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Literature / Labyrinth

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A novel by Kate Mosse first published in 2005, which is best described as an historical mystery/conspiracy thriller with supernatural elements, set in both the Middle Ages and present day France. Not to be confused with the film Labyrinth starring David Bowie.

There are two main storylines at work, with the chapters alternating regularly between each one. In 2005, Doctor Alice Tanner is working on an archaeology site in the south of France when she is drawn to a hidden cave in the hills. There she finds two skeletons, one grasping a mysterious book and a ring with a labyrinth design. Struck by a strong sense of déjà vu, Alice soon realizes that there are plenty of other people who have a strong interest in what she found within the cave, and no qualms about using violence to get to it.

In 1209, seventeen year old Alaïs goes to fetch herbs and discovers a dead body in the river, its thumb removed and throat cut. With that discovery, her father reveals to her his long-held secret: that he is one of the guardians of three books that contain the secrets of the Holy Grail. With an enemy army moving against Carcassonne and her devious older sister Oriane determined to get her hands on the books, it’s up to Alaïs to smuggle the trilogy to safety.

The two stories occur in a shared geography and occasionally intertwine, usually through dreams or visions. The novel relies heavily on historical events such as the massacre at Béziers and the Crusade against the Cathars in Occitania, from around 1200.

In 2012, Labyrinth was adapted into a two-part miniseries, filmed on-location in the medieval town of Carcassonne in southwest France and Cape Town, South Africa. Like the book, it jumps between modern and medieval France, and remains a reasonably faithful adaptation of the source material with only a few dramatic liberties. It stars Vanessa Kirby, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katie McGrath, Tom Felton, Sebastian Stan, Emun Elliott, Tony Curran, and John Hurt. The trailer can be seen here.

Labyrinth was followed by two Spiritual Successors, Sepulchre (2009) and Citadel (2012), both of which also made use of the dual stories in different time periods running parallel to one another. Together they are unofficially known as the Languedoc trilogy.

The book contains examples of:

The miniseries contains examples of:

  • Sexual Karma: When Guilhem has sex with Alais, it's slow, loving and missionary style. When he has sex with Oriane, it's rough, quick and doggy style.
  • Shipper on Deck: Audric for Will and Alice.
  • Slashed Throat: What happen if you betray the Noublesso.
  • Together in Death: The skeletons that Alice finds in the cave at the beginning of the film are eventually revealed to be Alaïs and Guilhem.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: Guilhelm to Oriane: "If you were a man, you would not leave this room alive." Later it's subverted, as he kills her.