This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

Close cookie details

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav

Company of Liars

Cover of Company of Liars

Company of Liars

Borrow Borrow
In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—an ingenious alchemy of history, mystery, and powerful human drama.

The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them.

Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot, the relic-seller who will become the group’s leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyteller . . . from the strange, silent child called Narigorm to a painter and his pregnant wife, each has a secret. None is what they seem. And one among them conceals the darkest secret of all—propelling these liars to a destiny they never saw coming.

Magical, heart-quickening, and raw, Company of Liars is a work of vaulting imagination from a powerful new voice in historical fiction.


From the Hardcover edition.
In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—an ingenious alchemy of history, mystery, and powerful human drama.

The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them.

Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot, the relic-seller who will become the group’s leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyteller . . . from the strange, silent child called Narigorm to a painter and his pregnant wife, each has a secret. None is what they seem. And one among them conceals the darkest secret of all—propelling these liars to a destiny they never saw coming.

Magical, heart-quickening, and raw, Company of Liars is a work of vaulting imagination from a powerful new voice in historical fiction.


From the Hardcover edition.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Reading Level:

Recommended for you


Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Chapter One


    The Midsummer Fair

    They say that if you suddenly wake with a shudder, a ghost has walked over your grave. I woke with a shudder on that Midsummer's Day. And although I had no way of foreseeing the evil that day would bring to all of us, it was as if in that waking moment, I felt the chill of it, glimpsed the shadow of it, as if something malevolent was hovering just out of sight.

    It was dark when I woke, that blackest of hours before dawn when the candles have burnt out and the first rays of sun have not yet pierced the chinks in the shutters. But it wasn't the hour's coldness that made me shiver. We were packed into the sleeping barn too snugly for anyone to feel a draft.

    Every bed and every inch of floor was occupied by those who had poured into Kilmington for the Midsummer Fair. The air was fetid with sweat and the belches, farts and stinks of stomachs made sour by too much ale. Men and women grunted and snored on the creaking boards, groaning, as here and there a restless sleeper, in the grip of a bad dream, elbowed his neighbour in the ribs.

    I seldom dream, but that night I had dreamt and the dream was still with me when I woke. I had dreamt of the bleak lowland hills they call the Cheviots, where England and Scotland crouch, battle ready, staring each other down. I saw those hills as plainly as if I had been standing there, the rounded peaks and turbulent streams, the wild goats and the _wind-_tossed rooks, the Pele towers and the squat Bastle farmhouses. I knew them well. I had known that place from the day I first drew breath; it was the place I had once called home.

    I had not dreamt of it for many years. I had never returned to it. I could never return. I knew that much on the day I walked away from it. And through all the years I have tried to put it from my mind and, mostly, I have succeeded. There's no point in hankering for a place you cannot be. Anyway, what is home? The place where you were born? The place where you are still remembered? The memory of me will have long since rotted to dust. And even if there were any left alive who still remember, they would never forgive me, could never absolve me for what I have done. And on that Midsummer's Day, when I dreamt of those hills, I was about as far from home as it is possible to be.

    I've travelled for many years, so many that I have long since ceased to count them. Besides, it's of no consequence. The sun rises in the east and sinks in the west and we told ourselves it always would. I should have known better than to believe that. I am, after all, a camelot, a peddler, a hawker of hopes and crossed fingers, of piecrust promises and gilded stories. And believe me, there are plenty who will buy such things. I sell faith in a bottle: the water of the Jordan drawn from the very spot where the Dove descended, the bones of the innocents slaughtered in Bethlehem, and the shards of the lamps carried by the wise virgins. I offer skeins of Mary Magdalene's hair, redder than a young boy's blushes, and the white milk of the Virgin Mary in tiny ampoules no plumper than her nipples. I show them blackened fingers of Saint Joseph, palm leaves from the Promised Land, and hair from the very ass that bore our blessed Lord into Jerusalem. And they believe me, they believe it all, for haven't I the scar to prove I've been all the way to the Holy Land to fight the heathen for these scraps?

    You can't avoid my scar, purple and puckered as a hag's arsehole, spreading my nose half across my cheek. They sewed up the hole where my eye should have been and over the years the lid has shrunk and shrivelled into the socket, like the skin on a cold milk pudding. But...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Karen Maitland's novel, set in medieval England, features a motley cast--including a one-eyed relics dealer, a musician and his apprentice, and a young girl who reads runes--each of whom has something to hide. While much of the writing suffers from clichés and pretensions, the characters are richly drawn, and Maxwell Caulfield gives each one a uniquely magnificent voice, whatever the gender or accent of the speaker. Even minor characters get the full treatment. While the novel will likely interest only fans of historical fantasy, Caulfield's performance transcends the limits of the genre and gives the story an extra dimension. D.B. (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
  • Daily Express, UK "[Maitland] brings to life a medieval England of muddy streets and half-naked children fighting each other for pieces of dog dung to sell to the tanners, as sheep-stealers swing purple-faced from the gallows.... She neatly catches the spirit of primitive superstition that governed every aspect of 14th century life and then rolls on with it for her own story-telling ends.... Company of Liars is a richly evocative page-turner which brings to life a lost and terrible period of British history, with a disturbing final twist worthy of a master of the spine-tingler, such as Henry James."
  • Bookseller "Transports readers back to the days of the Black Death . . . Paying homage to The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales, this is a gripping read. . . . As a reader you are taken as close to the plague as you would ever wish to go."
  • Shana Ábe "Darkly deceptive, twisting and turning and pulling you along, Company of Liars will leave you guessing until the end. Maitland creates a world that will both haunt and astonish you."
  • Diana Gabaldon, #1 bestselling author of A Breath of Snow and Ashes "Mysterious, sinister, and totally enthralling! It's the sort of book where you close the back cover and immediately open it again, hoping to find a few more pages."
  • Julia Spencer-Fleming, Edgar Award finalist and author of I Shall Not Want "Karen Maitland immerses the modern reader in the daily life of the Middle Ages. Intricately plotted, Company of Liars offers complex characters today's reader can identify with. A dark Canterbury's Tale, this long winter's night of magical storytelling expertly blends history and mystery."
  • Daily Mail, UK "Karen Maitland has dug into some obscure corners of medieval history to produce an almost parallel universe: a place where myth, magic, and superstition take over as the established order breaks down, but a world that nevertheless rings true. On top of that, she has fashioned a compelling mystery story that should appeal to a much wider readership than historical fiction fans. . . . Compelling."
  • Marie Claire "Maitland combines the storytelling traditions of The Canterbury Tales with the supernatural suspense of Kate Mosse's Sepulchre in this atmospheric tale of treachery and magic."
  • Denver Post "A Canterbury Tales scenario with an M. Night Shyamalan ghost story.... A harrowing historical."
  • The Mirror, UK "A compelling and highly atmospheric twist on Dan Brown land."
  • BookPage "Executed with stunning skill."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Books on Tape
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
    Release date:
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
    Burn to CD: 
    Permitted
    Transfer to device: 
    Permitted
    Transfer to Apple® device: 
    Permitted
    Public performance: 
    Not permitted
    File-sharing: 
    Not permitted
    Peer-to-peer usage: 
    Not permitted
    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.
    OverDrive WMA Audiobook
    Burn to CD: 
    Not permitted
    Transfer to device: 
    Permitted (6 times)
    Transfer to Apple® device: 
    Permitted
    Public performance: 
    Not permitted
    File-sharing: 
    Not permitted
    Peer-to-peer usage: 
    Not permitted
    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Bookshelf to manage your titles.

×

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Bookshelf?

×

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You have reached the maximum number of titles you are permitted to recommend at this time.

×

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

×
×

×

To recommend Company of Liars, complete the following information:

*indicates required information

(comma separates multiple email addresses, i.e. bob@aol.com, bob@hotmail.com)

Subject: Check out this downloadable title at the Pioneer Library System


We respect your privacy. Any and all information collected at this site will be kept strictly confidential and will not be sold, reused, rented, loaned, or otherwise disclosed.

×
Recommend this title to the library to be added to the Digital Collection
Company of Liars
Company of Liars
Karen Maitland
×
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
Company of Liars
Company of Liars
Karen Maitland
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
×
×

To recommend '', complete the following information:

*indicates required information

(comma separates multiple email addresses, i.e. bob@aol.com, bob@hotmail.com)

Subject: Check out this downloadable title at the Pioneer Library System

We respect your privacy. Any and all information collected at this site will be kept strictly confidential and will not be sold, reused, rented, loaned, or otherwise disclosed.

×