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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

Critic Reviews

  • 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

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  • Overall
  • Marie
  • Arlington, TN, United States
  • 11-12-10

The Historian

I truly enjoyed the book. The ending is a bit abrupt. The narration by several narrators was spot on. I would definitely recommend this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Katie
  • woodbridge, VA, United States
  • 05-24-10

I've made myself listen

Perhaps the abridged version would have been better? The story drags, perhaps in part because the narrators speak very slowly. I find my mind wandering, which is unlike me.

After listening to Under the Dome and Prince of Tides, which I couldn't listen to ENOUGH, this one is a disappointment. Maybe I'm spoiled by these as the narrators seemed to be acting their parts, rather than reading them to a dull-witted person.

As for the story itself, it's interesting if you've never been to the countries described in the book. I could almost "see" them.

I'm on the 4th of 4 parts now; perhaps it'll pick up. If not, tomorrow my subscription renews so I'll download Steig Larrson's last book. Can't wait!!

As for my recommendation, sadly I must agree with other reviewers in that this book was more than slightly boring to listen to. To actually read it might have been different. Some audiobooks work and some don't. This didn't, for me.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Kept me interested...

The multiple timelines and many characters sometimes had me confused if I wasn't paying extremely close attention. It was the first book that I've listened to with multiple narrators and I thought I would hate it, but it was done very well. I wished for a little more to the ending but all in all... good story!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • 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

  • Overall
  • Valerie
  • Charlotte, NC, USA
  • 10-03-09

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

  • Overall
  • Dawn
  • Deltona, FL, United States
  • 01-02-08

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

  • Overall
  • Ashley
  • Scottsdale, AZ, USA
  • 04-06-06

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

  • 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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Very Long

This is a very long and detailed novel.

The plot deals with the search for Dracula. I love vampire stories but this felt stale and old. It follows a few story lines that are broken up by the different narrators. This novel is VERY detailed. I lost myself a few times in the descriptions.

The narrations were good. If it wasn't for the changes in narrators I don't think I would have finished the book.

Overall, this book was not for me. It was too long and felt as though it dragged. The narration was good, not spectacular.

If I were to do this over again, I would have bought the abridged version instead.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ivy
  • Kalispell, MT, USA
  • 12-03-08

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