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3.5 118
by Kate Mosse

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

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.
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.
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
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.
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
From the Publisher
Elegantly written...An action-packed adventure of modern conspiracy and medieval passion. (The Independent [UK])

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
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Penguin Group
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File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Elegantly written...An action-packed adventure of modern conspiracy and medieval passion. (The Independent [UK])

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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Labyrinth 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 118 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Oneira More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 !
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Babette-dYveine More than 1 year ago
I had to finish this book, because I wanted to find out what happened.  I was very disappointed.  I thought the story was confusing, and, although well-written somwhat preposterous.  People living for 800 years?  OK, call it a fantasy rather than fiction.  But I also found several holes in the story and couldn'[t keep the many characters straight.
PlumPudding More than 1 year ago
(actually 3.5 rounded down) To be honest, there was a lot more in this book that I liked than I disliked, but I think it's mostly the writing and organization that gives this novel a low rating. Pacing was not consistent throughout the novel and it put me off. It starts off at a very slow, deliberate pace. Then three quarters the way through it picks up lighting-fast and becomes this great page-turner only to have it drop and describe the rest of the plot in a narrative between two characters. The first half goes into detail about the politics and relationships and the development of characters I assumed were vital to the story only to have the last third mention what happened to them and (in some cases) their deaths in passing. Don't get me wrong, there was much I liked about this book, the way it combined past and present one of them. I had thought from the beginning that the past-present connection would be cheesy and was dreading the moment the connection happened, but it was actually pretty heartfelt and meaningful. I really enjoyed that part. Some characters were not as fleshed out as others (even though they were the main characters) but others were gloriously three-dimensional and won my heart. Guilhem in particular is in my opinion the strongest character and what kept the book going near the end for me. All in all, this book had great depth in politics and atmosphere and setting but lacked in development and organization. Still a good and interesting read, though.
lil_devil_57 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was worth reading and it kept me coming back for more, but only for the older story. The modern one was disjointed and very uneven, too many people, she seem to care more for the backstory and it showed, it out shined the whole book. I loved that part of the book and it ended wonderful , but like i said the modern story flopped.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. So good, it listened to it twice back to back. The reader was perfect for the story. It was personal, exciting, historical and a love story. What more could you want... I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't think this is as poorly written as some of the other reviewers. The historical parts of the story are interesting- especially since we tend to only think of French History as Paris and all points north. Southern France is a relative unknown to a lot of folks and I think the book presents a lively, vibrant love of that area.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Templars are fashionable in recent novels and the Search for the Grail is recurrent. Previews of this book brought to mind 'The Eight' by Katharine Neville which had captured my imagination. Combined with a low-grade fascination for the Cathars Labyrinth was a must-read for me. Full of historical detail and wonderfully written the book plunges into the past and brings it to life or rather it demonstrates that the present echoes the past. Set mainly in the 13th century the narrative entertwines the quest for the Grail and the meaning of destiny while bringing to life a region of France and its' history. Unfortunately, and even though the idea of making two women the central characters in the Grail quest is refreshing, this is at the expense of character development. The story is more compelling than the characters who lack substance or a certain vitality. Or perhaps it is the past in Alais who dominates too much in my opinion or the fact that the book remains theoretical in its' present day tie-in. All in all an interesting read, especially from a historical point of view, and a nice change of pace from the thrillers I read on planes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book!! I loved the way you traveled back into time and see a different perspective. It definitively is worth reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
...that the rest of the book was not written as skillfully. What could have been a great story idea that could have been well-written turned into just an okay read. I had already invested enough time getting into the book that I wanted to finish it and find out what happened--was an enjoyable read except for Ms. Mosse's tendency to over-describe certain moments in the book way too simplistically. It was as if I could envision myself watching a story that was made to be a television movie of the week rather than a quality novel. I did enjoy the storyline, but I feel that overall, her writing style could have been less obvious. For Grail-'Da Vinci code' lovers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good book of Conspiracy Thriller. I had my head spun for a while between the two eras before I could get involved into the story. Once I caught up with the plot, I could not put it down later.