Der Historiker Roman

by Elizabeth Kostova

Other authorsWerner Löcher-Lawrence (Translator)
Hardcover, 2005

Status

Available

Call number

HU 9800 K86 H6

Collection

Publication

Berlin Bloomsbury Berlin 2005

Description

Fiction. Romance. Thriller. Historical Fiction. HTML:The record-breaking phenomenon from Elizabeth Kostova is a celebrated masterpiece that "refashioned the vampire myth into a compelling contemporary novel, a late-night page-turner" (San Francisco Chronicle).  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. ??Part thriller, part history, part romance...Kostova has a keen sense of storytelling and she has a marvelous tale to tell.? ??Baltimo… (more)

Media reviews

Vlad Lit: don't flirt with it, just sink your teeth right in
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When, after many other allusions to historians and historicism, Kostova introduced a character whose last name is Hristova, I was tempted to run out to a pharmacy for some antihristomine. What's unfortunate about this overload is that the book -- which seems to want to do for historians what
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''Possession'' did for literary scholars -- is otherwise the kind of wonderfully paced yarn that would make a suitable companion to a deck chair, a patch of sun and some socklessness.
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In a ponderous, many-layered book that is exquisitely versed in the art of stalling, Ms. Kostova steeps her readers in Dracula lore. She visits many libraries, monasteries, relics of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, crypts, restaurants, scholars and folk-song-singing peasants. Every now and then
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a mysterious pale, sinister figure will materialize, only to vanish bewilderingly. The book's characters find this a lot more baffling than readers will.
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Stuffed with rich, incense-laden cultural history and travelogue, The Historian is a smart, bibliophilic mystery in the same vein (sorry) as A.S. Byatt's Possession--but without all that poetry.

User reviews

LibraryThing member alanna1122
This author needed a good editor! What a long book. It dragged on and on and on and on and on and on.... (you get the idea). I put it own at about page 150 but had a change of heart and decided to just try to finish it... I swear that the pages right around 500 were some of the most boring and
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unnecessary I have ever read. PAINFUL! I was a history major undergrad and man - I rarely read things as boring as parts of this book. I wouldn't recommend it. I gave it two stars because for some reason I was compelled to finish it but trust me I wouldn't wish any of my friends take the time to finish what turned out to be a pretty darn predictable novel that happens to include some pretty descriptions of Eastern Europe.
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LibraryThing member TomWaitsTables
At all cost, avoid the The Historian. The only good thing about this book are the geniuses who marketed it. If they can sell that crap . . . Here, I'll save you the time: Turns out, Dracula was looking for someone to organize his papers. Ferociously contrived.

I gave my copy to a vacuum store, for
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use as a benchmark. You know, because it sucks.
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LibraryThing member jpporter
My wife begged, cajoled, and pleaded with me for a couple of years to read this book. She never told me it was about vampires, because I dislike vampire stories (particularly of the contemporary sort). I finally relented, and began reading "The Historian." By the time I was fully aware that it was
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a "vampire" book, however, I was completely enthralled with Kostova's treatment. This is an excellent book, a joy to read, and an example of what contemporary literature could be like if the authors would only take the time to learn how to write.

PROs: 1. The book intertwines several stories taking place over the span of at least 500 years. Kostova wrote the book in serious style, avoiding contemporary idiomatic phrases, references, etc. Instead, it is written in (essentially) classical English - even those parts of the book that take place from 1974 on. This gives the book a consistent texture that keeps all of the stories connected. Her prose is marvelous to read, and adds to the general ambiance of the tale.

2. It does require some concentration to keep track of where the narrative is (or when it refers to), but this is used effectively by Kostova to create a constant tension throughout the book. Suspenseful it is. Very tightly interwoven, it is. After the first few chapters, one is able to follow the flow of the story very easily, even though the narrator changes, the time period changes, and the direction of the specific activity changes quite frequently. I found myself becoming more engrossed in the story, and more emotionally in tune with the characters, despite the changes in narrative perspective. Kostova is able to use her particular narrative style to great effect.

3. This isn't your typical blood and gore story, although there is enough blood and gore to go around. It is primarily a book about historical research, and is executed in such a way as to be entertaining, informational, and suspenseful. The characters are well described and credible. It avoids being sensationalistic, and almost achieves a wonderful sense of understatement that makes the reader eager to continue.

CON: the ending is almost contrived, and I must admit to having felt somewhat cheated. Almost 95% of the book is so well written, so well plotted, and so well structured, that the last 5% seems anti-climactic. The beauty of the first 95% deserves a far better ending than it gets here (that almost becomes hokey, to tell the truth). The final epilogue to the book returns to the style and demeanor of the bulk of the book; it's just that where one should find a superb denouement, one finds almost a Hollywood, slap-dash ending. This is why I take away 1/2 of a star.

I would put Kostova on a par with Dan Simmons when it comes to using the English language to its fullest potential to convey the essence of a story. Brilliant writing marred only by a so-so ending.
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LibraryThing member seldombites
I loved this book and found it almost impossible to put down. The tale is told in an elegant, graceful style that brings to mind some of the great nineteenth century classics, and the characters are very real and believable. The Historian is set against the background of contemporary communist
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politics, yet it is filled with the rich details of Eastern European history. I love how we are invited to share the exciting, frustrating, and sometimes mundane life of historians - trying to piece together clues, some incomplete, others so tiny as to be almost missed, and come up with a plausible theory of how things once were. Despite this plodding journey, there is not a page of this book that is dull. Rather it is filled with a lingering feeling of menace, as though something sinister is peering over our shoulder this very minute.

The Dracula legend is old, tired, jaded. Many modern authors have tried to freshen it up by remaking the genre - portraying vampires as mis-understood creatures. Kostova returns to the image of vampires as evil, damned, terrifyingly seductive, yet she has done so in such a way that we are reminded of the bone-chilling fear these creatures can inspire.

I find it hard to believe that this is Kostova's first novel. With a talent this large, we can expect great things from her in future. My only fault with this book is that, after our slow piecing together of the facts, the ending seems a little fast and squashed together. No doubt this will improve as she gains experience.

All in all, I feel The Historian, like Bram Stoker's Dracula, will live on as a classic of the vampire genre.
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LibraryThing member Bookmarque
While interesting, this book wasn’t very compelling. I read a review on Amazon that said that the vampire shows himself and then everyone just goes to read books for another 200 pages. It’s absolutely like that. It reminds me of the novel Dracula actually in the way that very little happens,
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but very much is documented.

The flashbacks to the present time and the daughter’s pursuit of her father were a little jarring sometimes. It’s hard to believe that she found this entire novel written out by her father. I don’t buy it.

But it’s an interesting story. Apparently Vlad has been undead for 5 centuries and amassing a terrific library. He occasionally slips a particular kind of book to a scholar he feels might be worthy of cataloguing his collection. The books is always old and bound and completely blank except for a woodcut print of a dragon with a curling tail. Paul’s professor friend Rossi receives one of these and his obsession with solving the mystery is all-consuming and soon he disappears under suspicious circumstances. Soon, Paul also receives such a book and he goes after Rossi, meeting Helen along the way. She is Rossi’s daughter but has never met him.

Strangely I couldn’t see anything really evil in Vlad's pursuit of these people. The library itself is made up of unbelievably rare and precious books. Some of which detail accounts of wars and torture methodology. That’s the unspeakable evil that must be stopped?? It didn’t make sense and I hoped their quest would fail and Dracula would continue to exist.
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LibraryThing member csayban
I’m going to warn everybody reading this review right at the beginning, there is a spoiler in it so if you have this book or are interested in reading this book and don’t want the ending ruined by me, don’t continue reading this post. I don’t normally write a review that spoils the ending,
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but I’m forced to in order to justify my feelings about the book.

I want to make one other point. The length of the book is not a problem. I’ve read many novels that I have loved that are far longer, so I don’t want anyone accusing me of not liking the book because of its length.

The story revolves around a father and daughter who are both historians. The prose jumps back and forth between the daughter’s perspective and the letters that her father wrote. What begins as research into the real history of Vlad the Impaler, also known to the world as Dracula, becomes a life and death struggle to find a lost colleague and while protecting themselves from the evil forces that quietly haunt them. Soon they discover that the historical figure of Dracula is very much alive (or undead if you will) and coming after anyone who dares to look into his legend.

The writing is very good. The story has a slow, prolonged buildup of tension that leaves the reader wondering when it will all explode. In the mean time, the author does an excellent job of explaining the fact and fiction of Vlad’s life and death and the times he lived in. She also paints with beautiful detail the Eastern European world, especially the political situation as it existed during the Cold War.

So now you are asking “if it did all these wonderful things, what is your problem?” One small criticism of mine is that the characters are very obvious. The good guys are very good and the bad guys are obviously bad, and the reader knows which is which from the first scene. That’s not the big problem, however. Put simply, if you are going to build tension in such a long, drown out manner, there had better be a payoff at the end. This is where the tension that the author spent so long bringing to a peak falls flat on its face. Here is a simple rule – if you are going to kill off one of the emblematic characters of all time – Dracula himself – after such a buildup, it had better not end with a complete whimper. The scene of Dracula’s demise literally takes up only a few paragraphs and ends with nothing more than a gunshot, him falling and turning to dust. I read the remaining pages frantically expecting that he was not dead because there was no way he could have been dispatched so simply. Even worse, the characters afterward shrug the whole thing off as no big deal – as if offing someone who has terrorized the people of earth for 800 years happens every day. No reflection, no search for the meaning of Dracula’s life and death. The remaining pages don’t even reference Dracula again and really just go through the lives of the other characters.

It has been a very long time since I have actually finished a book and been angry, but The Historian had me stomping around the house at midnight. Why? Because this story held so much promise, such a buildup, that to have it fizzle so abruptly at the end made me feel like it was all some kind of cruel joke. I could have almost forgiven it if the book had been bad from start to finish. After all, it is her first published novel. But the even crueler twist was the amount of hype that surrounded this book when it came out and the vast number of glowing reviews that it received. Some compared it to the Da Vinci Code. Well, they did both have historians as protagonists…beyond that, they are about as different as two stories can be.

In the end, I actually waited a full week after finishing the novel just to give myself some time to reflect on my feelings about the story and not review it purely on emotion. But as you can tell from what you have just read, my thoughts haven’t changed much. If you are a history buff or Dracula fan, you might find this book interesting because it does weave a great deal of historical information - including debunking a lot of myths - into a protracted story with a great deal of interesting imagery. However, the ending left such a bad taste in my mouth that it felt like an unfortunate waste.
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LibraryThing member littlebookworm
If I wasn't fascinated by history, or an aspiring historian myself, I doubt I would have liked this book as much as I did. Dracula has interested me ever since I read Bram Stoker's novel, and I was quite happy to find a different take on the tale that actually seemed to be good. I could feel at
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times that the book slowed down, particularly in the middle. I also felt that the style was not adequate; it doesn't switch viewpoints often enough, like an epistolary novel should, which could have helped to continue the suspense and keep the book going better. I don't even know if this book can properly be called an epistolary novel, but it's close. I also found the ending very abrupt and unsatisfying. I wanted a definite conclusion, not a vague one, and more than the short confrontation that existed.

The good, however, far outweighs the bad. This novel is brim-full with culture, emotion, history, and books. Every main character is a historian and adores books, which makes it perfect for me to sympathize with them and understand perfectly their desire to travel, and I was as eager to discover as they were. Every culture is interesting and different, and Kostova's descriptions were enough to make me wish I was traveling there too. In effect, I loved the atmosphere, but found the plot slightly lacking, though the book definitely held my attention throughout all of its 700 pages. I was even surprised several times throughout the narrative, particularly at one instance.

Overall, I would recommend this book, but only to someone like me.
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LibraryThing member acl
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. The suspense came across as very artificial, and it felt like the author was keeping information from you (rather than the story unfolding naturally). This obnoxious pacing continued right up until the last third of the book. The characters
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also came across as rather bland, especially the narrator. It's a shame, because the ideas behind the work are quite good.
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LibraryThing member stretch
The concept for The Historian is so compelling and original in historical fiction that at first I was willing to over look the books flaws. Truth be told the first hundred pages are actually pretty good, but the rest fails to capitalize on the promising start. A story that uses actual historic
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research techniques that leads to the discovery of the real Dracula, who may or not be alive today, is premise I could get behind. Unfortunately Kostova uses that premise to launch a pretty uninspiring travelogue of Eastern Europe.

The story is told in flashback (and in some cases, flashback of a flashback of a flashback). As part of these flashbacks are a series of tedious letters that relate stories in levels of detail that are unbelievable in the context of the events that surround them. If you have a vampire on your tail, do you stop to hand write a 30 or 40 page letter that recounts every last glance, sigh, side dish, aside, and decorative detail?
Sadly it's these letters that really drive the plot. At times it can be difficult to follow these flashbacks, because the book is the story told by a woman, remembering events when she was in her teens. Inside her narrative is her father's narrative; inside his are other people's letters and accounts to fill the plot holes. All told in the same voice, blurring the distinctions between characters. Characters that are so similar and bland it's hard to the difference between them anyway. Kostava even explains away one characters flaw of abandoning his lover with their child in the poor back waters of Romania, with Amnesia. The one thing that made him remotely interesting is simply dismissed out of hand.

Aside from the bland characters and confusing narrative is a series of coincidences and chance meetings that will ultimately lead the protagonist to Vlad Temes's tomb. All the clues are laid out in font them, they meet the right people at just the right times, and everything comes to together just so, it really take the thrill out of thriller when you don't leave a whole lot of room for suspense. But really all these chance meetings and “research” serve as a way to take the reader from country to country, city to city, castle to monastery, library to mosque. While her descriptions of the architecture is superb, they do little to affect the overall story. Then there is the ending. I've read books with some truly bad endings, but [The Historian] takes the cake. After 600 long pages, we come to find that Dracula, the living undead Dracula, has caused all this trouble so he can find a worthy librarian to catalog his extensive book collection.Yeah that was a bit of a let down.

Kostova does set the scene beautifully but in the end all your left with are a whole bunch of characters that act more like bored tour guides, thriller with no thrill, a serve lack of vampires, and horrible ending.
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LibraryThing member saturnine13
Suppose that, one morning, an old book mysteriously appears on your desk, and its only content is a picture of a sinister, twisting dragon with the word "Drakulya". Who left it there, and why? Who, or what, is Drakulya?

The Historian follows 3 intertwining plots -- a girl seeking her father, her
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father seeking his mentor, and his mentor seeking the origin of the mysterious book. The plots take place in different decades and different countries, but they all begin with the discovery of the book, and the girl, the father, and the mentor all end up searching for the same thing: Dracula. The protagonists are none of them warriors or heroes, just bookish researchers, solving mysteries and defending themselves with the only weapon they have, knowledge.

I've never had any particular interest in Eastern Europe, but Kostova's evocative descriptions of Istanbul and Budapest made me fall in love with the locales and long to see them for myself. This is, I think, the strongest aspect of the book. Each setting is painted for you with piquant, well-chosen details of architecture, food, people, and historical background. The background, especially, is fascinating, though some will get impatient with the history lessons and prefer the author to just get on with the story.

The story is, actually, quite slow in the beginning, but as it chugs along it gains speed, and the gradual revelations and lurking dread build up to some delicious, hair-pulling suspense. It hasn't much in the way of action, though there is some -- this being a book about researchers, most of the action takes place in hushed libraries and secluded monasteries, where the outcome rests not on a car chase or gun fight, but on the acquisition of obscure facts in tattered documents. The central premise, of a mysterious book appearing one day out of the blue, appealed to me strongly. I couldn't resist such a mystery, and neither could the protagonists, which is what leads them into danger. I liked watching the puzzle pieces fall into place, and I liked following characters who were not so very different from myself.

Unfortunately, the end of the book, beginning with the unveiling of the principal actor, was rather disappointing. The villain ceased to be menacing once he was revealed, and his characterization did not surprise or intrigue me, as it was something I had seen before. (I seem to be the only one who feels this way about him, though.) The story was wrapped up with some convoluted deus ex machina, and left threads dangling awkwardly, though I think the intent was to be ominous.

For all that the ending disappointed me, I loved the book and recommend it warmly to those of a bookish bent who love history and mystery. It does mention sex and contain disturbing descriptions of ancient atrocities (this is about a guy called Vlad the Impaler, after all), but the book is appropriate for teenagers on up.
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LibraryThing member verbafacio
The HIstorian is a marvelously compelling story told through several points of view. The novel includes three generations of narrative describing a quest to discover and destroy Vlad Dracula, a 15th century war lord still alive today. While vampire fiction tends to be overblown and florid, Kostova
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strikes a perfect chord: creepy and rich without seeming absurd.
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LibraryThing member FicusFan
I found this book to be a slog. I really didn't care much about the characters, in fact I disliked the main narrator, and I didn't care what happened to them for most of the book. I didn't find the search or mystery to be compelling reading.

I thought the book was way too long, and didn't really
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need the teenage daughter as the narrator. The book had several levels, but only the past ones: the father's search, and his mentor's search were interesting. I didn't feel that the issue of the mystery book was ever really explained in enough depth to make it a valid catalyst for the action in the book, and I thought the ending was weak for an almost 700 page read.

My problem with the main narrator was that she was not really needed to tell the story. On top of that she was way too passive. She never challenged her father to complete or continue his story. It was all too pat, that every time the book got interesting, the story would break off. It was a cheap and obvious manipulation by the author to create cliffhangers. It backfired. I wasn't hooked, only made more and more angry by the waste of my time.

The other issue with the narrator was the set-up at the start of the book. The way she tip-toed around the whole concept of Vampires. Later in the book it could be explained, but not at the start. As a vampire Aficionado I know that back in the 70s, the subject exploded. There were books, magazine articles and TV programs about them, about Dracula, about Vlad Tepes (SP?), about the legends, and the historical truth. But though the book was set in the 70s, the narrator acted like Vampires were a dirty secret.

It seemed to me as I read that the author was trying to rewrite or update Dracula for the modern day. She did reference Dracula and Bram Stoker, so she wasn't pretending that his idea never existed. She was taking his story, indirectly, and moving on after the events in London. But it was boring.

The slow dragging pace of the story also seemed as though she was trying to emulate the 19th century style of writing. I did like her actual writing, it was smooth and she did a good job with the information, the description, the new locals and the minor characters. Her story telling was also not bad, once the daughter was pushed into the background. She just didn't construct an overall story arc that was worthy in terms of the journey and the ending to carry such a long book, and such an investment of the readers' times.

I am a complete-ist and almost always finish a book I start. I also own the book so I feel the need to read it because I want to recoup my investment. Finally the book was a choice for my real life fiction book group so I needed to keep reading so I could discuss it with the others.

I can't say that I would automatically read anything else by her. I wouldn't reject it outright, but would be very cautious and test read it before committing my time and money.
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LibraryThing member NovelBookworm
I was really looking forward to reading "The Historian". It seems to hit all the lists for the "hottest" new novel around. I finally got a copy at the local library, and sheesh, I'm glad I didn't spend any money for this fine doorstop. I've made it to page 256, and I simply give up. I need to
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clarify, that I read on average over 60 books a year and haven't not completed one since I tried to read Bill O'Reilly's novel "Those Who Trespass" three years ago, Mr. O needs to stick to non-fiction, but that's a whole other review! I had started skimming all the extremely tedious long descriptions of locales by about page 150, and kept waiting for the wonderful suspense filled pages to start up. I simply don't have the time to dedicate to this book anymore, I have an entire world of books out there waiting for me. I thought the editors of this book would have done better if they had removed about a third of the descriptions, and tightened up the entire story, because frankly after about three visits to exotic locations, I no longer cared about the "blue-black sky", the "reading room, surrounded by stained glass like a tall terrarium , in which the students, rare captive plants...", the "sunlight on the faces of the old houses looked eternal in the dry Mediterranean climate with its preternaturally clear light", or the bedroom with the "mixed spartan furnishings with an Ottoman carpet and bed hangings, a minor sketch by van Gogh, and twleve copper pans......etc, etc, etc," Just get to the point for heavens sake.....The actual plot of the story was compelling and I would have liked to have found how it ended, but I simply don't have the required patience and fortitude find out. Time's a'wastin' and my newest stack of books is beckoning.
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LibraryThing member SamuelW
Elizabeth Kostova is one clever woman. Her complex, 700-page achievement The Historian reads with the same archival feel that the original Dracula did when it was first released in 1897. The tale of everyone’s favourite legendary vampire is beautifully recreated in historic style. Stoker would
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either be very proud, or very cross about the serious competition. I can only speculate as to how many long hours Kostova spent piecing together the amazing breadth of research that has been incorporated into this novel.

Although 700 pages is hefty for a book of this plot type, it is not a chore to read. The writing flows well, and readers will find themselves sinking easily into Kostova’s soft style. In addition to being an interesting story, The Historian is a great way to see all the hidden splendour of Europe without even leaving your comfortable chair. It seems that in every chapter, our main characters settle down in a different picturesque European landscape, all of them described in vivid detail by Kostova.

While her style will suit some, however, it will not suit all. I may describe it as ‘leisurely’, but others will label it ‘slow’. Hastier readers will tap their feet impatiently while characters spend pages and pages analysing extensive historical documents that yield only small pieces of a very large puzzle. It took me nearly three months to read this book, which unfortunately did not have the forceful page-turning power to compete with schoolwork, drama rehearsals and exam revision. As a horror novel, it scores moderately – I’ve definitely read much scarier stories. Most of the scenes where we actually meet Dracula only seem scary because the rest of the book meanders along gently by comparison. The novel is helped greatly, however, by Kostova’s thorough research, which helps to blur the line between fantasy and reality.

On the whole, The Historian lives up to its name very well – it is historical in feel and historical in content, and draws readers in with its relaxing intrigue. Recommended for historians and bibliophiles of all backgrounds.
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LibraryThing member hansel714
Given my penchant for kitsch, vampires and historical novels, this book has done much wrong to incur my dislike for it: it is erudite and well-researched but the plot is flat and dull and so is the prose. Dracula is not yet dead and looks for a librarian to care for his library. I'm willing to
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suspend my disbelief but the story doesn't make sense at all. Dracula wants world dominion, not crusty old librarians. And if he does want librarians, why doesn't he just go to the British Library and pick one? Instead he waits 500 years for someone to find him. That's such a great loophole in the plot I'm surprised Kostova spent 10 years writing it, and even more surprised that people actually like this book.
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LibraryThing member meghayden
This book lacked character development and plot. There was some setting, some mood, but the distance caused by telling the entire story third person once removed made even the settings less interesting. A person reading a letter in which a second person recounts what happened to a third person is
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just too distant a telling of the story for me. I was bored and distracted throughout.
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LibraryThing member RebeccaAnn
The Historian plays off of the possibility that Bram Stoker's Dracula actually existed. As I've been reading more vampire fiction lately, I thought why not, I'll give it a try.

Ugh. There were parts that were absolutely delightful to read but most parts dragged on...and on...and on... The story is
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more or less a story within a story within a story. The daughter is the character we're with through the entire story (though I can't even remember if we learn her name). However, the majority of what you actually read is the story of her father meeting her mother on a search for Dracula, which she is reading through letters and therefore learning at the same time. But the intertextuality doesn't stop there. Sometimes, the father inside the story is telling a story which then the daughter relates to us, and sometimes he tells a story of his professor telling a story which the daughter tells to us. And since I listened to this on audiobook, it was even harder to follow.

On top of that, these people travel a lot. Therefore, you get lots of description of scenery. While the description is beautiful, it gets old after awhile. It also drags the book out too much, in my opinion, making it a bore when less description would have made it a much more interesting read.

And, perhaps as a tribute to Stoker himself, it takes all of two sentences to slay Dracula. What a letdown.

I'm glad I finished this book. It's good if you have a lot of time to kill because it takes so long to get through (it took me two months) but I will most definitely not be reading, or listening, to this again.
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LibraryThing member justabookreader
I’m currently re-reading this book, and even though I’m only a few pages in, I’m remembering just how much I liked this book.

It’s a slow book and feels more like a running conversation with a meandering story told in between. I don’t mean that the book is boring; it’s more a gradual
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build toward suspense than action. The story itself is about research and the depths that historians go to for original sources. If one is looking for the beginning of the vampire legend, one must look in dark places and both the father and the daughter do that here.

What I like most about this book is the almost hushed tones in which it’s told as though the whole secret cannot, and must not, be revealed instantly but unwrapped at an almost imperceptible pace that keeps the suspense building until the end.

Kostova is a wonderful storyteller and when the father sits down to tell his daughter his story, you feel as if you’re the daughter and his hushed voice is for your ears only. It adds creepiness to the book that doesn’t ever leave as though you must vigilantly look over your shoulder each time you leave the house.

While bits of the story might feel rambling, I’m not bothered by it. I patiently wait it out until I’m once again pulled in. The language can also be somewhat flowery and over descriptive at times and can make the story feel heavy but it also fits with the dark backdrop.

If you’re interested in a vampire story that’s not all about bloodsucking hoards but a more a dark mystery, this one could be it.
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LibraryThing member Panopticon2
I avoided this book for a long time - given its title - due to my suspicions that it was likely written in the vein of "The DaVinci Code" and that I would end up flinging it against the wall in disgust. But on the advice of a friend whose opinion I trust, I picked it up earlier this summer. In
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fact, it was a fun vacation read, with a nicely-plotted, suspenseful story. Does it accurately depict the ways in which actual historians work? Uh, hell no. (We all *wish* that archives gave up their secrets so effortlessly.) But it was an enjoyable read, which even real historians like this one can enjoy (albeit with disbelief firmly suspended).
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LibraryThing member JGolomb
I just finished "The Historian". Wow.

It feels like I just finished a race. A long one. Where I didn't take many breathers. And I was chased by vampires.

"The Historian", at it's blood red heart, is a crime mystery/thriller. A man discovers a strange book, left mysteriously for him at a library. The
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book contains only a woodcut stamp of a dragon and the word "Drakulya". After showing this book to his professor, the man learns that not only has Professor Rossi also received the book under similarly mysterious circumstances, but he's spent years researching what it may mean, and is convinced that vampires, and Dracula himself, walk the Earth.

The night that Professor Rossi discusses his research, he disappears. From then on, the story is an intense roller coaster ride, complete with long slow pulls up steep slopes that build anticipation until you reach a peak and speed down an insane drop.

All while being chased by vampires.

Kostova does a wonderful job pulling the reading into the story. Her primary device echos Bram Stoker's use of letters and diaries to tell his story. She does an even better job of teasing the reader by ending almost every chapter through the first half of the book with a mini-cliffhanger. I found myself waking up more tired than usual after having spent another night reading "just one more chapter".

There are a couple of, dare I say, beautiful romances within the story. Each are parallels of each other set in different time periods. And I have to be honest, I thought they were both charming and passionate.

I've never had much interest in Eastern Europe, but Kostova paints wonderful imagery of the locations and their histories. The scene-setting is, however, sometimes rather drawn out.

"The Historian" is quite long and has as many twists, turns and clues as there are books on vampires. I felt the payoff was wonderful and the ride to get there even better.

I highly recommend "The Historian".
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LibraryThing member ulfhjorr
This isn't a bad book, but it's not a good one either. The maddeningly recursive loops of first-person storytelling, up to four characters deep, makes one work to remember exactly what is happening to whom and when.
LibraryThing member JoClare
I wanted to love The Historian. If you have the slightest affinity for Europe or for medieval ruins or the romance of travel and history, it's easy to fall in love with the thought of a long engrossing story involving Dracula no less!

The premise, that a mysterious stranger secretly distributes
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antique books to university historians that are blank except for a single image of a dragon and the word "DRAKULYA" is enough to get me pretty far into the book before I start to wonder if there is any substance in the story.

Dracula has kidnapped a professor who had received one of those empty books, and one of his students sets off to search for the professor by locating the tomb in which Dracula was buried some 500 years ago. How amazing that he should meet the professor's long lost daughter who assists him in his quest, not to mention the fortuitious meeting with a sworn defender of the ancient enemy of Vlad Tepes. So it goes, until we finally learn the truth of Dracula's unusual plan for the professor. Those expecting a major confrontation with the famous vampire may be disappointed, for a novel about Vlad Tepes, there is surprisingly little of the ancient monster.
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LibraryThing member jasmyn9
The Historian is the story of a hunt for Dracula...the original...Drakulya...Vlad III Tepes. Several generations of scholars, mostly historians, are discovering strange and ancient books. These books spark their curiosity and the search is on....for the true resting place of Vlad Tepes. The
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majority of the story is told through stories and notes from Paul to his daughter Eva, with small parts actually told through Eva's eyes.

The story is captivating. Kostova has done her research and her description of events, places, and historical documents is fascinating. You can see her love of history and places in every page. The majority of the story moved quickly and I didn't want to put it down. There was a section near the end that started to drag a little for me as the search seemed to go on endlessly...but I'm sure that was the point, to show how long and tiring the characters worked in all their efforts.

The characters were beautifully written and I became attached, especially to the character of Helen, Eva's mother. She is a strong female personality that was more than a match for the men she encountered in her travels.

Overall this was a great book. I would have liked to see the action progess slightly faster, which lowered my rating slightly.

3.5/5
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LibraryThing member arouse77
as much a "sucker" for a good vampire story as the next girl, i had some hopes this would be an intelligent engaging read.

though the first part of the book lived up to my expectations, i quickly became impatient with the author's mechanisms for drawing out the story. no one really tells stories of
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high drama in bits and snatches the way she portrays happening in this novel. i understand why she attempted to play things out this way, but the overall feeling was so inauthentic it ended up being a detraction from the pace and flow of the story as a whole.

interesting in the sense of being a fairly vivid travelouge of eastern Europe, this story still lagged in ways i found frustrating and difficult to keep myself interested in. what's more i felt the scene where the ultimate confrontation with Dracula occurs to be both abrupt and anticlimactic as well as unsatisfying. the happy family reunion that follows lacks any sense of real warmth or credibility.

i felt many potentially interesting threads of this story were left unexplored while others were exhausted without providing any real gratification from a storytelling standpoint.

not a winner, in the sale-book-table lottery i'm afraid.
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LibraryThing member ChicGeekGirl21
As a fan of the "academic mystery" genre, I couldn't put The Historian down. With vampire librarians working for Vlad the Impaler, how can you go wrong?!

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

2005

ISBN

3827005906 / 9783827005908
Page: 0.2726 seconds