In 1825, Thirteen years after the events of “TWELVE”, Aleksei Ivannovich Danilov has continued to serve his Tsar as one of his top spies. Since his dealings with the Oprichniki he has kept an eye out for more voordalak (vampires) but in thirteen years hasn’t seen a one. He splits his time between his wife and son, Marfa and Dmitry, in Petersburg and his “second family” Dominique and illegitimate child Tamara. While under cover for Tsar Aleksandr I, Aleksei is part of an uprising against the government so that he can possibly stop it from the inside. At the same time, mysterious letters and past threats against the Romanov line of Tsars have begun to surface which, even though not directly mentioned, fans of the first book will quickly pick up on who the ring wearing threat is. Just like it’s predecessor, Thirteen Years Later puts it’s characters in the middle of history during the Decemberists’ Uprising.
While I found the book to be just as enjoyable as the first, there were some notable differences. Twelve was slower paced at times while, with the benefit of being a sequel, Thirteen Years Later jumps right into the story and action. Author Jasper Kent has a way of giving you details at the beginning of his books that pay off at the very end, in most casing with you saying “Oh Yeah! I forgot about that!” to yourself. The second book of the “Danilov Quintet” does well to move the story forward and leaves you with some questions as to where the story can go from here but enough answers to be satisfied with what you’ve read. The book introduces new characters well, like Alekseis’ daughter Tamara as well as developing characters like Dmitry who was only ever mentioned in TWELVE as he was a child at the time. We see the effects of Alekseis’ split life between two different homes and how it’s affected both him, his wife and his mistress.
The main fault in the book is that it lacks the grand threat of the first book. While the Tsar is certainly in danger and vampires remain a threat, the French aren’t knocking on Moscows doors with torches to burn the city to the ground. With such a grand and bold opening, Thirteen Years Later almost seems like a stepping stone in the story at times, a way of getting from Point A to Point C, with B being just a small detour to get you to the next exciting part. Even the ending somewhat seems to mirror the ending of the previous book, how exactly I’ll leave for you to read yourself. For fans of the previous book that absolutely fell in love with the characters, Thirteen Years Later is a must read as you continue on the journey of the “Danilov Quintet”, but if you were only somewhat of a fan of TWELVE then you may not want to spoil your good views of the first book by picking up this one.
The third book in the series, “The Third Section” takes place in 1855 and has already been released in the UK with a US release date of October 25th, 2011. The fourth and fifth (and final) books have been commissioned with tentative released dates in 2013 and 2014. The Third Section will follow the life of Aleksei’s daughter Tamara as she encounters the voordalak for herself. The new protagonist and options to change things have are what interest me most and I hope the books continue to entertain. Looks like I’ll find out for myself on October 25th!
PETER likes vampires as long as they don’t sparkle. Enough said.