The Third Section by Jasper Kent

Rating 8.0/10
Jasper Kent is a very adept writer, his characterisation and plotting are excellent.

The following is a review of Jasper Kent's The Third Section, the third book of 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 man and a woman - unaware of the hidden ties that bind them - must come to terms with their shared legacy. In Moscow, Tamara Valentinovna Komarova uncovers a brutal murder and discovers that it 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…

Before I begin my review I just want to make one thing clear – I do like the Danilov Quintet and I do like Jasper Kent’s work very much. But the problem I have is this – whenever I come to write about the series I always seem to focus on a negative rather than a positive, of which there are far more than one. So while I while still mention anything that didn’t work for me personally I have made a special point of also mentioning the things that are consistently good and have always worked for me.

Jasper Kent is a very adept writer, his characterisation and plotting are excellent, and his ability of bringing to life the book’s wonderful locations even more so. The melding of historical fiction with folklore and fantasy is achieved seamlessly and those people whom I’ve known to have also read his books already have really, really liked them (my mother especially).

So what’s my problem? Am I just one of those people who look for faults first and foremost? I don’t think so, at least I hope not. So I have attempted to come to an understanding as to what exactly it is that has prevented my complete enjoyment of the Danilov Quintet.

And I believe the answer in my case lies with the voordalak (vampires) – they are both the best and the worst thing about the series. The problem that I have with them is that they're inconsistent, at times super-human, then suddenly ... very human. The super-human part: The voordalak are capable of an immortal life (provided they stay clear of direct sunlight and a stake through the heart) and can survive the most horrific of injuries (loss of limb, being shot through the head, stabbed repeatedly, drowned, buried alive and so on) and they do not need to breath fresh air like humans, plus they are capable of moving far faster and posses far greater strength. They are remorseless, emotionless killers.

And yet, when encountering a human who wishes to do them harm, let’s say Dmitry Alekseevich Danilov for example, they suddenly become rather less super-human and display weaknesses they previously did not appear to possess. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem I have had with the Danilov Quintet - the vampires are dispatched by humans in ways that, to me, could/should not happen.

It's not that I feel that humans cannot kill vampires - the latter's difficulty with sunlight and a need to rest during the day leaves plenty opportunity, but when, at night, if a human encounters a vampire, there really should only be one winner. But that is often not the case as the human either gets lucky or the vampire becomes suddenly - and for me - unexplainably fallible. And it is this inconsistency that really bugs me.

But as I have said this is my only problem with the books, and I understand it wouldn’t be much of a story if the vampires were totally dominant. For those of you who remember James Bond, and the way the super-villain always placed Bond in some ridiculously convoluted death machine rather than simply disposing of him in a simpler, tried and trusted method, might understand where I am coming from. And the mental thought that screams, “why don’t you just kill him when you had the chance!?”.

Again, my attempt to focus on the positives has derailed somewhat so I will once again emphasise how glorious the settings of these books are and the plots and characterisations are of a very high standard. I would still happily recommend the series despite my above-mentioned issue. Maybe I’m just desperate for the vampires to win – I’ve always been a little odd like that.

This The Third Section book review was written by

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