Monday, January 23, 2012

The Third Section - Jasper Kent


About the book

The third novel in Jasper Kent's enthralling, chilling and acclaimed historical vampire sequence -- The Danilov Quintet.
Russia 1855. After forty years of peace in Europe, war rages. In the Crimea, the city of Sevastopol is besieged. In the north, Saint Petersburg is blockaded. But in Moscow there is one who needs only to sit and wait -- wait for the death of an aging tsar, and for the curse upon his blood to be passed to a new generation.

As their country grows weaker, a brother and sister -- each unaware of the other's existence -- must come to terms with the legacy left them by their father. In Moscow, Tamara Valentinovna Lavrova uncovers a brutal murder and discovers that it is not the first in a sequence of similar crimes, merely the latest, carried out by a killer who has stalked the city since 1812.

And in Sevastopol, Dmitry Alekseevich Danilov faces not only the guns of the combined armies of Britain and France, but must also make a stand against creatures that his father had thought buried beneath the earth, thirty years before.

480 pages (paperback)
Published on: September 27th, 2011
Published by: Pyr
Author's webpage

This book was sent for me by the lovely people at Pyr.

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Jasper Kent’s Twelve was one of the most surprising books I have read recently. It was one of those books that I didn’t expect to like but ended up loving despite myself. Twelve had everything I wanted in a book – a tight plot, compelling characters and a unique take on a fascinating period of history. Thirteen Years Later was just as good, which proved that Jasper Kent is not a one-hit-wonder author. This leads me to The Third Section, a book I had incredibly high hopes for and because of this, I was extremely excited to read this installment of the Danilov Quintet.

The Third Section is one of those rare books that I enjoyed almost as much as I felt disappointed with it. One of the most compelling aspects of the previous two books in the series was the perspective of the main protagonist, Aleksei. Even in the second book, when the perspective switches from first to third, Aleksei is still in the driver’s seat. The previous two books give the reader plenty of time to become attached to him. He almost becomes as much of a reason to read the books as the plot is. However, in The Third Section Aleksei is pushed to a very minor, almost nonexistent wallflower type role. Instead, his two children Dmitry and Tamara are the main protagonists, and neither ever seems quite as interesting or compelling as their father, Aleksei. In fact, Dmitry comes off as boring and his sections took me an amazingly long time to get absorbed in. This really is a huge drawback for the book. While the plot is still interesting, and many of the things that Kent struggled with in previous books has been ironed out, and his writing is fluid, descriptive and absorbing, The Third Section lacks the compelling voice of Aleksei, and the whole work pays dearly for it.

The plot of The Third Section is noticeably slower in pace than the previous two books. This, combined with the third person perspective from two new main protagonists, could easily put a wedge between the reader and the events that take place in this book. While much of what happens is still interesting, and has potential for really wowing certain readers, others will feel a bit put off. There isn’t much emotional intimacy between the reader and characters or events in The Third Section, and the pacing is slow enough to cause whatever intimacy there may be to fade in place of the desire to get things moving a bit faster.

Perhaps part of the reason this is felt so keenly is because the reader knows a bit too much to be shocked by many of the events. Due to previous books, the reader already knows who Tamara’s parents are and who Yudin really is. A huge “surprise” that could have been felt with those two revelations is lost almost automatically. Due to the use of Yudin’s perspective, many of his plans aren’t shocking because the reader ventures with him while he schemes. There are plenty more examples of where knowing too much effects the plot, but to avoid spoilers I’ll keep them to myself. Journeying along with the characters like this, while interesting, exposes a bit too much. The plot already moves a bit slower than advisable; the lack of surprises is keenly felt. While it can be argued that the journey, not the destination is what the reader should enjoy, a little more surprise could have really gone a long way toward a compelling plot or adding some much needed tension and suspense to the pages.

Yudin, however, is more interesting and realistic than he has been in previous books. The sections told from his perspective really build him up to be a very compelling villain and a character that readers can almost sympathize with, despite his negative qualities. In fact, Yudin was perhaps one of my favorite characters in The Third Section and I felt a closeness to him that had been lacking in previous books. His voice is memorable, and his perspective really makes him realistic, whereas in previous books he was a bit too mysterious to fully understand. Yudin becomes a nice counterpoint to some of the more droll characters. 

Despite its problems, The Third Section was a really enjoyable read. Perhaps the reason the issues I listed were felt so keenly was because Kent’s books are so high quality and absorbing that the smallest details are more noticeable. The period of history this book takes place in is nothing short of fascinating. While the characters lack and the pacing is a bit slow, The Third Section is a strong installment in a series that has continually blown me away. Yes, it does have issues, but I still loved it. Kent continues to impress me. I’m anxiously waiting to see what comes next in the Danilov Quintet.

4/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. I find the third section to be gripping interesting espeically the begging, I loved how you mixed history with fiction its such a great mix

    matthew lemmtjies

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