Company of Liars: Book summary and reviews of Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

Company of Liars

by Karen Maitland

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland X
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2008
    480 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales - an ingenious alchemy of history, mystery, and powerful human drama.

The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them.

Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot, the relic-seller who will become the group’s leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyteller . . . from the strange, silent child called Narigorm to a painter and his pregnant wife, each has a secret. None is what they seem. And one among them conceals the darkest secret of all—propelling these liars to a destiny they never saw coming.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Maitland combines the story-telling traditions of The Canterbury Tales with the supernatural suspense of Kate Mosse's Sepulchre in this atmospheric tale of treachery and magic." - Marie Claire (UK).

"[A]lthough her book has the elegant inevitability of a fugue, it doesn't perform the magic trick of making our interest in its characters develop into empathy: its author is writing from head, not heart." - The Times (UK).

"This is a brilliantly-written book with a story so compelling I took it everywhere so that I could keep reading when the opportunity arose." - Independent Weekly (Australia).

"Despite Maitland's yarn-spinning prowess, her narrative occasionally stalls because of unrelenting grimness and an increasingly predictable plot-that is, until its gasp-out-loud finale." - Publishers Weekly.

"This novel vividly evokes the landscape of 14th-century England without putting too many 21st-century interpretations on actions and events." - Library Journal.

"Decidedly not your English teacher's Chaucer, but creepy, suspenseful fun." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Karen Maitland has dug into some obscure corners of medieval history to produce an almost parallel universe: a place where myth, magic, and superstition take over as the established order breaks down, but a world that nevertheless rings true. On top of that, she has fashioned a compelling mystery story that should appeal to a much wider readership than historical fiction fans. . . . Compelling." - Daily Mail (UK).

"[Maitland] brings to life a medieval England of muddy streets and half-naked children fighting each other for pieces of dog dung to sell to the tanners, as sheep-stealers swing purple-faced from the gallows.... She neatly catches the spirit of primitive superstition that governed every aspect of 14th century life and then rolls on with it for her own story-telling ends.... Company of Liars is a richly evocative page-turner which brings to life a lost and terrible period of British history, with a disturbing final twist worthy of a master of the spine-tingler, such as Henry James." - Daily Express (UK).

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Author Information

Karen Maitland Author Biography

Like her characters in Company of Liars, Karen Maitland has spent much of her life travelling, spending her early childhood in the sunshine of Malta and later journeying to Iceland and Greenland. In her working life she has done all kinds of jobs from hospital worker to lecturer, egg packing to dance-drama. She finally started writing in 1996.

One of Maitland's jobs took her to Nigeria for eighteen months where she lived in a rural village, without running water, electricity or sanitation. She was in Nigeria when the civil war broke out.

Maitland began writing historical novels after she became fascinated by the medieval period having visited the beguinage (city of women) in Bruges, which she then used in her novel The Owl Killers. She has now written four medieval thrillers, ...

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