[Review] Citadel by Kate Mosse

Title: Citadel: In war-torn France, the bravest act is love
Author: Kate Mosse
Publisher: William Morrow March 18, 2014
Genre: Fiction, World War II, French Resistance, Gnostic book,
Format: Advanced reader paperback
Pages: 704
Rating: 3 Stars for Good.
Source: Free advanced reader copy from William Morrow, and France Book Tours, in exchange for a review.

Link for tour: Citadel

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.
Website | Facebook Twitter @katemosse

SYNOPSIS

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—code-named 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 [provided by the publisher]

My Thoughts:

Pros: 
I enjoyed reading about France during the early 1940s. The street scenes, countryside, the romantic allure of France, transcended onto the pages of the story. 
Citadel has a large cast of characters. Several women make up the group of Citadel, and a variety of personality traits are shown. Through the character Sandrine, I saw a transformation in both her personality and story-line. Her traits of stubbornness, conviction, determination, conscience, and bravery, shown in the beginning of the story, unfolds a woman capable of heroism. 
World War II stories whether they are fiction, or non-fiction, are contained with selfless acts of bravery. More than a duty, it was a do or die life commitment. For the sake of freedom, the rescue of hostages, compassion to civilians, and to win against an enemy who was both a tyrant and homicidal maniac, was all at the forefront of those involved in the war. The Resistance fighters in France were sometimes a mangle of espionage and counter espionage. I've read through non-fiction books, France, is not open and free with all their paperwork on those who were involved in the Resistance, nor in French citizens who were involved with the Nazi's. Citadel touched on a few of these problems. The police were to protect, although many of them were involved with the Nazi's, who to trust was a significant problem. Citizens turned in those thought to be against the Nazi's, this act was done in order to obtain favors. War is a horrible thing, and people under normal peaceful circumstances would never think of doing something, that during a time of war they would do otherwise. 

Cons: 
Citadel is too long. First, let me state I'm a reader of lengthy books, I've read The Odyssey, Les Miserables, and many others. Citadel is 704 pages! It's a story which meanders at times and I feel could be shortened by at least 200 pages. It is true, another story from the AD 300's is included. This story is written in short chapters, which I felt more agitated with than welcomed. 
Why?
1. I never felt invested in the story of Arinius and wife Lupa. I was given a brief introduction to each of them, but never felt an attachment. 
2. Arinius is a young monk, who is safe-guarding what he feels is "sacred words". I question, sacred words to whom? I found it odd and yet fascinating, Ariunius is a monk, and the word God and Christian is used in his story, but Sandrine is not a believer in God (this remark is made more than once). So I ask, why is there a book about "sacred words" and Christians, paired with and utilized by an unbelieving French resistance fighter? 
3. There is reference in the book of calling on the "army of spirits". Who do the characters in the Resistance believe these spirits to be, if of God, then why are they not a believer in His army?
4. The story Citadel uses the element of mysticism in a Gnostic codex. The words in the codex conjure the spirit world. I ask why do we need to call on the "army of spirits" when we can call on God Himself? If we are referring to the "army of spirits" as God's angels, His angels are ministering spirits sent by Him.
5. The New Testament book of Revelation is referred to as a Gnostic book. This is incorrect. 
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw." Revelation 1: 1-2. ESV
From the ESV Crossway Study Bible, page 2453.
"Revelation 1:1 announces both the book's title (it is a 'revelation') and its divine author ('Jesus Christ'). The book is an 'unveiling of unseen spiritual forces operating behind the scenes in history and controlling its events and outcome. This disclosure is conveyed in a series of symbolic visions that exhibit the influence of OT prophecies, especially those received by Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. The book is also 'prophecy' (Rev. 1:3; 22:7), not only as divine prediction of future events but also as divine diagnosis of the present state of affairs." 
This is the first time I have written in a review on this blog reference to Scripture, but I do not apologize, it would be wrong of me as a reviewer to not state something in a book I see as incorrect, even if the book is fiction. 
Thank you for understanding. 

In conclusion, the work of the resistance fighters during World War II, does not need additional hoopla, on its own the stories of bravery and disregard for their own welfare, outshines any mystic fiction. 

Link for book @ Amazon:

Comments

  1. thanks for your thorough review, I like your way of presenting your pros and cons.
    Knowing that the Nazis themselves believed acting in the name of the Christian God [as you know, 'Gott Mit Uns', God with us, was engraved on their belt], I thought that was smart to have this element inserted in the story and relate it to the quest of the Ahnenerbe.
    For me, the 'army of spirits' is the whole community of people living in the area who fought for freedom and respect along the centuries.
    I'm a strong Christian believer myself (Christian Orthodox, that is, the faith of the first Christians). Maybe I was not attentive enough, but these elements didn't bother me in this book

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  2. Thanks for a good review. I appreciate your courage to stand up and defend the Bible against inaccurate information. In this day and age we have to be diligent to defend our faith because so many people seem intent on distorting it.

    In regard to the comment by wordsandpeace: from all the I've read about the Nazi's -and I base this on several sources- they gave a superficial nod to the Christian God out of expediency only. They were intent on erasing every vestige of Christianity because of its close relationship to Judaism. Hitler strove to replace Christianity with the old Germanic paganism as a part of his "Uberman, Arian" movement.
    You make this book sound interesting, nevertheless.

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  3. I picked up this novel while I was in France, in fact, after visiting Carcassone, a gorgeous walled city. I appreciate your courage to point out what you see as an inaccuracy in such a sensitive field as theology. I'm not sure I will be reading this novel anytime soon.

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  4. I've had a couple of book reviews this year that were difficult to write. To say I don't like a book is one thing, but to express it in a way that is tactful and in good communication is another.

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