July 1209: in Carcassonne a young girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in protecting it. It will take great sacrifice and faith to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe, a secret that stretches back thousands of years to the deserts of Ancient Egypt.
July 2005: Alice Tanner stumbles upon two skeletons during an archaeological dig in the mountains outside Carcassonne. Inside the hidden tomb where the bones lie crumbling, she experiences an overwhelming sense of malevolence, as well as a creeping understanding that, however impossible it seems, she can somehow understand the mysterious ancient words carved into the rock. Too late, Alice realises she's set in motion a terrifying sequence of events that she cannot control and that her destiny is inextricably tied up with the fate of the Cathars 800 years before.
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©2005 Mosse Associates Ltd.; (P)2005 Orion Publishing Group Ltd.
"A gripping holy grail quest....The story line runs on knowledge and fun, Carcassonne never looked so good." (Sunday Times)
I too found this book to be sorely overrated. As has been previously stated it is following in the fad for novels about 'the holy grail' and the repucussions through the ages. To be far its better than most and if you take it for what it is it can be entertaining. The characters are quite 2D and as a woman myself I can see the point previously made about it being aimed at women. It panders and patronizes and instead of identifing with Alice/Alais I just thought she was a waste of space and very feeble.
And yet whilst the plot is a little exhaustive and overblown in some areas it does offer lots of intrigue and keeps you going. Plus the narrators are the best thing about this book. As people will know from my other reviews I think Emilia Fox is fantastic and teaming up with Anton Lesser here makes it much more exciting and intriguing.
Anyone who wants an intense novel with twists and turns but still typical enough to guess whats going to happen then this is the book for you.
The book is as expected not a great novel, but it is difficult to tell with this abridged version. What was very difficult to deal with was the awful pair of readers. If had not paid for this book I would have stopped listening after the first chapter. I suspect the unabridged version will be an improvement on content and audio character.
The story was interesting, with its links between past and present. The brief insight into the world of the Cathars and their alternative religion was fascinating. The one aspect I found difficult was the appalling French accent used on occasions. I felt as though I had been transported to the set of 'Allo Allo'. Generally speaking, if an accent isn't going to sound authentic, it's probably best not to attempt it at all.
Otherwise, very enjoyable.
This is just utter garbage. Stilted clunky story, dreadful reading, appalling abridgement. I have tried & tried to stick with it but tonight I've given up. Waste of time and money.
Absolutely not. Anton Lesser is the only good thing about it.
Learn how to write.
The soft porn ones
One of the few books that I couldn't finish.
I got this to listen to because I wanted something a bit silly and entertaining. It's not the sort of thing I usually would read but I have seen the cover of the book prominently displayed in every bookshop for years, so I thought it must have something going for it.
Two readers, male and female, one reading the contemporary sections and one the twelfth century sections. (Maybe it's not the twelfth century, maybe it's the eleventh, but who cares.) Dodgy accents abound due to the author's decision to set her story in the Languedoc region. Both readers sound increasingly bored as the story progresses, and their attempts to distinguish between the voices of different characters fall flat. I stopped listening with an hour and a half to go, maybe there's a dramatic improvement towards the end.
This book has nothing to recommend it. Shamelessly derivative, it somehow fails to reach even the painfully clumsy standard of writing of Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code," the book it so desperately wants to be.
It is riddled with sentences like "With the cries of the French ringing in their ears, the gates were opened wide." (Not an exact quote, I couldn't be bothered trawling back through the book for accuracy.) That's just one specimen, there are hundreds of examples of bad writing that shouldn't have escaped an editor's attention but somehow they all did.
The author (I'm using the term loosely) demonstrates her utter disregard for originality not just in her chosen subject matter but also in her dependence on cliche. Hearts beat like drums, blood runs cold, a naive girl blunders from revelation to revelation. Yawn. At one point somebody or other (don't remember, don't care) learns of vital plot points while eavesdropping from behind a couch as two characters indulge in some half-hearted exposition. Seriously. Not since Jessica Fletcher retired from solving murders has there been such clunky and shudder-inducing plot-pushing.
I am ashamed to admit I stuck with this for over six hours before giving up, more of a testament to my enjoyment of audiobooks as a medium than the the author's ability to weave a tale. Six hours. I will begrudge Kate Mosse (even her name is a second-hand imitation!) those six hours on my death bed.
Nope. Just don't. It's not harmless low-brow entertainment, it's just a really bad book.
This is a great audio book - the quality is very high! I read the book first and enjoyed it even more listening to it as you get completely lost in the plot. This is my favourite of Kate Mosse's books and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes the combination of historical story setting (this is partly set early 1200 Languedoc region, predominantly Carcassonne) and a bit of a thrilling tale.
I love Alais's character - she is strong willed and defiant, an excellent novel heroine.
This is a must listen - highly recommended!
I have always loved books, but struggle to read paper books these days. Listening to a good narrator adds immeasurable pleasure !
I wanted to listen to it to complete the trio of books about Carcassonne but this is my least favourite and the story seems to blur into the other two.
Sepulchre and Citadel are much more interesting stories to me.
Say something about yourself!
I enjoyed the story a great deal and I am looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy. However, I think it is a shame that this book was unavailable to buy in an unabridged version. The abridged version lacks the depth and detail it deserves and I felt that in some parts great chunks of story seemed to be missing.
I didnt get to it.
No - I struggled to give it a chance but it didn't grab me.
Pedestrian writing values - "her pale skin and aqualine features" "her dark fringe of eyelashes " etc etc . Groan...
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