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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.

Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions - and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vlad's ancient powers - one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. Elizabeth Kostova's debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions, a relentless tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present, with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful - and utterly unforgettable.

©2008 Elizabeth Kostova (P)2016 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling!

Listened to it pretty much straight through. Great performance! I read it earlier and this was the second audio go for me (last was on CDs about ten years ago). Still great!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Great buildup to nowhere

Let me be frank. I enjoyed The Historian. I think I was just a little disappointed that I read reviews before listening that the book was a bit of a letdown at the end after so much buildup. You become engorged with the backstory and relish with every detail when you’re putting the pieces together. When everything comes to a head, the lack of play with all of the action and the quick ending makes me give this book 3 stars.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Maybe the best book I have ever listened to!

Beyond excellent!!!!!
Very creatively written!
Well grounded in history with a flair of fiction. Truly a work of art!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A drag

I absolutely struggled to finish this one. I love all things historical but this just dragged and dragged on. When the main antagonist's motivation was finally revealed, I was in awe at how ridiculous it was. The excellent performances couldn't make up for the lame plot.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ruthi
  • On a Mountain In Oregon
  • 08-30-18

Bit dense, but a good book to get

If you love both history and vampire lore, this book is worth getting. If you don't like one of those subjects, though, then you'll probably really hate this book. I'm partial to history (including the time consuming, dry research bits - which is thoroughly discussed and seen in this book, for long stretches of time) and I absolutely love vampire lore so I really enjoyed this book though it was dense even for someone who likes both of those topics. With that said, it is probably one of the most unique vampire books I've had the pleasure of reading. Justine Eyre and Paul Michael are absolutely wonderful in their roles - I doubt anyone else could've made me listen to the end, honestly. This is definitely one of those 'oh, thank goodness I bought it in audio format rather than text' reads for me because it is so dry and dense at times but I felt those parts were really worth it for the ending.
4.5/5 stars from me, and like I said, if you do not like both history & vampire lore, probably skip this book. If you enjoy both, it's worth using a credit and trying it! If you don't like it, thank goodness for Audible's return policy for members - but I enjoyed it enough to not want to return it and probably will listen to it again in a few years!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

it was ok

It seemed to go on too long and somewhat predictable. narration was good. just ok.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michelle
  • 3627 E Bloomfield Rd. Phoenix, AZ. 85032
  • 09-21-16

Amazing!

Great story, great characters . Great narrator. It was a long read, but kept you entertained the whole way thru without dull spots. Very good!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Disappointing ending, otherwise excellent

I'll try to write this without giving away any spoilers. I started reading The Historian years ago when it first came out and put it aside for some reason. So when I saw the audio version was available, I decided to give it a go. The narrators did a great job, and the writing is beautiful, with gorgeous attention to detail. I was totally pulled into the story and the development of the characters. Unfortunately, I feel like the author didn't quite know what to do with her creation at the end and we had an abrupt and unsatisfying denouement with the Dracula thread. The entire book leads up to meeting Dracula, and as soon as we're given a glimpse of his character... Well, let's just say I was disappointed with the way it all wrapped up. It's quite a long listen at about 24 hours, and I do wish the payoff had been better conceived, but maybe that's just me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Subtle monsters, rich story

I am not sure what was more intense- the monster or the search for him.

Enjoyed this book quite a lot. Will listen to it again!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Second times a charm

Read this book in paperback some ten years ago while on holiday in rural France. Never has a book drawn me in so much as this one. Superbly written and the descriptions of places and locations were immense. So immense that I really had to think where I physically was being in unfamiliar surroundings while on holiday.

Ten years later and I decided to listen to the book on audible. While the audible version had a lot to live up to, the first time on anything is the best, it was still captivating and the narrators did a great job. I very different experience to the read, but highly enjoyable nonetheless.

This has long been the best book I have ever read.