Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

The Vampire Chronicles

Anne Rice:
The Vampire Chronicles
Katharine Nelson

Interview with the Vampire

The first in the series of the vampire chronicles, Interviewwith the Vampire is set in a sparsely furnished apartmentin San Francisco. The book is a moral quest on the part of Louisthe vampire who is searching for integrity and redemption. Louissteps 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 wantedto see what it would be like to be a vampire. She wanted to seewhat it would feel like to drink blood, what type of pleasurewas it? The short story was later expanded with the beginningremaining similar. Rice began to write Interview with theVampire again in 1973, a year after he daughter had died ofleukemia. The grief she was experiencing was evident in the book. She used Louis as a vehicle to explore her own feelings of loseand grief. “In any sort of contemporary novel I had workedon, I had not been able to touch the reality of growing up inNew 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” (Ramsland209).

Louis is made into a vampire in 1791 at the age of twenty-five. He experiences wonder and guilt at his transformation. He liveswith Lestat, his maker, for four years but becomes disgusted withLestat’s vile ways and tells Lestat he plans to leave. Lestatknows Louis’s vulnerability, and creates Claudia, a five-year-oldgirl. Louis falls in love with Claudia and the three live togetherin New Orleans for 65 years. Claudia, upset with Lestat for creatingher when she was only five, plots to kill Lestat and leave forEurope with Louis. Lestat does not die in the burning house andfollow them to Europe. IN Paris, Louis and Claudia meet Armand,a 400 year old vampire. Louis falls in love with Armand, andClaudia, fearing abandonment begs Louis to create for her a companion,Madeline. Louis debates whether he should go with Armand, orstay and protect Claudia and Madeline. Before he can decide Lestatarrives and accuses Claudia of committed the capital offense oftrying to murder her maker. The coven then carries out theirform of justice by killing Claudia, and Louis in retaliation burnsdown their coven. Full of gloomy indifference, Louis returnsto San Francisco alone, and the story comes full circle when hemeets the reporter in the bar.

The Vampire Lestat

The Vampire Lestat is the story of Lestat’s life, andhis response to Louis telling the secrets of the vampires. Ricesays when she wrote the first book she was Louis, when she wrotethe second book she was Lestat, two very different people. Lestatfeels that Louis has distorted the truth, and not told everythingthat is relevant about the life of a vampire. Lestat sets outto tell the whole story. It is the chronological tale of hislife, and set over a decade before Louis’s story. As a youngman Lestat is able to break free from his poor ancestral home,and runs to Paris with his friend Nicolas. They travel to Pariswhere he becomes a famous actor. His beauty and strength attractMagnus, a vampire looking to pass on the Dark Gift. He forcesthe powers on Lestat and then burns himself in the fire. Lestatlives 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 greatstrain in their relationship. Lestat and Gabrielle meet a covenof vampires in an old graveyard. Armand is the leader of this coven, although he appears to be a boy of seventeen. Much ofthe coven is destroyed, but four members stay and create the Theaterof Vampires. Nicolas becomes very unruly and after his handsare cut off as punishment, he throws himself in a fire and isdestroyed. Lestat and Gabrielle leave Paris and travel south. Lestat is trying to find Armand’s creator, Marius. Gabrielleeventually leaves him to wander in the desert, and Marius comesfor Lestat. He shows him the couple who are original vampiresin Egypt, they are known as “those that must be kept.” Lestat and Akasha, the queen vampire, drink from each other untilEnkil, the king, forces them apart. Marius sends Lestat awayfor his own protection. He ends up in New Orleans where he meetsLouis and Claudia. He tells his side of the story, and preparesfor a rock concert with his band “The Vampire Lestat.” Louis rejoins Lestat, fearful that other vampires will harm themboth for publicizing their existence. The concert goes perfectly,and the novel ends with Lestat being abducted by Akasha, aftershe is awakened by his music. This allows Rice to continue theseries.

The Queen of the Damned

Queen of the Damned is written by Lestat after the deathof Akasha. Much of the story is based on the memories of othervampires as they ride from a compound in Sonoma to Miami. Mariusdoes not want the novel written, Jesse asks that the names bechanged, and Maharet wants Lestat to get his story straight. Rice says the premise for the novel is “Essentially, thequeen should have an extremely good idea, but it should stillbe evil. The real evil in the world is always a complex and seductivething that sounds brilliant” (Ramsland 360). The style ofthe vampire chronicles changes with the writing of this book. It weaves together the ideas and activities of several vampireto build up to Lestat’s abduction by Akasha. Akasha has a visionto bring peace to the world by slaughtering mortal men. She asksLestat to join her cause, and although he participates a coupletimes, 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 vampiresgrew. The vampires now want to stand up to Akasha and stop hercarnage, even though they know it will lead to their demise. Akasha and Lestat arrive at the Sonoma compound and are confrontedby Mekare, a vampire twin who was a witch in mortal life. Mekarethrows Akasha through a glass wall, slicing off her head. Theyquickly eat her heart and brain, ending her cruel quest and preservingthe vampire race.

The Tale of the Body Thief

The Tale of the Body Thief is the account of Lestat’sadventure with a mortal named Raglan James. The two temporarilyswitch bodies, but James then steals Lestat’s body with all ofits powers. Lestat must now track his immortal body, in mortalform and reengage his soul with his body. The mortal body heinhabits is plagued by disease, loss of power and vulnerabilityto death. Louis and Marius refuse to help him, so he gets aidefrom David Talbot. They succeed in retrieving the body, and Davidacquires a beautiful young body and is made into a vampire byLestat. Rice says “Body Thief was a more intimatenovel then Queen. I got inside Lestat again to speak aboutthe seductiveness of evil. This novel is about self -discovery. It’s a truthful statement about honesty and art. Evil is notbeautiful. More and more it [Body Thief] seems to be an answerto everything raised in Interview” (Ramsland 450). This novel is a tale of jeopardy and self-discovery. It hasthe emotional sensitivity of Interview, and deals withthe issue of good and evil. Lestat questions how far he is willingto go for excitement, and in the end he chooses vampirism overmortality and a chance for redemption. “To me, Body Thiefhas a deep meaning that has to do with selling one’s soul to theDevil, and to what extent everyone does that. There’s a bottomline of ruthlessness in almost every person where you decide whatto do to make life exciting enough. That’s what the whole bookis about” (Ramsland 451). Rice thought this might be thelast in the vampire chronicles, but a few months after its conclusionshe knew she would write another.

Memnoch the Devil

Memnoch the Devil is very different stylistically thanRice’s other novels in the vampire chronicles. This novel isnot a chronological account, but an exploration of God, good andevil. Lestat is recounting his adventure with Memnoch to DavidTalbot. The tale begins with Lestat terrified that he is beingstalked by a terrible being. He has felt this presence for sometime,and believes it may be the Devil coming to claim his soul. MeanwhileLestat is stalking a drug dealer assassin named Roger. Lestatdecides to kill Roger in a way that will be least painful forhis daughter Dora, a televangelist. David believes that the Devilis stalking Lestat because of his intended kill. Lestat takesRoger from his home and to hide the evidence cuts his body intopieces and hides them around the city. Roger’s ghost appearsto Lestat in a bar and tells his life story. He begs Lestat tosave the religious artifacts he has spent his life collectingfor his daughter. Lestat agrees and also goes to New Orleansto tell Dora of her father’s death. Lestat meets Dora and tellsher that he is a vampire and has killed her father. She is notfrightened by this, and only wonders how it fits into her religiousgrounding. Lestat realizes his stalker is upon him, and claimsto be the Devil Memnoch. Memnoch tells Lestat that he wants toend evil and the world and he would like Lestat to go to Heavenand talk to God, and to Hell to find a way to better serve thetruth. Memnoch challenges God to become a man, and God tellsMemnoch that he has been a man when he was Christ. God explainswhy there is pain and suffering in the world and His love forhuman souls. God invites Lestat to witness the crucifixion, andto drink of His blood. He experiences a tremendous sense of light. Then Memnoch takes him on a tour of the crusades and a quicktrip through religious history. In Hell Lestat is confrontedwith the notion that behind a door are all of the people he waskilled, waiting to victimize him. Those people are not in Heavenbecause they have not forgiven Lestat.

Lestat returns to David and dictates the book. Rice claimedthis 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 greatlyand deeply in order to be a true blasphemer, I think. I lovedwriting it; it felt like dancing-instinctive, athletic, and tocalculated or analyzed or rational, or even sequential. I’vespoken in my dramatic images and must stand by them and take theconsequences” (Ramsland 296).

Pandora: A New Tale of the Vampires

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

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