Published in 2015, 694pp, Orion
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I’ve been eyeing this up all year and I finally took the plunge. The story is set in Carcassonne in 1209 and in 2005, intertwining the lives of Alais Pelletier du Mas and Alice Tanner. Normally, I avoid books set across multiple time periods as I tend to find them poorly linked and unbelievable, but this one *thankfully* is utterly breathtaking – and I am so glad I finally picked it up.
Beautifully written, the narrative slips between the lives of the two heroines, one life echoing the other. Alais’ story begins in Carcassonne, an impressive fortress city in the south of France on the cusp of the Fourth Crusade. In the midst of impending war against the nobility of northern France, Alais discovers a secret. A secret that changes her life and the life of those closest to her. A secret about the grail. Meanwhile, in modern day France, Alice Tanner is helping a friend at an Archaeological dig in the mountains when she discovers a cave that contains two skeletons and an ancient ring. The carving of a labyrinth at the entrance of the cave and on the stone ring piques Alice’s curiosity, especially when it becomes apparent other people are interested in her discovery.
I enjoyed this novel far more than I expected to and was hooked from the first page. I fell in love with the vivid descriptions of the landscape and walled city as well as the cast of well developed characters. It’s a story of female power and how anyone, even a teenage girl, can change history; even the villains are female. It’s a story of conflicts, betrayal and loyalty, morality and greed, revenge and forgiveness and jam packed with mystery, adventure and action.
The historical setting, and it’s integral role in the story, is an added bonus. It made me research Carcassonne and the Fourth Crusade and I’m so glad I did. Without this book, I’d have been ignorant of the religious genocide perpetrated by armies driven by greed and who sought power through conquering the lands of the southern nobles who tolerated religious diversity and eliminating the Cathars.
Pick up this book, I promise you won’t regret it.
Buy this book here.