The People’s Will by Jasper Kent

The People’s Will is the fourth of five instalments of the Danilov Quintet in which a section of Russian history is given a different slant.  The first novel, Twelve, started in 1812 with the Napoleonic invasion of Russia where we were first introduced to a band of mercenaries called the Oprichniki.  Ruthless and devoid of conscience they have been enlisted to cause chaos amongst the French troops.  However, it soon becomes apparent that these ruthless mercnaries have a different agenda.  They are Voordalak, creatures of the night, or, as they are more commonly known, Vampire.  Twelve was followed by Thirteen Years, The Third Section and now The People’s Will.  If you haven’t read the first three novels in the series, firstly, I really recommend you do so – unless you’re a bit queasy – and secondly, probably best to stop reading now for the avoidance of spoilers from the previous novels.  Also, don’t be put off by the fact that these novels contain elements of the supernatural.  I think this is one series where the author has succeeded in writing history with a twist.  This is not YA and in some respects not for the faint hearted but it is gripping, interesting, full of adventure, dark and twisted.

For the avoidance of doubt I will start this review by saying I loved this instalment.  It’s an action packed tale of revenge and on top of this it takes us back in time to look at the past of one of, what I consider to be, the best villains I have read about, Iuda.

As with previous instalments the People’s will takes us forward a number of years and starts in 1881.  The action starts in Turkmenistan with the rescue of a prisoner who has been held captive for the past two years beneath the Citadel of Geok Tepe.  The Russian Officer responsible for this mission, Colonel Otrepyev is in league with another and the rescue is not really a bid for freedom for the prisoner but simply more another form of imprisonment.

Meanwhile we are introduced to a left wing terrorist organisation called The People’s Will, who are planning the assassination of the Tsar Alexandra II and who will play a large part in the story.

The jump forward in time means we have again moved on to different characters, at least in human terms.  Tamara no longer plays a role but her son Mihail, reared on a diet of revenge, takes over the role once played by Alexsei (his grandfather).  Of course, the vampires themselves have not aged at all and are still circling each other in their strange game of power and revenge.  Iuda is his usual menacing sociopathic self, Zmyeevich still an expert in playing the long game and Dmitry, relatively young and inexperienced in terms of vampires.

I don’t really want to delve into the plot.  There is the whole seeking for power and revenege side to this played by Zmyeevich, we have a number of the key players seeking to kill Iuda for the purposes of revenge and then we have The People’s Will hoping to instigate an uprising following the assassination of the Tsar.  All of the threads are inextricably linked with more than one character playing a double role.  To quote Blackadder the plot twists and turns like a twisty turny thing and Kent brings it all together seemlessly.

The writing is again flawless.  The events of the story an expert weave of truth and fiction.  The historical detail is just enough to give you a flavour without overwhelming the story with a flood of detail and trivia that would dilute the impact. The real hook with these stories is the characters themselves.  The author manages to pull you in to their story and keeps you involved even with the family members who are no longer involved.  I found myself thinking again of Alexsei, who I had misgivings about at the very start but ended up really enjoying reading about – his legacy still lives on here with his son and grandson standing on different sides of the fence.  I really enjoyed finding out more about Iuda and gaining an insight into his past – what  a delightfully despicable character he is to read, no cardboard cut out villain here.  I hope that we will be given a similar insight into the all powerful Zmyeevich who, although plays more of a secondary role here, certainly displays just how incredibly powerful he really is.

Again, there is an element of horror, these vampires take us back to the old school style of writing.  They are evil, they have no compassion or feelings, they smell of rotting flesh – they have no inner conflict whatsoever  about taking human life and in fact enjoy the chase and the fear they inflict as much as the feed itself.  And, not only are the villains ruthless but so too is the author!  I certainly didn’t see some of these twists coming and must confess my jaw dropped more than once.  Plus, can I also say that thank goodness Kent has chosen to channel his activities into writing – the means of vampire torture and death that he has come up with alone are enough to make you shudder.  His imagination seems to know no bounds!

On top of this I really admire the overall scope of the series and the historical content that has been brought into play here.  For me this shows real imagination and creativity at its finest.  Kent has taken a particular period in history and twisted a number of the key events to give it a more sinister meaning.  I think I can see where this is probably going to lead next and I admit I can’t wait to read the final instalment.

If you enjoy historical fiction where the story includes an element of something different, a touch of horror and a look at the lengths to which people will go to try and seek revenge then definitely check out this series.

I have no hesitation in recommending Jasper Kent’s Danilov Quintet.

I received a copy of this through NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

5 Responses to “The People’s Will by Jasper Kent”

  1. Grace

    “The Twelve” is on my TBR pile, and I’m definitely curious how vampires and Russian history will mix. 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      Ah yes, you really like books about Russia if I remember correctly? I’ve really enjoyed this series. It’s dark and definitely contains elements of horror but the period in which it is set is really interesting and then it has this alternative theme that runs throughout the series. Hard to distinguish sometimes between fact and reality!
      Lynn 😀

      • Grace

        I love books about Russia, and don’t read nearly enough of them anymore. A dark period book sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. TBM

    Are you tempting me with yet another series!

    • lynnsbooks

      Mwahahahaha! Yes. A series of five books no less. This is a good series – I do recommend. (Plus, I bet your library has the first one – Twelve).
      Lynn 😀

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