Monday, March 4, 2013

Labyrinth

I made a mistake when approaching this book: I watched the film first.

No, no, this isn't that Labyrinth with David Bowie, a host of muppets and a very young Jennifer Connelly. This is completely different and the film I'm referencing is the two part mini-series which aired around Christmas. Honestly, it caught my eye because the lovely Katie McGrath was in it and I'm glad the mini-series was brought to my attention because I really enjoyed it. 

When I discovered that it was based off a book I was pretty excited -- if I loved the show so much I would definitely love the book more. I mean, it has history and mystery and betrayal, it was awesome to watch and surely would be even better to read. 

I had the opportunity to buy myself some books as a belated Christmas gift to myself and Labyrinth ended up being one of the selected few. It was hefty in its paperback form -- 500 pages and not a regular paperback so it took up a lot of room in my purse -- and took me awhile to get through. 

Having seen the show before reading the book I ended up with certain expectations. I suspected I would see more of Oriane, the "evil" sister of one of the main characters Alais, and I suspected it to be a little more... short. Of course, this makes no sense because the film is quite long but it felt like I flew through the film while with the book I felt like it took me an awful long time to make it from one part to another.

I waited, with each dramatic scene in the book, for the next scenes I suspected would happen because of the film I had watched and for that I feel my review and opinion of the book is a little skewed. 

Many people have compared this book to the Da Vinci Code and I can't speak up for that, having never seen the movies or the books myself, but from what little I know of it I can see the resemblance. The novel follows a group of people who are sworn to protect the Holy Grail complete with symbolic rings and three important books which contain the secrets to the true Grail. 

Alais, our main girl, is entrusted with these secrets in her home of Carcassonne but she has more to worry about than just keeping the secret of the labyrinth. Her sister, Oriane, is the main force that is going after the secret but their town is also threatened by an attack from the crusades. 

Besides this, the reader flip flops from Alais' time to the present day when Alice -- a volunteer at an archaeological dig -- stumbles upon two skeletons and... a ring with the labyrinth imprinted on it. Alice is immediately sent on a roller coaster where, despite the passing of so many years from Alais' time to the present, the secret of the labyrinth is still sought after. Marie Cecile, a beautiful, determined woman, and numerous others are hunting for the secret and determined to do whatever it takes until they find the truth of the Labyrinth.

In this, the past and the present reflect one another in a true testament of history repeating itself. With Kate Mosse's writing I feel that she gave a lot of great description yet seemed to fail on giving more insight to the villains. There were so many bad guys running around the present day that it was hard to keep track of who was playing on who's team but at least the stubborn Marie Cecile appeared in enough chapters that I had a clear picture in my head of what type of person she was. For Oriane, the original villain, I feel her chapters were brief and not entirely focused. More times than not you were witnessing her flirtations and sex scenes but given little to work with for figuring out her motive for hating her sister so much besides jealousy. 

The book excelled in description and painting clear pictures of the scenery, scents, and sights but I was left thinking, at times, that the book was drowning by too much description. It made the book inch along and at times I felt like I had repeated the same scene already when, in fact, it just seemed to happen more than once in the span of the book. 

The end of the book I devoured in a matter of hours but the start of it, for me, was quite hard to get into despite my excitement and interest in the subject and storyline. For the mini-series: they really did follow the main points of the book. I feel they did a wonderful job with handling the important aspects of the story. 

For the book... well, there are many other books to this series but will I pick them up? Likely not. But there is another book by the author that interests me. So while this book didn't really do it for me, not enough for me to continue with the series, I'm certainly not shutting out any future reads by this particular author. She can write and I appreciate her attention to history, it's simply that Labyrinth was a little too long and started off a little too slowly for me.

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