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The Historian | [Elizabeth Kostova]

The Historian

Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor", and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of: a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.
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Publisher's Summary

Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor", and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of: a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known, and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself, to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed, and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answers to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler's dark reign, and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

©2005 Elizabeth Kostova. All Rights Reserved.; (P)2005 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

  • 2006 Book Sense Book of the Year, Adult Fiction

"A bloodthirsty delight....Both literary and scary, this one is guaranteed to keep one reading into the wee hours." (Booklist)
"Along with all the fascinating historical information, there's also a mounting casualty count, and the big showdown amps up the drama by pulling at the heartstrings at the same time it revels in the gruesome. Exotic locales, tantalizing history, a family legacy and a love of the bloodthirsty: it's hard to imagine that readers won't be bitten, too." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Historian is artfully constructed and atmospheric." (Washington Post Book World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (3125 )
5 star
 (1246)
4 star
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Overall
4.0 (1456 )
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Story
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Performance
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  •  
    Christopher Amherst, NH, United States 01-30-07
    Christopher Amherst, NH, United States 01-30-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    12
    6
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    0
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    Overall
    "Long winded, but an entertaining story"

    It takes a very long time for the story to get going and even then it's still somewhat slow, but it is very charming and entertaining.

    Some of the plot devices are a little too convenient, but it's well worth listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Austin, TX, USA 01-25-07
    Heather Austin, TX, USA 01-25-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "great story"

    This was a really good book. It is comparable to Braum Strokers Dracula. It is origional, interesting and worth the credit. I will listen to it again one day. This one will stay in my library.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krystyn 10-28-06
    Krystyn 10-28-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    427
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "loved it!"

    I loved this book - one of the most enjoyable I've ever downloaded. If you love books, vampires, and libraries, this is the book for you!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Goodrich North Carolina, USA 10-12-06
    D. Goodrich North Carolina, USA 10-12-06 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    81
    1
    Overall
    "Great, but"

    This was a great book, straight from the beginning. It is a fascinating premise and has many memorable scenes. It drags a bit in sections and could have been a good deal shorter, but it was a spooky read. I like to listen to a book before going to sleep, but couldn't with this one.

    My only complaint is the ending is a bit anti-climatic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edmund 09-13-06
    Edmund 09-13-06 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    101
    3
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    Overall
    "A++++++++++++"

    The best book in a very long time. This book was amazing from the beginning to the conclusion! In my oppinion the best book from "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian san diego, CA, USA 08-25-06
    Brian san diego, CA, USA 08-25-06
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    "good read"

    I really liked this book and the readers. I am going through the unabridged version for the second time, I liked it so much, which given the topic, was a pleasant suprise.

    I really enjoy the historical background blended into the story and I liked the readers very much. I would recommend this book highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles L. Rackers Jefferson City, MO United States 08-16-06
    Charles L. Rackers Jefferson City, MO United States 08-16-06 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    5
    5
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    0
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    Overall
    "if you like this kind of book..."

    if you like a book that is detailed, subtle, and 'nuanced', then you will love this book. I congratulate the author. but... if you like stories that move a little quicker or have more intensity, then you may want to consider something else. For what the book IS, it is superb... but it is not the book I thought it might be.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Loren D. Rising Sun, IN, USA 08-04-06
    Loren D. Rising Sun, IN, USA 08-04-06 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
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    23
    14
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    Overall
    "Not spellbinding"

    I bought this audio book because of the review I read in Forbes magazine. I guess I don’t have the same tastes as their critic.

    This was an entertaining story, but not one that captured my attention to the degree that I couldn’t stop listening. I expected a suspenseful thriller, but got a mystery. I stayed with the audio to the end, mostly out of curiosity to see how the author would tie things up, not because I absolutely HAD to see what happened next.

    The idea of hunting Dracula in modern times could be the key to a great plot, this book just doesn’t do enough with that idea.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey M. Wagner Corvallis Oregon 08-03-06
    Jeffrey M. Wagner Corvallis Oregon 08-03-06 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    84
    4
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    0
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    Overall
    "Good Historical Fiction"

    I really liked this book. Yes it spends alot of time with details and side stories but isn't that the point of historical fiction? To mix the story of the past with the story of the author?
    I thought it was well written and did a great job of creating the feeling of being in eastern Europe. It sitrred a renewed interest for me in Vlad the Impaler and has led me to seek out other sources of info on this "colorful" historical figure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Lubbock, TX, USA 07-19-06
    Jennifer Lubbock, TX, USA 07-19-06
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Great first book."

    I very much enjoyed Kostova's first effort. As an expert on folkloric vampires (and without giving away too much information) the notion of silver daggers and bullets as weapons against the mythical monster --well, it seems to me she has been overly influenced by Hollywood, but the story itself is a wonderful trip through Eastern European time and space. It's also so refreshing to see scholars--archivists and historians--as the main protagonists.

    As regards the reading--a wonderful job, although one did tire of the male readers' imitations of female voices. Wish there was a way around that! It sure made my trip across country doable, though. Lovely escape!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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