It is clear that this story was inspired by the fortified medieval Cité of Carcassonne, and its a creative inspiration that I am all too familiar with. I was first told about this book shortly after its publication whilst I was writing my own foreign-travel-inspired-novel. I too had, independently, a character called Alice and a story that blended the real with the fantastical. It’s a BIG book though, and for whatever reason, even though I enjoyed the story I only got about halfway through before the draw of another book took me away from it.
I think it was the historical sections involving the medieval Alaïs that I had difficulty with and put me off from finishing the book. Eight year’s on, and I’m pleased that I returned to the book to read it again, from beginning (again), through to the end. It’s the kind of book that makes the Kindle worth it – I can read a BIG book without it taking up alot of space.
Second time on, and I was as gripped by the 21st century opener involving Alice and the archeological dig as I was the first time, and I did struggle a bit still with the Alaïs story too (or at least the cast of medieval characters when Alaïs wasn’t involved) but it hung together for me, and kept me moving on. I would preferred a bit more of handovers from Alice to Alaïs’ story to keep the link, and I was a little confused by the sudden appearance and importance of Will to the story? Why does Alice so completely and immediately trust him after all that has happened to her?
Having read the second book in the series, Sepulchre, first, I would say Labyrinth is the better, more complete, tale, and I’m glad I finally got round to finishing it. It’s also inspired me to continue to be creatively inspired by history and foreign places, and finding those stories to weave into a modern narrative. I really do like time-shift adventures.