Thirteen Years Later

Since I felt that Jasper Kent's Twelve (Canada, USA, Europe, AbeBooks) was the 2009 speculative debut of the year, I was quite excited to read the sequel, Thirteen Years Later. Regardless of their undeniable popularity, it's relatively easy to become jaded about the whole vampire fad. But the way Kent mixes up historical fiction and these bloodsuckers, well the results are something that keeps me coming back for more!

Here's the blurb:

In the summer of 1812, before the Oprichniki came to the help of Mother Russia in her fight against Napoleon, one of their number overheard a conversation between his master, Zmyeevich, and another. He learned of a feud, an unholy grievance between Zmyeevich and the rulers of Russia, the Romanovs, that began a century earlier at the time of Peter the Great. Indeed, while the Oprichniki's primary reason for journeying to Russia is to stop the French, one of them takes a different path. For he has a different agenda, he is to be the nightmare instrument of revenge on the Romanovs. But thanks to the valiant efforts of Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, this maverick monster would not be able to begin to complete his task until thirteen years later. Now that time has come: it is 1825 and Russia once more stands on the brink of anarchy, and this time the threat comes from within...

It's been thirteen years since the French invasion, and Jasper Kent takes us back to a Russia at peace. But it is a peace that doesn't satisfy everyone in the country. Once again, the author's flair and his eye for historical details create an evocative narrative which takes us through the events that led to the Decembrist uprising in St. Petersburg. As was the case with Twelve, Kent's depiction of 19th Century Russia feels genuine and his prose creates an imagery that makes you feel as though you were there.

Unlike Twelve, however, Thirteen Years Later is not limited solely by Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov's first person narrative. Although it worked well in the first volume, I doubt it would have been as successful in this sequel. Hence, in addition to Danilov's narrative, we see events unfold through the eyes of a number of other players, great and small, and I felt that their POVs added another dimension to this quality tale. Danilov remains a fascinating character, complex and flawed though he may be, and it was great to see how he had grown in the last decade or so, and how he remained true to himself. New point of view characters include Tsar Aleksandr, Danilov's son Dmitry, Domnikiia, and the child Tamara. All in all, Kent maintained a good balance between the various POVs, which made for an enjoyable reading experience.

The novel's only problem was the sluggish pace that plagues the first portion of the story. The entire storyline surrounding Aleksei Danilov's first few meetings with the mysterious Kyesha moves at a snail's pace which prevents the reader to fully get into the novel. Once Kyesha's identity and his reason for seeking out Aleksei are finally revealed, then the plotlines kick into high gear and the rhythm is no longer an issue. God knows there are enough revelations and "fuck me" moments through the later portion of Thirteen Years Later to satisfy anyone. But I get the feeling that some people might find the beginning offputting and give up on the novel. No matter how slow the opening chapters are, keep going and you'll be rewarded with another engrossing read.

It's now obvious that Twelve offered us but a glimpse of the multilayered tale that the Danilov Quintet will turn out to be. In Thirteen Years Later, Jasper Kent lives up to the promise generated by his debut and demonstrates that he is for real.

If you have yet to give Jasper Kent a chance, I suggest you do so ASAP. Especially now that his novels will be published by Pyr in the USA. You can learn more and read extracts of Kent's novels on his official website.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, AbeBooks

And here's the book trailer for Thirteen Years Later:

3 commentaires:

BStearns said...

I have never even heard of this author, or this book. However, it does sound very exciting! I will definitely check him out! Thanks Pat!

RaveAir said...

I competely agree with you, because Jasper Kent's Twelve was a very great book. I'm not a big vampire fan, but this book was very enjoyable.

Based on the writter's style 'Thirteen years later' could be a great fun also.

Charlie said...

please excuse the obvious ignorance, but when this article came up in my RSS feed I thought GRRM had retitled A Dance with Dragons....

....or was writing a biographical piece on it, instead of writing it.
Are bookmakers taking bets on him never finishing this book?

PS the book that the article is about sounds like a very interesting read - sorry about the hijack.