Jim's Reviews > Labyrinth

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
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Jun 16, 09

bookshelves: historicalish-fiction, thrillers, fiction
Recommended for: Dan Brown's victims
Read in May, 2008

For a long time, The Da Vinci Code put me right off books about the Cathars or the Holy Grail, so I was hesitant to pick up Kate Mosse's book. Still, I gave this book a chance, as I'd been impressed with Kate Mosse's work as an interviewer on the BBC's Radio 4. I'm glad that I read it.

This book focuses on the Cathars, a gnostic sect centered in the Pays d'Oc, (modern southwestern France). Several legends have been told about the Cathars, including that they practiced ancient mystical rituals and that they were the guardians of the Holy Grail. What is known is that the Cathars rivaled the established church in parts of Western Europe. In the 13th century, Catholic churchmen and French nobles led an invasion of the Pays d'Oc and a bloody suppression of the Cathars, whom they regarded as heretics.

Mosse combines two stories: a historical fiction, set against the invasion of the Pays d'Oc; the other, a modern thriller set in the Languedoc region of France. In these parallel stories, bad people with suspect motives are searching for the treasures that embody the secret wisdom of the Cathars (symbolized by a labyrinth). In both stories, the protagonist is trying to figure out what these treasures can be, along with how to stop the villians, without getting killed in the process.

The Labyrinth dealt with many of the same themes as The Da Vinci Code, but it was superior in so many ways. I'll mention four: 1)Mosse does a good job of maintaining a sense of suspense. I wasn't able to guess what was going to happen three chapters ahead. (I always thought the Da Vinci Code's protagonist was a bit thick.) 2)Mosse doesn't make careless, glaring factual historical errors. 3)I got the feeling that Mosse knew the locales in which she set her story. 4)She's a good writer, one who doesn't rely on cliches and cheap narrative tricks.

All in all, a good read, one that has got me digging through my old Medieval history books.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Jim love your profile picture (my all time fav band!!)


message 2: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth Except that I hate the way she maintains suspense. We hear some thoughts of the characters, but not the ones that matter. When dropped in the book, multiple characters surface, each of whom clearly has a backstory, but the other doesn't bother to explain any of them.


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