Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
Published by Berkley Books on February 6, 2007 (first published 2005)
Series: Languedoc, #1
Genre(s): fiction, historical fiction, mystery
Format & Length: paperback, 515
Find on Goodreads
In the Pyrenees mountains near Carcassonne, Alice, a volunteer at an archaeological dig, stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery-two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth. Eight hundred years earlier, on the eve of a brutal crusade that will rip apart southern France, a young woman named Alais is given a ring and a mysterious book for safekeeping by her father. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true Grail, and the ring, inscribed with a labyrinth, will identify a guardian of the Grail. Now, as crusading armies gather outside the city walls of Carcassonne, it will take a tremendous sacrifice to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe.
This was not my first time reading Labyrinth. I remember having read it about ten years ago but couldn’t recall any specifics about the story. I do recall finishing it in the middle of the night and immediately turning to google to find out more about the book and its author, so it clearly made quite an impression on me. After sitting on my shelf for some time, I decided it was time for a reread. And I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it just as much this time around!
“What will happen will happen.”
Labyrinth follows the stories of two young women in different time periods, Alice in the present and Alais in the 1200s. It weaves them together nicely and both timelines were intriguing; I found that each time it switched from one to the other I couldn’t decide which I was more excited to read. The two main characters have an interesting (and slightly supernatural, although I hesitate to call this fantasy) connection that added just a bit more to the intrigue of this plot driven tale.
Mosse clearly did a significant amount of research for the historical aspects of this story. To be fair, I don’t have much prior knowledge about the Medieval time period and couldn’t personally tell the fact from fiction, but I did enjoy how she brought the two together. This style of storytelling and the focus on the quest for the Grail reminds me strongly of The Da Vinci Code (and I’m sure I’m not the first to make that comparison). However, they go about it in different manners and with very distinct writing voices.
“Through the shared stories of our past, we do not die.”
My biggest issue with Labyrinth was that it was a bit long for what it was and could have used some additional editing. There were also a few subplots that weren’t as fully wrapped up as I would have liked. That being said, this still kept me entertained and engaged. I’d recommend this for readers who like dual timeline stories that attempt to uncover some long-hidden truth about historical artifacts.