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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cathar Enlightenment
This is another Grail tale with a predictable ending, but what made it special for me was the recounting of religious and historic events in France during the early 13th Century - Kate Mosse researched well and brings them alive. I have to admit that the word Cathar meant nothing to me before reading this, but their story should be known by all who value religious...
Published on 26 Dec. 2006 by Carole Eva

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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some good ideas, but a frustrating pace
The book centers around the mystery of the Holy Grail (or at least this author's take on it) and the people that have fought to protect it or exploit it for the past 800 years. I thought this was a good device, along with linking the main characters from the 1200s to the present day; sort of like people's spirits remaining the same, no matter how different their...
Published on 25 Aug. 2006 by A. Sidhu


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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some good ideas, but a frustrating pace, 25 Aug. 2006
By 
A. Sidhu (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
The book centers around the mystery of the Holy Grail (or at least this author's take on it) and the people that have fought to protect it or exploit it for the past 800 years. I thought this was a good device, along with linking the main characters from the 1200s to the present day; sort of like people's spirits remaining the same, no matter how different their surroundings are.

However, the author took FOREVER to get to the crux of the story. Based on the hints dropped maddeningly throughout the first 450 pages of a 600 page book, the reader is led to believe that this secret is something that people have been pursuing and protecting and dying and killing for for thousands of years. The secret is then divulged in the last 150 pages of the book, barely giving the reader time to digest it and understand its implications, or to just contemplate the scope of it. Why I should I bother about the protagonist risking her life to protect something if I don't know what it is? How is the reader to sympathise and relate to the characters if they barely have an idea as to what motivates them? More attention should have been paid to this bit of the story.

So basically, its a good idea but more could have been done to develop it and truly draw the reader in, or at least shave off a couple of 100 pages. And yeah, the language was kind of schoolgirlish.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 9 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
Although the basic story and characters are good, I finished reading the book still very confused about parts of it..There was an endless array of terms, eg.Bons Homes, Bons de los Sores, that to someone unfamiliar with the history of the Cathars and the Crusades like I, was very difficult to follow. The story of Alais was definetely the more developed here, but the stories changed so abruptly between the past and present that I found myself having to go back a number of times to remember what had happened.
Overall, a lot of holes left in the book, a lot of confusing facts and ultimately, compared to a Dan Brown book since everyone seems to be comparing this to, the story and explanations never quite reached the believability that the da Vinci code did. Dan Brown--although far-stretched-- delivered a quick pacing thriller with lots of 'science' and 'historical' facts dropped in to make his readers totally fascinated. Kate Mosse only quickly decided to add something of that from page 500 onwards.
Shame, it could really have been a great page-turner.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cathar Enlightenment, 26 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
This is another Grail tale with a predictable ending, but what made it special for me was the recounting of religious and historic events in France during the early 13th Century - Kate Mosse researched well and brings them alive. I have to admit that the word Cathar meant nothing to me before reading this, but their story should be known by all who value religious freedom and loath opression; I have since been doing more research into the subject, so I must thank Kate Mosse for making me aware of the dreadful deeds carried out, once again, in the name of religion. It's a timeslip story, moving between the first half of the 13th Century and present day, and because the two parts run in such close parallels, I did sometimes confuse the era in which some of the characters I was reading about lived! Some reviewers have expressed frustration regarding the Occitan language used in parts by the author; I have to say that the passages written in this way were extremely short and in no way detracted from the story. (The author does make reference to this at the start of the book).
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Enemies of Mentation; This Book's for You, 30 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
There isn't an option for a no-star review, but this would be one if there were.
A tedious flimflam of historical romantic fiction and Dan-Brownish histrionics. The plot is leaden - on page 303, I noted in the margin; "When will something substantive happen?" The answer is; nothing of interest or value will happen at all in this rather silly tome. The protagonist in both her guises only proceeds by reaction, panic & a kind of unreflecting sentiment - surely nobody would dream of entrusting anything of import to such an airhead? One is always perplexed when one encounters a female writer creating female characters who seem unable or unwilling to think. That the "Alice" character holds a doctorate whilst apparently lacking any analytic capabilities is a matter for further perplexity.
Mosse moves the plot forward through the teen-horror device of having her protagonist do exactly the opposite of the sensible or practical thing. Considerations of narrative style seem to have been sacrificed to a breathlessness which does not substitute for suspense.
We know next to nothing of the Cathars & this book adds less than nothing to our understanding of their lives and beliefs. As a mystery novel, the mystery is contained in the words, "How did this get published?" The only redeeming feature of this doorstep is the brief bibliography - in particular, I urge anyone interested in the period to read René Weiss' "Yellow Cross; The Story of the Last Cathars 1290-1329 and Emmanuel le Roy's "Montaillou; Cathars & Catholics in a French Village".
One final point - a glossary that does not cover all the Occitan vocabulary used is either lazy or pretentious - you, gentle reader must decide...
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Most disappointing book ever, 29 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
I simply cannot understand how anyone can have enjoyed this book - I have never ever (and I have read some awful turkeys in my time) been so disappointed in a book. I can't think of a single redeeming feature and even now a year later my blood still boils that I wasted money on it. Whoever hyped this book should be ashamed of themselves.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars to be avoided!, 12 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
I read this book about half a year ago, and it most certainly did not live up to my expectations. From the blurb on the book , and from reviews I had read I was led to expect an adventure with links to the past in the tradition of "The da Vinci Code", but written by a writer with a far better mastery of fictional prose. Instead I discovered a muddled and illogical story that did not draw me in - and it is a shame, because I am usually quite happy to suspend my disbelief for a good story, and the description of the plot made me want to read it. I am a booklover of the old-fashioned kind, and usually find redeeming features in most things I read, but I have to say I have thrown this book away, in case a family-member should accidentally pick it up and waste their time reading it!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing, 22 April 2006
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
Whilst the subject matter is interesting to me (and also very fashionable at the moment), this book was a big disappointment. I'm baffled that the critics' reviews and comments are so full of praise for Labyrinth, when the book is poorly written. Given the author's profile in British art and literary circles, were some favours called in?

The story takes an awful long time to get going, and it was a bit of a struggle to get to grips with all the characters and their significance, if any. Whilst the medieval sections were interesting and evocative, I could not muster much feeling for the present day characters.

After forcing myself to get past half way, it all seemed worthwhile. The seeds of the plot started to come together, and for a while I was enthralled.

As the story reached its conclusion though, significant flaws in the plot became apparent, and the story just lost any credibility. At the supposedly dramatic climax, I didn't really care what happened because the plot just left me feeling so unconvinced.
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139 of 154 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, 11 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Labyrinth (Hardcover)
I've long been interested in the many and varied 'grail conspiracies', having stumbled across The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail at the age of 15. The recent outpouring of novels of the subject have been a big disappointment to me, badly written and researched, and this is no exception.
I'm sorry to say Ms Mosse's writing is clumsy to the point where it takes actual effort to read. One of the classic rules of writing is 'Show, don't tell', in other words, instead of telling us that someone is kind, let their actions show us. But Ms Mosse tells us again and again how clever and kind and brave her heros are, while giving us no evidence of those traits. Becuase of this, it feels as though none of her characters have any personality, indeed they often act inexplicably and completely at odds with the despcrition of them we have been given. For example, we are told that Alais' father was entrusted with one of the grail secrets because of his fine qualities, because he could be relied on to protect it against all odds. But as soon as the time comes when he needs to act he buries his head in the sand, procrastinates like a child, and ultimately completely fails in his duty. We are told he is a noble person, but his behaviour in general is short-sighted, bullying, and dense, making it completely implausible that anyone would trust him with a secret and duty of that magnitude.
Her general narrative is no better. She doesn't manage to make anything that happens make sense. I felt throughout that she had planned a string of events that wanted to happen without considering whether they made sense either in their context or in terms of her characters' intentions and personalities. Even in the small scale, within scenes, things have the feeling of jumping around because she misses out basic information while detailing the irrelevent. Characters teleport across the room, seeming to reveal their innermost secrets to a stranger because she hasn't bothered to tell us they've crossed the room and started whispering to someone completely different halfway through the conversation.
The constantly scattered Occitan words drove me up the wall - it was as if she was desperate to show how much research she'd done. Translate or don't translate, but don't do both within the same speech unless that character is *actually* switching langauges halfway through. Equally annoying was the way someone was kidnapped or passed out every five minutes, as if she couldn't bear to leave a passage without a cliffhanger. Her bizarre ideas about what life was like back in medieval times also drove me potty - she seems to have no feel for the past.
I kept reading to the end because I wanted to know what her 'grail secret' was. It really wasn't worth it, being of the Indiana Jones variety. And every other revelation was telegraphed so far in advance that I wanted to scream at the characters, unable to believe they were so stupid that they didn't realise that X was a traitor or that Y was actually Z all along.
I've been trying and trying to think of something positive to say, because generally speaking I believe every book has some good in it. All I can think of is that the author clearly has a great passion for her subject. I wonder whether she was under pressure from her editor to finish it quickly - it feels like a first draft, and I'm sure there is a better novel lurking in there somewhere.
If you're looking for detailed, well-research medieval fiction, I recommend you try Elizabeth Chadwick (the British one, of 'Shadows and Strongholds' or 'The Love Knot' fame, *not* the American of 'Bride Fire' fame) instead. She even wrote a book about the Cathars and the Grail - 'Children of Destiny' or 'Daughters of the Grail' depending on which side of the pond you are.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Richard & Judy are wrong about this one, 22 Jan. 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Labyrinth (Hardcover)
Oh how I wanted to like this book. It sounded just like my sort of thing. Instead I struggled to the halfway point, then skipped to the last few chapters and skim-read to find out what happened in the end. The ending was just as boring as I feared it would be. The use of Occitan words immediately followed with the English translation drove me mad. Poorly constructed, clumsily written and not one character to care about. That's about a day of my life I won't get back.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect literature - or much else, 10 Dec. 2005
By 
This review is from: Labyrinth (Paperback)
This book makes use of a great subject that's been done to death, mostly badly. That's why I bought it - forever optimistic. However writing doesn't come much worse than this. It's like teen fiction with the occasional french phrase thrown in, presumably for authenticity although even that fails as the author can't speak french.

We're all looking for a good, well-told yarn with believable characters, evidence of historical research, and above all a good story. Aren't we? I urge anyone who might be considering buying this book because they're looking for a stonking good read set in a fascinating period in history to give this a miss. Instead read the reviews for a novel called As Meat Loves Salt - a beautifully written book that wasn't as lucky as this one so never got hyped.

If you insist on getting this then don't take it on holiday - it weighs a ton.
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Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (Paperback - 11 Jan. 2006)
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