Anne Rice:
The Vampire Chronicles

Katharine Nelson

Interview with the Vampire

The first in the series of the vampire chronicles, Interview with the Vampire is set in a sparsely furnished apartment in San Francisco. The book is a moral quest on the part of Louis the vampire who is searching for integrity and redemption. Louis steps back and looks at his life as he recounts it to the interviewer. The book began as a short story in the late '60s. Rice wanted to see what it would be like to be a vampire. She wanted to see what it would feel like to drink blood, what type of pleasure was it? The short story was later expanded with the beginning remaining similar. Rice began to write Interview with the Vampire again in 1973, a year after he daughter had died of leukemia. The grief she was experiencing was evident in the book. She used Louis as a vehicle to explore her own feelings of lose and grief. "In any sort of contemporary novel I had worked on, I had not been able to touch the reality of growing up in New Orleans, the loss of my mother, and the loss of my daughter. Suddenly, in the guise of Louis, I was able to touch painful realities. Through Louis's eyes, everything became accessible" (Ramsland 209).

Louis is made into a vampire in 1791 at the age of twenty-five. He experiences wonder and guilt at his transformation. He lives with Lestat, his maker, for four years but becomes disgusted with Lestat's vile ways and tells Lestat he plans to leave. Lestat knows Louis's vulnerability, and creates Claudia, a five-year-old girl. Louis falls in love with Claudia and the three live together in New Orleans for 65 years. Claudia, upset with Lestat for creating her when she was only five, plots to kill Lestat and leave for Europe with Louis. Lestat does not die in the burning house and follow them to Europe. IN Paris, Louis and Claudia meet Armand, a 400 year old vampire. Louis falls in love with Armand, and Claudia, fearing abandonment begs Louis to create for her a companion, Madeline. Louis debates whether he should go with Armand, or stay and protect Claudia and Madeline. Before he can decide Lestat arrives and accuses Claudia of committed the capital offense of trying to murder her maker. The coven then carries out their form of justice by killing Claudia, and Louis in retaliation burns down their coven. Full of gloomy indifference, Louis returns to San Francisco alone, and the story comes full circle when he meets the reporter in the bar.

The Vampire Lestat

The Vampire Lestat is the story of Lestat's life, and his response to Louis telling the secrets of the vampires. Rice says when she wrote the first book she was Louis, when she wrote the second book she was Lestat, two very different people. Lestat feels that Louis has distorted the truth, and not told everything that is relevant about the life of a vampire. Lestat sets out to tell the whole story. It is the chronological tale of his life, and set over a decade before Louis's story. As a young man Lestat is able to break free from his poor ancestral home, and runs to Paris with his friend Nicolas. They travel to Paris where he becomes a famous actor. His beauty and strength attract Magnus, a vampire looking to pass on the Dark Gift. He forces the powers on Lestat and then burns himself in the fire. Lestat lives alone for a short period, and showers his family with gifts. He then creates Gabrielle, his mother, to save her from death. Later he turns his friend Nicolas into a vampire, causing great strain in their relationship. Lestat and Gabrielle meet a coven of vampires in an old graveyard. Armand is the leader of this coven, although he appears to be a boy of seventeen. Much of the coven is destroyed, but four members stay and create the Theater of Vampires. Nicolas becomes very unruly and after his hands are cut off as punishment, he throws himself in a fire and is destroyed. Lestat and Gabrielle leave Paris and travel south. Lestat is trying to find Armand's creator, Marius. Gabrielle eventually leaves him to wander in the desert, and Marius comes for Lestat. He shows him the couple who are original vampires in Egypt, they are known as "those that must be kept." Lestat and Akasha, the queen vampire, drink from each other until Enkil, the king, forces them apart. Marius sends Lestat away for his own protection. He ends up in New Orleans where he meets Louis and Claudia. He tells his side of the story, and prepares for a rock concert with his band "The Vampire Lestat." Louis rejoins Lestat, fearful that other vampires will harm them both for publicizing their existence. The concert goes perfectly, and the novel ends with Lestat being abducted by Akasha, after she is awakened by his music. This allows Rice to continue the series.

The Queen of the Damned

Queen of the Damned is written by Lestat after the death of Akasha. Much of the story is based on the memories of other vampires as they ride from a compound in Sonoma to Miami. Marius does not want the novel written, Jesse asks that the names be changed, and Maharet wants Lestat to get his story straight. Rice says the premise for the novel is "Essentially, the queen should have an extremely good idea, but it should still be evil. The real evil in the world is always a complex and seductive thing that sounds brilliant" (Ramsland 360). The style of the vampire chronicles changes with the writing of this book. It weaves together the ideas and activities of several vampire to build up to Lestat's abduction by Akasha. Akasha has a vision to bring peace to the world by slaughtering mortal men. She asks Lestat to join her cause, and although he participates a couple times, he grows increasingly alienated by her bloody vision. The book outlines the creation of Akasha, the first vampire. She in turn created her husband Enkil, and the league of vampires grew. The vampires now want to stand up to Akasha and stop her carnage, even though they know it will lead to their demise. Akasha and Lestat arrive at the Sonoma compound and are confronted by Mekare, a vampire twin who was a witch in mortal life. Mekare throws Akasha through a glass wall, slicing off her head. They quickly eat her heart and brain, ending her cruel quest and preserving the vampire race.

The Tale of the Body Thief

The Tale of the Body Thief is the account of Lestat's adventure with a mortal named Raglan James. The two temporarily switch bodies, but James then steals Lestat's body with all of its powers. Lestat must now track his immortal body, in mortal form and reengage his soul with his body. The mortal body he inhabits is plagued by disease, loss of power and vulnerability to death. Louis and Marius refuse to help him, so he gets aide from David Talbot. They succeed in retrieving the body, and David acquires a beautiful young body and is made into a vampire by Lestat. Rice says "Body Thief was a more intimate novel then Queen. I got inside Lestat again to speak about the seductiveness of evil. This novel is about self -discovery. It's a truthful statement about honesty and art. Evil is not beautiful. More and more it [Body Thief] seems to be an answer to everything raised in Interview" (Ramsland 450). This novel is a tale of jeopardy and self-discovery. It has the emotional sensitivity of Interview, and deals with the issue of good and evil. Lestat questions how far he is willing to go for excitement, and in the end he chooses vampirism over mortality and a chance for redemption. "To me, Body Thief has a deep meaning that has to do with selling one's soul to the Devil, and to what extent everyone does that. There's a bottom line of ruthlessness in almost every person where you decide what to do to make life exciting enough. That's what the whole book is about" (Ramsland 451). Rice thought this might be the last in the vampire chronicles, but a few months after its conclusion she knew she would write another.

Memnoch the Devil

Memnoch the Devil is very different stylistically than Rice's other novels in the vampire chronicles. This novel is not a chronological account, but an exploration of God, good and evil. Lestat is recounting his adventure with Memnoch to David Talbot. The tale begins with Lestat terrified that he is being stalked by a terrible being. He has felt this presence for sometime, and believes it may be the Devil coming to claim his soul. Meanwhile Lestat is stalking a drug dealer assassin named Roger. Lestat decides to kill Roger in a way that will be least painful for his daughter Dora, a televangelist. David believes that the Devil is stalking Lestat because of his intended kill. Lestat takes Roger from his home and to hide the evidence cuts his body into pieces and hides them around the city. Roger's ghost appears to Lestat in a bar and tells his life story. He begs Lestat to save the religious artifacts he has spent his life collecting for his daughter. Lestat agrees and also goes to New Orleans to tell Dora of her father's death. Lestat meets Dora and tells her that he is a vampire and has killed her father. She is not frightened by this, and only wonders how it fits into her religious grounding. Lestat realizes his stalker is upon him, and claims to be the Devil Memnoch. Memnoch tells Lestat that he wants to end evil and the world and he would like Lestat to go to Heaven and talk to God, and to Hell to find a way to better serve the truth. Memnoch challenges God to become a man, and God tells Memnoch that he has been a man when he was Christ. God explains why there is pain and suffering in the world and His love for human souls. God invites Lestat to witness the crucifixion, and to drink of His blood. He experiences a tremendous sense of light. Then Memnoch takes him on a tour of the crusades and a quick trip through religious history. In Hell Lestat is confronted with the notion that behind a door are all of the people he was killed, waiting to victimize him. Those people are not in Heaven because they have not forgiven Lestat.

Lestat returns to David and dictates the book. Rice claimed this would be the last in the series due to its disturbing nature. "It was a deeply disturbing book to write, which feel wonderful. It has much blasphemy, but then you have to love God greatly and deeply in order to be a true blasphemer, I think. I loved writing it; it felt like dancing-instinctive, athletic, and to calculated or analyzed or rational, or even sequential. I've spoken in my dramatic images and must stand by them and take the consequences" (Ramsland 296).

Pandora: A New Tale of the Vampires

A sixth book in the vampire chronicles was released in 1998.

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