This may seem like a post a bit out of sync with many of my musings. But this author, Kate Mosse, has written three novels about the Languedoc region of southern France, titled, Labyrinth, Sepulchre, and Citadel. Each of the three stands alone as a stunning story. But there is a certain thread which somehow weaves its way through all three.
The first obvious thread is that each novel deals with hidden artifacts. There is a search for these, by both those who seek to know the truth in an enlightened way, and by those who would use ancient esoteric knowledge for evil. This gives each novel a terrific element of suspense. Kate Mosse is a very gifted writer and her stories are difficult to put down. Each one is a page-turner in its own right.
Another commonality is that in each novel Mosse uses the literary device of twin stories, each happening at a different point in history, but which are intertwined. Obviously, in light of the hidden-artifact thread, the early-time story deals with the creation of the hidden artifact, which becomes the object of search later in history.
Another common thread is one mysterious character who appears in every book, and whose presence is key to each story. This I found to be a clever device, adding much intrigue to the books.
Also, the Church and religion play important parts in all these stories. There are ancient mysteries, mysticism, both modern and ancient, organized religion trying to control the dissemination of knowledge, etc. (Maybe this is the hook connecting this review with much of my other writings.)
I cannot write this review without referring to another author who deals with the same landscape, and with some of the same themes. That author is Kathleen McGowan. Especially her first two novels of a trilogy, The Expected One, and The Book of Love, deal with the Languedoc, the Cathars, esoteric ancient knowledge. McGowan also uses the device of old stories being discovered by modern protagonists.
Both Mosse and McGowan are gifted writers. Their stories are difficult to put down, and I as a reader found it hard to wait for the next book to come into my hands. Both authors have obviously done a great deal of historical research, and I found their books to be completely absorbing ways to learn more about historical events I knew little of.
I would say I think Kathleen McGowan’s writings are a bit more historical than Mosse’s. I say this because of hearing an interview with McGowan where she relates that her writing began by researching the lives of women who have not been dealt with accurately by historians. She wanted to put the record straight, and tell more of their story than has been known before. While initially aiming to publish these as historical works, a friend encouraged her to write them into novels, thereby achieving a wider audience. I think this was magnificently accomplished!
Another aspect of McGowan’s books, especially the first novel, The Expected One, is that she revealed in her interview that the images which the modern day protagonist sees from the first century, are pretty much word for word descriptions of images and messages she herself has experienced. This gives her story an immediacy, a sense of really happening, scenes from history actually having occurred.
Kate Mosse’s stories, on the other hand, are purely fictional accounts of events set in historical events. For example, the third book, Citadel, is set in the context of the French resistance movement of World War II. It especially shows the role women played in this resistance against the Nazi occupation of France, specifically the southern area of France. Mosse’s stories are just awesomely good reads: very entertaining, somewhat enlightening, but made-up stories nonetheless. McGowan’s stories are almost real; I as the reader really, really wanted them to be true accounts. And I ended up believing that things happened pretty much as she puts forth (creative licence notwithstanding).
So, my reader, if you want a good, enthralling read, choose any one of these author’s books!! You will not be disappointed, and they will cause you to think.