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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 Time Warner AudioBooks. All Rights Reserved.

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Multi-Voiced Performance

"The Historian is artfully constructed and atmospheric." (Washington Post Book World)
"A bloodthirsty delight....Both literary and scary, this one is guaranteed to keep one reading into the wee hours." (Booklist)
"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)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (28 )
5 star
 (8)
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3.5 (13 )
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3.8 (13 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Peter 01-30-08
    Peter 01-30-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    196
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "One of my top 3"

    This is one of my top three books for the last 5 years. I read it about a year ago and was entranced by it so when I saw it as an audio, I had to listen to it as well. The audio production is excellent, maybe the best I have come across so far.
    It is really hard to explain to someone who has not read it. The Historian is is not a horror story but it is about vampires. It is set across Europe with wonderful characters and descriptions. The story subtly builds up tension as it replays the lives of father and daughter who are fascinated to the extent of becoming addicted to the mysteries surrounding Vlad the Impaler, a middle European tyrant who fought invaders five centuries ago and managed to dispose of a fair proportion of his own people along the way. As they chase the trail he left in manuscripts and maps in cities across Europe and they delve deeper, strange things start to happen and suspense rises in this beautifully written and well read audio book

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 01-07-12
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 01-07-12 Member Since 2008

    Audiobook addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    616
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    217
    88
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    143
    9
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Jeeze, please show me, don't tell me."

    Being enamored of novels with historical underpinnings, I decided to ignore some of the rather negative reviews and take a chance on this. And the historical elements in the story really are great.

    But, to begin with, I do have a really bad problem with novels that depend heavily on epistolary segments that sound exactly like a normal 1st person narrative. People don't write letters that read like prose narrative. I understand the homage paid to Stoker in the author's choice of this form, but it only works if the letters SOUND like letters and the diaries SOUND like diary entries.

    The next thing I found very irritating was that the conflicts in the plot depend so heavily on the ploy of a lack of information caused by a person who keeps finding it 'just too difficult/painful/tragic/horrific to relay.

    I also had a very hard time with the main young female character's voice in the narrative. She sounded consistently far older than her years. I don't mean the female narrator's voice - that was fine. I mean the written voice of the character. In her portions of the story, she seems mentally about the same age as her father.

    Finally, I got very frustrated when the writer kept insisting things were 'horrific', 'terrifying', and 'unfathomable' when they're actually not. Please don't tell me it's horrible. Show me that it's horrible - and make sure it actually IS.

    I have to concur with some of the other reviews: I really didn't enjoy the production. One good reader would have been far more effective. It's not that any one of them were particularly bad narrators. They were all fine.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    naelene wanganui, New Zealand 06-13-13
    naelene wanganui, New Zealand 06-13-13 Member Since 2012

    "evil wins when good men do nothing "quote

    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    73
    27
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    FOLLOWING
    5
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    Story
    ""loved it" im addicted to a good story."

    Great in every way, depth of story line, characters you like and history you want to research. Even if its just to find the places written in the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-3 of 3 results
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  • Anthony
    Banbury, Oxon., United Kingdom
    2/15/07
    Overall
    "Superb"

    I chose The Historian on an impulse. It is quite the best audiobook I have downloaded from Audible. The story is largely built around a series of letters and stories from the characters and this format works really well especially given the range of narrators. It gripped me within the first 10 minutes and I have listened at every possible opportunity. The tale is quite dark but given its subject is not particulary frightening. It is however wonderfully written. If you are unsure whether to choose this as your next listen, my recommendation is 'go for it.'

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    Bideford, United Kingdom
    1/4/10
    Overall
    "Tension what tension?"

    When the audible version of a book has to resort to music to create tension you know you have bought a dud!
    The plot (and I use that word with caution) was weak to the point of being in dire need of CPR. The valiant efforts of the readers were useless due to the story line having more holes than my colinder.
    By the time we got the point where Dracula spoke we were rolling about with laughter. Not quite the reaction I think the author had in mind.
    We always listen through to the end of a book once we have bought it but never before has it required such fortitude. Only buy it if you are mad, rich beyond caring what you buy or don't care whether a plot works or not.
    This is not a harsh review as I have tempered my comments from what I really, really thought!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Karen
    Whitehead, Co Antrim, United Kingdom
    6/12/09
    Overall
    "The Historian"

    Without a doubt the worst audio book I've ever tried to listen to. An overwrought and horribly overlong tale. The editor should really take some of the blame for bringing this book to publication in its present state. I will run a mile before reading/listening to this author again. An old, old story which has not been improved with this attempt.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amanda
    Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
    4/26/07
    Overall
    "Disappointing and Dull"

    I really thought this would be an interesting listen, in light of the seemingly 'rave' reviews and subject matter. Unfortunately it proved to be dull and long winded and far from 'bloodthirsty'. Though read well by a cast of readers, I felt little interest in the characters who all seemed stuffy and intellectual, but solved little, and the story never seems to reach any fulfilling conclusions, it all just tails off.
    Without giving anything away, the best character appears only briefly, which is a shame as I felt he conveyed a bit more emotion and presence than anyone else in the story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lianne
    Stevenage, United Kingdom
    4/20/09
    Overall
    "Fantastic"

    Really good book, very entertaining. The production was brilliant, couldn't put this down, or stop listening even!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mohammed
    londonUnited Kingdom
    5/21/08
    Overall
    "Good"

    Interestingly written, good use of history.
    I thought the characters where interesting but the way the book ended did not do the book justice.

    will recommend this book

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Nick
    Sudbury, Suffolk, United Kingdom
    4/12/07
    Overall
    "The Neverending Story"

    If you would like a poorly written, extremely lengthy book with a preposterous concept, this is for you. The characters were cardboard cutout with no development. I had the impression the writer had little idea as to how to bring her curious story to a conclusion. Furthermore, the authoress's knowledge of Oxford University suggests she gleaned her information from a guidebook, and a poorly written one at that. There are plenty of excellent reads on Audible. This is not one of them.

    10 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Niccitka
    UK
    1/28/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dramatic and mysterious!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The Historian is beautifully narrated and arranged. The mixture of narrators and additional music add suspense and mystery to this dramatic and well-written book. Highly enjoyable.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gillian
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "loved it."

    It is a good story and very good listing with a good twist to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • angela
    dundee, United Kingdom
    11/5/12
    Overall
    "Brilliant"

    Best book iv ever listened to on audible, loved every gripping minute of it, perfect cast of characters, brilliant story line.

    I will listen to this book for many years to come.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 18 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

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