what’s scarier than a vampire?
Posted March 14, 2011on:
Thirteen Years Later, by Jasper Kent
published: Feb 2011, PYR
Where I got it: received review copy from the friendly folks at PYR
why I read it: Loved the first book, Twelve, reviewed here.
Apologies in advance for a crappily written review that doesn’t do the book justice. I’ve had some version of the flu since saturday, and my brain isn’t functioning at all. and that’s before the cold meds. the super short version: Thirteen Years Later has a slower pace than Twelve, but has better twists and turns. We get multiple points of view, which is nice. If you thought the “bad guys” from the first book were nasty, just wait till you meet Doctor Cain.
Here’s the longer version:
Aleksei tries to forget the past, but it’s impossible. He still remembers conversations he had with his dead friends, and every time he looks at his son Dmitri he can’t help but think of the boy’s namesake. Aleksei splits his time between his family in Petersburg, his mistress and illegitimate daughter in Moscow, and wherever his job takes him. Reporting directly to Tsar Alexandre, Aleksei has spent the last few years infiltrating revolutionary groups, in hopes of squashing rebellions before they even start, saving lives, and saving Russia. Many of these rebels are soldiers the same age group as Aleksei, who had chased the French all the way back to Paris thirteen years ago. They came home, wanting for Russia the freedoms and republic they saw in Paris.
Things are going fairly swimmingly, until Aleksei receives a message from a man he knows to be dead. Partly out of fear, and partly out of curiosity, he goes to the meeting, to meet a man who claims to be Maksim’s younger brother Kyesha. Maksim did have a brother, a brother who died in childhood. Who is this man, and what does he want from Aleksei? He certainly isn’t Maksim’s brother, but Aleksei does know him from somewhere. If only he could remember where. . . . Over many short meetings, with questions and answers given over a children’s gambling game, Aleksei earns a book bound in the skin of a voordalak, and discovers the secrets behind Kyesha’s horrific past.
Meanwhile, Tsar Aleksandre travels to the Crimea, publicly for the health of the frail tsaritsa, but the true reason is because he has been summoned. By who, or what, he does not know. It is a voice, a power that has called to him over the years, someone who has control over his destiny. And he who controls the Tsar, controls Russia. Tsar Aleksandre requests that Aleksei travel with him. In the Crimea, Aleksei will learn the secret of the book, and is given the only reason a loyal Russian could ever have to attempt to destroy their own government.
Iuda as the villain is spot on. By taking advantage of Aleksei’s paranoid tendencies and trust issues, Iuda consistently plays him like a violin. It’s almost sad to watch, at times, Aleksie thinking he’s finally beaten Iuda, only to learn later the prize was elsewhere. The twists and turns were really just brilliant.
The first book is more small scale, kill the vampires before they kill you. Thirteen Years Later is on a much larger scale: get rid of the monsters before they take all of Russia hostage. Thirteen Years Later is a very different book than Twelve, and told in a different fashion. The pace is much slower, which may be an irritant for some readers, while others may interpret it as simply building the suspense. I found myself right in the middle – at times the pacing worked for me, at others it was just very, very slow. Thirteen Years Later is mostly set up for future novels in the story, and along with a perfectly planned twist at the end, Kent sure has given himself a lot to work with.
The only issue I had with Thirteen Years Later was the pacing. the book really flip flopped between spot on pacing, and just plain slow. Don’t let the slow bits stop you from picking up this book, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction. the twists make the slow bits more than worth the wait, and I for one am already impatient to see what happens next.
Read an excerpt from the next book in the series, The Third Section, here.