The Vampire Lestat
Published 1976 368 pages
Reviewed by Sandra
Summary (from the book jacket)
Lestat: a vampire - but very much not the conventional undead, for Lestat is the truly alive. Lestat is vivid, ecstatic, stage-struck, and in his extravagant story he plunges from the lasciviousness of eighteenth - century Paris to the demonic Egypt of prehistory; from fin-de-siecle New Orleans to the frenetic twentieth - century world of rock superstardom - as, pursued by the living and the dead, he searches across time for the secret of his own dark immortality.
This novel is the second book in the chronicles of the vampires by Anne Rice, and it would be strongly advised for fans of her work to read the first novel in the series, Interview with the Vampire first before the second book since it will have more meaning to it.
In Interview with the Vampire, the book was told from Louis’s point of view, this one is told from Lestat’s. Rice uses an interesting hook to bring the reader into his thoughts. Louis’s book has already been circulated in the human world, it is not enough that Lestat detests Louis’s having written the novel in the first place, he hates the lies he told about him, and more than anything else breaking the vampire code by telling the humans of them and their Dark Gift. Making his kind vulnerable if the humans took the novel seriously. Louis sees the book differently thinking no human would take it seriously at all – for them it would be a work of fiction, not one that would sound like the telling of a real life. Some could say he had it written to let Lestat know he was still walking among them, unafraid and welcoming in the new era where vampires would be looked on with a certain respect.
Lestat has been in hiding for too long and needs to get out more into the world of the humans. He recalls a time when he was human, yet another man had made him the vampire he is now. He has grown bored of his current life and needs to find something to perk him up so he doesn’t grow despondent. Lestat finds just the right thing when laid underground, listening to a rock band playing above him for several nights. He hears their dreams, aspirations, hears them play and recognizes their potential to be more than they are. The music they play is raw, brash and touches Lestat in ways he never thought possible – his urge to introduce himself to them grows until he thinks of a way to do just that. Lestat decides on a plan to tell them he can make them famous, a world renowned rock band but only if they will have him as their lead singer. They soon realize he can offer them all they ever wanted, and become the stars they always wanted to be.
Lestat sets about his plan, and later remembers his past with great clarity. Rice’s rock band idea at the beginning is just a side issue to tempt the reader in. What follows is several accounts of Lestat’s past, where he was born and raised, and the time he was made a vampire by Magnus.
Magnus comes to Lestat’s house where he and his brother reside, seeing potential in the young man, his anger and rage at the wolves who threatened him and his brother. Calling him ‘Wolfkiller’ and ‘Lelio’ he deliberately taunts him, and his is one of the first stories when the reader will see Lestat as a weak mortal, who is powerless against the immortal might of Magnus, an ages old vampire who has lived in the earth for centuries and goes out to feed, yet he gives his Dark Gift to Lestat without question, and also wants to pass his vampiric legacy over to the young, newly made vampire, and with that his immense power. Lestat does not realize the importance of what Magnus has left him as the knowledge Magnus carried for so long is to be passed to someone who he saw as strong enough, fearless enough to use it wisely.
As anyone knows, immortality comes at a price, as eventually in the case of Magnus, the body ages, as does the bones and the ability to use the power diminishes, leaving nothing more than a walking corpse. It is only when Magnus makes his demands, and shows him his hidden treasures that Lestat knows he is taking on someone else’s life path, and responsibility, but it does not end there. He knows he cannot see his family again, not when he has become a vampire, reviled, an outcast and feared by all.
The thought occurs in this novel that Lestat in making Louis a vampire was only doing what Magnus had done to him years before, creating someone who would continue his work. It is interesting to discover Lestat has the same feelings as Louis when Magnus leaves him to fend for himself. Louis views feeding on others as something against his own moral code and despairs of what a monster he has become. Being a religious type; he tries to invoke the adoration of the Madonna.
The novel is split into several intriguing chapters that chronicle Lestat's life or rebirth as a vampire; The Early Education and Adventures of the Vampire Lestat, Lelio Rising, The Legacy of Magnus, and Viaticum for the Marquise, The Children of Darkness, The Vampire Armand and others. Anne Rice has since this second novel was published created a whole series of novels in The Vampire Chronicles where Lestat has ceased to believe he is the only vampire on earth.
This is a larger book than the previous one, and has a lot more to give the reader; tales of what happened to rest of Lestat's family, Nicholas, his mother and how they ended up with a vampire coven. It also mentions when the Theatre Des Vampires began.
Lestat and Louis are very much alike in their personalities, though Lestat adds more flamboyance to the story whereas Louis is more modest in his actions. The writer has created her own vampire reality from older times, through to modern ones where Lestat thinks all the magic has gone from being a vampire and wants to change into a new vampire form, one that can cope with the new generation of humans.
By the end of the novel, the beginning of a new one is created; a warning cry from Magnus comes from beyond of a new and thousand year old threat to the existing vampires that cannot be ignored.
An interesting word can be found in this novel: roquelaure. Anne uses it to describe Lestat's sword, and is also another name she is known by, A.N. Roquelaure when she writes more steamy material in her spare time. Overall, this book is better than the first as it expands on the history of Lestat, Armand and Louis.
Anne Rice manages to evoke the atmosphere for her period vampire dramas, this one being no exception as her ability to tell the story from the point of view of the vampire Lestat is quite a feat, as she has made a certain amount of in-depth research. As usual her work is well written and in fact a pleasure to read due to the detailed way she writes, not leaving anything out that isn't the equivalent of uncovering a vast box of jewels for the first time. She uses purple prose and flowery language in her work, yet what she writes always works very well in print. Readers should expect a full telling of Lestat's life up to the third volume of The Vampire Chronicles, his exploits before he was bitten by the oldest vampire in existence, his life afterwards and his life in secret hoping to live off of other humans. The second book gives the reader an idea of the kind of person Lestat was during his long life. Anne goes into more detail about other vampires in the book such as, the vampire Armand, and obviously the much prized Louis.
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