July 2005: Alice Tanner stumbles upon two skeletons during an archaeological dig in the mountains outside Carcassonne. Inside the hidden tomb where the bones lie crumbling, she experiences an overwhelming sense of malevolence, as well as a creeping realisation that, however impossible it seems, she can somehow understand the mysterious ancient words carved into the rock. Too late, Alice realises she's set in motion a terrifying sequence of events that she cannot control.
©2005 Mosse Associates Ltd; (P)2006 W. F. Howes Ltd.
"A lovely, intelligent novel of discovery and loss." (Nicci Gerrard)
"A gripping holy grail quest." (Sunday Times)
I learned a lot of history from this book, and it's not difficult to confirm or refute the author's historical claims. I'm glad I was not born in the 12th century - she paints a vivid picture of day-to-day life in the early 1200's with clarity and occasionally disturbing detail. The story develops cleverly with the interplay between then and now done skillfully and in a way that keeps your interest. The characters are engaging, but sometimes a little too type-cast as goodies and baddies.
Beware - there are some stomach-churningly violent passages here, but not in a gratuitous way - I suspect they really did behave like that back then. (for example the destruction of Bezier is historically accurate as far as I can tell). The conclusion is satisfying, and ties together a carefully woven story quite neatly, although some of it you will have guessed as you listened.
To grasp all the intricacies of this book I listened to it twice and profited by doing so - it's fairly complex and keeping track of who's doing what in the middle third is not always easy - there are some early passages that are crucial to grasp but seem irrelevant on first listen.
Dan Brown should learn lessons from Kate Mosse. This story is everything the Da Vinci Code could have been - complex, engaging, intricate and clever, with easily discernible fact from fiction. Thoroughly enjoyable.
I am forcing myself to finish listening to this book as I always try to finish what I start (reading-wise anyway). However, it is just plain atrocious. I can't make my mind up whether it is the choice of narrator, who no matter what each character is saying seems to be able to inflict a whining tone (you know, "poor little me"), or whether the writing simply lends itself to this type of narrative.
It would appear that, except for the main character, everyone spends their time being unreasonably angry or agitated and shouting. Also, the plot is taking too long to develop.
I'm very surprised to find it so hard to stomach listening to a book that is supposed to be an award winner. It's also just the kind of storyline that I usually love, but Labyrinth is proving immensely unsatisfying and I can only listen to it in very small sittings.
Sorry, Kate Mosse, but it is highly unlikely that I will be listening to any other books of yours, and I don't think, Maggie Mash that I'll be listening to anything you've narrated either.
I've just finished Labyrinth and was engrossed through the whole book. Yes, the book IS long, but I had trouble putting it down. I'm fascinated by this period of history and it was very interesting to hear the point of view of the local inhabitants and Cathars. I also thoroughly enjoyed the way Kate Mosse intertwined the two stories and look forward to reading her future books. The narrator also did an excellent job.
I chose this book because I was looking for something in the genre of the excellent "Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis (highly recommended!). By contrast, I found Labyrinth incredibly disappointing. I finally have packed it in, almost at the end, as I care less about how it finishes than in saving myself from being insulted by the frayed story lines, flat writing and unbelievability of it all. While it starts off with a compelling and tense opening, the book soon becomes a tattered mess of characters, plot lines and eras. As a history novel it falls short in every aspect: personal life, political factions, warfare, interplay between the sexes, locales, etc. The characters are stereotyped, shallow and unappealing. The shifts between the two eras -- modern day and the Pays d'Oc in the 1200s -- are stilted. The romantic side is equally facile. It hints at being supernatural as a grail story, with some dream sequences thrown in, but can't make up its mind. I come away thinking that this would be the sort of effort you'd expect from a high school student with a big imagination but undeveloped writing and researching skills. The two positives are the narration, which is quite well done (though a bit whiny as others have suggested, but maybe that's the writing) and the fact that it got me interested in the Albigensian Crusade. Some have compared it to Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" and perhaps the auther was wanting to cash in on this genre. If so, it's done poorly. Save your Audible credit and get "Doomsday Book" as a fine history novel instead.
An unashamed Audiophile who has his own studio and business called iZENEARS which brings Australian travel and history to life for locals and visitor's alike.
There is no doubt that Dan Brown set the cat among the pigeons with his tale of the Grail for it set up that wonderful condition within the mind of the reader/listener of “I always knew…”. But Kate fails to achieve the same sense of wonderment, of understanding. It moves from Century to Century and back again in a disarming manner which makes it complex to follow. Her literary style is rich and as with any good narrative, one can ‘see’ the scenes she portrays, but the tale becomes so implausible it loses that essence of ‘could be true when you think about it.’ A shame really.
I whish I had read this book before going to beautiful Carcassonne. Things would have looked different having this story in your head.
Gripping story, vivid descriptions which brought the book alive. A lot of characters so you need a good memory.
Great narrator who reads with passion. Highly recommended.
"Long and Laborious"
I wish I'd bought the abridged version! The story is so long. I find myself saying 'just get on with it' much to the consternation of others standing nearby.
Actually the story is pretty good. The narrator lets the side down by giving the French what appears to be a Lancashire accent which really grates. Aaagh. The French accent in some places is fine so I presume it was a deliberate (and bad) decision of the narrator to give some characters a more regional accent. It doesn't work!
There are lots and lots of cliches at the start, but it does settle down if you persevere. Not a bad book really but a combination of the narration and length lets it down.
"Very disappointing delivery!"
An excellent story ready by a beautiful voice. The narration was lovely, but the s-l-o-w over....drama....tisa.....tion of the characters was extremely irritating and spoiled my enjoyment.
I recommend you read the book or find another presentation.
"Can I have those hours of my life back please?!"
I had to give up on this book in the end. I found the narration extremely irritating, with all the ham and inexplicable french/yorkshire accents. Story seemed rather flat and slow moving too, but that may have been more due to my frustration at listening than the authors' writing.
"Will make your brain ache"
Half an hour into this novel and my head was spinning. It was puzzle after puzzle and I just kpt thinking, when's something going to happen? It was extremely hard to follow and I gave up after another hour or two. If you find it easy to concentrate on even the most complex plots then this book will be easy, but if you like a read to thrill and excite you without the requirement of a degree to follow what's happening, then give this one a miss.
"dull plodding and cliche ridden"
I think you notice the cliches more in an audio book but I'm afraid Kate Mosse wouldn't ever use an original description or simile if a tired and well worn one first came to mind. Aren't editors supposed to guide their authors away from the well trodden path. The story would have been great otherwise.
"Gripping grail tale"
I was wary of buying this book at first as there are so many copy-cats of the poor Da Vinci Code, many of them simply poor too. When I started to read this, I felt that the aithour was a little overblown at first, but the beautful narration began to colour and colour the story - not just the characters but the places too. I began to feel I was seeing a film in my head - in HDTV. I was gradually pulled into the flashback style story, making guesses as to the links, sometimes right, most times wrong. Like a wonderful symphony, all the instruments slowly start to play the same tune, building to the crescendo of a finish that meant I listened until almost 3 in the morning to find out what had happened/was happening (and I had promised myself I would stop listening at midnight and end the following night). I couldn't stop. Sad, enlightening and full of wonderful period and historical detail - I didn't feel preached at, I felt informed.
"Badly written/Awfully read"
This is a truly awful book. It is full of poor descriptive writing - "hair as black as a raven's wing" for heavan's sake and reads like a poor runner-up in some Sixth Form descriptive writing competition. As for the narration - dire! When the narrator tries to creat dramatic effect I kept expecting her to mention lashings of ginger ale. Do not waste your money on this tripe.
"PERHAPS THE ABRIDGED VERSION IS BETTER - MAYBE"
I must say that I hope the abridged version is better than this one. I found this book too long and very confusing. At mant points throughout the thread, I struggled to maintain my attention. This book is bordering on dull!
"Unabridged and unfinished"
Fo the first time ever, I found myself unable to continue listening to an audio book whilst less than half way through. The story was, I suppose, good, but the narrator 'does' accents. The Irish (I presume) archaeologist was from Northern Ireland but her accent did a quick round trip of the British Isles, touching down in Lancashire, Bristol and finally Ireland. The French Alice lurches from Lancashire to staccato received pronounciation. All peasants are rendered in croaky,guttural Northern English and yet bizarrely some others have a French accent. When the narrator moved on to a sultry, breathy French accent for the person who may be the modern day villain I realised I had to stop listening. I might try to read the book but I cannot go back to listening to it. I value my teeth too much and that made me grind them.
"OK, but a little over-hyped"
The book has an interesting premise and is undoubtedly well researched. The plot is a little slow to get going, but holds ones interest. However, there are much better thrillers out there. There are very many characters and as mentioned by another reviewer, this can get a little confusing. This wasn't one that I took the long route home for!
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