Review: Thirteen Years Later
A while back I was given my first exposure to Jasper Kent‘s TWELVE. In short, TWELVE completely blew my mind. A mixture of Horror and Russian historical fiction, Kent’s first novel, in my opinion, was nothing short of brilliant. I’m still extremely upset that it didn’t end up on the Hugo ballot. If you haven’t read TWELVE, stop reading this review of the sequel. There are some unavoidable spoilers for book one in this review. Do yourself a favor and go buy the first book. You will love Jasper Kent for all eternity. I sure do. My wife may or may not be jealous.
Seriously, this is your last warning.
When I took a vacation to England earlier this year it won’t come as a shock to most of you that one of the first things I did was find a bookstore. I don’t think I passed a bookstore without going inside to browse over the course of the entire trip. One of the many books on my shopping list was Kent’s THIRTEEN YEARS LATER. The novel takes place–wait for it–thirteen years after the first novel in the midst of the Russian Revolution. Aleksei Danilov is older, but he is still a spy. He has put himself in position to out the entire network of people who wish to overthrow the current tsar, Aleksandr the First.
And then Aleksei comes across a message from his long dead friend Maks. His friend who died at the hands of the vampires in the prior novel. The suspense and mystery that made the prior novel so good are both injected into the novel right away. The vampires from the prior novel were of the non-sparkling variety, and were freaking terrifying. So the instant they were reintroduced in THIRTEEN YEARS LATER, my heart started beating just a bit faster.
What makes this novel great isn’t just the promise of Horror elements being mixed with Historical Fiction. The skill with which Kent writes his characters and handles the historical information is the key to the success of this novel. Aleksei is brilliant. To see how much he has changed from that character we were all introduced to in TWELVE is exactly what we like to see in a series. It is an odd sort of progression. He is more hardened from his experiences with the vampires (much more cold-blooded in some ways), yet at the same time he is much more soft-hearted due to his children. Speaking of, his son, Dmitry, is a welcome character. The inexperience of his youth is so well portrayed.
What I appreciate the most about THIRTEEN YEARS LATER is Kent’s ability to make me enjoy the history of the setting. He doesn’t the reader over the head with unimportant details. Even better than that? This made me want to pick up some history books and brush up on some Russian history. Not only that, but Kent’s ability to lend some much needed freshness to the vampires themselves is so refreshing.
In my mind, TWELVE scores an easy 9.8 on my “Books Completely Filled with Awesome” scale. THIRTEEN YEARS LATER didn’t quite capture the lofty score of its predecessor. In only scores a 9.7. I know. How can Jasper Kent live with himself?
THE THIRD SECTION is the next novel in the series. I honestly can’t think of any novel I’m more excited for.
Recommended Age: 17 and up.
Language: Some fairly strong language at times
Violence: Some of the creepy stuff Kent pulls off is simply astounding.
Sex: Talked about, but never graphically.
Buy this whole freaking series! It is completely awesome!