Review on: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
Series: The Vampire Chronicles (Book 2)
You haven’t understood Anne Rice’s vampires until you read about the Vampire, Lestat. The Vampire Lestat is an introduction to Lestat, from his days as a human to his days and nights as a vampire. I find that Lestat is more human than most, but is also one of the best examples of a vampire.
So who is Lestat in this story? He first begins as a nobleman, born into a poor family of noble lineage. Early on, he was somewhat isolated from his brothers and sisters, but very close to his mother. He always felt like he didn’t belong, but he had wondrous dreams that always felt like they were out of reach. But on his final adventure as a mortal, he escapes with his friend Nicolas to Paris where they live their liberal and independent lives, until their jobs at the local theatre make Lestat the target of the vampire Magnus. Magnus kidnaps Lestat in the middle of the night and turns him into a vampire, before throwing himself into the fire (ultimately killing himself) and leaves Lestat to fend for himself as a new-born vampire. Lestat, proud and willful as he is, uses the money left to him to splurge on himself and his friends at the theatre, who don’t know who their benefactor is. Somewhere along the way, Lestat’s mother Gabrielle comes to say goodbye to her son, as she is already at the brink of dying. Instead of letting her die, along with her mother’s unresolved dreams, he turns her into a vampire like himself. Later on in the story, Nicolas becomes resentful of Lestat’s money and gifts, and forces Lestat to turn him into a vampire too. In the time before Nicolas is turned into a vampire, Lestat and Gabrielle encounter a band of vampires who belong to a coven under Armand (see book 1) who have long ago followed a set of guidelines about vampires, and serving Satan, and who have lived in hiding from humans. This coven tries to condemn Lestat and Gabrielle who try to make themselves human by living amongst them. Later on, this coven along with the now-turned Nicolas, become the Théâtre des Vampires (see book 1), leaving a very reluctant Armand in-charge of a band of vampires who must now try to adapt to the more modern Paris. Gabrielle and Lestat leave Paris and go on their own adventure but later part as they find that they have different desires for the future, but promising that they will meet again. It is in Egypt that Lestat becomes distraught and he buries himself underground, and how he later on meets Marius – a very old but legendary vampire. It is Marius who has been alive for over a thousand years that shares with Lestat all the questions he has had, later on introducing Enkil and Akasha whom Armand calls Those Who Must be Kept. He listens to the beginnings of Marius and his time since being turned, increasing evermore Lestat’s curiosity for Enkil and Akasha whom he wakes up with his violin-playing. Here, Enkil almost kills Lestat and Marius is forced to send Lestat away to the New World, where the story of Interview With a Vampire begins. The story doesn’t end here as it takes us back to the beginning of the novel, where Lestat introduces himself as a rockstar who has exposed himself to the world as a vampire (fictional of course, to the eyes of the mortal) and exposes his story and the stories that were to be kept.
If you’ve read the first book, Interview With a Vampire, we finally see the character of Lestat whom Louis doesn’t describe much in his story, more or less because there is so much of Lestat’s story that Louis doesn’t know. If you wanted to see more of Lestat, this is really the book you should be reading. Finally, readers get a chance to see how Lestat really is, and why his personality and character is perceived the way he explains it. Because Rice writes the story from Lestat’s time as a mortal to his time as a vampire in pre-Industrial Europe to the modern 20th century, we are able to see the various parts of Lestat and how his experiences mold him to become the vampire that he is at the end of this book. This book is full of various characters, each interesting on their own, but contributing to a better understanding of our main character. It’s like joining a character from their birth to their death (or as far along as the story can take us), we see how they are at their immature stage, yet we see them learn from their experiences and we see them grow into something more. We don’t understand much of Lestat at the beginning of the story, but as time passes on, and the years and centuries in the book take place, we see Lestat grow and face both his immortality and his human-ness.
At times, the book feels like it’s carrying too much. Like there are too many characters and too many stories and too many things happening at the same time. When I read this book, I felt like I wanted to know more about so many other characters but it wasn’t tackled by Anne Rice. Well, it is about the vampire Lestat and not the others, but the introduction of those characters in the book, though short, pave the way for the future books of this series. One thing that the introduction of so many new characters does though, is that it gives us a clearer understanding of what a vampire really is. The different stories and personalities of the characters from the first two books (this and Interview with a Vampire), already tells us so much of Anne Rice’s vampire characters. It is quite a sight, seeing the limits of vampires, and also becoming disillusioned by what we think vampires are. As the book progresses, we begin to understand that vampires are not to be understood in the context of a single lifetime, but the lifetimes of so many characters put together, and the characters we have yet to meet in the future books.
At the start of this review, I said that I think Lestat is more human than most. Throughout the story, Lestat has this characteristic of being both inside and outside of a circle. He is made immortal but he clings to his human side, his family and his friends and his memories. Throughout the story, he is continuously searching for the place where he can belong or people he can be with. Unlike other vampires (explained in later stories), he is rarely alone and always has a companion with him. He longs for companionship while most vampires tend to keep away from each other. Also, within Lestat is a continuous struggle for good and bad. One cannot say that Lestat is completely evil, but one cannot say he is completely good. This struggle to do what’s right and to do what’s natural (for a vampire), constantly clashes as Lestat lives on, whether it’s something personal that he learns on his own or whether it’s from the other people and vampires he encounters. Despite the years, Lestat’s personality changes yet remains the same, and you can see a power and arrogance and strength that was with him when he was a human and is still with him as a vampire, with his being a vampire and immortal and with power only making all these characteristics all the more clear to the readers.
One can’t help but love and hate Lestat for what he is.
The next book is even more shocking.