Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

5 December, 2014

Prince Lestat

I was hunting, thirsting though I didn’t need to drink, at the mercy of the craving, the deep agonizing lust for heated pumping human blood. … Too hungry for anything else. Give me the heartbeat. Give me the salt. Give me the Viaticum. Fill my mouth.

It’s been 14 years since Anne Rice’s last vampire chronicle, first created in Interview with the Vampire which made her famous and inspired in all her readers a lasting love for her dark and richly gothic mythology. Spanning over 10 books and featuring a vast cast from different historical eras, nevertheless, there is only one vampire that will outshine everyone else: the mad, bad, devil-may-care Lestat de Lioncourt. Born into darkness out of violence, Lestat is a complex figure, at times playful and reckless, often depressed and contrite but also capable of feeling a deep love for his fellow vampires and humans. He seems more vital and vibrant than ordinary humans, seductive and monstrous at the same time. In Prince Lestat, Lestat returns, reluctantly.

There is a new cataclysm afflicting the vampire community: vampires are being destroyed in successive cities from Paris to Rio. It’s mainly the young ones that are immolated by an unknown force bringing back memories of an earlier purge by Akasha in Queen of the Damned. The young vampires, led by Benji Mahmoud, urge the old ones to come out from hiding and lead them in battle against their unknown enemy via Benji’s pirate radio station, a beacon of news. And of the ancients, the one they most need is Lestat. Lestat, who craves solitude and oblivion above all else, ignores it all, until he is sought by fellow vampires Jesse and David Talbot, formerly of the Talamasca. They urge Lestat to help them find Maharet, one of the original ancients created by Akasha herself and whose sister Menkare devoured Akasha’s brain bringing the seed of all vampires into herself and assuming the role of the Queen of the Damned. But Menkare is oblivious to the world, only trusting Maharet and Khayman, their companion of old. Maharet was the guardian of her family tree, keeper of secrets and wisest of the vampires. But now, she is in hiding, receding from the vampire community, anguished. The enemy is penetrating the vampires’ consciousness, speaking to them, urging them to do its bidding, to keep the blood pure. For too many young ones have been created and it feels stretched, unable to control its will. Who exactly is behind this voice? And will Lestat take up his calling and save his kind?

Rice is being very ambitious with her comeback novel. In some ways, it feels like a compendium of all her previous books as references to them are made throughout this one. Almost all of her characters make an appearance, even minor ones, and we finally get to the root of the Talamasca. Unless you have read all her previous vampire novels, Prince Lestat may be difficult to follow. Because there are so many characters, not enough story time is allocated to each one and the characterisation and tale sometimes feel thinly spread. However, as a true fan of the vampire chronicles, this made me want to go back and revisit all of her books, especially the first three novels. Although some of the chapters felt like a summary of all that has gone before, the chapters in which Lestat takes over are the ones that shine the most. Rice has created something special in Lestat’s voice. It is as though the years have tarnished nothing; Lestat sparkles, his wicked sense of humour and style are still intact. The other vampires, apart from Louis and Gabrielle, pale in comparison to Lestat and are too numerous, and all the talk of love and beauty become repetitive after a while.

The addition of modern technology and science may seem inevitable in the course of things, however that brings Rice’s truly original creation in line with other current vampire novels which seems unnecessary. The strength of Rice’s vampires lie in their character which eschews the modern adoration of all things high school and mundane. What makes Lestat and his kin irresistible is precisely that they are not the boy or girl next door, they inhabit the ‘other’, worlds which only come alive in our imagination. And the vampires don’t pretend to be good; they feed on human blood, their morals are askew, for they are monsters afters all. The glossary of terms too, seem unnecessary, we don’t need soundbites such as ‘in the blood’ or ‘of the blood’ to label these characters. We are perfectly aware of who they are. Rice doesn’t need to compete with the new crop of vampire novels that have appeared. Her world is hers and cannot be replicated by others. In an increasingly crowded genre, what she has created is unique and will remain so precisely because of her gorgeous prose and the character of Lestat.

Like me, lovers of Rice’s vampire chronicles will inevitably have very high expectations of her vampire novels just because they love them so much. I’m really looking forward to the next one but feel some trepidation too. However, I’m just over the moon that Rice is writing about vampires again and Prince Lestat has been my most anticipated book of the year. And it looks like I’m not the only one as the novel has won the prize for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror in 2014. Congratulations!

I would like to thank Random House for kindly sending me a copy of Prince Lestat to review.

Angel Time by Anne Rice

31 October, 2011

I’ve been a huge fan of Anne Rice’s since I first stumbled upon her vampire chronicles as an impressionable lass of 14. I think the first book my friends and I read was The Queen of the Damned and it still remains my favourite out of her vampire books (and the film isn’t bad either, much better than Interview with a Vampire). There was something about her lush, rich writing style and the beautifully gothic world she created that just captivated me. I think I’ve read almost all her books except for her novels about Christ and her series on angels. So when it came to my notice that she was doing a signing a few weekends ago, I thought I’d go and get my 1st edition of Interview with a Vampire signed and nab a copy of Angel Time.

Seems angels are all the rage at the moment. I really enjoyed Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology which I read early last year, so was looking forward to this one, especially since it’s by Anne Rice.

Angel Time is about an assassin who has to wrestle with his identity, conscience and belief in God, who is given a chance to redeem himself through the intervention of an angel.

Unfortunately, I found it a difficult and listless read, even though it’s a pretty slim book. Her protagonist Lucky the Fox, a cold-hearted assassin with nothing to live for, and who has been killing on demand for the last ten years, is rather too emotional considering he’s a cold blooded killer. His back story dragged on. There was too much showing and not enough telling. I admit that the last third of the book did improve with a bit of time-traveling to medieval England and the plight of the Jewish people, but my overall feeling was that Rice was being too indulgent, lazy with her characterisation which seemed rather stereotyped and there definitely needed to be more tightening of the content.

And Lucky’s angel, Malchiah, had no character at all. All he had was love for Lucky. I kind of wanted to know why. If Lucky couldn’t love himself, why would anyone else love him?

I know this sounds harsh but as a life-long fan, it was hard work and I just didn’t really enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I’m not really sure if I’ll bother with the next one, but since I’m a stickler for finishing what I’ve started, I might just give it a go and hope I enjoy it more.

I really miss the tense and luscious story-telling that was Rice’s trademark, especially in her earlier novels such as The Witching Hour which is still my favourite, and I do hope that some of you will go and try her earlier vampire novels starting with Interview with a Vampire and the lives of the Mayfair witches starting with The Witching Hour because all the other vampire/witchy novels out there will pale in comparison. Trust me. I might just have to go back and re-read them if I need to get my Anne Rice fix.

I read this as part of the R.I.P. VI Challenge.

is a stunning debut! I can’t remember when I last read a book in this genre which has made me want to race through it but also savour. each. word. As I mentioned before, the premise of Angelology by Danielle Trussoni reminded me strongly of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour (my favourite Rice novel) with echoes of the Talamasca striving to guard the world against devilish beings. There is history, mythology, liberal biblical references (we are talking about angels and the nephilim here) as well as art, and the setting is divided between New York and Paris. Could it get more delicious?

I didn’t really know what to expect of this book, although I had seen reviews sprinkled around the web. And I didn’t expect to like it so much. I have recommended it to a friend who has already bought it, read and loved it (but we do have similar reading tastes).

Angelology opens with Sister Evangeline, a young Franciscan nun running into Verlaine, an art historian who has broken into her convent looking for some letters written by the philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller. He is working for the mysterious Percival Grigori who is searching for an ancient artefact. Soon Evangeline and Verlaine are thrust into a war between the nephilim, half-human descendants of fallen angels, and the angelologists, a secret society of scholars, who have been studying and trying to thwart the nephilim’s sinister designs to enslave the human race for over a thousand years. As Evangeline learns about her tragic family history and their connection to the angelologists, she struggles to help Verlaine escape the clutches of Grigori and unearth the whereabouts of the Lyre of Orpheus which may or may not destroy the nephilim forever.

It may sound a tad overdramatic but Trussoni’s novel is a race against time as well as a revelation of angelic folklore which really kept my nose glued to the book. The nephilim are beautiful, ethereal and ruthlessly evil, able to easily enchant and overpower human senses. Evangeline is not alone as her grandmother Gabrielle and her old friend Sister Celestine, who fought the nephilim in their youth, try and ensure that the nephilim do not triumph. There is a lot going on in this book and I’m not going to give anything away as I don’t want to spoil your reading pleasure. I loved the world Trussoni has created with its mixture of the esoteric, history and myth and not least for Trussoni’s quality prose. Her language is rich, smooth and sophisticated. The only things that niggled a little were her liberal references to brand names, which I thought was unnecessary and did nothing for the story, and Evangeline’s feelings for Verlaine which changed rather too rapidly to be realistic (but then you can’t really quibble about realism in a book about angels). But those are probably the only things I didn’t like. As you can tell, I loved the book and am waiting with abated breath for Trussoni’s next novel, Angelopolis. Hurry, hurry!

In the meantime, I’m going to try and get my cherubic fix by delving into some Milton and Blake (although I’ve never fancied reading Blake before as he seems rather inaccessible). Any other reading suggestions would be warmly welcomed!

As apparently angels are the new vampires, although I doubt vampires will ever go out of fashion (unless it’s through overkill, ha ha), you may want to read this interesting article in the Guardian here.

Anne Rice has also published a new book about angels called Angel Time, although the story seems to be very different to Angelology. Has anyone read it? And if you haven’t already, I would urge you to read The Witching Hour. It’s beautiful.

And finally, a shout out to the lovely people at Michael Joseph (Penguin) who kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

I read this for the Once Upon a Time IV Challenge hosted at Stainless Steel Droppings as I would categorise this book under fantasy/mythology.

* The reviews seem divided regarding this book, so you may want to check out what Farm Lane Books Blog and Amy Reads have to say about this book.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

One of my favourite books is the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Narnia and Nancy Drew were the staples of my childhood reading. And ever since then I have been fascinated by stories set in other worlds. And that probably also fed my fascination of other physical worlds and led me to get a degree in astrophysics. Funny how one thing leads to another.

At school I read The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Wizard of Oz (every book I could find in the series and there were a lot) and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern series recommended by one of my friends. I also loved reading mythology and remember being wowed by the story of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung during my music classes when I was nine. The Norse gods, the Roman gods, the Greek gods, the Egyptian gods all enthralled me. And as I’ve said in previous posts, I looooove vampires and werewolves and went through a phase where I only read them, which really worried my sister. I’ll post about them later as I think they deserve a post of their own.

Here are some of the writers and books that I think are incredible:

Science fiction and fantasy
Terry Pratchett (Discworld novels)
Scott Lynch (The Gentleman Bastards series)
Steven Erickson (Malazan Book of the Fallen series)
Steven Donaldson (Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series, The Gap series)
Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next series)
Neil Gaiman (Sandman graphic novels, American Gods)
Iain M. Banks (The Culture series)
Anne Rice (The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, The Witching Hour)
Katherine Kerr (Deverry series)
Janny Wurts (The Wars of Light and Shadow series)

I’m sure I’ve missed out loads of my favourite books, but the writers I’ve listed above I’ll buy without even having to think twice. Try them if you haven’t, you’ll be impressed with the quality of writing.

There’s so much written about how sff books aren’t taken seriouly by the literati and major awards panels and I have to agree. There’s so many really well written books, a lot which are better written and more substantial than some of the literary novels out there, and I do feel that sff writers get a bum deal. Just because a story isn’t set in the real world doesn’t mean the story has no substance. Fiction is fiction after all. Realist novels are also figments of the writers’ imagination. So what’s the difference? It’s just something that annoys me whenever I start reading about it in the papers. Look at Ian Banks, he can write both literary and science fiction. And both are brilliant. Here’s a recent article about this in the Guardian.

What do you think?