The Historian

The Historian

Mass Market Paperback | June 1, 2008


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Breathtakingly suspenseful and beautifully written, The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family's past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark fifteenth-century reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages. The search for the truth becomes an adventure of monumental proportions, taking us from monasteries and dusty libraries to the capitals of Eastern Europe - in a feat of storytelling so rich, so hypnotic, so exciting that it has enthralled readers around the world.

"Never was a ghost story so casually erudite, nor a historical travelogue such gripping entertainment." ---New York Magazine

"Impossible to resist. . . . Kostova blends fact and fantasy to remind us that the original Dracula legend is rooted in monstrous acts of unblinking evil." ---Miami Herald

"A richly told story about family and the dark side of human nature. . . . This cry of the heart will appeal to readers beyond those who are drawn by a fascaination with the legend of Dracula." ---Chicago Tribune

"Genuinely terrifying." ---Boston Globe

"Nearly impossible to put down once you crack the spine. . . . It won't take you long to get to the end." ---Houston Chronicle

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The Historian

Mass Market Paperback | June 1, 2008
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$10.88 online $11.99 (save 9%)

From the Publisher

Breathtakingly suspenseful and beautifully written, The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family's past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark fifteenth-century reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages. The sear...

Elizabeth Kostova graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won  the Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress.

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Format:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:928 pages, 7.5 × 4.25 × 1.63 inPublished:June 1, 2008Publisher:Little, Brown And CompanyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0316067946

ISBN - 13:9780316067942

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Passionate scholars fight the real Dracula The Historian is Elizabeth Kostova's long novel about a group of people's search to find and destroy the vampire, Dracula. This is the same Dracula who is the object of Bram Stoker's classic novel, inspired by the historic ruler of Wallachia (next door to Transylvania), resister of the Ottoman Empire, and also known as "Vlad the Impaler." In fact, Stoker's novel is part of this novel's world and is mentioned several times. Readers learn a good bit about the historical Dracula, as well as about life in the Romanian part of eastern Europe, in the course of Ms Kostova's book. The vehicle for the search for Dracula is (mostly) compellingly described scholarly research. Moments of horror punctuate the narrative and lead to a satisfying portrayal of the Impaler himself. The numerous mentions of Bram Stoker's book in her's, shows Ms Kostova's admiration of that novel. She even borrowed from it the plot feature of a group of human allies bonding in their quest to find and destroy a great evil. Some of them even bond romantically, just as in Stoker's novel, contributing to the family relationship of the vampire hunters. Another device the book borrows from Stoker is the narrative consisting of documents written by the characters. These are made up of letters and journals and some are even noted as being inserted by a given character for the sake of providing completeness to the tale. This makes the narrative first-person accounts rotating among several of the main characters, as in Stoker's book. It is not done in a distracting way, however, and the general feel is simply of a first-person story. And that story is told in a modern format, with contemporary sensibilities, and without the "tritely romantic" or patriarchtic aspects of Stoker's book. But the overriding theme and tone of The Historian is the sheer love of books and scholarship, especially historical scholarship. The search for Dracula is mostly carried out in libraries--public libraries and the private libraries of monasteries and of the scholar-vampire hunters. This could make for a dry narrative but it does not in The Historian, which I attribute to the storytelling ability of the author and her obvious passion for books and study. Readers of like mind will appreciate this aspect. Then Ms Kostova pairs that love of scholarship with a love of travel. The characters travel a lot through Europe and we see through them the love of new destinations and the appreciation of exotic locales, cafes, foods, coffees, and wines. This melding of literary appreciation, scholarship, and traveling is what makes The Historian most memorable for me, and it is done--for the most part--without sacrificing the storytelling or slowing the plot. I say, "for the most part," because I think Ms Kostova does carry the travels, library searches, misdirections and dead-ends a bit too far before she reaches her finale. I think she could have cut a lot of that and reduced the length of her book by about one third without any loss to the story. It would have made the book's good parts even stronger. That burdensome excess cost the book a star in my rating. So we follow these library-loving scholars in their search for Dracula through three-fourths of the book before we encounter the five hundred year-old vampire. By that time, we've learned enough of the historic Vlad to get a feel for the kind of person he was, and then the presentation of him as a character complements that knowledge very well. He is presented with all the arrogance and psychopathy of the ruler-impaler, and yet he is also another scholar: Perhaps you do not know that I was something of a scholar. This seems not widely known...I became an historian in order to preserve my own history forever...I am a scholar at heart, as well as a warrior, and these books have kept me company through my long years. Even Dracula's relating of how he became a vampire through his search for the means of achieving immortality, included the vehicle of a book: But recently I met a man, a merchant who has traveled to a monastery in the West. He said there is a place in Gaul, the oldest church in their part of the world, where some of the Latin monks have outwitted death by secret means. He offered to sell me their secrets, which he has inscribed in a book. Appropriate. The Historian is a really neat work of fiction that is on my list of favorites because of its unapologetic love of books and learning, coupled with a stimulating vision of one of history's monsters brought to undead life. If you are a lover of books and appreciate the intellectual stimulation of searching for the resolution of mysteries in the historical record, then you'll find hanging on through The Historian's 700+ pages a rewarding experience.
Date published: 2015-07-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Put a stake through its heart, already. Elizabeth Kostova clearly researched this Dracula novel to death. While most books in this genre just scratch the surface, Kostova has dug deep into the dark underworld of vampiric history and come out dripping with unique insights and highly original content. Unfortunately, this A+ academic research is then mixed with a B- story line. The plot does, admittedly, grab you off the top, and propels you on a wild and suspenseful ride. The problem is that, much like old Vlad himself, the book just keeps going and going and going. All the historical esoterica, sight-seeing tours across a half-dozen countries, and in-depth trips into old archives soon become monotonous. Similarly, the heroic journeys of the main characters themselves, juggled across multiple timelines, go from being enthralling to tiresome. Worst of all, you can see the ending coming. Like a post-grad dissertation, Kostovo seemed to be padding out the page count and hitting us over the head with the thesis. She and her editor should perhaps have spent less time exploiting the story's new vein of historical facts and more letting the literary aspects gush. Unlike Dracula, we readers do not have all eternity.
Date published: 2011-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating If you enjoy your vampire stories filled with history, then you'll like this book. At over 900 pages, it's a long read and much of it covers the history of Vlad the Impaler, which I found very interesting. The book tells the story of three generations of historians trying to uncover the truth about Vlad and vampires by following a trail of ancient manuscripts, letters, folklore and clues left by the man himself. It was a bit slow to start, but I flew through it once I got further in.
Date published: 2010-10-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not so great... I find it boring and tedious-the characters for me are dull--there are many loopholes in the story and a lot of boring conversation. I seen a review that said if you can make it past page 68 that you should be ok but by page 62 I was totally confused and lost interest and havent picked it up since.
Date published: 2010-08-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from TEDIOUS i don,'t know why but i don't like this book-i find it boring and tedious-the characters for me are dull-i don't know what all the hype is about-there are many loopholes in the story and a lot of boring conversation-and that is too bad as this is a period in history that is far from boring-maybe it is just me
Date published: 2010-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Even if you're not into vampires.... I'm not a vampire person, so I was pleasantly surprised when a friend had me read this. Its fast-paced for all of its 907 pages, which is a feat in itself. And if you've worked in history, you'll appreciate the complete and utter lack of Dan Brown like conjecture. If you hate reading though the length might not be for you.
Date published: 2010-03-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Key Page: 168 It's a really hard and really long novel to read...but if you are able to pay great attention to detail and retain what you read then you might like this. It's not really your typical vampire novel, but the concept is so unique and the crazy plot twists will keep you going. Just get past page 168 and your good.
Date published: 2009-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting I will admit I've often fallen victime to a pretty cover and a not so good but I think everyone has at least once or twice. This is not the case with The Historian, the book cover is captivating as the story it holds. Although I'm normally wary of books involving vamires and the big man himself Dracula but if you have interest in either of these legends or The real man Vlad the Impaler then this is a must read book. The haunting stories travels through different decades and crosses continents and I swear you'll not want to put the book down till the very last page. This is the kind of book that haunts even after its over making in almost difficult to move on to the next book you planed to read.
Date published: 2008-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Historical Thriller I absolutely loved it. Although at times, it could get confusing with all the different characters and settings to keep up with, this book was a late night page turner no doubt. it was fun, imaginative, suspenseful, romantic, and exciting. I really loved this book (keep in mind I'm going to be majoring in history, so of course I'll love a historically based novel).
Date published: 2008-06-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Don't bother I was really looking forward to this book, and hunted through piles of sales books at Chapters to get it. What a disappointment. There was no suspense, just a lot of fanciful dracula imagery and running around eastern europe. This book was just too corny and had too many 'coincidental' moments to be at all suspenseful or believable. I am an avid reader and found this one hard to pick up and finish and then once I got to the end was very disappointed.
Date published: 2007-07-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting It took a little while to get completely immersed in the book, but once it happened, I couldn't put it down. The history is good, the writing is good, and the story is amazing. I would reccomend this to anyone that has any interest in Dracula.
Date published: 2007-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jaw-dropping! This was the best book I've ever read. It reminded me in several ways of The Da Vinci Code, the way the story plays with history, the European locales, and the suspense. The Da Vinci Code wasn't creepy though, and this one was. As I sat reading it one day the telephone rang and I almost leaped off the couch in fright! I agree with some of the other reviewers about the beauty of the writing. I just wanted to read slowly and savour every word. This was a book I simply did not want to end.
Date published: 2007-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Only The Best Book Ever! This book was the best book that I have ever read. I could not put it down for a minute. I was up until 4 in the morning reading it. I found that the history that she impemented was quite facinating and the suspense kept me wanting more. It has been a long time since I read a book that had made me want more. I can't wait to see what Elizabeth comes out with next.
Date published: 2007-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Immersed I picked up The Historian, thinking it would be a boring read, but in fact, it has become of the best reads I have in a long time. The author sweeps you away into a mystery that leaves you hanging at every breath....
Date published: 2007-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A thoroughly enjoyable read It is rare to find a novel in which just "the reading of it" is so enjoyable. I slowly savoured every word. I really loved how the supense built up as the story continued with short bursts of action followed by the build up to the next event. The method of telling the story through a collection of letters so that you were reading a story within a story really gave the feeling that you were digging though history.
Date published: 2006-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This book was awesome. I recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery and a good read.
Date published: 2006-11-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from i did not like it at all As a Romanian and Transylvanian native i did not like the book...I think she makes Vlad Tapes look as a monster a heartless cruel ruler of our country ...and that is not true ...he was one of the best rulers that keep the country from being captured by the ottomans , he did what he had to do. He did not impale innoccent people just theifs, beggars and criminals..I think he was a great ruler that deserves a lot more respect and appreciation .I got the book thinking i'm going to have a great read but i was wrong.
Date published: 2006-11-02