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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 (3127 )
5 star
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4.0 (1458 )
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Story
4.2 (1446 )
5 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Colleen Fitzgerald GPW, MI 03-27-06
    Colleen Fitzgerald GPW, MI 03-27-06 Member Since 2011

    cmaryfitz

    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    101
    6
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    FOLLOWING
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    Overall
    "Vampire book sucks the life out of you"

    The interesting parts of this book are so bogged down by the reading of historical documents that it was an excrutiating listen. In my opinion they did not even contribute to the plot of the book. I found my attention wandering far too many times. It made my daily work commute longer instead of shorter. I don't recommend this book if you are looking for a scary vampire novel. If you like history books, then go for it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James S Brebner 03-20-06 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Long but Interesting"

    This book was very long and I got lost sometimes but I enjoy history so it was worth rewinding a few times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Orlando, FL, USA 03-20-06
    Timothy Orlando, FL, USA 03-20-06 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    5
    3
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    0
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    Overall
    "Way too long"

    I refuse to read abridged books, but I quess sometimes they may be better. The author must have done alot of history research and added every little part of it. The author went into so much history for no real reason, so much history there was no time to tell a good story. On a scale of 5 for being scary I give it a 1, Harry Potter is more of a table gripper.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina El Cajon, CA, USA 03-16-06
    Christina El Cajon, CA, USA 03-16-06 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    9
    6
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Haunting Tale"

    This is a haunting tale. It's a great story that is often difficult to follow because of the use of names and references to various locations, castles and montasaries. The story also took much longer to develope and often very predicable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice LaGrange, KY, USA 03-16-06
    Janice LaGrange, KY, USA 03-16-06 Member Since 2005
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "So disappointing"

    If I ever get a book published I hope that the person who publicized this book works on mine. The initial press this book received was wonderful. The actual book is not. The story and the prose were both absurd and the dual readers did not help this audiobook. I stuck with it thinking that it would get better but it didn't. This is the first audiobook that has disappointed me. It is definitely not worth the time or money. Sadly, I also have the print version of this book,perhaps I can give it to someone who is not too picky.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toni 03-06-06
    Toni 03-06-06
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    "Why did I hang in there?"

    I keep wondering why I hung in there for over 26 hours. I did enjoy the character of the young girl and I found the brushes with the historical references a reprieve but 26 hours of listening to these totally possessed people's quest and the adventure just gets more preposterous. Well, WHY DID I HANG IN THERE? Use your money or credits elsewhere.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Attleboro, MA, USA 03-02-06
    Scott Attleboro, MA, USA 03-02-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    142
    6
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "disappointing"

    Aren't novels about vampires supposed to be scary? Or at least suspenseful? After 6 months as a member of Audible and a dozen or so books, this is the first book for which I have been absolutely compelled to write a review. I really feel the need to warn people about it. I can't believe that I spent over 26 hours listening to this, waiting for something - anything - interesting to happen. (Not to mention that when I got it, it 'cost' 2 credits!) It starts out with a promising enough premise, and you keep waiting for the good parts, which judging from the reviews posted here and elsewhere, you think must be just around the corner, but they never come. By the time you realize this is a boring waste of time, you're so invested in just getting through it that you trudge on valiantly, thinking the excitement must come at the end, but it just never does. The prose is ham-handed; the narration is completely devoid of anything approaching emotion or feeling; the accents are unintentionally comical. And (this is NOT a spoiler) I'll save you the trouble of finding out what happens: nothing remotely interesting. The so-called "climax" will leave you scratching your head, wondering how this got published without the author coming up with a more imaginative conclusion. Don't waste your time (a lot of it!) with this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gnomedog 02-17-06
    Gnomedog 02-17-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
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    89
    4
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    "Slow to start, but a great audio book"

    There is so much detail at every level in this book that at first, I didn't know if I would like it, but I stuck with it and am very glad I did. The author has a great talent for setting a scene and I was playing a movie in my head of what she was describing all the way. She could do with less description in some cases, but overall an excellent book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kris SPRING HILL, TN, United States 10-31-08
    Kris SPRING HILL, TN, United States 10-31-08 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    32
    5
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    0
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    Overall
    "Story of a story of a story...."

    Still trying to get through book. It is the story of a story or a story. Too many strange accents. The abridged version might me a better bet. Only a historian would enjoy this version.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirsten Gould Costa Mesa, CA 08-11-09
    Kirsten Gould Costa Mesa, CA 08-11-09 Member Since 2012

    fiveironfille

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    39
    4
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    "I love vampire stories this one put me to sleep"

    I didn't get past part 1. I don't need a full description of the chair you're sitting in or how you sip your tea etc. etc. etc.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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