PRINCE LESTAT The Vampire Chronicles (Anne Rice)

edinburgh-castle-duskOpen this novel and you will be swept away into imagining times long ago, far away places, beautiful immortals, contemplating social, political, even scientific issues. You get to live inside the head of some truly tragic beings who somehow still find the strength to see the wonder of life all around them.

He’s still a demon prince, still looked upon with a strange mixture of apprehension and stupefaction by others of his kind. It was a wonderful thing to pick up a novel that I’d been longing to read and have it live up to expectations so powerfully. The way Anne Rice weaves together character story lines across millennia can only be described with that over-used word, genius. She uses imagination and technique to reveal a hidden part of the psyche within any patient reader.

To get into the finer points of what made it so wonderful, I must point out some specific key elements. I love the way the author creates a time-line within the story and shares more of the vampire history. Without spoiling anything, I just have to say that the book feels like a ‘tying of loose ends’ with the other books. Strangely, it was only after reading ‘Prince Lestat’ that I became aware of just how badly it was needed.

‘The Vampire Chronicles’ was a worthy collection, but with the addition of ‘Prince Lestat’ it feels like a complete work. I must admit, although it was fulfilling to finish the book, it was also incredibly sad. This seems so final, more than any of the other novels. All the questions of the Chronicles that once lay unanswered were answered in here and, though it was amazing to read, it also left a tinge of melancholy with me long after I’d turned the last page.

I feel that I should also mention whether I would recommend this book to those who have not read any of the accompanying novels and I would have to say, in all honesty, that the book would probably be read best by those who are familiar with the Chronicles. I do not say this because I feel that the book is not worthy as a stand alone, but because I feel that the other books create such a rich experience. How can I not think so? Of course it would be better to read the other books first! Reading them only further enhances the experience and also, more importantly, creates such a deep bond between the characters and the reader.

As a reader I have never felt more connected to a multitude of characters within a series of books than I do with the Vampire Chronicles; Louis, Armand, Marius, Lestat…they ALL come to feel like people you know. People you love. Indeed, Rice’s ability to create such strong, individual characters is nothing short of amazing. Reading the stories of the other vampires just makes me feel more connected to them and makes the reader understand their personalities and actions on a deeper level, which of course enhances the experience of reading ‘Prince Lestat.’

A small criticism I have of the book is that we didn’t get to hear quite as much about the original characters as I would have liked. I thought it a shame that we didn’t get to hear more about Armand and Louis etc. in dealing with the Voice. Although the introduction of new characters is wonderful, I did miss the intimacy of hearing the perspectives of the vampires I’d grown to love. It felt a bit like being at a party surrounded by wonderful new friends, yet longing to speak with old ones.

However, this is just one small criticism, and really has nothing to do with the quality of the book. At one uncomfortable point I did fear that Lestat was not going to have any moments to speak with Louis. I thought this would seem greatly out of character for Lestat, considering he has always been drawn to Louis in previous novels. To me, there is a special bond between Lestat and Louis, as their history sprouted the Vampire Chronicles.

For this reason I always feel tingles when they come together to acknowledge their connection in each book, as they did in Queen of the Damned. Although the interactions are always brief, I always find them to be the most touching scenes. They feel like we have come full circle and are back to the genesis of it all.

Luckily these fears were unfounded and they shared what I thought to be one of the most intimate moments together. I love their bond, I truly do, and their bond intrigues me the most out of all the vampires as it originally spawned from hate but has somehow turned to complete love. I’m so glad AR gave them that moment and I’m glad the book ended with words from Louis. It seemed wonderfully fitting.

I have to say that finishing ‘Prince Lestat’ was a bitter-sweet experience. Will he ever return?

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