Citadel by Kate MosseCitadel by Kate Mosse speculative fiction book reviewsCitadel
by Kate Mosse

I have a strange relationship with books by Kate Mosse. On the one hand, I love the atmosphere and descriptive qualities of her work — it transports you to the south of France in vivid prose; filled with the sights, sounds and smells of another time and place. She clearly loves the history and ambience of the Languedoc, and every page is filled with sensory detail.

On the other hand, Mosse’s plots are slow and rambling, packed full of extraneous details and unnecessary subplots. Often chapters can go by where nothing particularly interesting or important happens, and with a little ruthless editing I’m sure each book’s length could be halved.

So is the way her story told worth the story itself? Well, everyone’s going to have a different opinion on that, but for what it’s worth, I enjoy Mosse’s books. The chapters are short, the cover art is beautiful, and her premises intriguing. Throw in female protagonists, a historical backdrop, and a hint of mysticism, and you’ve got enjoyable enough holiday reads.

Citadel is the third book in what is unofficially known as the LANGUEDOC TRILOGY; preceded by Labyrinth and Sepulchre, and which (strangely enough) manages to be both a prequel and a sequel. Each previous novel has two interconnected plotlines, one set in the past and one in the present. This one bucks the trend a little by setting the major storyline in the 1940s, during WWII. This means that most of the story takes place well after the stories of Alais and Leonie, but before Alice and Meredith; all of whom appear in the earlier books.

Sandrine Vidal is a young woman drawn into the Resistance in Carcassonne during the Second World War. She and other like-minded girls are part of a network known as Citadel, who carry out certain acts of sabotage to disrupt the German Occupation. But she unexpectedly becomes drawn into the mystery of what’s known as the Codex; an ancient manuscript that’s said to be hidden in the Pyrenean mountains, considered heretical by the church but which could hold invaluable information to assist the war effort.

If you’re familiar with the previous books, you’ll enjoy what Mosse offers here in Citadel. There are familiar names, locations and characters, such as Leo Authie and Audric Baillard, and plenty of other “Easter eggs” that connect this book to the trilogy. It contains what is perhaps Mosse’s best plot, for although it meanders a little (or a lot), there’s a greater sense of beginning, build-up and climactic finish that’s lacking from the last two books.

Sandrine makes for a good heroine: determined, clear-headed and brave, backed up by a strong cast and a genuinely scary villain. The Codex is a more interesting MacGuffin than Mosse’s previous use of the Holy Grail and tarot cards, with MUCH more satisfying payoff than what she’s previously delivered.

Long story short; if you like Mosse’s previous books, then Citadel is more of the (improved) same. People with no foreknowledge of her work may be a little confused at times (as with Baillard’s implied immortality) but may enjoy it on its own terms as a WWII story with a dash of Biblical mysticism.

Published in 2010. Combining the rugged action of Labyrinth with the haunting mystery of Sepulchre, #1 bestselling author Kate Mosse’s eagerly awaited Citadel is a mesmerizing World War II story of daring and courage, in which a group of determined women fighting for the French Resistance risk their lives to save their homeland . . . and protect astonishing secrets buried in time. France, 1942. In Carcassonne, a colorful historic village nestled deep in the Pyrenees, a group of courageous women are engaged in a lethal battle. Like their ancestors who fought to protect their land from Northern invaders seven hundred years before, these members of the resistance—codenamed Citadel—fight to liberate their home from the Nazis. But smuggling refugees over the mountains into neutral territory and sabotaging their German occupiers at every opportunity is only part of their mission. These women must also protect an ancient secret that, if discovered by their ruthless enemies, could change the course of history. A superb blend of rugged action and haunting mystery, Citadel is a vivid and richly atmospheric story of love, faith, heroism, and danger—and a group of extraordinary women who dare the impossible to survive.


  • Rebecca Fisher

    REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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