Synopses & Reviews
In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucers Canterbury Talesan 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 groups 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 allpropelling these liars to a destiny they never saw coming.
Magical, heart-quickening, and raw, Company of Liars is a work of vaulting imagination from a powerful new voice in historical fiction.
"Desperate to outrun the Black Death ravaging England during the sodden summer of 1348, nine disparate souls band together in this harrowing historical, which infuses a Canterbury Tales scenario with the spectral chill of an M. Night Shyamalan ghost story. Maitland (The White Room) gives each of the travelers a potentially devastating secret. How did narrator Camelot, a glib-tongued peddler of false relics and hope, really come by that hideously scarred face? What is magician Zophiel hiding inside his wagon? And just who is Narigorm, the spooky albino girl whose readings of the runes are always eerily on target? As the nine strangers slog cross-country through the pestilential landscape, their number shrinking one by one, they come to realize that what they don't know about each other might just kill them. 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 (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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 nonetheless rings true--"The Daily Mail" (UK).
About the Author
Karen Maitland has a doctorate in psycholinguistics. She traveled and worked in many parts of the world, from the Arctic Circle to Africa, before finally settling in the medieval city of Lincoln in England. Her British debut novel, The White Room, was short-listed for the Authors Club of Great Britain Best First Novel Award. She is at work on her next novel, The Owl Killers.