Three secrets. Two women. One Grail…
July 1209: in Carcassonne a 17-year-old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe.
July 2005: Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave in the French Pyrenees. Puzzled by the labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realises she’s disturbed something that was meant to be hidden. Somehow, a link to a horrific past – her past – has been revealed.
Age when first read – 22
Importance – I found out about Labyrinth from watching the Channel 4 adaptation of it. I remember being completely mystified by the programme and watched it obsessively. I was drawn into the world so quickly that when I realised it was a book, I couldn’t stop myself from reading. I’m so glad I’d seen the adaptation first because without it, the book would have been too much of a challenge for me. The language would have been too much for my processing capabilities. Armed with the visuals from the television adaptation, I drove into this book with gusto. Despite the difficult language, I was not put off by the book and devoured page after page. I remember feeling really accomplished when I finished the book because at the time it felt almost like an impossibility that I would. I have since gone back and read it a couple more times and each time I feel a little bit prouder and I’ve noticed I understand the language more. I learnt a lot while reading this book.
What was learnt – I learnt so much about Carcassonne and much of what was mentioned in this book led me to googling many things to further educate myself. I also learnt a lot more about the Grail, for my only knowledge of it before was its role in the Indiana Jones film. I spent a lot of time going through Wikipedia and other web pages, reading up on facts so that I could better understand what I was reading. I love history, so taking the time to learn these facts was something that I wanted to do and not something that limited me in any way.
Reading as an adult – At 29, I think I have a better understanding of the book now and am not so cautious in my reading of it. I don’t pick it up anymore and think of it as a challenge or as a hurdle I need to throw myself over. I can look upon it fondly now and dive into its pages without the need to pause and understand what I am reading. The characters and the setting have become second nature to me and every time I reread it I discover something new that I hadn’t seen the time before. It’s a book that keeps on giving.
Overall rating – 9.5 (if I’m being picky!)