The Vampire Lestat: The seminal work of vampire fiction since Stoker

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review The Vampire Lestat Anne Rice The Vampire ChroniclesThe Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Anne Rice’s second vampire novel is both a prequel and a sequel to her original story Interview with the Vampire. A sequel because it is framed by a sequence of events in contemporary times, and a prequel because it recounts the history of the vampire Lestat, the sire of the protagonist Louis in Interview. After waking from centuries-sleep in 1980’s New Orleans, Lestat discovers the Interview manuscript and goes about setting the story straight, recounting his mortal life as a young French aristocrat, his transformation into a vampire, and his ongoing quest to find the answers behind his new condition. Stretching from the French Revolution to Egyptian myth to the modern day world, his journey is one that only an immortal could take, and we’re lucky enough to be taken along for the ride.

Lestat is perhaps Rice’s most popular creation, and it’s easy enough to see why: he is charismatic, merciful, deep-thinking and tormented; in other words a truly three-dimensional character and possibly the most relatable member of the undead in the huge vampiric canon of books and movies (well, with the possible exception of Angel and Spike). His moral crisis on becoming a vampire is especially intriguing, with his reluctance to destroy innocent mortals.

More than this however, is Rice’s (and consequently Lestat’s) exploration into the mythos of the vampire and the search for the origins of the vampire. She ingeniously melds the legends of ancient Britain, Greece and Egypt to tell the complete history of the vampire creatures, making especially good use of the myth of Osiris and Isis, whose existence bears a fascinating similarity to the making of a vampire. Finally Lestat gets to the heart of the matter after tracking down different vampires of increasing age, and the full truth behind the vampire and the creation of the first vampires. It is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking theories on the subject that I have ever read, and yields further revelations and connections on each re-reading.

As well as this, Rice includes Lestat’s complex relationships with his mother and best friend who become privy to his vampiric secret, and toward the end Louis and Claudia are mentioned also (so make sure you’ve read Interview as Lestat gives away the details of their life together). Fellow vampires such as Armand, Marius and Magnus make prominent appearances, all of whom had later novels dedicated to their characters and serve as “stepping stones” to Lestat’s journey of discovery, each yielding more clues and information to the intellectual path that he takes.

Anne Rice’s language is gorgeous to read, rich and poetic and full of sublime passages and descriptions. Sometimes she can go a little overboard: on more than one occasion I found myself reading a passage and realising I had no idea what was going on, but her rich detail and extensive knowledge of history sets her vampires in an utterly realistic and mysterious world. Concepts such as “the conversation,” the Savage Garden and the wolf killer echo through the novel, adding resonance and extra meaning to the unfolding story where the smallest detail can hold the greatest importance.

All in all, an immensely rich and rewarding read at times scary, beautiful, intriguing, and exceptionally clever. Rice has created a new breed of vampires that are both similar and extremely different from those of traditional folklore. Usually I dislike books that make vampires “good guys” and thereby strip them of any potency or menace whatsoever, but Rice is the only author that I know of (with the exception of Angel and Spike of course) who makes this work. I can’t wait to read more.

~Rebecca Fisher


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review The Vampire Lestat Anne Rice The Vampire ChroniclesAnne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat is the second (and probably best-regarded) of her VAMPIRE CHRONICLES. The Vampire Lestat is probably the seminal work of vampire fiction since Bram Stoker. Much of what was implied in Interview with the Vampire is made concrete here as Rice broadens and deepens her mythology, all the while creating one of the archetypal figures of the genre.

The first thing one should say about The Vampire Lestat in comparison with Interview with the Vampire is that if you spent the first novel sighing to yourself that all of this was rather good, but Louis was a whiny sort of fellow who liked to talk more than to act, you shall be overjoyed with this installment. Lestat is the vital, charismatic hero that Louis was not. If he loses some of Louis’s tragedy and philosophizing, he makes it up in the simple fact that he is from the first page a more relatable character. The narrative style of Lestat’s book is faster-paced and more direct than that of Louis’s, but leaves ample room for Rice’s trademark sensual imagery and dense characterization.

As always, something to be aware of when opening an Anne Rice novel is that if you are going in expecting some sort of monster bloodbath, you are likely to be disappointed. For better or for worse (it’s largely a matter of opinion), Rice is far more interested in the relational side of things than she is in the action. There are no instances of imaginatively gory killing sprees or daring vampire-on-vampire swordfights. Some readers may consequently find the book a little slow or wandering, but on the other hand, I think there are just as many (if not more) who will revel in its emotional depth.

Rice novels are like holiday chocolate: they’re rich, surprisingly sensual, and usually rather dark. The text, like Lestat himself, appears to be almost entirely concerned with deep, slow-moving emotions, teased and titillated until at last they begin to drift in the depths. Lestat is far more easygoing than Louis but his story is objectively far from light material. Rice does interesting things with that here, from a purely literary perspective, choosing her words with care particularly in the action scenes. The fight between Lestat and the wolves early on is a striking example of the way she uses her imagery to evoke a slow dread and sympathy for the boy who can possess such attitudes. To clarify, I do not mean to put The Vampire Lestat on a pedestal of intellectual brilliance. It is not necessarily a book for the Umberto Eco fan club to discuss at their next wine and cheese party. It does, however, try for a different emotional frequency than do most vampire novels, and for the most part it succeeds.

The book is not without flaws. Anne Rice is at her best when she is purely relating Lestat’s history. When she is setting up plot elements for the next book, the writing style dips a little in quality, as though she’s lost her rhythm somehow. The Vampire Lestat is a book within a book in format — that is, Lestat writes a book about himself, which is reproduced within the broader course of Lestat informing us about his exploits in what was the modern day when Rice wrote the book — and the framing narrative is far less impressive than the story it contains. I should also note that for all I’ve said on the subject of slow-moving emotion being an interesting choice and emotional depth being well and good, sometimes the book drops out of what might be called “deliberate” speed, and just becomes plain old draggy. This occurs particularly surrounding Armand’s history and Lestat’s painfully drawn-out, angsty world tour with Gabrielle.

In summary, I must recommend The Vampire Lestat because it is in so many ways a delightful book, alive with a powerful voice and a masterful command of language and symbolism. Rice manages to make the humanized vampire work for her (not an easy task), and on top of that provides some real depth of emotion and philosophy. The reader will come away believing that perhaps he or she understands a bit more fully the idea of living forever. While it is not a perfect novel, it is an excellent example of more-or-less contemporary vampire fiction and a must for fans of the genre.

~Tim Scheidler

The Vampire Chronicles — (1976- ) Publisher: Witness the confessions of a vampire. A novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force, it is a story of danger and flight, love and loss, suspense and resolution, and the extraordinary power of the senses.

Anne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood CanticleAnne Rice The Vampire Chronicles 1. Interview with the Vampire 2. The Vampire Lestat 3. The Queen of the Damned 4. The Tale of the Body Thief 5. Memnoch the Devil 6. The Vampire Armand 7. Merrick 8. Blood and Gold 9. Blackwood Farm 10. Blood Canticlefantasy and science fiction book reviewsBlood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat (Vampire Chronicles) Kindle Edition by Anne Rice  (Author)

New Tales of the Vampires — (1998-1999) Publisher: Anne Rice, creator of the Vampire Lestat, the Mayfair witches and the amazing worlds they inhabit, now gives us the first in a new series of novels linked together by the fledgling vampire David Talbot, who has set out to become a chronicler of his fellow Undead. The novel opens in present-day Paris in a crowded café, where David meets Pandora. She is two thousand years old, a Child of the Millennia, the first vampire ever made by the great Marius. David persuades her to tell the story of her life. Pandora begins, reluctantly at first and then with increasing passion, to recount her mesmerizing tale, which takes us through the ages, from Imperial Rome to eighteenth-century France to twentieth-century Paris and New Orleans. She carries us back to her mortal girlhood in the world of Caesar Augustus, a world chronicled by Ovid and Petronius. This is where Pandora meets and falls in love with the handsome, charismatic, lighthearted, still-mortal Marius. This is the Rome she is forced to flee in fear of assassination by conspirators plotting to take over the city. And we follow her to the exotic port of Antioch, where she is destined to be reunited with Marius, now immortal and haunted by his vampire nature, who will bestow on her the Dark Gift as they set out on the fraught and fantastic adventure of their two turbulent centuries together.

Anne Rice New Tales of the Vampires 1. Pandora 2. Vittorio the VampireAnne Rice New Tales of the Vampires 1. Pandora 2. Vittorio the Vampire

CLICK HERE FOR MORE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES.


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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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One comment

  1. This post about Vampire. I like it.

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