Review: Citadel (+ Giveaway!)

Posted 25 March, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 10 Comments

By: Kate Mosse
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

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

I’ve been a fan of Kate Mosse’s Languedoc books ever since I found the first two novels of the trilogy, Labyrinth and Sepulchre, sitting on my mum’s shelves. I absolutely loved Sepulchre (review), it’s one of my favourite books ever because it’s so atmospheric and Gothic <3 So naturally I've been excited for the final novel in the trilogy, set in the beautiful and mysterious region of Carcassonne. I finally got my hands on it last year (a little irked that my copy's a different size than the first two books in the trilogy, but what can you do? (As an aside, my book also is the green cover, not the blue one you see here)) but I didn't quite around to it until this book blog tour came around 🙂 Be sure to stick around as at the end of the post, I am also hosting a book giveaway for a chance to win a copy of this book! (open to US residents only; sorry international readers!) Also, be sure to drop by my blog on 27 March as the author will be featured in a guest post related to her book. See you then! 🙂

Citadel was quite the epic to read in that compared to the first two novels, it really encompasses a lot of different historical and story elements as well as storylines. This novel takes place during World war Two, after the fall of France and the installation of the Vichy regime. Southern France in particular is slowly falling under this regime, with the curfews and the round-up of all of the French Jews living in the region as well at the growing presence of the Nazis. We follow Sandrine and Marianne Vidal as their lives are ever-more changed by these developments, leading to their involvement in the Resistance, their struggle to both survive and fight back.

At the same time the story has the Languedoc influence of the supernatural, of lost religious works and fanatics out to destroy it at whatever cost. That story element enables Citadel to tie in with the previous two books in the trilogy, but there was another development that emerged towards the end of the novel that directly ties this novel in with the rest of the trilogy, which was quite a pleasant surprise (I may or may not have flailed at this revelation ;)). This latter storyline concerning the Codex was intriguing, especially with the 4th century chapters concerning Arinius, but did fall as a B storyline compared to the Resistance storyline and doesn’t really kick in until the last half of the novel.

The characters were wonderful and it was fantastic to follow them both in their involvement with the Resistance and their own internal struggles and character journeys. Survival, betrayal, love, comradery, desperation all come up in one form or another, affecting the various characters in different ways. Sandrine in particular has quite a character journey, from a young woman who is more or less in the dark about the Resistance and the politics that is changing the world around her to a hardened, determined woman who is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and the lifestyle/society/culture (however you put this) she lives in. Her growing relationship with Raoul, another member of the Resistance, is relatively quiet in the context of the rest of the story but nonetheless wonderful in its own way. Along with Lucie’s storyline, it shows how much life does go on despite of the fear and the danger that encompasses them.

Citadel overall is a riveting conclusion to a rich and wonderful trilogy. The author does a wonderful job in utilising Carcassonne in the story and the missions that the characters are engaged in. The reader also gets a sense of what the Resistance members are faced with, the dangers and the horrors, and the ending of the novel was quite haunting. I highly recommend this novel to readers of historical fiction and books set in World War Two and in France.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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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.

official website / @ Facebook / @ Twitter

Now that you’ve read my review of the novel, here’s the giveaway for a chance to win a hardback copy of the book! This contest is open to US residents only (sorry international readers!). Please fill out the following Rafflecopter below to enter. Contest closes on Tuesday, April 1st at 11:59 PM EST. One (1) winner will be drawn and contacted the following day; you will have 24 hours to claim your prize so please use a valid email address. If you have any questions or if there’s an issue with the Rafflecopter, feel free to comment below or email me.

Bonne chance!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks again to France Book Tours for hosting this book and for letting me read this book as part of the tour.

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10 Responses to “Review: Citadel (+ Giveaway!)”

  1. thanks so much for your great review. incidentally, my copy IS blue. hmm, another mystery hidden by Kate here?? you are the wise woman who read the trilogy in order. I started by the last one, lol, but of course now want to read the first two. can’t wait to discover all the connections!

    • lol, I thought maybe it was a publisher/edition thing (mine is from Orion paperback)? Have reading the first two books in the trilogy! I wish I had time to re-read them before Citadel, it would give a real sense of history of the region right up to the 20th century (I can’t say enough how much I love the second novel) 😀

  2. Raquel M.

    Hi. I absolutely loved Labyrinth and Sepulchre. I cannot wait to read Citadel. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Beth F

    This series sounds so good. I haven’t read any of them yet, but I definitely want to now after reading your review.

  4. Hallo Lianne,

    And, here I felt I had already laid a comment on your review of “Citadel”!! My goodness, how remiss am I!? I remember reading this review too! Sighs. I think perhaps I have been caught up in overhauling my blog & by hosting such a lovely array of wicked sweet authors of late, I have properly forgotten my intentions! I realise you already had said you were falling behind on visiting blogs as well, yet evenso! I was here! Oy.

    My original intent was to read all three of the books in proper sequence, but time & life became to interfere with my plans to where I only had the time needed for Citadel! 🙁 I wish in some ways I had known the breadth of what was inside as I think I would have even felt my reading enhanced by the prior knowledge felt and stirred to the forefront of Citadel! For some reason, I knew the Codex had greater implications & connections outside of this one story’s scope, but that could have been due to having my Mum give me the first of the series,… perhaps at one point or other, I read a bit about it!? (memory fails)

    Sandrine was my heroine but its what she survived and how Mosse handled revealing her epic journey out of the horror of war which endeared me the most to Mosse. There are less intense moments of pure shock for me than I felt I might have experienced, but then, who hasn’t felt as though they have survived bits of WWII now!? All of us were students at one point who were facing those history lessons with innocent eyes and grew empathy out of the realities of the Second World War.

    The scope for me was what I enjoyed the most — nothing felt rushed and everything felt as though Mosse had fleshed it to its breaking point. To where the characters only had to walk up from the page itself and alight in your parlour! I *love!* that! 🙂

    Hmm,… I best let another reader give her musings now!!

    As the tour continues,… upwards & onwards!

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