Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Company of Liars

Almost Happy Thanksgiving Flower!

How about this Flower, Company of Liars. What a great title. That title tells you to be ready to trust no one. I like that. It might also be a bit of foreshadowing for Thanksgiving dinner.

This company is a marvelous mix of Canterbury Tales meets The Seventh Seal meets And Then There Were None---or Ten Little Indians. I never know what that book is really supposed to be called.

Anyway you get the idea. In 1348 a group of nine travelers brought together by chance and are trying to out run certain death. The Black Plague is everywhere. It will ultimately be responsible for 100,000,000 deaths between 1340 and 1400 across Europe and Asia. At each stop the group makes they are in just as much danger of getting sick as they are from the locals looking for someone to blame for the disease or for the over abundance of rain that is destroying the crops. The only good news is that the locals do not know the extent of the secrets, agendas and schemes that each member of the band harbors or they would have even more reasons to feel threatened by them. However it isn't only the threats from without that could destroy these travelers. They are not so united a unit that they might not just kill each other.

Author Karen Maitland has ratcheted up the creepy quotient in Company of Liars to an intense level. She has also done the research to back up what she writes about her characters day to day struggles and the historical events of the time. Maitland's characters are the disenfranchised of their day. Her pilgrim's (emphasis on the grim part) flight from death and superstition to at best an only slightly safer fugitive existence than they have at the book's start is historical macabre at it's best. Forget the plague, even healthy life in this middle age was no jaunt through silk skirts and pageantry. There are no amount of talismans or charms to keep you safe from devouring this entertaining novel.

P.S. I do like the U.S. cover but I like the U.K. cover better. It's more dangerous and has a more just pulled out of a manuscript from the Middle Ages feel.

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