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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book All Year!!!!
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...
Published on 1 Aug 2009 by J. L. Maitland

versus
47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing yet faintly disappointing
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...
Published on 13 July 2009 by MH Darlington


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book All Year!!!!, 1 Aug 2009
By 
This review is from: Company of Liars (Paperback)
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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94 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite entertainment, 16 May 2009
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Company of Liars (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent audiobook, 18 Dec 2013
By 
DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Company of Liars (Audio CD)
It has been a while since I enjoyed an audiobook as much as this one. it was an excellent combination of well written book and skillful narrator (David Thorpe). And although I would be hard pressed to identify the accent used by Mr Thorpe for Camelot, the lead character, it had an air of authenticity.
The book is set at the time of the plague and although it is not primarily about the plague itself, it does paint an excellent picture of the atmosphere of fear, suspicion and despair that prevailed at the time.

Camelot is wandering the byways of England, keeping body and soul together by selling 'relics' from saints and other holy men. At a time of such loss, these keepsakes are popular to ward off evil. Camelot prefers to travel alone, but he gradually acquires a motley band of companions, who help and hinder each other along the way. It was the interaction of these characters, along with a certain amount of magic or witchcraft, that grasped my attention and pulled me through the story. Each of these companions has something to hide (hence the title) and as we travel with them, their secrets are gradually revealed.

I was wondering how the author was going to wrap it all up at the end, but I wasn't disappointed, the ending was quite clever and certainly unexpected.
The first book I've read by Karen Maitland, but I sincerely hope it won't be the last.
Recommended.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truth Will Out, 25 Feb 2008
This review is from: Company of Liars (Hardcover)
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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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing yet faintly disappointing, 13 July 2009
By 
MH Darlington "Martin Darlington" (Shropshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Company of Liars (Paperback)
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spooked out in pestilence-torn Medieval England, 23 Mar 2008
By 
Justix (Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Company of Liars (Hardcover)
Now for me this was a different read. Travelling north through England during The Plague in 1348 with a bunch of suspect characters, bad weather, the runes, spooky stories, lies and murder kept me thinking how less stressful today's life is! It's a medieval road story with a whodunnit, some well drawn characters to keep you guessing, dreading the next village with the pestilence or the next murder in their company.

Life was sustained by lies to make a living and lies to keep them alive and give them hope until the truth must be revealed! I recommend it wholeheartedly and commend it for bringing us a taste of the great tradition of storytelling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed my time amongst the Company of Liars, 6 Aug 2009
By 
Ms. L. M. Edwards "emeraldelixer" (north scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Company of Liars (Paperback)
My mum bought herself Company of Liars and as soon as she had finished it insisited that I should read it too, well I am very glad I did. Company of Liars is one of those books that won't let you rest until you have devoured the very last word on the final page. A beautifully formed plot with a hint of menace ever present, surely one of the most awe inspiringly heinous characters ever created in the form of Narigorm, and an omniscient narrator you feel you can really trust in the form of the scarred Camelot. Add in two beautiful Venetian musicians, Rodrigo and Jofre, a zealous conjuror named Zophiel (which means 'God's Spy') and his tempermental horse Xanthus, a young couple, Osmond and Adella, on the run and expecting a new addition to their family, a story teller named Cygnus with the wing of a swan and an unfortunate wise woman named Pleasance and the group are complete.
I must admit to feeling slightly let down by the ending of the book as the story had bowled along at such a pace and then ended rather abruptly leaving, i my mind anyway, a number of questions unanswered. I would have liked more interaction at the end between Camelot and Rodrigo, but then you can't have everything. The final final twist at the end (the one that you don't guess) really gives you the shivers!
Karen Maitland analyses the human nature in this book, the telling of lies and the subsequent impact, the nature of hope, fear and belief both personal and as administered by the church.
I have reccomended this book to family and friends and would not hesitate to reccomend it to Amazon customers, superb!
And a final word, try and translate Rodrigo's line in Italian on page 368, future events will become clearer!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My enjoyment was no lie, 12 July 2009
By 
I. Curry "IDC" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Company of Liars (Paperback)
I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, still less let it determine whether or not to buy, but sometimes a book seems so alluring that I can't help but reach for the wallet. I've often been disappointed, sifting through many rubbish books to find the odd gem, but fortunately the Company of Liars manages to both capture and sustain the imagination over 500 pages.

"It is 1348, the plague has come to England, and the lies you tell will be the death of you." The book is set in an England still mercifully free of the bubonic plague that is rife across the continent. Rumours are rife, of cities devastated, populations wiped across Europe. But the plague can't reach England, can't carry across the seas?

The book opens with the narrator, Camelot, a peddler of holy relics and saintly artefacts, deciding to try and head east to escape the plague which has just made landfall in Bristol. Along the way he inadvertently and somewhat unwillingly picks up a motley crew of travellers. Flung together by quirks of fate and a shared desire to escape the ravages of plague, their stories, lives and lies gradually unfold and unravel.

Karen Maitland has managed to do two things which writers of historical fiction are rarely able to combine so deftly. She has impeccably researched the period, and the sense of place and time permeate the book. But she has also woven a story so rich and enticing that it is difficult to put down. The characters are teased out gently, seeming both of the time and yet escaping the clichés of period folk.

The only criticism I have is that some of the key revelations and plot developments were pretty obvious, but this is a minor point as it did not seem to reduce the tension or anticipation.

It has been a long time since I have read a book so quickly, with such gusto and enjoyment. I thoroughly recommend it.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life-long bibliophile, 31 May 2009
This review is from: Company of Liars (Paperback)
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It's England, 1348, and the shadow of the plague has become a terrible reality. It spread like wildfire, destroying people, animals, crops, pervading everything. Society's rules and understandings are suffocated beneath an atavistic instinct to survive at any cost. We meet the narrator, Camelot, at a Midsummer Fair, where the plague is just starting to claim its first English victims. Truth and rumour have blurred edges, and panic accelerates an exodus, heading for safer parts. Camelot is joined by a variety of travellers, each with a reason to become a part of the group. They all share a driving force; they have to keep moving to avoid the plague. They also share a common aim; each of them must hide behind a facade of well-practised lies and implications, because the truth could be as deadly as the plague itself. But what IS the truth? Why must it be avoided? What dark secrets are they hiding? Does hell exist in the places and people we live amongst, or do we create our own hell, dark and deep within our minds? The plot is beautifully crafted, supported by a fast paced, wonderfully informative background. As each character joined the company, it was fascinating to see the shift in the group dynamics. Human nature never really changes much, does it? Medieval England was a time of storytelling, mixing fact with fiction, beliefs with hopes, truths with lies. And what a tangled web it is! More from this author, please, many, many more, I hope. Absolutely top class.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I have read in AGES!, 11 May 2009
This review is from: Company of Liars (Paperback)
I found this book on a shelf in my house, unread, forgotten and bought by another member of my family ages ago. I picked it up on the off chance it caught my eye with the cover and I had nothing else to read so gave it a try and I was pleasantly surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I loved the characters and the whole journey of discovering who they really are and all about their pasts, I became attached to them all immensely and felt I knew them. It may be a book that has a dark cloud of doom hovering over it all the time but I still didn't want this book to end! Maitland has a way of writing which manages to explore the characters thoughts and include that information that develops the story while moving at a pace that keeps the reader alert. With this book I honestly didn't know what was coming next!
I did though feel the ending...lacked something compared to the rest of the book, a bit sudden. And after everything that had happened I expected something more dramatic but that isn't a big enough issue that it stops this novel from sitting proudly near the top of my list of favourite books!
I have just began to read The Owl Killers and I know already it is going to be just as good.
Company Of Liars is defiantly a book I would recommended to anyone who wanted to read something different, dark and has very good characterisation going on.
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