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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 (3094 )
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4.0 (1427 )
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  •  
    robert 01-10-10
    robert 01-10-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    9
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    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Long road !!!!!"

    It was OK for a three era book. I sometime's forgot which time frame I was in. You have to have your listening game face on 90% of the time or you'll lose track. I wouldn't listen to it again.
    But for multible reader's (actor's) it was well read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valerie Charlotte, NC, USA 10-03-09
    Valerie Charlotte, NC, USA 10-03-09 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    55
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Good, but very, very long"

    I enjoyed this book. It is compelling, but it did get a bit long. I was ready for the story to wrap up a bit before it did. But the characters are fleshed out well and the scenes are very vivid. The naration was very good.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawn Deltona, FL, United States 01-02-08
    Dawn Deltona, FL, United States 01-02-08 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    79
    9
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    "Great Adventure!"

    This could have been such a clich?, but it was absolutely delightful. The narrator has some to do with this, but I really enjoyed this. It had lots of detail, but didn't bog us down in it. Not too many side-stories to get us lost. Just a great overall read... and a fresh dracula view!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley Scottsdale, AZ, USA 04-06-06
    Ashley Scottsdale, AZ, USA 04-06-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
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    7
    4
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    Overall
    "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 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tula 02-20-06
    Tula 02-20-06 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    102
    4
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    Overall
    "slow slow slow"

    I suspect if you're a committed vampireophile, my complaints about the pace of this book will not deter you. Skip the review. Enjoy the book. But for the rest of us, I'm afraid there's not as much here as one would hope. The author is incapable of writing a line of dialog without having a character think about it at some length. If you're hoping for a rapid exchange of ideas between characters, fast-paced conversation, find another book. These guys think too much -- presumably in case you're too dim to think for yourself. If something is horrible or awful, the writer does not trust us to see that for ourselves. She will tell us, showing no faith in her own descriptive powers. She will rarely skip an opportunity to remind us this is a baleful and wicked character we're pursuing, yet fails to create a portrait that fulfills her adjectives. All of the main male characters are interchangeable. Listen to the voices of Rossi and the father and tell me how to distinguish the two. To the book's credit: There's much original here. It paints some nice portraits of Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania during the Cold War. It may send you in pursuit of European monastaries. It will make you wonder about vampire lore and its pervasiveness. But as a bit of storytelling, it's not quite there.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    january huntersville, NC, United States 05-07-13
    january huntersville, NC, United States 05-07-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    467
    ratings
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    136
    95
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Pros and Cons"

    What I didn't like about it:

    1. In the letters that the father writes to the daughter he goes into waaay to much detail. No real person would describe how a person sat, what they ate, the way the wind felt, what someone was wearing down to minute details, in a letter.

    2. Parts of the story were too contrived. The author was trying too hard.

    3. Sometimes it was hard to keep up with the characters, especially the ones they meet in Istanbul. I think I needed to see those names instead of just hearing them spoken.

    What I did like:

    1. I love books that give lengthy explanations based in history.

    2. I don't like gorey, suspenseful books, so I thought it was great that Dracula is mostly an historian, even though he still bites people.

    3. Books! I love books about books!

    4. I liked that the author didn't go into too much backstory about how Vlad became a vampire. He just did. Now we have to deal with it.

    Overall, I liked this book. It had it's flaws, but I was entertained.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. WARD Midlothian, Virginia United States 03-09-10
    D. WARD Midlothian, Virginia United States 03-09-10 Member Since 2009

    Diana bookworm

    HELPFUL VOTES
    113
    ratings
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    243
    70
    FOLLOWERS
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    13
    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Riviting"

    Is it a best seller because of true merit or because everyone jumps on the bandwagon ?

    Of course it is merit that makes greatness with a liberal sprinkling of bandwagon activity. Well, I am so so glad I jumped on this one. This is a wonderful story. Richly developed characters made real and dear to the reader listener by the truly excellent narration.
    Beautifully written, I am bereft now that I have finished it.

    "Audible" is a gorgeous way to read a book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ivy Kalispell, MT, USA 12-03-08
    Ivy Kalispell, MT, USA 12-03-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Book of the Year"

    This book is amaazingly writen and wonderfully read. I finished it and wanted to listen to it again. If you enjoy vampire book or movies at all this is a must read. Elizabeth Kostova wove this story into an epic adventure that keeps you guessing and hoping.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise sacramento, CA, USA 08-08-08
    Denise sacramento, CA, USA 08-08-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    18
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "great Vampire lore"

    I loved this as a work of historical fiction. I loved this a a vampire story. I ESPECIALLY loved the male narrator as he created unique characters with is voice and his numerous accents! Good Job! Thank you for the hours of enjoyment.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew St. Paul, MN, USA 04-21-08
    Matthew St. Paul, MN, USA 04-21-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
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    28
    2
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    0
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    Overall
    "Prepare for boredom"

    This book starts interestingly enough, but the writer looses her handle on it quickly, and you're soon lost in nasty thicket of over-description (and it's close cousin, pointless detail). You get a fantastic sense of how tedious a graduate level thesis must be, but as a reader, is that really what you're looking for in a vampire story?

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
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