This week marked the triumphant return of Lestat de Lioncourt and his eternal companions on the Devil’s Road as the newest installment of The Vampire Chronicles hit the shelves. I got my copy of Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles by, Anne Rice, as soon as I had a moment to download it and sat down to eagerly devour it. At least, that’s what I thought I was going to do. While I expected to dine well on this novel, I had no idea it was going to be a 7-course meal with drinks afterward. I’m going to do my best to write a spoiler free review here, so bear with me, because what I really want to do is tell you everything!
Prince Lestat could have been many things. It could have been a novel simply about Lestat’s latest adventure. It could have been a novel that chronicled what had been going on in the world of Anne Rice’s vampires since Lestat’s encounter with the Memnoch the Devil and the denizens of Blackwood Farm. It could have been an introduction to vampires of this world that we had never seen before but had always known were on the fringes of the story. It could have been a novel that finally brought home the origins of those pesky Talamasca and how they really fit into the supernatural world of Rice’s creation.
It could have been any of these things…and instead, it is ALL of these things! And while dedicated fans of the series read that last sentence and jumped for joy, there are scores of people out there who just kind of sat back in their chairs and said to themselves, “But I’m not sure what all of that is…”
Now, Rice did her best to prepare you for what you would encounter in the novel if this was the first time you’d picked up a Vampire Chronicle. The first two sections of the book, “Blood Genesis” and “Blood Argot”, give a very basic overview of the history of the vampires and a short lexicon of terms that you will come across in the book. Also, in the back of the book, you’ll find an appendix with short synopses of each of the books in the Vampire Chronicles so you’ll have a basic idea of how the characters relate to each other and a basic order of events that have taken place before the current story. She also has a character list for the uninitiated, and in the actual narrative, she does her best to fill in the blanks as best as she can, though this does come with some pacing problems.
Still, even with these sections, I’m not sure that a first time reader or someone who had only seen the two films that have been released (especially if they’d only seen the travesty that was Queen of the Damned) would truly be prepared for the scope of this novel. To those readers, I would say just keep pressing on, and if it gets to be too much, go back and read the other books first.
That being said, I, personally, relished every single word. It was so good to sit at the table with old friends like Lestat, Marius, Louis, Armand, Pandora and so many more and read along as a new tale is woven into the tapestry of the Chronicles. Miss Rice also brought a whole new host of characters out for us in this novel and I couldn’t help but feel like she’d been sitting on some of these for a while, now, and finally had the chance to incorporate them into her stories. Each one of these characters brings their own unique voice to the chorus of vampires we’ve been treated to for the last four decades.
Now, what’s going on in the story? Lestat has begun to hear what he calls the Voice. It talks to him when he is alone, when he sleeps, when he feels vulnerable. It speaks to him inside his mind, and initially, it simply seems to want to know him and be recognized. It isn’t long before we realize, however, that this Voice is speaking to others. It calls out to those who have power and incites them to kill the younger, maverick vampires of the world. It is intent on culling the herd one coven at a time. The young begin to cry out for a savior; the elders turn to each other asking who will lead the battle against this unseen foe. Benjamin, a young vampire with an internet radio broadcast, repeatedly calls for the elders to come together to lead the “tribe”.
On the surface, Prince Lestat is a global mystery surrounding the origin of this Voice and its purpose. As in the rest of Anne Rice’s body of work, it’s rarely the surface story that is the most important. Deep down, this book is an exploration of the meaning of community and family. Is family a group of people who live together under the same matriarch/patriarch in the same home? Is family a group of people you get together with once or twice a year for special days or when times are tough? Or, is family something bigger?
Miss Rice’s answer? Well, you just have to read the book to find out. If you’re willing to take the journey with her, it’s such a great experience. And if you’re in the New Orleans area this weekend, the Official Vampire Lestat Fan Club’s Halloween Ball will be taking place, and Miss Rice and her son, Christopher, will both be in attendance!