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Company of Liars

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  9,911 Ratings  ·  1,200 Reviews

The year is 1348. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to flee the certain death that is rolling inexorably toward them. Each traveler has a hidden gift, a dark secret, and a story to tell….

From Camelot, the relic-selle
Paperback, 465 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Delta (first published October 2008)
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Graeme M As far as I know it's a stand alone novel. Company of Liars takes place in 1348, and Owl Killers is set in 1321.
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Community 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 !!!

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 in the most entertaining of ways
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
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
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Susan Johnson
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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 dear
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
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 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
Oct 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2009
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
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.
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.
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Very well-written and absorbing tale. The characters and events held my attention for the most part. My only criticism is that I felt the author could've gotten to the point/ending a little quicker--I know the characters are on a slow journey through countryside, but at times it felt like the novel's pace was matching the horse's when it was pulling the wagon through muddy terrain. Fortunately, that wasn't often and the overall story was very good.
Emma Flanagan
Science, Philosophy, Religion, Superstition. All are attempts by humans to understand our world, As a species we fear the unknown, that which we cannot see or understand. We turn to science, philosophy, religion or superstition to provide the answer and where one fails, we will turn to another to fill the void. At different points in history each has held greater sway, though undoubtedly religion and superstition ruled supreme for the greatest period. This book is set during such a period, the M ...more
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I have a lot of love for historical fiction novels. I went bonkers over Ken Follett's multiple character arcs in Pillars of the Earth and I think I'm diving back into the same realm of reader's reverence having finished Maitland's Company.

I liked that the history woven throughout the work wasn't yoked by the weight of þe Auld England (for those in the hornless-Ye awareness group). Don't get me wrong, I have a linguistic addiction and cultural philology/morphology can get me going as much as the
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
Jamie Collins
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
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
Maria ní Chnoic
Review to follow but I liked the ending!
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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Goodreads Ireland: Spoiler Thread: Company of Liars 50 68 Feb 01, 2017 02:00PM  
Read Runners: HF June 2016 - Company of Liars 85 29 Jun 30, 2016 09:11PM  
Goodreads Ireland: Aug: Company of Liars 13 34 Sep 11, 2015 06:14PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Pls add audio version of existing title (2) 4 14 Jun 06, 2015 09:22AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Company of Liars by Karen Maitland 2 18 May 26, 2015 12:30PM  
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  • The Red Velvet Turnshoe (Abbess of Meaux, #2)
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  • Within the Fetterlock
  • I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince
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  • The Mercy Seller (Illuminator, #2)

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
More about Karen Maitland...

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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.” 51 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.” 39 likes
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