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The Historian Paperback – Bargain Price, September 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
First the good: All of the characters in this tale are very believable, including Vlad Tepes himself. I really enjoyed the historical facts surrounding the Ottoman Empire and Eastern Europe that Kostova weaved into her tale. I also loved the way she used letters to reveal the more thrilling aspects of the story bit by bit. This kept me in that "I'll just read ten more pages" mode on many a late night.
Now for the problems: The first 300 pages of this book were very compelling and hard to put down. Somewhere between page 300 and 450 it began to feel like Kostova had an old graduate school dissertaion on the migration patterns of monks in the 15th century lying around so she decided to work it into the story. Wow did that slow the pace... I don't have a problem with the storyline taking the characters on a search for the history of these monks, its just that Kostova occasionally strayed across the line between entertaining fiction and dry academic research.
All of that said, my opinion as a librarian and avid reader of such stories is that this is an excellent book, well worth reading. I am sure that it will have wide appeal and is no doubt deserved of its huge marketing push. I have heard that there is already talk of a movie...
The premise is certainly promising - the search for the historical Dracula. The story is told through three main narratives: that of the young girl that opens the novel; her father; and her father's mentor. The structure is an homage to Bram Stroker's DRACULA, which is also told through letters and multiple narratives. Unfortunately, the author may have been overly ambitious in this endeavor, as she failed to pull the whole thing together. The result is, if you're familiar with the genre, that you notice the structure too much, and so you are able to predict what will happen next long before the author writes it. For a mystery novel, that kills the suspense. It's a bit like seeing the boom mike hanging over a scene in a movie. You want to suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself into the novel, but the boom mike keeps getting in the way.
Also, to pull off such a narrative structure, you need good, distinct characters. Unfortunately, none of the characters really stand out for me.Read more ›
"The Historian" is an epic work of historical fiction that sweeps across Europe during the four decades between 1930 and the mid 1970s. It just also happens to involve the Dracula myth and a good dose of suspense. Now, some people may object to me calling this novel a work of historical fiction because it is mostly fiction and contains very few real characters. That is true, but Kostova does such an amazing job of making the Dracula myths come alive that you can't help feeling that the legends and the story are real. Her research is stunning in its attention to detail and the wide range of topics Kostova must've studied. A previous reviewer slightly criticizes Kostova for spending too many pages describing the pilgrimage routes of monks hundreds of years ago. While sections like that do slow down the pace of the novel somewhat, they don't distract from it. The last book that I read that combines elements of history, suspense, and great characters as well as "The Historian" was "The Devil in the White City".
Readers I must warn you that if you are hoping for a romance novel, this is not it. There are several love stories woven within and through the primary story, but as compelling as they may sometimes be (I wept at page 526), they take a back seat to the search for the "Dark Prince".
This is an adventure but not in the usual sense as there is really not much action (until near the end). Remember, these are historians so you can imagine their method of searching. I did not find this novel "Genuinely terrifying" as quoted from the Boston Globe but I agree it is "A thrill ride through history" as stated by the Denver Post. If you love history, traveling, and emersion into other cultures, you will love this book. It will feel as if you have been on an exotic vacation.
Warning, I found the first half of the book difficult to read. Elizabeth Kostova is a stickler for details (possibly in the excess) and I found it hard to form attachments to the characters.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A detailed account of the search for Vlad Dracula by several generations of the same family. Lovely descriptions of several countries in Eastern Europe, particularly Turkey,... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Mary L Boyd
About 300 pages too long - skip to the last 50 pages and you'll be happy you didn't waste your time on the middle of the book.Published 2 days ago by Cheryle Hart
Love this book. I would recommend it to anyone. It's such a convincing story that I still doubt whether or not it could be real. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Ariel R.
Good update of the Dracula legend. Great travelogue, makes me want to visit.Published 13 days ago by David Campbell
Great new twist in the Dracula story. Fantastic prose and format that makes you want to see what happens next. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Frank S. Bruffey, III
I have read this book three times now. It is so well written. I hope to it turned into a movie one of these days!Published 19 days ago by Susan Melton