The Queen of The Damned * Anne Rice

After Interview with a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat and the auto-biographical rise to fame, Lestat finds that he has gone a bit soft and unnoticed. Not even the Tale of the Body Thief could bring him back to his notorious ways. So he releases a rock album into the world (which causes one of the old ones to move back to life)

But it’s just so painful to shrink back into the shadows-Lestat, the sleek and nameless gangster ghoulie again creeping up on helpless mortals who know nothing of things like me. So hurtful to be again the outsider, forever on the fringes, struggling with good and evil in the age-old private hell of body and soul.

Taking advantage of the Vampire Movie Craze of the 90’s, Anne Rice continues her Vampire Chronicles with a massive hit, Queen of the Damned – which was afterwards picked up and made into a pretty epic movie.

And now as the violin player closed his eyes and bore down on his music, Akasha slowly rose from the throne. The violin fell from Lestat’s hands as he saw her; like a dancer, she wrapped her arms around him, drew him to her, bent to take the blood from him, while pressing his teeth to her own throat.
It was rather better than he had ever imagined-such clever craft. Now the figure of Enkil awakened, rising and walking like a mechanical doll. Forward he came to take back his Queen. Lestat was thrown down on the floor of the shrine. And there the film ended. The rescue by Marius was not part of it.
“Ah, so I do not become a television celebrity,” he whispered with a faint smile. He went to the entrance of the darkened store.

The Story

These narrative threads wind sinuously across a vast, richly detailed tapestry of the violent, sensual world of vampirism, taking us back 6,000 years to its beginnings.  As the stories of the “first brood” of blood drinkers are revealed, we are swept across the ages, from Egypt to South America to the Himalayas to all the shrouded corners of the globe where vampires have left their mark. Vampires are created–mortals succumbing to the sensation of “being enptied, of being devoured, of being nothing.” Vampires are destroyed.  Dark rituals are performed–the rituals of ancient creatures prowling the modern world.  And, finally, we are brought to a moment in the twentieth century when, in an astonishing climax, the fate of the living dead–and perhaps of the living, all the living–will be decided.

The main characters and story lines:

– The rock star known as Vampire Lestat, worshipped by millions of spellbound fans, prepares for a concert in San Francisco.

Every realm needs a brat prince.

Among the audience–pilgrims in a blind swoon of adoration–are hundreds of vampires, creatures who see Lestat as a “greedy fiend risking the secret prosperity of all his kind just to be loved and seen by mortals,” fiends themselves who hate Lestat’s power and who are determined to destroy him . . .

To put it another way, you do get wiser when you live for hundreds of years; but you also have more time to turn out as badly as your enemies always said you might.
And I’m the same devil I always was, the young man who would have center stage, where you can best see me, and maybe love me. One’s no good without the other. And I want so much to amuse you, to enthrall you, to make you forgive me everything. …  Random moments of secret contact and recognition will never be enough, I’m afraid.
But I’m jumping ahead now, aren’t I? If you’ve read my autobiography then you want to know what I’m talking about. What was this disaster of which I speak?

– The sleep of certain men and women–vampires and mortals scattered around the world–is haunted by a vivid, mysterious dream: of twins with fiery red hair and piercing green eyes who suffer an unspeakable tragedy.  It is a dream that slowly, tauntingly reveals its meaning to the dreamers as they make their way toward each other–some to be destroyed on the journey, some to face an even more terrifying fate at journey’s end . . .

– Akasha–Queen of the Damned, mother of all vampires, rises after a 6,000 year sleep and puts into motion a heinous plan to “save” mankind from itself and make “all myths of the world real” by elevating herself and her chosen son/lover to the level of the gods: “I am the fulfillment and I shall from this moment be the cause” . . .

“Let the spirits witness: for theirs is the knowledge of the future-both what it would be, and what I will: You are the Queen of the Damned, that’s what you are! Evil is your only destiny. But at your greatest hour, it is I who will defeat you. Look well on my face. It is I who will bring you down.”
How many times during the early centuries had he remembered those words? In how many places across desert and mountains and through fertile river valleys had he searched for the two red-haired sisters? Among the Bedouins who had once sheltered them, among the hunters who wore skins still and the people of Jericho, the oldest city in the world. They were already legend.

The best parts:

The romance between Akasha and Lestat is a rollercoaster or two narcissistic people falling for each other and looking to end the world. For a person who just had a go at mortality via The Body Thief, Lestat is about to become a monster only set on killing and ruling with his new queen.

The killing always means something. But yes, the grandeur of the plan terrifies me. The chaos, the total loss of all moral equilibrium, it means everything.

Akasha is completely insane and she reminded me of that amazing woman from H. Rider Haggard – She:

Your youthful exuberance is something I treasure, but such small possibilities are long gone for me, You think in terms of lifetimes; in terms of small accomplishments and human pleasures. I have thought out for thousands of years my designs for the world that is now mine. And the evidence is overwhelming that I must proceed as I have done. I cannot turn this earth into a garden, I cannot create the Eden of human imagination unless I eliminate the males almost completely.

“Why do you say so? Let us look to nature, as you wanted to do only moments ago. Go out in the lush garden that surrounds this villa; study the bees in their hives and the  ants who labor as they have always done. They are female, my prince, by the millions.
A male is only an aberration and a matter of function. They learned the wise trick a long time before me of limiting the males. “And we may now live in an age where males are utterly unnecessary. Tell me, my prince, what is the primary use of men now, if it is not to protect women from other men?

So Akasha is a full blown man-hater. The other interesting parts of the book: – the creation of vampires was the coolest fucking thing on the face of the planet. Pre-Egyptian royalty, witches, cannibalism, evil spirits, heads being severed, brains being eaten. I mean come ON people. Shit does not come cooler than that. It just doesn’t.

The worst parts:

Every character spends far too much time worrying over Lestat. It is an elongated aggrandizing, a chance to reiterate just how attractive, devilish, powerful and irresistible the irritating little godlet is. This book is 460 pages long. And like every Anne Rice books I’ve read to date it could easily be half that or less. I cannot even begin to describe the amount of redundancy and repetition there is in this book.

Women can be just as ruthless as men in trying to get what they want. Thirdly, the lack of men will not eliminate rape. I found this to be the most ridiculous point of Akasha’s: Mekere and Maharet were raped not because Enkil wanted to do so (after all, he passed the job on to Khayman) and certainly not because Khayman wanted to do it: THEY WERE RAPED BECAUSE AKASHA ORDERED IT DONE!!! As Queen, she demanded that a man dominate these women on her behalf. If there had been fewer men in the kingdom, this rape would have still occurred. In fact, the creature in the book responsible for the most deaths (including the destruction of the twins’ village) is Akasha!

Meh, All in all, the book was good, the movie was good and the soundtrack inspired an entire goth population.


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