Have you been Googling as you go on the locations that have come up, or the many books that are referenced? I'm sure you may have wondered how much is real history and how much is the author's imagination to help shape the story...
In discussion with Tedious & Brief, he reflected that it would be wonderful to have The Historian reprinted with pictures along the way of the art and buildings, along with maps, of artifacts and places that are mentioned throughout the book, almost similar to what was done for The Da Vinci Code many years back.
At this point in the story, Paul, the father of our young narrator, has met young Helen Rossi, the daughter of Professor Rossi. They begin to work together to understand more of Rossi's disappearance. It's also in this section that we get an actual acknowledgement of Dracula, much more than just the feeling of a presence, of that tension and dread experienced while studying in the late hours when the spying librarian admits to Helen and Paul that he "should have been the one to go" instead of Rossi.
It's also the first time that an attack occurs to a primary character, as Helen receives two punctures on her neck from him before he runs into the street to escape and is killed when he runs in front of a car.
Paul and Helen are searching for many things, including information on a bibliography of the Order of the Dragon. Take a look at the below -- two emblems of the Order of the Dragon, the secret society formed to battle back against the Ottoman Empire.
Last week's questions brought about some wonderful insight from the group! Amanda from A Library of My Own and Nisè from Under the Boardwalk noticed that swans were something that were mentioned and feared in this novel -- great catch, since as you mentioned, Kostova's next book was The Swan Thieves! Along that same vein, several artistic references are mentioned throughout this next section -- did you notice that Rembrandt is mentioned multiple times? Not only as the name of Paul's cat that is brutally murdered, but also even in Barley identifying a Rembrandt-esque inspiration on the street where the narrator's house is.
It's clear at this point in the story that we're diving deeper into the mystery, although we don't yet know, as the characters don't, what the true nature of it is, other than what can be seen on the surface. What we know still is that Professor Rossi has disappeared, and in order to find him, they must find Dracula as well, and uncover if it is true that he still lives amongst us today.
Paul and Helen travel to Istanbul to start their research and quest. Sultan Mehmed II plays a critical piece in this section as well -- a quick historical check identified that Mehmed did partner with Vlad Tepes' brother, Radu, shortly after the year 1463 to fight Vlad and avenge the losses of the Ottoman soldiers, and Vlad had to escape to save his life.
Have you wondered what the places look like?
|Lake Snagov, the reputed location of Vlad Tepes' resting place.|
|Interior of monastery|
|Reputed resting place of Vlad Tepes|
Radcliffe Camera in Oxford is also identified as the place where the narrator and Barley go for additional research.
And the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul...
And the interior of the Hagia Sophia.
Incredible, isn't it?
And now for the questions! Remember, you don't have to answer all the questions, and if you've read ahead, be mindful to not include any spoilers in your thoughts. You can also copy and paste the question into your comment, and don't forget to click the box to be notified of any new comments!
- On p. 105 of the hardcover edition, it is written on the map, "In this spot, he is housed in evil. Reader, unbury him with a word." It is also read aloud by Turgut, professor of Shakespeare in Instanbul. What do you feel is needed to unbury him? Do you feel Turgut is trustworthy?
- When the narrator's train pulls into the station, she shrinks back to Barley when she sees a woman on the platform who strikes her as looking different, both in her manner and in her dress, than everyone else around her. Who do you think this woman is?
- Historical references are discussed throughout the entire novel that help set the stage and paint the literary atmosphere of the story. Although Helen and Paul are extremely passionate about history, they each have had a very different upbringing. How do each of their backgrounds shape them to be who they are?
- How, and why, does religion seem to play such a consistent part in the legend of vampires and of Dracula?
Yours in profoundest grief,