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The Historian Audiobook

The Historian

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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 (3860 )
5 star
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4.1 (2151 )
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4.3 (2134 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Wistful Angst 11-13-11 Member Since 2003

    Retired secretary

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A perfect Stoker World Remade for the 20th Century"

    I liked it. It is a wonderful book, true to the spirit of Stoker's Dracula, with embellishments. The Stoker's book was all about Victorian middle-class society with intense secret dreads and fears, dark folk tales, wolves in the night, respectable and repressed deep emotions with strict social mores and above all epistles. It was formal and 'correct', and very late 19th century atmosphere (fog, mysterious darkness, creepy cities and lonely villages, full of quasi-scientific and academic quality reasoning and research into vague, barely understood new discoveries. I've read Stoker's book many many times simply because I adore the style. Kostova has captured that tone and voice to perfection. If a book could have progeny, then this is Stoker's book Dracula's grandchild. It is very long, and I loved every word of it. I am aware of the haters, and I concede most of their complaints. I don't care. Even though the book passed through many countries, many types of letters and manuscripts, several point-of-view narrators and many time-lines, I was enthralled and eager to follow the paper trail these brave civilian academics set down in true historian/librarian professional research methodology as they heroically sought the most dastardly evil monster that walked for 500 years! (sound of heart beating slowly and darkly, which come to think of it, actually should be the short description of this book) : ) But seriously, I really liked this book. While it is obviously a copy of Stoker's style (in my opinion, a virtuoso performance by the writer), it veers into the world of university professors, specifically history scholars, who use librarian research methods and scientific doctrines in order to discover and solve mysteries from centuries in the past. This particular search is given horror-driven impetus due to Dracula being its subject, and as the story progresses, severe danger to our heroes. The horrors of living under Communism, which is clearly a noir existence even when benign, is touched upon in passing, but the horrors of the Ottoman Empire in warfare as well as of the eastern European autocrat leadership are equally exposed. Eastern European Communism had rather horrific parentage too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bluebird 11-05-11
    Bluebird 11-05-11

    Railroad Gal

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I was taken completely by surprise!"
    If you could sum up The Historian in three words, what would they be?

    Suspence, Travel, Mystery


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Historian?

    The beginning, when the girl finds the diary, as it starts the whole plot line.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    They all Fit the book so well. They make you feel it. I felt the characters come alive, and came to know them well.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I would have, but it was too long. I didn't want to put it down, yet I didn't want it to end either.


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recomend this book. I would not have normally been interested in the topic, so don't let that dissuade you. This book is now one of my favorites, and I will listen to it again, and again!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Adams Brownsburg, IN, United States 09-19-11
    J. Adams Brownsburg, IN, United States 09-19-11
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    "The performance differentiates the characters"

    This is a captivating story. The book is sometimes difficult to follow, because first-time author Kostova wrote each and every character in the same exact voice. The performance of this audiobook helps to differentiate the characters and increased my enjoyment of the story immensely. That being said, I can't rate the performance five stars because I have to believe an erudite, well traveled narrator would be able to correctly pronounce the word for a rented, short-term accommodation as Pen-see-OHN, not "pension." Seriously, the first time it happened I actually thought the narrator was discussing something financial . . . and then it just kept occurring.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Jenkins PHX, AZ 09-18-11
    Bob Jenkins PHX, AZ 09-18-11 Member Since 2016

    Bob jenkins

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "excellent well thought out book"

    The story is excellent and keeps you interested. Mind you this isn't an action packed book and despite that it manages to be pretty terrifying. The pace isn't too quick nor too slow.

    There are absolutely tons of historical tidbits in this book and the author manages to bring them all together culminating in a very interesting and fascinating book. Its completely believable and at the same time amazingly elaborate. I love when authors don't hand feed you the storyline,and the author in this book treats the reader as intelligent.

    Lastly the narrators are simply perfect for the tone of this book. The female has sort of a mild sadness to her reading which makes the story come alive. There isn't any monotone reading. As for the male reader he is excellent at accents and really brings his characters to life

    I loved this book and normally don't write reviews but I feel I've found one of the best books on audible and had to review

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alden 09-04-11
    Alden 09-04-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Liked it despite my dislike of vampire stories"

    I basically hate vampire stories and would not have chosen this if I'd realized this involved vampires. That is really the reason I only give two stars for the story: I think vampires are HUGELY overdone these days and I'm sick of them. Nevertheless, the story was worth listening to; it was interesting to follow the trail of clues back and forth in time and from one source and journey to the next. The narrators vary, and I found one woman disconcerting because she sounds about 12 years old, but as she's portraying a teen, I got used to it once I realized the other female voices were done by others. All narrators have a good command of the many accents required for the cast of characters: not perhaps pitch-perfect accuracy--I can't judge the Romanian or Turkish ones for example--but basically credible and consistent. A long story but an engrossing one, and if I can say that getting beyond my dislike of the current fad for vampires, that's saying something.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison 07-02-11
    Alison 07-02-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "entertaining story, stilted writing"

    I listened to the whole thing and did enjoy it, but the plot felt contrived right from the start and never improved. The writing, too, was too forced and unnatural. I was looking for something similar to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and this was *definitely* not it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jacques otterburn park, QC, Canada 02-19-11
    jacques otterburn park, QC, Canada 02-19-11 Member Since 2016
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    "i dunno"

    While it wasn't outright bad, this book fell rather short of the mark. The writer has an unfortunate tendency to get lost in detail. She uses an impressive list of synonyms to describe a meal, or a dance, or a song. Then we get into the song's age and the origin of the song. And whose great grandmother brought the song to the village, and then we discuss possible text mutations of the song through the ages... Get the idea? None of this bearing any real importance to the story. I often found myself wishing, as my finger hovered over the forward button on my i pod, that she'd get to the point. There were also a few incongruities i found annoying; such as an English history professor using American colloquialisms. And Hungarian, Turkish, or Romanian characters who have an excellent handle on the english language, who suddenly mispronounce simple words, or "how you say'' mangle a popular expression. This was perhaps meant to endear the characters to the reader, but only succeeded in making them seem silly. On the plus side, the male narrator did a very respectable job. His accents were all very good.and if you are a fan of medieval history, there is some interesting stuff here. While the book seems to have been reasonably well researched, you do have to sift through a lot of chaff to get to the good stuff. I never really thought much of condensed books, but in this case, an abridged version would almost certainly be a better version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Budd Canada 02-07-11
    Janice Budd Canada 02-07-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Historical Fiction on the Trail of Dracula"

    It seems that my review will echo that of many others. The ending was a bit of a let down. The other thing that brought my rating down were some inconsistencies.

    One I will mention is that at the beginning of the novel, the young heroine had travelled to a city. She gave the city a ficticious name to protect it from thrill seeking tourists. It was an obvious reference to the effect that The Divinci Code had on people who thronged to see the landmarks in the book. I thought both - a ficticious name for the city and the nod to The Divinci Code - totally irrelevant. It seemed to stick out as a sore thumb when other cities and landmarks were not similarily treated.

    What I loved about the book was the attention to detail in the historical research. It had me searching maps and articles online for more information. The other thing I loved was the narration of Paul Michaels. I see that Audibles has another version narrated by Joanne Whalley, Dennis Bourtsikaris, and others. I would highly recommend that you get the version with Paul Michaels. He is masterful at accents. Each character that he speaks for has their own unique sound.

    It was a pleasure to read a book about Dracula that didn't follow the Romeo & Juliet theme of the Twilight series and the plethora of its ilk that is the fad of teenage girls everywhere. It returns Dracula and vampires back to the evil, cruel creatures of Bram Stoker's day.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vernon Wallback, WV, United States 10-29-10
    Vernon Wallback, WV, United States 10-29-10 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Story Telling"

    Story telling at it's best ... excellent twist on an old tell ... well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Divine Ms. K San Diego, CA 08-16-10
    The Divine Ms. K San Diego, CA 08-16-10 Member Since 2016

    Older, crankier, happier and still a bibliophile!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Almost better than when I read it!"

    I read this marvelous book several years ago. When I saw it available on Audible I thought it would be nice to have it read to me. This book is even better as an audible title. The readers are fantastic - the accents help keep the story clear and add another layer to the marvelous textures in this story. Read this book. Listen to this book. You won't be disappointed. I have enjoyed my Audible subscription (finding new stories and listening to stories that I already know) but this is by far my favorite audio production to date. The perfect blend of a great story and a fabulous audio production.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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