We follow Alaïs du Mas in the 1200’s and Alice Tanner in 2005, two women with connecting lives through, of all things, the Grail. Alaïs is a noble woman living in Carcassonne, married to Guilhem, the loving daughter of Bertrand Pelletier, steward to Viscount Trencavel. They are living in a time of religious persecution as the Crusaders are moving through France toward Carcassonne, determined to purge the lands of the ‘heretics’ and, crucially, for the French to steal the lands of those under the guise of it being ‘Gods work’.
Alice is in France helping her friend at an archaeological dig, waiting out until the time comes for a meeting in Carcassonne about an unexpected inheritance. Whilst at the dig Alice discovers something that will change the course of her life forever, and help her complete a story that began over 800 years previously.
And that’s all I am saying plot wise. Its all you need to know.
It is epic, in both length and story. It is almost 700 pages long and to be honest, it took a good 300+ pages for me to really get into it. I actually broke off at about 150 pages and demolished ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, but I was determined to read this book before watching the TV adaptation.
I am really glad I persevered, because the latter half of the story is gripping. There is suspense, heartache, violence, romance, and intrigue all mixed in with war and the history of France. You meet a variety of characters and you have the fun of working out who they resemble between the past and the contemporary stories. I particularly loved Alaïs and Guilhem in the 1200s and am very excited about their lives being brought to the screen by Downton Abbey’s Lady Sybill (Jessica Brown Findlay) and the lovely Emun Elliot. I was also particularly excited when I noticed Sebastian Stan in the trailers playing Will, who Marvel fans will know as Bucky Barnes from Captain America while fairytale lovers may know him better as the Mad Hatter in Once Upon a Time.
I think Mosse is a good writer, but not excellent. She makes annoying mistakes such as repeating descriptive terms either within sentences or painfully close to each other…there is an amazing thing called synonyms that helps out so much in these instances.
Mosse has, however, managed to create a modern epic out of history and forced me to read French for the first time in about 10 years. And now I want to do some history research and get back to being able to read French properly – I used to be good at it!
She has sparked my interest in history, in mythology and even in religion. To get me this excited about learning things again is a HUGE achievement because I have been brain dead from education for about six months.
I am so excited to read Sepulchre (the second part to Mosse’s trilogy) because I want to know what direction this book will take and if I’m going to get as excited about the characters as I have been about Will, Alice, Guilhem and Alaïs.
SIDENOTE: I gave up on Sepulchre not even a third of the way through because I was so very bored. Its a shame, but really Kate Mosse seems to be a one trick pony.