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3.9 out of 5
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    Loved It!

    I really enjoyed this book. I loved that it was written from the point of view of an historian. I couldn't put it down.
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    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.
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    Appropriate.

    It was tedious at times but still interesting. I hated the ending. Also a bit hard to follow at times.
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    Wonderfully rich in history

    The Historian is a standalone historical fiction novel written by Elizabeth Kostova. Yes, it has vampires in it and no, it's not classified as paranormal. Why? Because of Ms. Kostova's attention to historical accuracy, specifically regarding the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler rather than the mythical (and paranormal) Dracula the Vampire. In an online interview, Ms. Kostova stated, “I took a real historical mystery, the question of where Vlad the Impaler is buried–or what became of his remains–and spun out a fictional speculation from there. The other historical events in the book are real ones, carefully researched, although the twentieth-century characters are fictional.” Personally, I loved how layered this book is. Multiple stories build upon each other in many exotic locations bridging across several centuries. It's a very rich reading experience full of culture, history, adventure, and mystery. This was a beast to read in terms of length, but I was never bored and I remained eager to pick up wherever I left off. If you enjoy historical thrillers, specifically those written in a similar style to Dan Brown, you'll love The Historian. Check it out! My favorite quote: “For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me this: history’s terrible moments were real. I understand now, decades later, that he could never have told me. Only history itself can convince you of such a truth. And once you’ve seen that truth—really seen it—you can’t look away.” A bit of trivia: It took Elizabeth Kostova ten years to write The Historian. This was the first debut novel to ever debut at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Ms. Kostova was initially inspired by her own childhood memories of her father, who was a professor, telling her stories about Dracula.
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    Great details, kind of long

    I enjoyed the descriptions of place and historic details a lot. At points, though, this dragged and seemed to stall the narrative. Overall, a good read.
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