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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 (2798 )
5 star
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4.0 (1160 )
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Story
4.2 (1147 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Cynthia Pensacola, FL, USA 06-17-10
    Cynthia Pensacola, FL, USA 06-17-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "Very slow"

    First I did not realize this was a book about vampires. The female voice is very annoying. I thought this audio would never end and only made myself finish because I had bought it. I think I would have put a hardcover down to finish "later" and later would never come. I definitely would not get this book again.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Turner Garland, TX, United States 06-17-10
    Turner Garland, TX, United States 06-17-10 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    2
    Overall
    "Do not buy"

    Very slow, repetitive. Had trouble staying awake.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tonya AUSTIN, TX, USA 11-18-09
    Tonya AUSTIN, TX, USA 11-18-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "BORING"

    You really have to be a historian to enjoy this book, I work in a lab and get audio books or the regular this book as really boring, found my self tuning out and had to rewind numerous times. To much detail.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pie Saint Petersburg, FL, United States 11-15-09
    Pie Saint Petersburg, FL, United States 11-15-09 Listener Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    215
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    189
    79
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    18
    0
    Overall
    "The Da Vinci Code a la dracula"

    An interesting story weaving three different timelines across that of the Count hisself :) Very nicely done. A tad romantic on the viewpoint but counter balanced by a bit 'o grisly detail. LOL. Enjoy :)

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Briley 02-28-09 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    1
    Overall
    "Better than I remembered"

    I read the book first and loved it, it kept me wanting more right up to the end.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randi Chicago, IL, USA 09-04-08
    Randi Chicago, IL, USA 09-04-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    3
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    0
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    Overall
    "Highly recommend"

    This is the best book I've read (or listened to) in a long time. It is smart, engrossing, and even scary at times! Anyone who likes historical novels mixed with a little fantasy will love it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    April Delta, British Columbia, Canada 08-28-08
    April Delta, British Columbia, Canada 08-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    88
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Enjoyable"

    Not something I would typically gravitate to, I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me a bit of The Thirteenth Tale. Lots of historical detail...enough to make you think..."what if?"

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Audibl Sequim, WA, USA 06-30-08
    Susan Audibl Sequim, WA, USA 06-30-08
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    "Da Vinci Code Revisited"

    If you liked Da Vinci Code, you'll probably like this one. It's a bit confusing at first, with three (sometimes four) timelines intertwined. But once you figure out who's who and where, it all falls into place.

    The negatives: There are some dry areas of quoted "research" and the epilogue is very disapppointing. It's contrived and seems unnecessary.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jimmy V. Basking Ridge, NJ, USA 11-21-07
    Jimmy V. Basking Ridge, NJ, USA 11-21-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    4
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Slow Listen"

    Over 15 hours of listening before Dracula actually enters the novel. This book had the potential for greatness, but too little Dracula, and way too late.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    UncleH 05-06-07
    UncleH 05-06-07 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    "technically decent writer but no imagination"

    The author has good technical writing skills but precious little imagination. She's created a good set of characters with things to do that could be worth following. But then she prcoeeds to write a story which reads like a travelogue that includes some interesting anecdotes.

    The words are reasonably well chosen. The sentences all make sense. But in the end, the main sensation produced is tedium. There are no new ideas. (In fact, there aren't even that many old ideas.) Just words that grow into sentences that head nowhere of particular interest.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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