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Kate Mosse
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Labyrinth
hard cover
544 pages
Kate Mosse's jigsaw puzzle of a novel is a history lesson, a theological thriller, a fantasy adventure involving a trilogy of stories within one book. Each of them could have been a novel in it's own right. Part Da Vinci Code, part Tolkien without hobbits, Labyrinth is the British author's fact-based speculation on nothing less than what makes the world go round. (And I've just given you your first clue.)

Starring in this tale spanning centuries are two main characters: Dr. Alice Tanner, an academic who, while on a 2005 archaeology dig near Carcassonne, in southern France, stumbles upon two skeletons and a ring; and Alais, a young 13th-century woman who stumbles upon the secrets of the Holy Grail. Alternating between the two women, it becomes clear rather quickly there's something connecting them.

Alais belongs to the Christian sect now known as the Cathars, victims of a bloody crusade by the Roman Catholic Church the church said they were heretics; history says it was a northern-French land grab. Alais' father, embroiled in the struggle, entrusts his daughter with a Book of Words whose value she doesn't fully comprehend. Similarly, the ring Alice discovers is emblazoned with a circular labyrinth whose lines do not lead to the center, as they should.

Alais soon learns she holds one of three books that, together, will either become or lead to the Holy Grail (to clarify that point would spoil the ending), and Alice must figure out why so many others around her, including the mysterious sage Audric Baillard, want the ring. And who are those two skeletons?

Although well written and entertaining at first the back-and-forth between centuries, the double and triple crosses, become rather annoying after some time, and you just wish you could stick with one of the stories instead of having to flip over every few pages, especially considering someone's decided that, in order to artificially keep the tension, it might be a good idea to make the chapters shorter and shorter the nearer one gets to the end...

It's like watching something engrossing on the tele with someone else in charge of the remote flipping between channels!

No doubt however Miss Mosse has done her research and the historic idea of it is very impressive. Her style of writing keeps one entertained and the story line is good, although at times it feels a bit too familiar perhaps..
Still, consider this recommended bed time reading!
7/10
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