THE TWISTS AND TURNS OF LABYRINTH As a piece of literature, I don’t think this is not much of a book, but it held some interest for me because it’s the second one I’ve read concerning the Catar people of southwestern France. Most of us haven’t heard of these folks because they were an obscure and short-lived 13th-15th century religious sect that were branded heretics and pretty much wiped out by the Catholic church and its various military surrogates in the 1400’s.

Their philosophy had its beginnings in the middle east–Egypt, Persia, etc.–and posited that our souls’ rightful dwelling place is with the spirit of god in heaven. The devil created earth through trickery and managed to steal souls and imprison them in human bodies, where they are condemned to remain through cycles of reincarnation until they earn their way back upstairs. In its extreme forms, Cartarism banned procreation and eating of meat. Anyhow, you can see how all this would kind of bother the bishops and the pope.

My first look at these folks was in Charmain Craig’s The Good Men. I probably wouldn’t have known of the book because I understand it didn’t sell well, but I met Craig at a conference, was intrigued by the subject matter, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I lent it to a priest friend of mine, who didn’t finish it. He said she’d gotten her church history wrong and couldn’t get past the discrepancies.

Kate Mosse in Labyrinth takes an entirely different approach from Craig, who invented a little village and spun her tale around some historical an


d fictional characters who get wrapped up in the inquisition designed to root out the heretics. Labyrinth bounces back and forth between contemporary and historical events occurring in the the region of France where the Catars lived. There’s a twilight-zone connection between the contemporary protagonist (Alice) and the medieval one (Alais) as well as parallel forces between an orthodox Catholic lawyer and the vengeful inquisitors of yore.

The labyrinth, properly connected in its various forms, creates a gateway not only between the future and past but between earth (hell for the Catars) and heaven. It’s a pretty ripe mystery, especially if you buy into the paranormal premise. Which I didn’t. Also the generous helpings of Da Vinci Code machinations.

The truth is, I’m struggling to get through my classic for the year–The Brothers Karamozov–and am taking breaks by grabbiing at any light reading that falls into my hands. I’m well over halfway through now, so the tactic seems to be working.

Sitting up

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *