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Extended Audio Sample Company of Liars: A Novel, by Karen Maitland Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,886 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen Maitland Narrator: Maxwell Caulfield Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Maitland] neatly catches the spirit of primitive superstition that governed every aspect of fourteenth century life and then rolls on with it for her own storytelling 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.”

    Daily Express (London)

  • “A jewel of a medieval mystery…Maitland’s own narrative strength is her skill at setting scenes that connect the harsh realities of medieval life with the no less cruel pagan customs and Christian rituals meant to explain and contain those realities.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “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.”

    Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Breath of Snow and Ashes

  • “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.”

    Julia Spencer-Fleming, Edgar Award finalist and author of I Shall Not Want

  • “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.”

    Daily Mail (London)

  • “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.”

    Marie Claire (4 stars)

  • “A Canterbury Tales scenario with an M. Night Shyamalan ghost story…A harrowing historical.”

    Denver Post

  • “A compelling and highly atmospheric twist on Dan Brown land.”

    Mirror (London)

  • “[A] rich, diverting novel.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Imagine a sinister version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales…Maitland excels at describing the bleak, devastated landscape…Intriguing characters and burgeoning suspense.”


  • “Executed with stunning skill.”


  • A 2009 Macavity Award Finalist for the Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Gregg Runburg | 2/11/2014

    " A good book right in my sweet spot: historical mystery. Short on the mystery, long on the historical -- set in plague-ridden England, a group of travellers try to find a place to ride out the pestilence, and slowly uncover the secrets each of the group keeps. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Cheryl Thomas | 1/26/2014

    " very unique book, talking about a pack of travelers that are trying to avoid the plague. They all have a secret that they are hiding & they are being chased by a wolf - or so they think. The thought of being chased is killing them off one by one in the hopes that the death of each particular person will stop the "wolf" from following them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Roseann | 1/7/2014

    " Just finishing up this one. Read it in four days. Truly great read for me, likeable characters that you could follow easily, even when reading before bed, half asleep. A unique perspective on the "pestilence" and that time in history for peasants .... would not want to be them!....and "the pardoner", the "healer" the "Rune Reader" and the "Musicians" are all here with their story. A re-telling of the Canterbury Tales with a twist...A good read, for sure. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Debbie | 12/23/2013

    " Love this book: a fascinating interpretation of the lives of seemingly ordinary people, each with an extra-ordinary tale. "

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About the Author
Author Karen Maitland

Karen Maitland has a doctorate in psycholinguistics. She has traveled and worked in many parts of the world, from the Arctic Circle to Africa, before finally settling in the medieval city of Lincoln in England. Her British debut novel, The White Room, was short-listed for the Authors’ Club of Great Britain Best First Novel Award.