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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

3.9 (2886 )
5 star
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4.2 (1228 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Ashley Scottsdale, AZ, USA 04-06-06
    Ashley Scottsdale, AZ, USA 04-06-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    "Slowest Book I Ever Finished"

    I don't mind history, and I don't mind 26 hour long books. This, however, is the slowest book that I have ever actually finished. This is NOT a book about Vampires, or Dracula - heck, it's barely about its own plot. It is a book about how great libraries are. If you are fond of old, musty books, this is a must-read for you. If you prefer a gripping story, give this one a pass.

    I'd like someone else to take a stab at writing this story, because it could have been so good.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Plano, TX, USA 06-05-07
    Kim Plano, TX, USA 06-05-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
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    17
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    "So Long!"

    If you've read anything by Jean Auel, you'll have a good idea of the pace of this book. The story is wonderful, but I don't need to know every single detail about the surroundings to get the mood of a particular scene. You might find yourself dozing a few times, so be careful about listening to this while driving.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany Corona, CA, United States 03-08-06
    Tiffany Corona, CA, United States 03-08-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    142
    ratings
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    60
    37
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    10
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    Overall
    "Great Treasure Hunt !"

    Granted, it started out a little slow, and if you are looking for horror a la Stephen King or Dean Koontz, you won't like it. If you liked the treasure hunt aspects of the Davinci Code, you'll love The Historian.

    This story is intricate and has about 4 levels of stories within stories and some of it is very ancient, and I personally could not put it down (stop listening, rather). I have no idea whether any of it is accurate or is even supposed to be, but it is fiction and the author weaves a very good story. Not terribly frightening, but definitely eerie. I can see how others might find it too long, but I was sorry to see it end.

    I would love to see more stories like this one, weaving ancient legends with historical events and secret societies leading into the modern.

    The Historian kept my commute almost enjoyable for at least a few weeks!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 08-28-11
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 08-28-11 Member Since 2009

    Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    214
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    12
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    Story
    "Everything going for it but the ending"

    I think that there is a lot to recommend in this audiobook. It was well produced and the narration was excellent. The book was well written and long with multiple arcs. This may not appeal to all but it does to me. There was a good deal of history, no pun, and geography spanning the pages. I diligently followed the characters but was no emotionally invested in any of them. It was a book about the history but not exactly the origin or final disposition of Dracula's vampirism. Many reviewers have commented on the unsatisfying ending of the book and I have to agree here. For a book of this length, I believe it should have fulfilled something more than just an enticement to read the next in a series of the author's books though I do not even know if a sequel is planned. I enjoy long, complex books that are often part of a series but I do believe that each entry in a series should have a certain finality in itself and be able to some extent be a work capable of standing on its own. As well written as I believe this book to be, it really does not stand on its own.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marilyn C 06-16-12
    Marilyn C 06-16-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Be prepared for a long haul"

    I've tried several times to stick with this story, and I've finally given up about 5 hours before the end. Maybe I'll go back to it sometime. Clearly this is a first novel. It's more like a travelogue combined with reading myriad letters. I picked this because of its length -- long stories with extensive character development and historical relevance are my favorites; however, this story could have been told using 75% less words. Lots of repetition doesn't work for me.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Silvano Toronto, ON, Canada 10-19-10
    Silvano Toronto, ON, Canada 10-19-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ugh!!!!!!!!!!"

    Wow this book was torture to finish. Way too long and not very exciting. I felt like someone was giving me a history lesson of eastern europe or was describing a vacation in detail. Might be for other people but I was disappointed in this very slow moving book

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Sarkar 08-06-10
    N. Sarkar 08-06-10 Member Since 2004

    NS

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring and highly contrived."

    That pretty much sums it up. To think of intellectualizing Dracula!!! Poor thing. Should leave him to likes of Stoker whose book chilled me to the bones (which is read by my favorite narrator, Robert Whitfield)!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara kansas city, MO, United States 01-16-10
    Barbara kansas city, MO, United States 01-16-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "can't stop listening even at 2 a.m."

    This book held me spellbound for hours every day that I listened to it. I was skeptical of all the
    "vampire-hype" books- but this was a gorgeous aural surprise.
    Characters were so well written and the journey of the book was truly gripping and well written!
    Highly recommended by a friend- I will always heed her recommendations.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Cookeville, TN, USA 12-20-09
    Julie Cookeville, TN, USA 12-20-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    "Unique take on a historic subject"

    I didn't know what to really expect. This was a great mix of history and fantasy. Lots of detail, but worth the entire read.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monty Bludworth Clear Lk Shores, TX 11-26-08
    Monty Bludworth Clear Lk Shores, TX 11-26-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    "Fantastic!"

    I thoroughly enjoyed The Historian, yes it is long, but I relished every minute of the story. I had this book in my wish list for a long time before I downloaded it, primarily because of the negative reviews. I am so happy that I finally decided to listen to it! Also the production is very well done and the narration is well done too.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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