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Extended Audio Sample The Historian Audiobook, by Elizabeth Kostova Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (120,375 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Kostova Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris, Rosalyn Landor, Martin Jarvis, Joanne Whalley, Jim Ward, Robin Atkin Downes Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2005 ISBN: 9781594832406
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“To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history.”

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of—a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history. The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known, and to a centuries-long quest to find and wipe out the source of that darkness.

It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself—to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive. What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed, and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends?

The answers to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler’s dark reign—and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vlad’s ancient powers, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.

Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions, a relentless tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present, with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful—and utterly unforgettable.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Kostova’s vampire is no campy Lugosi knockoff…Blending history and myth, Kostova has fashioned a version so fresh that when a stake is finally driven through a heart, it inspires the tragic shock of something happening for the very first time.”  

    Newsweek

  • “Quite extraordinary…Kostova is a natural storyteller…She has refashioned the vampire myth into a compelling contemporary novel, a late-night page-turner.” 

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Part thriller, part history, part romance…Kostova has a keen sense of storytelling and she has a marvelous tale to tell.” 

    Baltimore Sun

  • “Readers who think the legend of Dracula has become a trite staple of schlock fiction will find this atmospheric page-turner by first-time author Kostova a bloodthirsty delight.” 

    Booklist

  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grace | 2/4/2014

    " This book probably deserves the fifth star, but I think I'm going to keep it 4-star. This is brilliantly written with so many interesting characters and amazing settings. I would call it a slow read, but worth the long haul. It was not entirely what I was expecting - the whole book is basically the unfolding of past events. The story is about slowly discovering piece after piece of a puzzle; it is slow going and then something exciting happens and then you are back to slow again. I think the need to know what is going to happen and to know the 'true' history of Dracula is what drives the book. I liked the different places that the book takes you - university libraries, small Romanian villages, monasteries throughout Europe and more. The direct interaction with Dracula and vampires is quite limited, but I guess the book is about the mystery of it all instead of throwing you directly into the supernatural. It skips around a bit with time and chronology, but Kostova did it beautifully and I did not feel confused at any point. If you are looking for a quick read, this is not for you, but if you are willing to take the time, I believe this book is worth it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 2/2/2014

    " a bit too rambling for me. took me forever to read and to be honest it probably wasn't worth the time. bit of a let down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim Yoder | 2/1/2014

    " Not a very dynamic narrative. Too many voices telling the story - easy to forget who is telling which story. Tiny bit cheesey. LOTS of history, though "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Holly | 1/25/2014

    " I really liked this, and I'm shocked at so many negative reviews. Part of the problem, I think, is that readers were expecting Dan Brown instead they got Umberto Eco. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy Sullivan | 1/15/2014

    " Overwritten. Hackneyed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen | 1/12/2014

    " I'd give it a 3.5-great escape reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jonathan Squibb | 1/10/2014

    " End was a little disappointing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betsy Phillips | 1/6/2014

    " Wow. I thought this was extraordinary. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kendra Ferreira | 12/22/2013

    " Loved this book, its an eerie tale combining history and folklore of dracula "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth Harmon | 12/21/2013

    " Amazing and epic, this book takes the tale of Vlad the Impaler into a real-life search by a nameless narrator, trying to find her father. It's a big meaty read, perfect for when you really want to escape into a fascinating story. Loved it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Narci | 12/15/2013

    " Fabulous, deeply frightening, intriguing. I recommend this one to all my students and to my intelligent friends who like dark epistolary reads. It's one of the go-tos. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 12/9/2013

    " I loved this book. An interesting take on the whole Dracula myth and it made me want to visit loads of different place in Europe "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betsy Moran | 12/9/2013

    " This was a fantastic book with a unexpected ending! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kerry | 11/20/2013

    " Loved this book! Love the mix of history and fiction. A very exciting adventure and quick read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacqui Knighton | 8/23/2013

    " Jam packed with historical detail. I love the Dracula story and this book lead me through it page by page. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Barbara Walters | 9/29/2012

    " too complicated dracula story "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michelle | 9/28/2012

    " I really, really hated this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristen | 9/19/2012

    " I thought it was interesting and it made me want to read Dracula one day. I think it would have been harder to get through if I didn't listen to the audio book though- there were a lot of long history sections that were hard to get through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 3/10/2012

    " Very interesting, gets you into the history of the time, keeps you guessing all the way, and you will learn something. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill Bennett | 1/23/2012

    " Excellent mystery, with innumerable twists and turns. Has an edge of your seat ending that is quite exhilarating. Don't let the vampire theme put you off, this isn't "Twilight". "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shelly Sheehan | 9/13/2011

    " I had a hard time finishing this book. It read more like a dry, reference book rather than a fiction book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Miguel Trujano | 7/20/2011

    " PFFF ! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nichole Hunziker | 6/2/2011

    " I waited and waited for the climax of this book. It was only after I turned the last page that I learned it had occurred before I ever opened the front cover. I would have rather spent 3 hours licking corrugated cardboard for quality entertainment! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 5/23/2011

    " One of the best takes on the Dracula legend out there. Fiction mixed with history, makes you wonder who or what Vlad really was. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cdenning5 | 5/22/2011

    " Not my cup of tea. I'm not interested in vampires. Only finished about 3/4. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tracy | 5/21/2011

    " So many stories going on, hard to keep them separated. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick | 5/20/2011

    " Elizabeth Kostova may be one of the best new writers of this decade-great storyteller along with very good craft. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 5/19/2011

    " It was really slow in the beginning and hard to get past about the first 250 pages but well worth it in the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Evie | 5/18/2011

    " It took me three tries to get into this book, but I am really glad I did. Such a clever, clever tale that takes you all over the world and comes to an unpredictable ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Audrey | 5/17/2011

    " This book has inspired my trip to Istanbul next spring "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caryn | 5/17/2011

    " Enjoyable book that gave me goosebumps at times. More than a vampire book - it has a rich historical context and made me want to visit Romania, Istanbul, and other places. How I would love for a mysterious book to set me on an adventure like this! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gemma | 5/17/2011

    " This is one of the best books I have ever read - up there in my top 5, the descriptions were amazing, I could visualise all the settings, places and people in my mind and the story carried me along beautifully. I was really sorry when it ended! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 5/17/2011

    " Loved it! So engaging, you don't want to put it down, but long enough you know you have to. "

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About the Author
Author Elizabeth Kostova

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

About the Narrators

Dennis Boutsikaris has won two Obie Awards, one for his performance in Sight Unseen, and played Mozart in Amadeus on Broadway. Among his films are W., Batteries Not Included, The Dream Team, and Boys on the Side. He is a recipient of both Audie and Earphones Awards and has read over 140 audiobooks.

Rosalyn Landor has won twelve AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the Audie Award. She has worked as an actor since the age of seven, both in Europe and the United States. Her extensive list of credits includes leading roles in film, theater, and audio productions, as well as in various miniseries on all the major television networks and in such productions as Masterpiece Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes and Rumpole of the Bailey.

Martin Jarvis, OBE, has recorded more than 150 Just William stories for the BBC. These have become international audio bestsellers. He won the Theatre World Award for his starring role on Broadway in By Jeeves; his West End appearances include works by Ayckbourn, Frayn, Pinter, and Wilde. Screen successes include everything from Stargate Atlantis, Doctor Who, and Numb3rs to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Oscar-winning Titanic.