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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
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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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Joseph on 08-26-08

Great immersion entertainment

This is a pretty good story with a wonderful, complex setting and one of the best narrations I've ever heard.

The story begins slow and hokie, with an uninteresting mystery concerning blank books, and while the characters and the mystery develop and become both enchanting and entrancing, the central hokiness of the premise is hard to set aside. That's why I rated four instead of five stars. The story fulfills enough other promises to transcend those flaws, though.

The charming characters and epic mystery drive this book through incredible settings, each recreated with an intimate feel that makes you overlook the unlikely justifications for getting you there. The language and scholarship is stately and impressive, yet you feel the cushions in the Turkish parlor as one character sinks into them with the relish of a homesick traveler. From American university libraries to churches in isolated villages in Cold War Bulgaria, each place, each era, each character feels genuine. You will at times wonder how the author knows something, how long she must have lived, where all she must have traveled.

And the narrators are some of the best I've heard. They recreate a range of accents and character from Scottish to Romanian, yet they master each, almost as actors interpreting a script.

All in all, this is a wonderful listen, and I've been scouring Audible since hearing it trying to find something that comes close. Easily my favorite Audible purchase. If you are looking for a great epic with strong settings and characters and an interesting tale that rises above its simple plot, give this one a listen. It will immerse you in a world that will be hard to leave once the story ends.

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42 of 42 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Branden on 01-27-09

Phenomenallly detailed...

I LOVED this book. It is chock full of historical detail, which, I believe, took the author years to research. The multi narrator format took a little getting used to. I wasn't crazy about Joanne Whaley's voice; it grates on me. It's worth persevering, though.
A few pointers:

*If you're looking for a "vampire" book, beware. The book is more focused on the history and activity of Dracula than on a bloodsucking rampage.

*If you are bored by detailed descriptions of places and history, you probably want to read the abridged or skip the book altogether.

*If you have difficulty understanding foreign accents, beware. There are many nationalities depicted in the book.

*If you're expecting an action-packed plot twister, this isn't your book.

*This book was made to be savored, not gulped down.

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67 of 69 people found this review helpful

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