Release date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
From the internationally bestselling author of Labyrinth and Sepulchre comes a thrilling novel, set in the South of France during World War II, that interweaves history and legend, love and conflict, passion and adventure, bringing to life brave women of the French Resistance and a secret they must protect from the Nazis. In Carcassonne, a colorful historic village nestled deep in the Pyrenees, a group of courageous and determined operatives are engaged in a lethal battle. Like their ancestors who fought to protect their land from Northern invaders seven hundred years before, these women—codenamed Citadel—fight to liberate their home from the Germans.
But smuggling refugees over the mountains into neutral territory and sabotaging their Nazi occupiers is only part of their mission. These members of the resistance must also protect an ancient secret that, if discovered by the enemy, could change the course of history.
A superb blend of rugged action and haunting mystery based on real-life figures, Citadel is a vivid and richly atmospheric story of a group of heroic women who dared the odds to survive [provided by the publisher]
Citadel is the third installment and the concluding volume of The Languedoc Trilogy; the previous novels being Labyrinth and Sepulchre. Having not read either I can assure you Citadel stands on its own. It is an impressive time-slip novel, which of late, as many of you may know, has become one of my favorite new genres.
Citadel is set in a southern region of France, Carcassonne, which seems to evoke not only an eerie beauty but also the feeling that the veil between this world and the past as well as the future is thinner than elsewhere; reminding me of Romania or Transylvania in the emotion the region seems to evoke. The Languedoc Trilogy is centered on a quest for an ancient Christian Codex; a manuscript believed to have the power to raise a sleeping army. Citadel continues this theme with the story lines of Sandrine Vidal, a member of the French Resistance in the Languedoc between 1942 and 1944, and that of a fourth‑century Roman Gaul, Arinius.
Sandrine has an interesting story that adds to the allure of Citadel; she is a young naive woman, living with her older sister Marianne, and has followed her sister into the French resistance in their local village. During a resistance demonstration a bomb is detonated and innocent people are injured. It is at the demonstrations that she meets Raoul, who somehow saves her life but she is unable to find him. Needless to say once she does the two begin an intense love affair, despite that Raoul is accused of the attack on the demonstration and is being hunted by the Gestapo. If that wasn’t enough he tells the women that he has a map, which is thought to indicate the location of an ancient codex; so powerful that possessing it could alter the course of the war, putting them all in even greater danger as Raoul is being pursued by men who believe he has found the Codes itself.
It is at this pivotal moment that Sandrine realizes that the time has come to take a stand against the Nazi’s or submit to them. She decides to take a stand. Sandrine, along with the assistance of Raoul and Marianne, form a female-only Resistance group, the Citadel. These women take increasingly dangerous jobs in their fight for freedom and who, over the next two years, fight a guerrilla war against the German occupation. Then Sandrine meets Monsieur Baillard, a man who has spent centuries looking for the Codex and he believe that Sandrine is the crucial person he needs to finally summon the ancient power of the Codex. Evidently, Baillard is a character that has made an appearance in each of Mosse’s installments in her trilogy. He is a mysterious and at times sinister character; could his motives to find the codex be what he claims they are?
Meanwhile, back in 342 AD, Arinius is also facing testing times. He has a sheet of papyrus strapped to his chest and is making his was to the fortified castellum of Carcaso– a place of safety for Gnostics and Christians during this uncertain Dark Age. Arinius is struggles across France to hide the papyrus; he believes to be a heretical document, in these early uncertain days of Constantine’s newly Christian Roman Empire.
I found Citadel completely engrossing and it helped me understand why the historical time-slip novel intrigues me as it does. History has a tendency to repeat itself and so parallels within history are often easy to discern. Mosse gives us the end of the Roman Empire and the last days of Hitler’s Third Reich. I recently heard a theory that Shakespeare wrote Henry V as a means of reminding Elizabeth I of how wars were won despite seemingly insurmountable odds. At the end of the day neither the reader nor the writer nor the historian will know the unquestionable truth. It is the informed speculation that makes the study of history so intriguing and thankfully always will be.
Kate Mosse has given her reader an epic, a novel of near 700 pages, but it never felt like one of Hercules’ labors. Instead it is filled with emotion, intrigue, danger and suspicion combined with Mosse’s ability to combine these emotions to create driven narrative pace. Additionally, and almost as a bonus, Mosse is a writer who has mastered the ability to capture the feeling of a time and space for her reader, but to actually evoke the same emotions brought on by the sights, sounds and smells encountered by the characters right through to her reader. Citadel was all these things and still also historically compelling, filled with memorable characters all set within that wonderfully eerie setting which brings the conclusion of the Citadel and The Languedoc Trilogy to its climatic gut-wrenching conclusion.
About the Author
Kate Mosse is the multimillion selling author of four works of nonfiction, three plays, one volume of short stories and six novels, including the New York Times bestselling Labyrinth and Sepulchre. A popular presenter for BBC television and radio in the UK, she is also cofounder and chair of the prestigious Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) and a member of the board of the National Theatre of Great Britain. In 2013, she was named as one of the Top 100 most influential people in British publishing and also awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature. She divides her time between England and Carcassonne, France.