometimes, I thought, gosh this book is long, but then, we all read J.K. Rowling! If you hang in there, it does begin to fall into place, with lots of twists and turns. As a student of French language, I loved the references to the langue d'oc. And, as a believer in reincarnation, I loved the characters and story. When I love a good book, I will reread it and this is definitely the case!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2007

    Different than I expected

    I agree with everyone who's said that 'Labyrinth' had a slow start and a exciting finish. The beginning section 'basically the first 180 pages of the book' seemed somewhat boring to me, and I couldn't really get into the novel. Once the second portion started it got better, and toward the last 200 pages I couldn't put it down. One thing I think was both a blessing and a curse was the fact that the book took place in both the 1200s and 2005. It was interesting to get the two stories and see all the parallel events between them, but it was annoying because you would just be getting into one time period's story and then it would switch again. I really did like the characters, however. Alais 'the woman from the 1200s' especially you really grow to love her character. One thing I want to clarify, though, is that the back cover says 'of high literary quality than the Da Vinci Code.' I think the author's writing style is probably better, but the story itself I think was a tad weaker. 'Da Vinci Code' grabs you from page one and gets more in-depth with the story of the Grail, whereas 'Labyrinth' touches little on the Grail and goes into a lot of details you didn't necessarily need to know. However I would still recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story. If you can make it past the first chapters, the ending is most certainly worth it. Overall I'd say 4 and 1/2 stars.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Mystical Historical France

    Amazing book. I think I liked Sepulchre better, but this one was still fantastic! Half of the story takes place in the 13th century, as the Cathars are attacked by the precursers to the Inquisition. Amidst that, there is a secret that must be protected. The other half takes place at a modern archaeological dig. A volunteer is suddenly the victim of attacks after she found an underground labyrinth. Mosse does an incredible job of interweaving the past and present while maintaining suspense in both.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2008

    UNREAL

    This author shows us that there are some people out there that can come up with their own great ideas.I'm not usually such a fan of these types of books, but it's A MUST READ !

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2008

    Interesting story, but I won't recommend to my friends

    Labyrinth was an interesting story with a lot of details that frankly should have been trimmed. I did enjoy the multiple timelines and there were a few interesting twists.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2008

    one-trick-pony?

    There is not doubt that Ms Mosse is an outstanding writer, able to weave a well written plot with beleivable characters. I first read Sepulcher, Ms Mosses 2nd book, then backtracked and read Labyrinth. Basically the same plot line. The heroine has a link to the past, which she does not understand, but little by little through flashbacks and intertwining an ancient story with present time happenings, the connection slowly unfolds... Because I had already read and enjoyed Sepulcher, Labyrinth left me a little cold because of it's familiarity. A good read non the less. Just wish it had held surprises that I had not already read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2007

    Slow Start - Great Finish

    I agree with the other reader who said it had a slow start/setup but finished as a page turner. The writer truly loves the topic and spends a lot of time setting up the scenes but it pays off in the end. I read this one past my bedtime and got up early the next morning to fit in a few more pages.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2009

    Can't finish and I refuse to torture myself

    If an author is writing 'stories' just to try and prove how smart she is, I don't want any part of it. It's okay if people speak other languages, I have no problem with that. My problem is when these same people, who are supposed to be story-tellers first and foremost, are interrupting my reading time to go look in the glossary (and yes, there is one in the back) to find out what all the French words mean. That's not why I read novels. Mosse, write stories in plain English and you might have a bigger following.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Would make a good movie.

    This book took me a while to read, but only because I had to stop and translate the conversations that were in French. Most of the book is in English, but if you don't speak French this one might take some time. The story line was great, it was a little had to follow starting out because of the changes in lifetimes, but once you get into the book and start to meet new characters it is hard to not want to know what happens next. I am reading the second book now, I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    I promised to stick with it for 100 pages but ended up doing twice that and still don't like the slow pace or the fact that it is very difficult to keep track of both stories. Not enough action....what is the point!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2007

    Good read, but slow begining

    I really enjoyed reading Labyrinth and would definately reccommend it, but not without first warning readers that the begining is quite slow and a lot less intriguing then the latter part of the story. If you can get through the first 100 to 200 pages (I know that sounds like a lot) the story then begins to unravel. As you continue on it only gets better as more and more is revealed. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish the book, as I just could not put it down. If you enjoy a bit of history wrapped up in a tale of courage and heart, than read Labyrinth.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2007

    Couldn't put it down

    This was a well-written story about two women connected by fate, circumstance, and blood. Mosse cleverly tells parallel stories about Alice and Alais--two women who lived hundreds of years apart, yet they share a connection in the present. The characters are well-thought out and very intriguing. I could not put this book down as I always wanted to find out what happened next.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2007

    Kept me awake!

    As a busy mother of three I look forward to some down time with a good book at night before bed. Too often, though, I end up falling asleep before reading too much. Kate Moss' Labyrinth succeeded in keeping me interested and awake. Through Bzzagent I learned of this book and it's similarity to The DaVinci Code in that it involves a search for the Holy Grail. As I started reading it I learned that aside from that fact it is a very different story. In fact, Labyrinth is actually two stories that are wondefullly woven together. The book jumps back and forth from present day France, where a young woman named Alice stumbles across something that eventually puts her and others in danger, and 13th century France, where another young woman named Alais learns that her father has been the guardian to an ancient secret. With each new chapter I became more engrossed in the two stories. I was always surprised when the story would again move 800 years - and at the same time I was excited to learn more about each story. The closer I got to the end of the book the more curious I was to see how these two stories, these two women, would ultimately come together. I was not disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2007

    Loved it!

    I enjoyed Mosse's writing style. Though separated by time Alice and Alais stories run parallel while told in a linear manner that flows very well. This fictional lesson in Southern France middle age history shows us the cruelties of power and religious fanaticism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2007

    Good, but not great

    I bought this book on CD to listen in my car as I drive to and from work. The story was slow, and would have lost my attention, if it had not been an audiobook. I didn't care too much for the ending, and found it to be a bit too perdictable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2006

    AMAZING

    An amazing feat of story telling intertwined between the centurys. An adventure old as time, is brought into a fresh light. Mosse actually brings you into the past to the point where you feel you could be 'Alais.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2006

    Not impressed....

    I really did not enjoy this book. I found it confusing and predictable. Half of the book I did not know what was happening, half of the characters/things/towns all had the same or very similar names. Granted, some of that is expected when there are two different time periods being depicted. You could tell that the backstory was favored by being over-developed and boring and the present story was not developed enough although more interesting. Basically, I would not waste money on this book unless you are really into strange, long, predictable history books.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2006

    Other 'Grail' stories are better

    I was disappointed in this book. It was bogged down in too much detail concerning the battles that took place and was otherwise disjointed and confusing. Your time would be better spent reading 'The Eight' by Katherine Neville.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2006

    Story Connects Ancient Facts With Present Day Adventure.

    This work by Kate Mosse is a certain page turner to those who are open minded and willing to search for proven facts in our past. She's a master of her subject, worthy of recognition and respect from her peers. Enjoy this epic. If you cannot travel to the South of France physically, the story, vicariously, takes you there and and you live it along with Kate's characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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