Alice Tanner discovers a cave with two skeletons inside during excavations in Southern France. As she enters the cave, strange ‘memories’ come flooding back to her. In 13th century Carcasonne, the French are on the verge of a holy crusade against the Cathars. In fear that the city will fall, Alais Du Pelletier receives from her father a ring with a labyrinth on it and a book that carries an ancient secret.
I really enjoyed the books Kate Mosse wrote about the Huguenots (The burning chambers and the city of tears), so I had to read her earlier work. I’ve avoided this book for a long time because it’s about the Holy Grail and I detest that kind of Da-Vinci Code stories.
For that reason, ‘Labyrinth‘ won’t become my favourite of Mosse’s books. The historical perspective is well developed with a focus on the many atrocities the Cathars suffered by the hands of fellow countryman. Alais is brave and tries to take care about the people around her. Her sister Oriane, however, aims for power and wealth. She loathes her sister because she’s her father favourite. The two sisters find themselves at opposing sides and Alais will have to search for a clever way to escape Oriane’s wrath.
The contemporary perspective is set up more like a thriller with people being murdered by secret societies. Alice is left with little clues as to what is going on and there are so many characters and subplots in the 2005 storyline that I was as lost as her at times.
In general, there are a few loose ends and there’s a big part of the story that’s just told between characters instead of being ‘lived’. Labyrinth proved a fast read with some great characters, but with a plot that wasn’t my cup of tea. I would have preferred a historical story about the Cathars, instead of a grail quest with far-fetched theories. If you enjoyed Dan Brown, then you’ll love it, because it’s better ;).
This is book 1/20 for 20 books of summer.
Have you read anything by Kate Mosse? Do you enjoy books about the Grail quest?