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.
"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)
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
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.
"evil wins when good men do nothing "quote
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.
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.'
"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!
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.
"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.
One of the most enjoyable things about vampire books is the history that comes with them. A dark and twisted vampire story at its best. Really enjoyable with suspense at every turn.
"Dramatic and mysterious!"
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.
It is a good story and very good listing with a good twist to it.
"Well read - did not like the music!"
I thought the reading/dramatisation/narration was good, the musical interludes I found intrusive rather than enhancing. You knew that there was a crunch moment coming due to the music..which honestly I found more irritating as the book went on. I found that the story itself was not very strong, especially in the latter stages of the book. Whether this is due to it being an abridged version would be difficult to say. I thought it started well, but for me the second half of the book just lacked the same conviction, interest and 'credibility', bearing in mind the subject matter of the story. It has certainly put me off listening to other books by the same author and audio book publisher.
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
"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.
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