In the elaborate thriller Labyrinth, two women mysteriously linked across eight centuries take up the quest to find the legendary Holy Grail and guard its secrets against those who would use its power for evil ends. Author Kate Mosse spins an exciting tale of intrigue and peril, with female characters who don't wait for men to lead. With valor and cunning, they plunge headlong into the eternal search for truth.
First up is Alice Tanner, who makes a surprise find while helping with an archeological dig in the mountains of southwest France near the historic city of Carcassonne. Drawn by an odd sense of familiarity, she discovers a cave with startling contents: two battered skeletons and a ring bearing an arcane design of a labyrinth that matches a larger carving on the cave wall. Next the action moves to Carcassonne in the year 1209, where Ala•s fears for her people as crusaders from northern France approach, ready to wipe out the supposed heresy of the Cathar Christians prevalent in the region. When her father faces service in their defense, he asks her to help protect an ancient grail secret he has sworn to guard. Mosse deftly weaves the two women's stories together like a medieval tapestry, developing suspense as she moves from one era to the other with exquisitely devised parallels, the well-researched background providing depth and color. She deserves special kudos for her imaginative take on the grail itself. Mosse touches on themes made popular by Dan Brown's Da Vince Code the grail, the history and legends of France. While Brown bows to history, Mosse immerses her story in it. She has a home in Carcassonne, and her novel shows her intimate familiarity with the ghosts and landscapes of the area. A bestseller in Britain, Labyrinth is Mosse's third novel, and her first to be published in the U.S. It's an exciting read, especially for those who love strong female protagonists, history and epic adventure. Janet Fisher writes from southwest Oregon.