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Twelve Paperback – September 1, 2010

Book 1 of 3 in the Danilov Quintet Series

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 447 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616142413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616142414
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This is the American edition of Kent’s 2009 debut novel, a superb treatment of Napoléon’s invasion of Russia, and it stands out among vampire tales. Shortly after their flight from Smolensk, four officers of the irregular forces meet in a tavern in Moscow. One of them reveals that he has sent for the Oprichniki, warriors from the south who can turn Napoléon back. When the Oprichniki arrive, Captain Alexei Danilov is uneasy, but his friend Dmitry insists that these—beings—can help save Russia. By the time Alexei realizes exactly what they are, winter has arrived, and the vampires are feeding on fleeing French soldiers and Russian civilians alike. Kent has blended fantasy and history to produce an awesome picture of the battles from Smolensk to Berezina. The characters fit the action, although with so many (in that respect it is a Russian novel), their quality varies. Twelve is definitely high-quality reading. It is also the first of a planned quintet. --Frieda Murray


"An accomplished, entertaining blend of historical fiction and dark fantasy."--Times

"Good vampire-hunting fun."--SFX

"Rich, detailed, and enjoyable...A real page-turner...Twelve is a great read and a breath of fresh air." --Fantasy Book Review

"It is hard for me to set Twelve in a particular category, because the novel is an original one and its characteristics and setting can satisfy the readers of different genres. But it is easy for me to say that Jasper Kent proves great talent and imagination and its debut is an excellent and powerful one." --Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews

"...the book is a very pleasing read, clearly the result of detailed historical research, and a book where the emphasis is on the telling of a thrilling tale by a writer with a love of the horrific. Think of it as Doctor Zhivago meets Bram Stoker's Dracula in Napoleonic Russia. Bloodily fantastic."--SFF World

"A fantastic blend of historical novel and supernatural chiller." --Death Ray

Customer Reviews

I love historical fiction and it is incorporated superbly here.
There's also a very nice twist toward the end that elevates the story in an interesting way.
A. Ross
The main character wasn't interesting, nor were the secondaries.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Matt Smith on September 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Mr. Kent really seems to capture the spirit of the time and place for me and turned what could have been a very pedestrian horror novel into something very enthralling. I like how he contrasted the horrors of war against the supernatural horrors of the Twelve. It was interesting to read how our war-weary protagonists, after having seen so much horror and depravity during war, were actually moved to take direct action against something that they saw as being even more profoundly appalling. Also, I really felt like Mr. Kent's characters are genuinely Russian people living in Napoleonic times, and not modern-day, Western heroes who happen to be appearing this particular setting. Anyway, it's a fine novel, where the horror is as much psychological as it is bloody.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Shelve this book next to Naomi Novik's "Temeraire" books -- a Napoleonic-era military adventure story with a fantasy twist.

In this case, it's the tale of a Russian squad in the middle of the Napoleonic wars, and their dealings with a band of suitably monstrous vampires. Jasper Kent's "Twelve" is a pleasant antidote to all the romantic-vampire garbage of the moment -- it's bloody, slow-moving but stately, and full of wonderfully creepy moments.

The year is 1812, and Russia is facing a French invasion. So to combat the French, an officer named Dmitry Fetyukovich enlists a special group to help them -- twelve Wallachians nicknamed the Oprichniki. But one of his comrades, Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, isn't so sure that the Oprichniki are such a good thing. They're strange, savage, they leave no corpses behind, and they only venture out to kill at night. Yeah, you get one guess what they are.

But after the French overrun Moscow, Aleksei sees one of the Oprichniki feasting on a French soldier -- and realizes that they are voordalaki (vampires). Aleksei manages to kill a number of them through fire and splintered wood, and ends up staying in a city of refugees and wounded, along with his prostitute mistress Domnikiia. But he soon finds that the Oprichniki were not the only vampires, and that their survivors are spreading their foul influence.

Currently the vampire trend is to make them sexy, whiny and as menacing as a blob of cold oatmeal, so it's kind of refreshing that Jasper Kent stuck to the original bloodsucker mold. "Twelve" reads like a balanced mixture of "Dracula" and "War and Peace" -- a wintry, bleak story filled with battlefields, war-ravaged cities, spies and the occasional love affair. And, of course, VAMPIRES.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Marmaroth on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
The concept itself is interesting, though the writing is boring and pretty honest-to-God terrible. I suppose it's readable at least. The end revelation is bone-chilling, but it's swept-over carelessly. The plot drags at times, and the book is longer than necessary. There is horror abound, and good horror, though it is stifled at times by the irritating always-correct protagonist.

The secondary characters are interesting, but discarded in favor of the main character, who is essentially always right and has more inner monologues than I image Disney villains possessing. By the end I was extremely irritated by the author's dismissal of the immoral and 'cowardly' acts of good secondary characters. I LIKED them. Don't throw them away like that, Kent.

In general, the story was interesting and compelling, besides being slow at times. I genuinely wanted to know what was going to happen. That said, the main character about drove me crazy and I was rooting for the villain in the end simply because he was more interesting, but hey, what are you going to do? At least I finished it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brad Middleton on December 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov is part of an elite group Russian spies, working to stem the tide of Napoleon's army as it pillages its way across the Russian landscape en route to Moscow. He soon finds himself fighting alongside a group of twelve highly-skilled Wallachians who call themselves the "Oprichniki," savage fighters who prefer close combat and only work at night -- and who claim they can halt the invasion of the French troops. Although Danilov questions how only twelve men can turn the tide of the war, he soon discovers just how efficient these mercenaries are, but begins to have doubts about the motives of this secretive group. But after discovering the horrible truth about the Oprichniki, Danilov decides that his new allies are actually a threat to all of mankind, and it's left up to him to rid the world of these legendary creatures of nightmares.

With the invasion of Napoleon's army into Russia as a backdrop, Jasper Kent weaves an interesting tale about a conflicted soldier who would do anything to protect his homeland from the French army. But the man soon realizes that his new allies, with their inflated expectations, are too good to be true. The tale infuses folklore about these "voordalak" mercenaries, a group of traditional vampires who are born to kill -- and who definitely do not sparkle in the sunlight. (Nor do they see humans as anything beyond being a food source.)

The story itself is a little slow moving up until Danilov discovers the truth about the Oprichniki, but then moves at a quicker pace as he hunts them down one by one. The main issue I have with this book is just how easily Danilov manages to kill these savage bloodsuckers; many times it seems like there's a little too much divine intervention going on.
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More About the Author

Born in Worcestershire in 1968, Jasper Kent read Natural Sciences at Cambridge before embarking on a career as a software consultant. He also pursues alternative vocations as a composer and musician and now novelist.

The inspiration for Jasper's bestselling début, Twelve (and indeed the subsequent novels in The Danilov Quintet) came out of a love of nineteenth-century Russian literature and darkly fantastical, groundbreaking novels such as Frankenstein and Dracula. His researches have taken him across Europe and to Saint Petersburg, Moscow and the Crimea, including three days on a train from Cologne to the Russian capital, following in the footsteps of Napoleon himself.

Jasper lives in Brighton, where he shares a flat with his girlfriend and several affectionate examples of the species rattus norvegicus.

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