The Third Section by Jasper Kent
Posted October 20, 2011on:
The Third Section, by Jasper Kent
Published in Oct 2011
where I got it: received a review copy from the friendly folks at Pyr
Taking place 30 years after the events of Thirteen Years Later, The Third Section (the third book in Jasper Kent’s Danilov Quintet) follows the children of Aleksei Danilov. His son Dmitri is in Sevastapol, fighting off the French and the English. When Dmitri discovers two dead soldiers, whose wounds match those witnessed thirty years earlier, he knows the creatures he helped his father hunt have returned.
Meanwhile, Aleksei’s illegitimate daughter, Tamara, has secured a post with the Tsar’s secret police, The Third Section. With a cover as a madam running a brothel, her official mission is informing on loose lipped politicians. Her supervisor attempts to unnerve her by showing her his torture chambers, but she barely reacts. Tamara has nothing left to lose, what could he possibly show her that would frighten her? When one of the working girls is found dead, covered in blood and missing her throat, Tamara begins an investigation that can’t end well.
And then we have Yudin, one of the most thrilling villains I have ever met. In Twelve, Yudin, or Iuda, as he was known then, identified Aleksei as a worthy opponent. Now that the game has started, Yudin won’t back away until there is a winner. And when one is immortal, the game never has to end. He is vicious, scientifically curious, and sadistic, and the pleasure of finally getting his point of view was a pleasurable horror unto itself. I have no sympathy for Yudin, but his talent for deception and the long game makes him beyond fascinating to watch.
As Tamara digs deeper into the archives looking for similar murders, and Dmitri returns to Moscow after being injured on the front lines, the tension grows relentlessly to a perfect storm of psychological horror and suspense. Yudin has his own spies everywhere, and is simply biding his time to put his plan into action. With the death of the Tsar comes a new power, one Yudin hopes to control. In this battle for the future of Russia do Dmitri or Tamara truly understand what they are up against? Yudin will never tire, he will never stop, he will never admit defeat.
With more twists and turns than a switchback mountain road, more cliff hangers than your favorite season of 24, and deceptions and double blinds at every turn, The Third Section is the best yet book in this series. I devoured this book in less than three days, and read many sections twice out of pure enjoyment. Brimming with betrayals and violence, seductions and patience, this is the series you’ve been waiting for if you prefer your vampire fiction to be more Bram Stoker than sparkly. It doesn’t hurt that Kent’s writing style makes the fast paced story such a satisfying read. Kent strikes me as a guy who doesn’t do anything half way.
There’s a seductive fatalistic romanticism to this series that has become addictive for me. Perhaps it’s all the Russian names, those strange yet familiar feeling dipthongs that pop like Champagne bubbles on my tongue. Or perhaps it’s the lives that Dmitri and Tamara have lived. Dmitri, for whom the music never stops, could be the next Chopin, if not for the demanding military career that protects his family’s reputation, and Tamara, who married for love, only to be blackmailed and coerced into being passed in and out of the beds of a series of politicians and nobles. These are characters I can’t bear to leave behind, in a place I don’t want to leave. It’s the traumas they’ve already experienced that allow them to keep their sanity when faced with horrors from a grandmother’s stories.
Want to jump in now, skip the first two books in the series and read The Third Section as a stand alone? If you’ve read this review, you already know this is a series about vampire hunting, so I’ve already spoiled the infamous reveal. But trust me, that’s not the biggest reveal, not by a long shot.