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Customer Review

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My enjoyment was no lie, 12 July 2009
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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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Review Details

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Reviewer

I. Curry
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: London, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 122,001