The Series Series: The Vampire Chronicles, The New Vampires & The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches By Anne Rice

Hello! Happy New Year and welcome to the 2020 reading project! (And beyond probably!)The Series Series, where I read book series, at the moment of the speculative fiction variety, and talk about plots, themes, author details, whatever it is about the series that gripped me. We’re starting a little idiosyncratically, with a finishing of a series I’ve been reading in bits and pieces over the past year or so. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (And related The New Vampires and The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches.) Hooray!

The Books (Books That I’ve Reviewed Individually Are Linked):

Interview With The Vampire

The Vampire Lestat

The Queen Of The Damned

The Witching Hour

The Tale of The Body Thief

Lasher

Taltos

Memnoch The Devil

Pandora

The Vampire Armand

Vittorio The Vampire

Merrick

Blood And Gold

Blackwood Farm

Blood Canticle

Prince Lestat

Prince Lestat And The Realms Of Atlantis

Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat

Author

Anne Rice wrote these books. My opinion of Mrs. Rice as a person is that she is a mixed bag. She was raised in New Orleans, and lived there for years with her husband, the poet Stan Rice. After his death in 2002 she moved to California. In the late 90’s she found Jesus, then lost him again. There’s kind of a lot going on with her there. In her older age now she seems to have mellowed on a few things. (Criticism, fan fiction, people talking about how her characters are super gay) But I also know she used to dox fans? Which is among the worst things that you can do. Alas, she’s a fine writer and I gave her $0 in this project as I took each book out of the library. I think I’d be comfortable buying her books though. Also, I want to go to New Orleans and do one of the tours based around her work REAL BAD.

Series Structure

This is three ongoing series. Kind of. It’s really one series, and two spin offs, that all get braided together. But when thinking about it, it can be broken down into a few different series

The Original:

Interview With A Vampire

The Vampire Lestat

The Queen of the Damned

Lestat Does Adventures And Other People Get To Talk

Tale Of The Body Thief

Memnoch The Devil

The Vampire Armand

Blood And Gold

The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches

The Witching Hour

Lasher

Taltos

The New Vampires

Pandora

Vittorio The Vampire

Witches And Vampires

Merrick

Blackwood Farm

Blood Canticle

Prince Lestat

Prince Lestat

Prince Lestat And The Realms Of Atlantis

Blood Communion

Rice continues to insists she’s done and then ten years later, out pops a vampire book. We shall see moving forward if we get more. (I kind of hope so, because Blood Communion is quite good.)

Themes

The Vampire Chronicles might be unique in the way a book series operates in that it encompasses most of it’s writer’s life and shift in perspective. Because of it’s subject matter it’s grouped with Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but in reality and structure it’s closer to the pulp “dad fiction” of guys like James Patterson and Tom Clancy. Lestat, much like Jack Ryan or Alex Cross is whatever Rice needs him to be book to book. He’s a villain in Interview, an incorrigible anti hero in Lestat and Queen Of The Damned, a pulp searcher in Body Theif, a prophet in Memnoch, Merrick and Blackwood, a great uniter in the Prince Lestat trilogy and always a doomed Byronic Lover mixed with that.

Which means I think metamorphosis is the word of the day. Lestat changes from book to book, he grows and evolves and becomes something different. Which isn’t to ignore some of the other major themes at work here. Queerness and Catholicism being paramount. Rice doubles down on her vampires as doomed guilty Catholic kids who make blood consumption a literal part of their practice. It’s a natural fit for the way vampires work, but I’ve never seen any writer adopt fiction to explore their pet obsessions the way Rice does, or to such stunning effect.

But the main thing here is change, no one, not even the ancient vampires are unchanging, the morph to the times around them, to the people around them. It’s a stunning message for twenty or so books.

Favorite Book

From purely literary standpoints, Interview With A Vampire and The Witching Hour are head and shoulders above the others. They’re original and creepy and well developed and their stories are solid, individual and their prose is top notch. It’s hard to argue with either of them. The Witching Hour is also probably my favorite of the books.

From a fun standpoint, any of the books where Lestat is the narrator is the way to go. Lestat is a delight of a protagonist. I’m particularly fond of The Vampire Lestat and The Tale Of The Body Thief. I also liked Merrick quite a bit, but mostly because it scared me and I’m hard to scare in print. The stuff in between gets a little rough but Blood Communion is an excellent return to form, so I really hope that Rice decides to continue. We shall see.

Least Favorite Book

Mother fucking Lasher you guys, I mean, Taltos too, they’re both pretty bad. Memnoch The Devil is a good book made ridiculous by it’s context, and I was disappointed by Blood And Gold because I’d enjoyed Marius’s appearances in both Lestat and Armand and even Pandora but his own story was pretty dull.

But it doesn’t get worse than Lasher, which is such a terrific letdown form how wonderful The Witching Hour is.

Of course I wrote that before I got to Prince Lestat And The Realms Of Atlantis where we learned that Amel, the evil spirit who inhabited Queen Akasha and created vampire kind, is an alien ghost. So that sucks. It sucks even more than the explanation of the Taltos. (Who come back in Blood Canticle in a much more effective fashion)

Favorite Character

I love Armand. I’ve always loved Armand and I think I always will. I’m fond of Michael Curry as well, and I love my little fledglings. David Talbot and Quinn Blackwood are the best examples of that, but it’s always going to be Armand. I love his paintings and his clear decision to be the bad guy. He hates himself so much (and so much of that is Marius and Santino’s fault, but a lot of it is just who he is) and he’s so damn dramatic. (Even more so than Lestat) He can’t help himself. (Also, I’m looking forward to the upcoming TV show, because the ship wars are going to be epic. Personally I am deeply Lestat/David and Louis/Armand. Think of the ADVENTURES, and the ENNUI!)

But it’s impossible to like this series at all and come away anything but totally in love with Lestat. Rice is enamored of him, and so we have to be too. He is wonderful, the “other people talk” books are great, but when Lestat takes things over again in Blood Canticle I audibly whooped. And, last week, when discussing fandom with friends, I mentioned that when/if the rumored TV series ever hits, the Loki/Snape girls are going to be nigh unbearable. Lestat will consume them completely. It’s going to be glorious.

Reread Possibilities

I think I’d revisit my favorites, Interview, Body Thief, Witching Hour, Armand, Blood Communion, but I’d never touch the lows  of the series again and don’t feel particularly compelled to even revisit it’s more middling chapters. This was a big commitment and I’m glad I broke it up as I did, but also, oh boy, this series has some serious lows.

My other reading project is non fiction, so the next thing I’m reading is The Race  To Save The Romanovs by Helen Rappaport but the next series is going to be The Chronicles Of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.

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