While you read the following review my wife and I are on our way back home from our one week stay at the Baltic sea.
Follow me to space and time to Russia, 1825. Dive with me into the the second book in the in the Danilov Quintet series: Thirteen Years Later (pb, February 2011) [ISBN-13: 978-0553819595] by Jasper Kent.
After the events in summer 1812 - all described in Twelve (pb, 2010) [ISBN-13: 978-1616142414] - we return to Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov in Thirteen Years Later.
The voordalaki (we would call them vampires) are history ...
The world has changed. There have been more or less peaceful years after the war. But under the surface anarchy is seething. Tsar Alensandr has to face several threats at once. Beside A revolt growing within his army, a promise once sealed in blood and then broken appears to be the far more danger for Aleksandr, his family and Russia. Fortunately there are few men whom Aleksandr can trust. One of them is the former captain and now general Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov. The general lives a comfortable life. A life which isn't ethical for many people. In St. Peterburg he shares his life with his wife Marfa and their son Dmitriiy. That is not enough. In Moscow he shares his life with Domnikiia, a woman who is more than a concubine to him and their young daughter Tamara. Aleksei's life comes out of balance when Dmitriiy discovers the secret life of his father. But that is not the only thread Aleksei has to face. Shadows from the past come alive. In the name of the tsar he investigates the revolutionaries secretly which is dangerous. But like the tsar and in the name of the tsar and in his own name he has to face a far more danger from the past. Aleksei's and Aleksandr's fate are inseparably linked. Both men try to save their beloved ones and their beloved Russia ....
I wrote on Goodreads:
"What a great, great read! This is definitely a more than worth sequel of Twelve. The mix of historical facts of Russian history, supernatural horror and personal fate is simply brilliant. I have been emotionally touched by Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov's fate. I needed to know how it would end."
My opinion differs from other reviewers.
Of course Thirteen Years Later is different to Twelve. First of all there is a time difference of thirteen years. The protagonists aged. To be honest look at yourself and think about what you did thirteen years ago. I'm sure you focus now on other things. In 1825 there is no war. I don't to tell you about the difference between war and peace.
For me it is quite understandable that Aleksei spends more time with his both families - the official one and the secret one. I think it is important that Jasper Kent did not skip these passages from the book because they have a direct impact on the story. Aleksei tries to protect the ones he loves against all threats. These family passages have an impact of the pace of the story. For me they are like the slow way up on top of a roller coaster.
I think there is something which a lot of readers do not keep in mind. The series is called the Danilov Quintet. That means we follow the history of the Danilov family over two or three generations. And this family history is the main story arc which is intrinsically tied to the Russian history and the voordalaki. The history is painstakingly researched up to details.
Jasper Kent offers the reader and Aleksei a much more scientific perception of the voordalaki. Together with the information from Twelve we get a better picture of the voordalaki and their past. But that is still not enough. The introduction of new protagonists is done with ease. Jasper Kent peppers the story with mystery, intrigue and twists and turns. The whole story is written in a intimidating style in a prose which melts on your tongue.
I have been emotionally touched by Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov's fate. You will understand as soon as you have finished the book. One thing is for sure. In the next book we will follow another member of the Danilov family.
For me Thirteen Years Later is a more than well executed sequel to Twelve and it is one of the best books I read so far in 2011.
If you like history combined with family fate and a different view on vampires then you need to read Twelve and Thirteen Years Later.
Anway I must say there is not much to improve. I have high expectations.
And now go buy and read Twelve and Thirteen Years Later.