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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 (3170 )
5 star
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4.2 (1487 )
5 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    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
    REVIEWS
    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
    ratings
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    23
    14
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    0
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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
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    84
    4
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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
  •  
    kurt 07-09-06
    kurt 07-09-06 Listener Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    51
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "very good"

    I realy enjoyed this audiobook. It is quite long and is not an action packed type thriller, but if you like historical fiction, drama and supernatural thriller books, this one rolls them all into one nicely. Very well read also.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Alexandria, VA, USA 07-07-06
    Keith Alexandria, VA, USA 07-07-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    103
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    61
    12
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    4
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    Overall
    "Interesting premise, well worth the listen"

    As several other reviews here have stated, you need patience to listen through this one, but, as everyone else has stated, it is well worth the wait.

    The reading by both a female and male narrator is excellent and helps you keep track of who is doing the storytelling. (I highly recommend "Time Traveler's Wife" if you liked this as well.)

    Both narrators do an excellent job of reading with the proper inflections, tones, and accents required by the text.

    Although long and drawn out, The Historian is a richly descriptive tale delivering beautiful details for the mind's eye.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    goddess_of_pipework Roswell, GA United States 06-12-06
    goddess_of_pipework Roswell, GA United States 06-12-06 Member Since 2006

    goddess_of_plumbing

    HELPFUL VOTES
    122
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    28
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    3
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    Overall
    "it's worth the wait"

    You need patience for this one.

    There are several different intertwining storylines. The two readers keep things from getting confusing. The stories start slowly at first, then build in intensity.

    In the 1970's our teenaged heroine becomes fascinated with the Dracula legend after making a chance discovery in her father's library.

    The second is the story of her Father. In the 1950's he realizes that the disappearance of his beloved mentor, Professor Rossi, is connected with the Dracula legend.

    The third story is that of Professor Rossi. In the 1930's, he also goes looking for Dracula...

    For all three, the search has frightening, then tragic consequences.

    The climax of the story was truly frightening. Unfortunately, the ending was a bit rushed and a little unsatisfactory.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Charlotte, NC, USA 06-05-06
    Jennifer Charlotte, NC, USA 06-05-06
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    1
    Overall
    "Stunning"

    Probably the best-written book I've read in years. A remarkable achievement, yet I thought the ending was a tad rushed and anticlimactic.

    But when Rossi finally reaches his goal, you WILL be terrified.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Devarshi keizer, OR, USA 04-30-06
    Devarshi keizer, OR, USA 04-30-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    61
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "terrible"

    This is probably the worst audiobook I've heard so far. Wooden dialogue, stupid characters, predictably boring plot. I found that I didn't care what was going on for long periods of time. Its not worth 1 credit, let alone 2.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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