Sunday, March 15, 2009
Company of Liars
This book is faintly reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales. Although it's been over 20 years since I've read the Canterbury Tales, so I could be totally off with that statement. But they're both medieval, and involve travellers and stories. And lies. There were lies in The Canterbury Tales, right?
In Company of Liars, we've got nine travellers wandering the English countryside in an attempt to avoid the plague (and their own demons). The cast of characters:
- Camelot - a disfigured peddler of relics, Camelot intuits some of his fellow travellers secrets. He also attempts to keep the peace, although when it comes to Narigorm, he is totally freaked out.
- Zophiel - a magician and con man, with an absurd attachment to an embalmed mermaid. Tolerated because he has a horse and wagon. This is pretty much his only redeeming quality.
- Adela and Osmond - a married couple expecting their first child. Osmond is a painter who no longer paints, although he won't say why.
- Venetian minstrel Rodrigo and his apprentice Jofre. Jofre is a talented yet troubled youth, and Rodrigo is too tolerant of his misdeeds.
- Cygnus - a storyteller who longs to be a swan.
- Pleasance - the quiet midwife/healer, who has taken Narigorm under her wing.
- Narigorm - a creepy young girl who casts runes, and usually predicts doom and gloom.
I really enjoyed this book. The author did a fantastic job of describing the harshness of life in medieval England. Also, each chapter reads like a separate story (although you couldn't read them separately, or out of order). But I liked how when I reached the end of each chapter, it felt like I had just finished a short tale. There is also just a hint of magic going on...or maybe I should say a hint of the possibility of magic. It's enough to make you think you're not quite in England, even though you are. It's just an England ruled by fear and superstition and plague and hunger.
Another also - this is a great cover. Each little picture is representative of something in the story, and it's not as readily apparent as you might think. Mostly it is, but I was lead astray a few times.
While checking out the author's website, I discovered she has another book coming out in September (earlier if you're lucky enough to live in Engalnd). Her next one is titled The Owl-Killers, and I can't wait!