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Company of Liars [Paperback]

Karen Maitland
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

26 Feb 2009

The year is 1348 and the first plague victim has reached English shores. Panic erupts around the country and a small band of travellers comes together to outrun the deadly disease, unaware that something far more deadly is - in fact - travelling with them.

The ill-assorted company - a scarred trader in holy relics, a conjurer, two musicians, a healer and a deformed storyteller - are all concealing secrets and lies. And at their heart is the strange, cold child - Narigorm - who reads the runes.

But as law and order breaks down across the country and the battle for survival becomes ever more fierce, Narigorm mercilessly compels each of her fellow travellers to reveal the truth ... and each in turn is driven to a cruel and unnatural death.

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Company of Liars + The Owl Killers + The Gallows Curse
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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (26 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141031913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141031910
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Irresistible' Sunday Telegraph 'An engrossing fireside read ... a compelling mystery' Daily Mail 'Combines the storytelling traditions of The Canterbury Tales with the supernatural suspense of Mosse's Sepulchre in this atmospheric tale of treachery and magic' Marie Claire 'Captivating, unforgettable, truly compelling' InStyle

About the Author

Karen Maitland lives in Lincolnshire and is the author of The White Room, which won an Author's Club Best First Novel Award.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite entertainment 16 May 2009
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Historical novels are the love of my life (apart from my wife and kids that is), and this is very probably one of the very best I've ever read.

The year is 1348, when the plague laid most of Europe waste. Camelot is a seller of fake relics, and when the plague reaches England he decides to try and outrun it, heading north. Along the way, he picks up other misfits until they make up a company of nine: the Venetian musician Rodrigo and his pupil Jofre, the one-armed storyteller Cygnus, the painter Osmond and his wife Adela who is with child, the conjuror Zophiel, and the midwife Pleasance who has a remarkable, white-haired child with her: Narigorm. Together they set out trying to outrun the plague.

What happens next is an incredibly engrossing story, told with gusto. This is one of those novels that keep you up at night, unable to stop reading, eager to know what'll happen next. England during the plague is described in such telling and colourful details that the place comes alive, and you cannot help but feel 'this is surely how it must have felt like in reality'. England in the grip of the plague swiftly descends into chaos, and lawlessness becomes the rule. And through this bleak landscape, rain constantly pouring down, the nine companions trudge on and slowly get to know each other better.

Before long it becomes clear that each of them has a secret to hide, and none of them is what they make out to be. All have have been beaten down and trodden upon by life's mishaps, and - sometimes for the best of reasons or quite simply because they had no other choice - are now living a lie, haunted by their past.

550 pages of superb entertainment for the price of barely two packs of cigarettes, what are you waiting for?
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truth Will Out 25 Feb 2008
If the plague ever hits your home town and you have to make a dash for safety, be very careful who you choose as companions. This riveting medieval who (or what) dunnit leads you along the not so safe path away from the ravages of the Black Death into the clutches of a mysterious killer. Keeping you company are a motley crew including conjurers, musicians and a secretive dealer in Holy Relics, not to mention a very scary rune reader that almost put me off children forever. As they flee for their lives, they also flee from the lies on which those lives have been built to face the brutal and often fatal consequences of truth. The detail is superb, the research spot on and the atmosphere suitably grim. There is little in the way of mercy, respite or humour, so be ready for a colourful journey into the one of the darker periods of English history.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing yet faintly disappointing 13 July 2009
Overall I have to say that I enjoyed Company of Liars. It was absorbing from the first pages and quickly built up a detailed and effective atmosphere of the bleakness of the times. The descriptions of the environment are wonderfully evocative without ever becoming long-winded.
Karen Maitland is skilled at creating characters with whom we can empathise and associate with, in this case Camelot, outwardly a seller of holy relics but to us, the readers, a self-confessed seller of hope.
The almost paranormal elements of the story are cleverly introduced and I found myself more than once with a few goosebumps and the odd shiver down the spine (forgive what seem like cliches but it's pretty much how parts of the book made me feel). The feeling of apocalyptic doom descending over a country in the grip of the Black Death was wonderfully conveyed but....
I would like to have given this book three and a half stars but I can't do that. And I couldn't quite bring myself to give it four as I feel the ending(s) left me with a feeling of profound disappointment.
The twist is rather obvious from quite early in the book and yet this isn't the main disappointment. It's the feeling I had that the author either didn't know how to end the story or that she was under pressure from her publisher to get it finished by a deadline and had to rush.
Either way, the build-up and development of the story were let down by the ending which is a shame as I'd found myself unable to put the book down in the earlier stages.
That said, I'd still read her next book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb historical novel 18 Oct 2009
I am at a loss how anyone could give this superbly written and engrossing book a bad review let alone one or two stars. What more can they want? It has made me angry. Company of Liars is beautifully written, immaculately researched and so exciting! It has that rare and wonderful quality of captivating the reader from page one, it is an eerie, extraordinary tale that rises above the run of the mill historical novel with growing dark mystery and the terrible threat of the spreading plague following the travellers with each difficult and perilous mile covered.
Ignore the moaners, this is as near perfection in a novel as you could want
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book All Year!!!! 1 Aug 2009
Well, I only put it down an hour ago, and I already miss it. An absolutely Brilliant book, with very few flaws, remarkably well crafted and executed by the author, Miss Maitland (And an Outstanding Name Too!), It never disappoints.

The story is told by an old 'Camelot', a storyteller, who is travelling England when the Pestilence hits the Country, soon after leaving a village,the Camelot meets a couple of Musicians, Jofre and Rodrigo, and the three form a small troupe, along the way, the troupe is expanded to a Company of Nine, which is when the adventure and excitement of the story really start to take hold.

A gripping and innovative yarn, I cannot recommend this book highly enough to fans of historical literature, and don't get me wrong, this book is REAL literature. The author really brings the landscape and characters together very vividly and captivates the reader throughout.

I find it hard to believe that it's follow up, The Owl Killers, will be disppointing either, in Karen Maitland, I have discovered a Gem.

Know So.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, read it three times
Simply amazing, love the plot the story and you cannot put it down once you start reading :)
Published 5 days ago by M. N. Khan
5.0 out of 5 stars No one told me historical fiction was like this.
In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales--an ingenious alchemy of history, mystery, and powerful human... Read more
Published 8 days ago by leekmuncher
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read!
Really loved this book, it was a real page turner I just couldn't put it down.
Published 8 days ago by Marie Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Gripped from start to finish. More twists and turns than a flailing noose. A great richness of fascinating characters in a harsh setting.Will now read other books by this author.
Published 15 days ago by Mr. D. J. Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book of the year
i adored this book. My favourite book of the year. So well written. But strangely I don't want to read her others because i want to cherish this one .
Published 16 days ago by Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars First time Maitland reader
What a book! I've never read anything by Karen Maitland before, but I'll certainly be reading more! I love historical fiction and I expected this to be of that genre, but it's not... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Jimbo Sun
4.0 out of 5 stars First read of this author
This was recommended to me as I'm a lover of CJ Samson books. It was alright but not in the same league and I was quite disappointed with it.
Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars It's one of those novels you never really put down, even when the...
With solid writing, intriguing characters and a suspense filled plot this historical fantasy reads kind of like a dungeons and dragons role play game. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Winteramrita
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent book couldn't put it down
Published 1 month ago by Linda French
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Such a good book, second time I have read it, and its as good second time round.
Published 1 month ago by Ann Rogers
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