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
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.