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The Queen of the Damned (Vampire Chronicles)

The Queen of the Damned (Vampire Chronicles) - Anne Rice I read a lot of Anne Rice in the 80s, both her Vampire Chronicles and her Mayfair Witches series. I always find her very readable and there is always some dark beauty in her prose. However, like most series the quality tend to drop off after three or four volumes, the authors either begin to repeat themselves or try something radically different or experimental which does not work. As far as The Vampire Chronicles is concerned I think Ms. Rice has done a bit of both, and I lost interest after the fifth volume [b:Memnoch the Devil|31338|Memnoch the Devil (The Vampire Chronicles, #5)|Anne Rice|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1301778006s/31338.jpg|2925946].

Most readers of The Vampire Chronicles agree that the first three books of the series are the best. I would go as far as to say that these are the best vampire fiction I have ever read. [a:Bram Stoker|6988|Bram Stoker|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1202438456p2/6988.jpg] has nothing on Anne Rice as far as literary talent is concerned. Stephenie Meyer does not even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.

OK, enough useless preamble. I reread The Queen of the Damned as part of my Halloween horror binge. I have long neglected the horror genre in favor of sci-fi, fantasy and even mainstream fiction. It never occurred to me to reread the first two Vampire Chronicles books [b:Interview with the Vampire|43763|Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1)|Anne Rice|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1380631642s/43763.jpg|873132] and [b:The Vampire Lestat|43814|The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2)|Anne Rice|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347515742s/43814.jpg|3241580] because I still remember the stories very well even decades after reading them (the Tom Cruise movie adaptation is even more fresh in my memory). The Queen of the Damned however, is only remembered in term of broad plot outline, and I the denouement totally escaped me. I think this is because there is so much in this book. It is more epic is scale and more complex in structure and characterization.

In the previous book [b:The Vampire Lestat|43814|The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2)|Anne Rice|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347515742s/43814.jpg|3241580] Lestat, the rebellious star of the Chronicles has become a rock star with hit albums (I think he made some kind of hair metal with weird lyrics). His vampiric brand of metal mayhem has the unfortunate effect of waking up Akasha the original vampire, with megalomaniac tendencies. Soon she is dispatching young (or crappy) vampires left and right with her mental powers and human males in general are on her (s)hit list. Who can stop the most powerful vampire ever? I won’t spoil it for you, but it is probably not whoever it is you are thinking of.

There are long flashback chapters where the narrative is set in ancient Egyptian time where the human queen Akasha is turned into the first vampire almost by accident. This part of the tale involves good and evil spirits, cannibalism and curses, it really is quite riveting. The sections set in the modern world is almost as exciting, Anne Rice’s world building and vampire mythos is some of the most vivid fantastical creation ever. I particularly like the Talamasca, the secret society for investigation of the paranormal where Fox Mulder would feel right at home.

Anne Rice’s prose always go down well with me, I particularly like her description of the elation and shame of vampire feeding:

“When they drank the blood they felt ecstasy. Never had they known such pleasure, not in their beds, not at the banquet table, not when drunk with beer or wine. That was the source of the shame. It hadn't been the killing; it had been the monstrous feeding. It had been the pleasure.”

Her descriptions of characters are always quite vivid:

“Her skin was white and hard and opaque as it had always been. Her cheek shone like pearl as she smiled, her dark eyes moist and enlivened as the flesh puckered ever so slightly around them. They positively glistered with vitality.”

The Queen of the Damned is definitely worth rereading if you have read it ages ago like I have, of course if you have not read it before it is even more of an imperative though I would recommend reading the previous two books in the chronicles first. This should not be much of a hardship as they are seriously gripping reads. That said if you were to read it as a standalone I think it would still be quite understandable.

A great read from first page to last.

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