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Company of Liars

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  13,605 ratings  ·  1,569 reviews
In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, an ingenious alchemy of history, mystery, and powerful human drama.

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
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published January 31st 2008 by Michael Joseph (first published January 1st 2008)
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Jane Louis-Wood I think the only really obvious clue was the blind wise woman assuming from the voice that Camelot was a woman. It wasn't signalled anywhere near as o…moreI think the only really obvious clue was the blind wise woman assuming from the voice that Camelot was a woman. It wasn't signalled anywhere near as obviously as Narigorm being a baddy or Jofre being gay. (less)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  13,605 ratings  ·  1,569 reviews

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Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those on spiritual quests
Recommended to Jaidee by: a very wise young woman who shall remain nameless
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "fascinating, provocative, emotional " stars !!

7th Favorite Read of 2017 (tie)

This is a wonderful debut novel that I have been wanting to read for a few years and finally gotten to. I was immersed from beginning to end and was such an interesting combination of genres !

Was this an adult fairy tale, fable, fantasy, historical fiction or what ? It was all of the above and so skillfully done that it made complete and utter sense as I was reading.

The author was able to tell a very dark tale i
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At the onset of the black plague in 1348, a group of travellers band together to seek refuge against the disease and journey northwards to a safe location. Each member of the group has a hidden secret, and one, in particular, has something more sinister to conceal. The secrets they each reveal are shocking and illustrate the type of characters they are and the backgrounds they each come from. Karen has a wonderful ability to capture not only the characterisation but the interaction and
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book some years ago, however, I still remember how atmospheric this novel is. It is perfect for those of us who are interested in the Middle Ages, but not the rulers but people of lowly birth, their attitudes to religion and the role superstitions played in those days. A very good read indeed!
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this historical novel! A mystery tale of a band of travelers in The Middle Ages, travelling through England to escape the upcoming pestilence....
Entertaining read! The ending unexpected, at least for me.... Will definitely try more of this author.
As usual... probably more to follow. For those who like historical fiction, recommended!

And for those who don't know this book yet (many have read it here I see):
Midsummer's day 1348... On this day of ill omen, plague makes its entrance. With
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Holy Relic Swindler’s Tale

It is I suppose comforting for some to believe that the social issues of today’s Britain are perennial, that there is a national character, perhaps, which continuously muddles through the same problems over and over. This is one explanation for Karen Maitland’s imagined world of England in the Middle Ages. The way she portrays the state of the nation - from immigration to the condition of the roads; from sexual harassment to fake news - suggests that the problems we
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Joanna Smith
Karen Maitland is officially my current favourite author. Company of Liars is set in 1348 with the plague spreading throughout England, causing chaos and fear. It's everyone for themselves. The story is told through the unreliable narrator Camalot. As the band of misfit travellers trudge through the country to find sanctuary and safety, each harbour a personal secret and are prepared to do anything to conceal it. The story is peppered with aspects of fairytales, myths and legends, making the tra ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it

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
Joy D
Set in 1348 England, nine strangers form a group and travel together to escape the spreading pestilence. The narrator, Camelot, is a seller of religious relics. He is joined by a magician, a musician, the musician’s young apprentice, a storyteller, a fortune-teller, a midwife, and an artist and his wife. The fortune teller, a peculiar child, reads runes, and she foretells of impending malevolent events. The travelers tell tales around the nighttime fire, revealing parts of the past, though not a ...more
1.5 stars rounded to 2

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you de
Susan Johnson
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Strange how desperate people are to know the future, even if they know they cannot change it.

Besides, if you can read the future, you can read the past for they are but ends of the same thread, and I always take great care that no one should know anything of me except my present.

A Company of Liars is the story of a group of nine strangers who travel together in an effort to escape the plague that is spreading death throughout England. It is not simply a story about travelers or pestilence, h
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
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this far more than I expected. Loved the premise of the novel, the journey of nine very different people who band together to attempt to outrun the pestilence that has overtaken the countryside. The lengths that each will go to guard their secrets from each other. Thought that the characters were well presented and appreciated the mystery surrounding the unknown narrator. There were quite a few twists to the plot and characters that were unexpected and I didn't see coming at all.

Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the surface this novel is a medieval suspense thriller. When one reads this text on the critical level it becomes a haunting allegory on the nature of death, truth, hope, religion, and love. You can read this book on the literal level and enjoy it. (Think a better written Dan Brown novel, except Ms. Maitland knows how to end a book.) However, to read this text on the surface level is to shortchange the reader. If one looks for the obvious symbolism and philosophical context, this text will st ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a LLLLLOOOONG book. It took me ages to read it. But there was never a time when my interest plopped or when the base 9 characters who make the "company" didn't leave me wanting more. Each and every one of those 9 was so finely framed and every line of their emotions, core desires, acting out or vocal habits - all those aspects that are covered by the term "personality"- they were THERE. Karen Maitland has a gift for giving us their onus and their spirit.

This is a book I could react to or
Amy Bruno
Dec 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,'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
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2018
It's an engaging book about 9 travellers in the backdrop of the plague (we don't see much of the plague here, though). All of them have secrets and tensions, and there are murders and a bit of mystical stuff.
To me it didn't have much 'historical' wibe, I saw this narrative as some kind of RPG in a Medieval setting with a hint of "mafia" (you know, the party game). When you look at it this way, it is actually very compelling and well written and the ending might not bother you that much.

The auth
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
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this quite a bit.

It is definitely a very slow burn. It starts slow with some foreshadowing and follows the company's travel in great detail, so it isn't a book for people who are looking for a quick read with a lot of action.

However I was quite pleasantly surprised with the detail put into each character, and there are a number of twists and turns that I didn't see coming which made the slow pace well worth it. The author has also put work into creating the atmosphere and sticking as c
Maria Hill AKA MH Books
Review to follow but I liked the ending! Two years later and I realize I never wrote this! Quelle surprise!

So mostly I remember that yes they were bleedin' Liars and that I did guess the twist but got to love that ending. Loved it!

Must read me some more Maitland.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plague has arrived in the north of England. A group of nine find solace together traveling through these hostile times. Winner is harsh, villagers unwelcoming and suspicion behind to fester within the group.

I enjoyed this a lot, well until the last few pages where two events arrived out of nowhere and threw me totally! Were there clues? Not sure how I feel about that part.
Carrie Kitzmiller
Oct 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
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
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Karen Maitland, who also writes as KJ Maitland, lives in the beautiful county of Devon and has a doctorate in psycholinguists.

Her new historical thriller, 'The Drowned City', is set in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, in 1606 and is the first of a new series featuring the character, Daniel Pursglove. For this Jacobean series, Karen is writing under the name of KJ Maitland,

Her first stand alon

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