Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thirteen Years Later – review

Author: Jasper Kent

First Published: 2011

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Aleksandr made a silent promise to the Lord. God would deliver him – would deliver Russia – and he would make Russia into the country that the Almighty wanted it to be. He would be delivered from the destruction that wasteth at noonday, and from the pestilence that walketh in darkness – the terror by night…

1825, Europe—and Russia—have been at peace for ten years. Bonaparte is long dead and the threat of invasion is no more. For Colonel Alexsei Ivanovich Danilov, life is peaceful. Not only have the French been defeated but so have the twelve monstrous creatures he once fought alongside, and then against, ten or more years ago. His duty is still to serve and to protect his tsar, Aleksandr I, but now the enemy is human.

However the tsar knows that he can never be at peace. Of course, he is aware of the uprising fermenting within the Russian army—among his supposedly loyal officers. No, what troubles him is something that threatens to bring damnation down upon him, his family, and his country. The tsar has been reminded of a promise, a promise born of blood… a promise that was broken a hundred years before.

Now the one who was betrayed by the Romanovs has returned to exact revenge for what has been denied him. And for Alexsei, knowing this chills his very soul. For it seems the vile pestilence that once threatened all he believed in and all he held dear has returned, thirteen years later…

The review: If I felt that the first book of the Danilov Quintet, Twelve, was perhaps a little off in one aspect then all such doubts melted away with Thirteen Years Later. Perhaps it was because the tale moved away from a historical war and became much more a tale of intrigue. Perhaps it was because I felt the balance of the now twelve years older Danilov was more realistic when pitied against the voordalak.

The prose summons a feeling of Russia, or at least a Russia I imagine from films and prose that have emerged from that country – giving the whole book a feeling of authenticity. The characters are well rounded, all flawed in their own ways with a villain of the piece who is truly fascinating.

The actual main villain, the puppet master if you will, Zmyeevich, is again a shadowy entity manipulating events through his agents and again we have hints that he is Dracula, though nothing definitive.

We get some interesting additions to the lore. It transpires that if part of a vampire is removed – a finger for instance – the vampire will regrow the body part but the original bits will remain intact. If you should do something to the body part – let it meet sunlight for instance – the vampire will feel pain as though it were still attached. Should the vampire die then the body parts will decay at the same rate as the vampire (Instantaneously dusting if the vampire is old enough).

We also get some interesting theory about the lack of reflection. For some reason the human brain blanks out the vampire itself, thus things that are incongruous – such as clothes – are also blanked out. Why we do this is not known though it is theorised that the vampire's scent triggers the reaction and it is known that the reaction occurs equally with other vampires.

This is a great read and a fantastic addition to the genre. 8 out of 10.


RoseOfTransylvania said...

Sounds good indeed. 19th century Russia and vampire lore is just my area!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I'm sure you'll get a lot out of it Rose