About the Author:
Anne Rice was born in New Orleans, USA, where she now lives with her husband Stan Rice. She wrote the screenplay for the movie version of her novel 'Interview With The Vampire' and has also written fantasy erotica under the pen name A. N. Roquelaure.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4.6 out of 5
The ninth (not including 'Pandora' and 'Vittorio, The Vampire') book of the Vampire Chronicles. This is the story of Quinn Blackwood, the scion of a rich Louisiana family riddled with secrets. Quinn recounts to Lestat the tale of his life, plagued variously by his doppelganger Goblin, the restless spirit of a murdered woman and a mysterious creature of the night.
Foremost among this book's faults is the fact that its dialogue is generally quite absurd and I hope to God that no one actually speaks like Rice's characters do here. Its second great failing is that Quinn has only been a vampire for a year when he tells his tale, so we get none of the grandeur of ages past which made the tales of characters like Lestat, Marius and Armand so fascinating.
I have to admit that despite the difficult dialogue I was drawn into this book by the mystery of Sugar Devil Island. Rice built the tension in this story thread perfectly, maintaining a great sense of fear and darkness. Sadly, however, the truth of the mystery turns out to be relatively mundane and leaves you feeling a little short changed. As for the mystery of Goblin, it would've been so much better if the truth had been built up through small clues throughout the book, but instead we get it all in the space of the last 50 pages or so.
This is a very disappointing addition to a series that I once adored and may well be the last Vampire Chronicle I read.
2 out of 5
Blood And Gold: The Vampire Marius
Louis is endearingly tragic, Lestat is wonderfully vibrant, but my favourite of Rice's vampires has long been Marius and so I was very glad to finally get my hands on his tale in his own words. Where most of the Vampire Chronicles have involved their main character setting down their story for posterity, this book has Marius telling his story to an ancient and powerful vampire named Thorne, who slept through the waking of the Queen of the Damned in the frozen north.
It has been said that this book is simply a rehash of parts of 'The Vampire Lestat', 'Pandora' and 'The Vampire Armand', but I found it to be so much more, the deciding factor in the matter being Marius' own thoughts which are so different than those of Rice's other characters. We finally get to learn what Marius' thoughts and feelings were in relation to the other characters in his life such as Mael, Pandora, Armand, Santino and, of course, Akasha and Enkil. There is also some new material that should not be overlooked, such as Marius watching the sack of his beloved Rome by the 'barbarians'. Another new element is Marius' growing friendship with the potent Thorne, which comes to a head at the end of the book.
The most important new element of this book is the fact that is finally rounds off the stories of Marius, Pandora and Armand, as they at last get to share their love for one another in peace. I thought that this would be the last book of the series and was completely satisfied by the ending. I was, of course, wrong. It seems Anne Rice intends to milk her vivid world of vampires for some time yet.
Followed by 'Blackwood Farm'.
5 out of 5
Interview With The Vampire
The first book of the Vampire Chronicles. This book is the story of a vampire named Louis, told in his own words and covers his depression as a human, his fateful meeting with the vampire Lestat, the creation of their vampire daughter Claudia, Louis and Claudia's encounter with a vampire coven in 19th century Paris and Louis' subsequent return to New Orleans.
Louis is someone who you can really sympathise and, more importantly, empathise with. He is a beautifully tragic creature, tortured by his own guilt and loss. The other characters of the book are also excellent, with Lestat's cruel but undeniable affection for Louis and Claudia's struggle of a woman trapped in a child's body for eternity. The human characters are somewhat inconsequential, but the other vampires, such as Armand and Santiago are also involving in the ways that their imortality and the age in which they were 'born' has shaped them.
The book charts Louis' internal struggle as he is wracked with grief as a human and sickened by guilt during his time with Lestat and Claudia. In Paris, Louis questions the relationship of vampires to God and is horrified to learn that Armand, the oldest vampire known to him, knows no more than he does. Finally Louis begins to slip into the cold detatchment that he so despised in other vampires and which eventually leads vampires to kill themselves, not even finding the strength to care when Armand reveals that he sent Claudia into the sun. He briefly finds new life in the retelling of his tale to a sceptical human reporter but discovers, to his sorrow, that the reporter has missed the point of his tale of tragedy.
I think Rice's biggest innovation in this story is the suggestion that not only do her vampires wrestle with the consciences, but much more so than an ordinary person might. The author is also very adept at setting the scene so that you almost feel, see, smell and hear everything she describes and her prose is both flowing and aesthetically pleasing. I think it only took me about two days to get through the whole book, so easily do the words drift up from the page.
Finally, this book has the merit of providing a perfect introduction to the Vampire Chronicles as a whole, setting scenes that will be important and also establishing characters, such as Lestat and Armand, who we immediately want to learn more about.
Followed by 'The Vampire Lestat'.
5 out of 5
With this book David Talbot, the character who has become a sounding board for the other vampires' stories, tells him own tale of his days with the Talamasca (a secret organisation who watch and record supernatural happenings) and his relationship with Merrick Mayfair a girl with magical powers. This cleverly establishes links between the Vampire Chronicles and Rice's Mayfair Witches series, links that I think she'll expand upon later.
After establishing the relationship between David and Merrick, Rice returns us to the present where, in a welcome return for a vampire we know and love, Louis is haunted by the ghost of the vampire child Claudia. Louis asks Merrick and David to help him summon Claudia's spirit in order to make his peace. However, in the summoning Merrick must face her own personal demons, in the form of her dead sister.
Finally Louis makes a decision that brings the story from 'Interview with the Vampire' to a head. I'll try not to give too much away about the ending, but Louis' suffering awakens the best of Rice's characters, Lestat, from his slumber, once again reaffirming the bond between them.
Unlike most of the Vampire Chronicles, this book ends on a note of hope and is generally a departure from the other novels of the series. 'Merrick' lacks much of the wonder and power of it's predecessors, but is nevertheless a very good read.
Followed by 'Blood and Gold: The Vampire Marius'.
4 out of 5
This was the first book of vampires of Rice's that I read and it got me hooked on the entire series. The fact that I managed to so enjoy 'Pandora' despite it being quite far along in the Chronicles timeline is a testament to this book's ability to stand alone and adequately explain any references that it makes to the previous books.
The core of this book is the frustrated love that Pandora and Marius have for one another and it is excellently set against the background of ancient Rome. It is the fact that the two main characters love each other so fiercely but are so incompatible that really grips you and draws you into the emotional heart of the tale. Another great facet of the story is Pandora and Marius' very different feelings regarding the king and queen of vampires, Enkil and Akasha. Pandora, being a very spiritual character, believes them to be gods and Akasha uses her telepathic powers to play on Pandora's beliefs in order to enslave her. Whereas Marius, a man of logic and reason, knows they are not gods. The true marvel of these different beliefs, though, is the fact that Pandora is the one who rebels against her gods, whilst Marius is completely indentured to them, and these are themes that Rice further explores in her other books.
When Pandora and Marius, inevitably, separate, you'll find yourself truly heartbroken, wishing every moment that they will take each other back. After the break with Marius, Pandora's story becomes a little abrupt, skipping ahead years, decades and centuries, which I felt was disappointing, but then, this is only a short novel. The ending itself is good in that it shows Pandora's decision to seek out her beloved Marius once more, but it also leaves you wanting to see how things turn out (that could be good or bad, depending on whether or not you can afford the subsequent books!)
Followed by 'The Vampire Armand'.
5 out of 5
Queen Of The Damned
The Vampire Chronicles book three. Certainly the most innovative book of the Vampire Chronicles, here Rice partially dispenses with the first person narrative and uses third person instead to tell the various stories of assorted vampires in the run up to the Lestat's concert, which is where the previous book ended. We learn about young biker gangs of vampires, we see Marius as he observes the reactions of the foolish younger vampires to Lestat's provocation, we see Marius' old love Pandora realise the danger Lestat represents. Also there are mortals whose tales are told, Daniel, the reporter from 'Interview with the Vampire', who is haunted by Armand, and Jesse a member of the Talamasca secret society who has a strange relationship to the vampires.
All these plot threads lead inexorably up to Lestat's Halloween concert, where Lestat once again encounters the awakened vampire queen Akasha, who takes him as her paramour. The final part of the book, and definitely the best, has the mighty vampires from the various stories from this and the previous books (Marius, Maharet, Louis, Gabrielle, Mael, Armand, Santino, Khayman, Pandora and Daniel) unite against Akasha's plan to enslave mankind. It is the interaction between these unlikely allies that truly makes this book worthwhile. There are the truly ancient Maharet and Khayman who assume parental roles, then there are the characters who are much more sensitive and fearful; Louis, Jesse and Daniel. The best interactions though are those involving Marius; his love for Pandora and Armand, his dislike for Mael and his outright hatred of Santino (who took Armand away from him) all make for tensions that strain the coherence of the alliance to the limit.
The final confrontation with Akasha is both surprising and excellently realised in Rice's flowing prose. One of the best bits of the book though, is the tale of the twins which runs throughout it and slowly reveals how the vampires originally came to be, making this book an excellent mix of character interaction, horror tension and ancient myth. Brilliant.
Followed by 'Memnoch the Devil'.
5 out of 5
The Vampire Armand
First off, I shall explain what's going on to those people who've read 'Memnoch the Devil' where Armand tops himself or 'Pandora' in which everyone is grieving for his loss. I'll simply say; don't get confused by this apparent contradiction, he survives his attempt at suicide and he explains the details of what happened towards the end of the book.
This book basically takes the stories we already know of Armand, his parting from Marius and his leading of the coven at the Theatre des Vampires, and extends each of them into a complete account of Armand's life. It begins is in the icy lands near Kiev and has Armand being taken by slavers to Italy where he is bought by the strange noble Marius. As Marius teaches him the art of painting, Amadeo (as Marius names him) realises that there is something strange about his master. Eventually (obviously) Marius makes him a vampire, but before they can enjoy their supernatural nature together Amadeo is captured by fanatical Christian vampires and renamed Armand.
I'll warn sensitive (bigoted) persons here and now that there are scenes between Armand and Marius that involve sexual acts. However, these scenes are approached less as a specifically homosexual relationship and more as the simple interaction of two people who passionately love one another. After his capture, Armand is indoctrinated into the fierce beliefs of his captors and apprenticed to a vampire named Santino. The relationship between Armand and Santino is an excellent counterpoint to Armand's relationship with Marius. Eventually Armand's road leads him to the head of a coven of fanatics until his own failing faith is exposed by Lestat's destruction of the coven. Armand then evolves into the faithless creature who heads the Theatre des Vampires and comes to love Louis.
Rice then returns to the events portrayed in the books following 'The Vampire Lestat' and gives us Armand's own versions until finally his faith once more takes hold of him and forces him into the sun, showing that the core tale of Armand's tale is this struggle with his faith. Finally Armand finds a new reason to live in the form of two young humans and returns to the world and the other vampires. His reunion with Marius is touching but in the finale, Marius does something (I won't reveal what), against Armand's express wishes, which leaves you wondering why he would do it since it will likely cause only pain. A slightly confusing ending to an otherwise splendid book.
Followed by 'Merrick'.
5 out of 5
The Vampire Lestat
This, the second of the Vampire Chronicles, is to my mind the best book of the series. Having awoken from vampiric hibernation Lestat discovers that his beloved protege, Louis, has broken all vampire taboos and revealed their story to the world in 'Interview with the Vampire'. Lestat decides to pursue his own passion for rebellion and (as my Mum terms it) shit-stirring by becoming a rock star and writing a story even more provocative and revealing than Louis'.
Rice has really created one of the enduring characters of modern literature with Lestat, with him being very much as tortured as Louis, but it is the loss of those he loves that tortures Lestat and he fights despair with rebellion. We are very much taken back in time to the end of the 18th century to see Lestat's life of indulgence as a mortal. Suddenly we are swept on a terrible adventure as Lestat is made a vampire by a rogue who kills himself immediately afterward. Left to fend for himself Lestat uses his vampiric blood to save his dying mother and he is soon drawn into conflict with a coven of vampires who have made being the evil described in the bible their religion.
Lestat moves around the world trying to learn more of his vampire heritage and from characters such as Armand and the ancient Roman vampire Marius, Lestat learns that there is a vampire king and queen, the source of the vampiric blood. He eventually moves to New Orleans and there 'Interview with the Vampire' begins. This ends the first half of the story and by God you will feel very much that you have been around the world with Lestat learning forbidden secrets. Marius is a brilliant character too, torn between his hatred for and duty to Akasha and Enkil. In fact Marius is my favourite character of the series and the parting of Lestat and Marius is one of the more tragic moments of the book, as you feel that they have so much to teach one another.
The second half of the book deals with Lestat's awakening in the present day (the 80s actually, but never mind) and his realisation that with rock music he can finally provoke both vampires and humans alike by simply expressing the truth about himself and his past. The best part of this book is the reunion of Lestat and Louis after all their resentment and grievances have faded and only their kinship and love for each other.
Followed by 'Queen of the Damned'.
5 out of 5
Vittorio The Vampire
Not actually a part of the Vampire Chronicles themselves, this book is nevertheless identifiable as part of the same mythos (Vittorio even mentions the 'New Orleans vampires' at one point). With this story Rice takes (if you'll pardon the pun) a leap of faith by going as far as to have angels in it, dispelling the other books' struggles with the existence of a higher power.
The story here involves a young Italian noble swearing revenge on the vampires that killed his family and in his quest he is forever aided and guided by his guardian angels. His flight from the slaughter of those he loved takes him to renaissance Florence in all is splendor. He finally finds vengeance, destroying an entire castle full of vampires in a spectacuar final confrontation. However, it is a pyhrric victory, as he submits to his love for the vampire Ursula and agrees to become a blood drinker himself. In a heart wrenching scene that follows, Vittorio's beloved angels, who have been his strength and faith throughout, abandon him.
At the very end of the book Vittorio once again encounters one of his guardian angels, who gives him the ability to see the very soul of all human beings, explaining that every time Vittorio feeds his vampiric nature, one of those sparkling souls is lost to the world. This novel in general is a good read with a combination of excitement, passion, Rice's evocative descriptions of Florence and the conflict between faith and desire.
5 out of 5