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The Plague Tales (The Plague Tales, #1)
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The Plague Tales (The Plague Tales #1)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,013 ratings  ·  125 reviews
It is history's most feared disease. It turned neighbor against neighbor, the civilized into the savage, and the living into the dead. Now, in a spellbinding novel of adventure and science, romance and terror, two eras are joined by a single trace of microscopic bacterium�the invisible seeds of a new bubonic plague.

In the year 1348, a disgraced Spanish physician crosses...more
Mass Market Paperback, 675 pages
Published May 11th 1998 by Dell (first published 1997)
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The Stand by Stephen KingI Am Legend and Other Stories by Richard MathesonThe Andromeda Strain by Michael CrichtonDoomsday Book by Connie WillisThe Plague by Albert Camus
Fiction About Epidemics
16th out of 73 books — 43 voters
The Chosen by Chaim PotokThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakMy Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim PotokSophie's Choice by William Styron
Jews in Literature
104th out of 402 books — 226 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,730)
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Kim
The is two interconnected stories about outbreaks of the bubonic plague in England--one set in the near future and one set in 1348. The stories were somewhat interesting with characters you might care about, but somehow I just couldn't suspend belief enough to get into this. And things just got more outrageous as the story progressed--especially the near future story. For starters, characters fell in love and changed long-held beliefs at the drop of a hat. Then they did totally unbelievable thin...more
bookczuk
A very absorbing book- the two tales intertwined were well crafted, though there were times whe I would be caught up in one and hated switching to the other. The details, especially regarding the story set in 1348 were especially fascinating to this nurse and lover of history.

From the Publisher
Fourteenth-century physician Alejandro Canches, caught performing an autopsy in Spain, flees across Europe at the time of the Black Death to escape execution for his heretical deed. When he arrives in the...more
Linda C
I found this book at the librarby (hurrah for libraries!!!) and thought that maybe I had read it before, but, since it intrigued me and I couldn't really remember the storyline, decided to give it another go. About 50 pages in, I was sure that I had read it before, but was interested enough to read it through again, since I couldn't really remember the story anyway.

The plot was intriguing-- some of the other reviewers were troubled by what they viewed as "medical inaccuracies" in the current/fut...more
Peggy
So here ya go—a book that’s both a fascinating historical novel about a Jewish physician during the plague AND a futuristic medical thriller about a contemporary outbreak of the bubonic plague. You’ll love the characters, and both halves of this story are first rate.
Angela
COVER BLURB: It is history's most feared disease. It turned neighbor against neighbor, the civilized into the savage, and the living into the dead. Now...two eras are joined by a single trace of microscopic bacerium -- the invisible seeds of a new bubonic plague.

In the year 1348, a disgraced Spanish physician crosses a landscape of horrors to Avignon, France. There he will be sent on an impossible mission to England, to save the royal family from the Black Death.

Nearly seven hundred years later,
...more
Schnaucl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
liirogue
I really wish I could give this 2 1/2 stars.

The book tells two stories at once, one in the past and one in the "future," in which both characters are trying to deal with an outbreak of the bubonic plague. The author could write some gripping scenes, but I found myself intensely disappointed by the ending - both story lines had several major contrivances to get them to the end, and then the end felt like a copout. And the author couldn't decide what type of book she wanted to write - is it a dram...more
Brooke
Oct 05, 2007 Brooke rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: virus enthusiasts
This book was recommended on the Seattle public library website under "if you liked the DaVinci Code", but it really isn't all that similar to The DaVinci Code, if you ask me. Actually, I think Ann Benson is a much better writer than Dan Brown. Her characters were interesting, and the premise is believable, if set in a future that is "post-outbreak" and regimented by contagion-reducing laws and patrolled by "biocops", and she threw in just the right amount of sexual tension and romance to keep t...more
Bryce
The Plague Tales is comprised of two distinct narratives; one set in the 1300s, about a Jewish doctor charged with keeping the English royal family safe from the Bubonic Plague and the other set in the future (2005!), as an forensic archeologist unwittingly releases the ancient bacteria.

While Alejandro, the Jewish doctor’s story is engaging, the futuristic story falls flat. Janie, the forensic archeologist, is shrewish, selfish, and shortsighted. Ann Benson would have been better served dumping...more
Suanne Laqueur
Wow. A big, reverberating WOW! Wow. Wow. Wow! I was up half the night because I couldn’t put it down, and when I put it down, I’d still be up with the creepy-crawlies. Pretty scary stuff. Pretty gross. And pretty Fan-tatty!

What really knocks me out is that this is Ann Benson’s first novel; all her other works have been about beading! Yes, I said Beading. How does a beadweaver just sit down and write this incredible medical thriller?!

Two parallel stories, two parallel characters, linked by histo...more
Tish Newmyer
This is two stories about the Plague. The historic tale from the Plague in the 1300's was fascinating. The sci-fi futuristic tale was not. There were some interesting ideas for what the future might hold, but too much of sci-fi story was driven by fantastic reactions to too many crises.
RachelAnne
The vision of an antibiotic resistant future is all too plausible, and the parallels to plagues of the past make that possibility even more horrifying. Compelling.
Christine
Found this book at a Half Price book store for $2.00. It was a great buy because I couldn't put the book down, but now it's going to cost me more because I have to read books two and three NOW! Already ordered them from Barnes and Noble but I have to wait to get them!

One thing that was kind of funny about the book is that the future part takes place in 2005 (the book was published in the 90's) which is already our past and there were things "invented" by the author that we do not have in 2014! I...more
Karen Jones
The Plague Tales takes the reader through the distant past and the near future. It’s a future where germs and viruses have created a new way of life. Gone is the freedoms people have always known. They are replaced with a low current of fear underlying everything. Travel is difficult because each country fears receiving some new, deadly contagion.
In the future, bodyprinting, a new, somewhat-invasive, technology is rampant in countries outside the US and the heroine of this story, Janie, fears it...more
Julie
I was torn between giving this novel three or four stars, but decided on four because it was a pretty entertaining story. The most enjoyable aspect was the 14th century narrative about a physician, Alejandro, who travels from his native Spain, through plague-ridden France, finally ending up in the court of England’s Edward III, where he is tasked with keeping the royal family pestilence-free. It had rich history, sympathetic characters and great details.

The parallel story, taking place in the 2...more
Elaine
Not great fiction, but an enjoyable read none-the-less. (Wish I could give this 3.5 stars.)

The book alternates chapters between a post-epidemic 1980s/90s in which our former surgeon/now medical archeologist-in-training heroine inadvertently looses an ancient strain of bubonic plagues on London; and our hero, the Jew-in-disguise doctor who is tasked with keeping the Plague from the royal family during the original outbreaks in the 14th C. But wait, reader, there is a connection between the two st...more
Coralie
This was the best book I've read in a while, although it has been a lackluster reading month. "The Plague Tales" alternates between the near future and the past. Two outbreaks of bubonic plague almost a thousand years apart come together in this story. Long on action and short on character development, this book is a page-turner. As far as the relationships between characters go, it is fairly predictable. A good read.
Booklady
London is the main location of this book. Ms. Benson is not a British author, but she did an excellent job with the historical part of this first novel. The story is about a woman who has lost her profession through a reassignment process forced upon her by the government after an outbreak of some horrible disease in the U.S. which killd the majority of the population including her parents and all of her family. She was a surgeon but has been told she has to pursue anthropology or forensics or s...more
Helen Moynihan
I got absorbed in this book - late night reading while recovering from surgery - and went on to read the other two books in the series. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing could have been better. In addition, I strongly believe that anyone writing about biomedical science should get her basic facts and terminology correct e.g., "bacteria" is a plural noun, the singular is "bacterium" - I could go on ....
R
I picked up this book at the library and when I did I flipped to the back pages, and someone had stuck a short newspaper article about a small bubonic plague outbreak that happened in 2011 by the Vancouver Sun. Of course I was intrigued. I have to say I really enjoy this niche market that Ann Benson has clearly carved out for herself. I enjoyed the characters set in 1348 more than the future/present ones. I felt that she really captured the life and times of those people, and it's probably becau...more
Karen
This book is really two stories woven in to one. The first takes place during the 1300s plague outbreak, the second "modern day" with a futurist twist on how we as a society approach illness and disease. I think it could have b een shorter and still gotten the story told, but it was a good book and I will attempt the other two in the loosely connected series.
Gwen
This was a little hard to start, but it got better. The prose is definitely lackluster, but I liked the plot turns, even the predictable ones. For some reason, I liked reading the flashback parts much more--I can't tell if it was just better writing there, or maybe I believed the subject matter and context of 14th Century Europe.

This line I'll remember at the bars: At the forbidden prospect of giving into desires to be with the woman he loves and who loves him back:
"And does not the Talmud say...more
Jaralee
This was a wonderful book that followed two time periods - The late 1300s and present day. It begins the journey of two physicians, both who find themselves in a world of a horrific plague. This is the first book of three in the series. I read book three, The Physician's Tale, only to find out that two books came before it. So I decided to backtrack to fill in the information I had missed. This book was a great page turner. The characters were well developed, and the plot is very interesting. Th...more
Maddy
PROTAGONIST: Alejandro Canches, 14th century physician
Janie Crowe, American medical archaeologist
SETTING: 1348 Europe and future United Kingdom
RATING: 3.0
WHY: The narrative alternates between 1340s Europe, in which Jewish physician Alejandro Canches is trying to fight the bubonic plague and a future setting featuring Janie Crowe, an American physician, who has come to UK and inadvertently unearths a bubonic plague microbe that ultimately threatens to reintroduce the disease. The plot is initial...more
Mary
Oops! I read this once before, years ago. It's a nice little thriller with two parallel stories, one taking place in the 14th century during the outbreak of the bubonic plague and the other taking place in "the future", after another, unidentified, plague (referred to as The Outbreaks) has wreaked havoc on humanity. Both tales are told in a linear fashion which is easy to follow. While there are a few historical inaccuracies (Edward of Woodstock, son of King Edward III, was never called "the Bla...more
Jamie Crouthamel
This was a pretty standard epidemiological thriller novel. The exception being that the author split the story between the age of the Black Death and a somewhat dystopian future where antibiotics have been so overused that they are no longer able to be used. The story follows a woman who is desperately seeking a new life through a retraining program. When an accidental discovery leads to a modification of the ancient version of the Black Death, she must use her cunning and new found training to...more
Savannah
I rarely have to give up a book without finishing it, but I just couldn't get through this one. I really like reading about the plague, so I thought I would be interested, but the writing is just too bad.

There are two stories going on at once (alternating chapters), which could be really interesting, but ends up feeling a bit jerky. Another problem is the overly descriptive sentences (way too many adjectives).

The biggest pet peeve I have though is the really bizarre science that's going on. I un...more
Vida
I really enjoyed this book. It was on the 'Best Reads' table at the library, and having nothing else in my hand, I grabbed it. So glad I did!

The dual story line, kept my attention throughout. It gave me more things to connect to and wonder about. I didn't feel a lot of drag as I often do in historical fiction. Another plus to the duality is it enabled me to put the book down, and pick it back up freely without losing the momentum.

The romance was minimal, thank goodness. The author didn't lose s...more
Beth
Feb 08, 2008 Beth rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Beth by: my mom
Shelves: 2008, 2006
I really can't decide how many stars this one deserves. I'm rereading it to refresh my memory before I read book 3, and it's not as good as I remembered. The story is interesting, and I like the style a great deal (flips back and forth between Europe during the time of the Plague, and the present/not-to-distant future.) However, some of the "present/future" stuff is just a little too contrived, what with the Biocops and the chemical rifles and the Outbreaks caused by the overuse of antibiotics.

I...more
Kara
I loved this book! It is written well and is great for any reader. It has two parallel stories one in the 1300s and one in the "future" (it is 2004, but when the author wrote the book it was the future, so she made some creative guesses). It is fun to see how the stories mimic each other. I loved the depth of the characters. You find yourself eager to flip chapters to learn what happened to certain characters, only to be reminded that you were in the middle of a crisis with your other characters...more
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