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Company of Liars

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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  8,052 ratings  ·  995 reviews
The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them.
Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot, the relic-seller who will become the group's leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyte
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Audio CD, Unabridged
Published September 30th 2008 by Books on Tape (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kristen
I imagine that it must be incredibly difficult to write an ending to a novel. Especially one that has been building a sense of mystery, suspense, and dread for a couple hundred pages. Up until the last handful of pages, Company of Liars is intriguing and illuminating. I have a soft spot for historical fiction, and an interest in medieval Europe, so I'm already naturally inclined toward this book. The author very deftly avoids the pitfall of writing a sort of Ye Olde Renaissance Faire kind of boo ...more
Hilary
I've read multiple novels about the Plague (Year of Wonders, Doomsday Book, probably others I can't think of right now). This was a completely different experience. The Plague is, in some ways, huge, and in other ways a minor character. A nod to the Canterbury Tales, this is the story of a motley group of travelers thrown together in their desperate attempt to escape the ravages of the pestilence.

I found this to be a total immersion experience. It doesn't wallow in medieval language, but the voc
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Nikki
I picked up Company of Liars as my fifth book of the readathon, last night, and read half of it in one go. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay up, but I can definitely say this for it: it could distract me from the pain of gallstones when high doses of anti-spasmodics and opiates could not. I think how much it entertains you will depend on how much you buy into the characters: I was prepared to fall for most of them, and to pity those I didn't adore, so I got swept up in their story. It's a relativel ...more
Laura

Okay, let's start with the negative, just to get it out of the way. I had read several reviews on Goodreads complaining about the ending before I even picked up the book, so all through the last chapter I kept thinking Whew! That's not such a bad ending! I can see how it might not please everyone, but I actually kind of like it! That was quite a relief, considering I adored the book most of the way through, and it had already gone down a bit in my estimation by the final chapter. My relief last
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Susan Johnson
I found this book so absolutely riveting that I spent two nights up late reading it. At first I thought it was just a mesmerizing story about the Plague in 1348 but it was so much more. Nine strangers come together, all with secrets, and as they travel to avoid the Black Death, their stories slowly are told.

I don't want to spoil it for anyone but there were so many twists that I had to keep reading to find out what was coming next. A very entertaining book that was extremely well-written. I hi
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Amy
There's not a better way to end the year of great reads in 2008 than to end it with Karen Maitland's first book, Company of Liars. This book has everything: love, death, friendship, witchcraft, deception...it's a little historical fiction mixed with a little fantasy rolled in to one yummy nugget of a novel.

The plot was excellent, the storytelling was just amazing and the characters are ones you are not soon to forget. This is one of those that stay with you a while. I find myself missing Camelot
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Xorosho
THE MORRIGAN! AGAIN! STEALTH GODDAMN MORRIGANS! 'Norigarm'? Pfft! You think you can trick me with an anagram?

Seriously. 'The Girl Who Would Be King', that's a Morrigan. 'The Replacement', that's a Morrigan. 'The Hounds of the Morrigan'? That's all the morrigans! (Okay, yeah, that one I brought on myself.) And now this book. Four of fifteen. I'm looking at a 26.67% saturation rate here. My cup runneth over with morrigans.

Okay, so, anyway. This book is about a motley gang of medieval folks who ba
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Carrie
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland is a reinterpretation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Set in 14th century England, during a time of fear, religious power, and superstition, it is the story of nine travelers trying to escape the Plague. As they travel inland, it becomes apparent that each one carries a secret. One by one, the secrets are exposed, with deadly consequences.

There is Zophiel, the traveling magician whose wagon full of boxes is a constant source of worry. No one knows what is in the
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Lauren
Company of Liars
4 Stars

The year is 1348 and the Pestilence has come to England. Among those fleeing the spread of the deadly disease are a company of nine travelers, each possessing a unique gift and each concealing a dark secret, but none is darker than the one that may spell the destruction of them all…

Note: Although the publisher claims this is a reimagining of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales, there is no resemblance between the two other than a group of travelers sharing their stories. W
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Orsolya
Imagine yourself on a cross-country road trip picking up hitch-hikers at various stops. This adventure would involve danger, suspense, fear, and maybe even growth (emotionally). Adapt this to the 14th century with wanderers on foot attempting to escape the pestilence and you have Karen Maitland’s “Company of Liars”.

Maitland’s novel is a juicy concoction of a medieval historical fiction novel mixed with spiritualism, magic, and mystery dumped into a pot of a fairy tale/fable core served to adult
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LJ
COMPANY OF LIARS (Hist. Myst-Camelot-England-1348) – VG+
Maitland, Karen – Standalone
Penguin/Michael Joseph, 2008, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780718153229

First Sentence: ‘So that’s settled then, we bury her alive in the iron bridle. That’ll keep her tongue still.’

The plague has come to England and nine people have joined together in an attempt to outrun it and find safety. A very disparate group it is: a scarred trader of holy relics, a magician, a musician and his teacher, a storyteller with a deform
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Ann
I have so many wishes. I wish I’d paid less attention to the “stunning reinterpretation of the Canterbury Tales!” part of the book jacket and noticed that all the blurbs were from people who write scary books. If you are like me – for whatever reason, I have read A Distant Mirror yet cannot sit through even the most banal mystery book without crapping my pants – then this is not for you. I wish I had the foresight to realize that even though I was rolling my eyes with every other page, I would g ...more
Brooke
Although I gave it 4 stars, it's closer to a 3.5. Company of Liars has been advertised as a reinterpretation of The Canterbury Tales, but it's been so long since I read Chaucer (and it was only excerpts, if I'm remembering my freshman high school English class correctly) that I didn't have much to compare it to. Standing on its own, Company of Liars is a solid historical mystery. Nine people are traveling together across England to escape the plague, and each is hiding a secret from his companio ...more
Amber
Camelot decides to travel with two musicians, a magician, a painter and his wife, a swan-boy storyteller, and a soothsayer as they travel away from the pestilence a.k.a. "Black Plague" as it ravages and destroys everything in its path. Something evil is following them too. As it begins to kill them off one by one, can they make it to their destination safely even though they are a company of liars? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good historical horror mystery novel. I also l
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Blair
The second book I've read by this author in as many months, this was just as enjoyable and satisfying as The Owl Killers. Maitland is brilliant at bringing the sights, sounds and smells of the 14th century to life, and the cast of characters was fantastic; I imagine it must be very hard to make each member of such a large group distinctive, but every one of the band of travellers was almost immediately memorable. My only problem with the lengthy narrative was that some parts were too similar to ...more
Suburbangardener
This story of 9 travelers is filled with suspense and dread. It is also an exploration of the nature of good and evil, secrets and truth, hope and lies, hypocracy, scapegoating, trust and friendship, and religion and faith, all set against the backdrop of the plague sweeping its way through England in the 14th century. It ably demonstrates how the plague broke down the midieval social order, paving the way for the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. It is as much a psychological drama as a myster ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
This is sort of an ersatz Chaucer's Tale meets The Decameron meets Gulliver's Travels.

The foreshadowing and something about the dialogue were very clunky but the story was compelling and I was never bored or annoyed while reading. So it gets over the hump of a two-star rating with that.

I found the "tales within a tale" mostly too fantastical and felt they stopped the flow of the story without really doing much to put me into the characters' heads or advance the plot/themes, although I did finall
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C.W.
Set in 14th century England during the time of the Pestilence, this is a chilling, riveting tale of nine travelers who come together seemingly by accident and forge an uneasy alliance in order to outwit the black death. As narrated by the one-eyed relic hawker, Camelot, we journey with them through a collapsing world of flood, fear, and famine, where townships are abandoned overnight to the plague and the road harbors both criminals and fugitives. As the travelers begin to sense an unseen presen ...more
Katrina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa
This is marketed as being a sort of retelling of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and that is true in the sense that it is set in the same century (14th) and features a group of travellers who each have a story to tell. However, instead of being on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, these travellers are fleeing the onset of the plague in England and instead of being stories told more for entertainment purposes, these stories are very real and contain secrets about the individual which, when revealed, often h ...more
Liza Perrat
It’s a long time since I’ve picked up a novel that gripped me so much I just had to finish it as quickly as possible. But this is what happened when I discovered, quite by accident, or good fortune, Karen Maitland’s Company of Liars.
It is 1348 and the Black Plague has disembarked on the English shores. The narrator, Camelot – itinerant peddler of bogus holy relics – is making his way north and inland to try and outrun the plague. Along the way, believing in safety in numbers, Camelot is joined b
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Paul
Just to throw a few disclaimers out there, I'll lay out a few factors which have probably shaped my opinion of this book.

On the face of it, a book set in the mid-14th century should appeal to me and the whole macabre spectre of the plague was an additional factor.
As it turned out, this novel is almost anathema to the usual kind of historical fiction I read that often contains battles, bloodshed, chronicled historical events like heads of state etc. This book has none of that. Yes, it is set arou
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Sarah
I really enjoyed this novel of plague-era England. In a way, the premise kind of reminded me of McCarthy's The Road in that here we have characters who are struggling to endure and move forward with hope, even though it seems like there really shouldn't be any hope left.

Maitland deftly arranges a set of characters who are forced to travel together. This motley assortment of people adds a lot of excitement and intrigue to the overall puzzle of the book. I never felt like she was pandering to the
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Jo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Jul 07, 2008 Susanna - Censored by GoodReads rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susanna - Censored by GoodReads by: Bettie
I kept envisioning Narigorm as one of the kids from Children of the Corn.
Jamie
I very much enjoyed the first half of this, when I thought it was straight historical fiction, if perhaps a bit sensationalist and with some creepy overtones. About halfway through I realized it was actually a supernatural horror novel, which is less my cup of tea (despite my growing collection of Phil Rickman novels).

This is set in England in 1348, that infamous year when the Black Death arrived. Nine travelers band together for safety and companionship while trying to stay ahead of the pestile
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Stela

It was said that Karen Maitland’s Company of Liars is a reinterpretation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but I beg to differ. It is true, you have the period (and the author’s information is extensive and a bit showing – I mean there is plenty information about church abuse, class differences, social rules, plague fight, villages appearance, habits and superstitions in the 14th century), you have a sort of pilgrimage (even though the disappearance one by one from the group reminded me mostly of A
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Libby
Nine strangers, thrown together by fate, are scrambling desperately along muddy roads to escape a pestilence. It is 1348, the land of England is lashed with unending rain, the crops are rotting in the fields, and people are dying horribly in the ports. Our narrator, a camelot or peddler of holy relics(all fakes)is familiar with contagious disease and, having a history of running from trouble, hits the road pronto and soon becomes involved with others setting out to find a haven where the plague ...more
Brian
Set in the Middle Ages, Company of Liars is the story of a group of travellers, thrown together by chance, wandering across England at the time of the Great Plague. It's an apparently naturalistic story with fantastical elements sown into the plot.

The individuals who make up the company all guard their own secrets and each is escaping from something in his or her past. The development of the plot is principally generated by the unveiling of these secrets, revelations that are brought about by t
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Chuck
4-stars
This was a solid 4-star read. It was, for me, one of those books that make reading all the lame fiction books worth it.

It's set in 14th century England at the beginning of the plague when many people are fleeing from the coast. A motley band of travelers come together 1 by 1 and make their way through the English countryside. There's several campfire tales in it that I found entertaining in their own right. It's certainly not what I'd call serious fiction by any stretch of the imaginatio
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Karen Maitland has recently moved to the wonderful county of Devon and has a doctorate in psycholinguists. She is fascinated by the myth and magic of the Middle Ages, which she draws on for her novels. She experienced the medieval lifestyle for real, when she worked for eighteen months in a rural village in Nigeria, living without electricity, plumbing or sanitation.

Her first medieval thriller wa
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More about Karen Maitland...
The Owl Killers The Gallows Curse The Falcons of Fire and Ice The Vanishing Witch The Raven's Head

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“You've heard tales of beauty and the beast. How a fair maid falls in love with a monster and sees the beauty of his soul beneath the hideous visage. But you've never heard the tale of the handsome man falling for the monstrous woman and finding joy in her love, because it doesn't happen, not even in a story-teller's tale.” 44 likes
“Rain slips through your fingers as easily as words blow away in the wind, and yet it has the power to destroy your whole world.” 28 likes
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