Volume 92, Issue 26

Wednesday, October, 21 1998

bound and gagged


Rice fields new vampire

Anne Rice
Knopf, Random House
$32.95/388 pgs.

In The Vampire Armand, Anne Rice revisits the ever-popular Vampire Chronicles for a sixth time, brilliantly recapturing the gothic horror first explored in Interview with the Vampire.

Starting off where Memnoch the Devil concluded, vampires from all over the globe surround Lestat (the main character in the Vampire novels), who lies unmoving on the floor of a cathedral. The narrative then shifts to an elusive background figure of the series, the vampire Armand, who is drawn to tell the story of his own life while reflecting on Lestat.

He recounts the story of his life, from fragmented childhood memories of abduction from Kiev to his journey to ancient Constantino.

In the Venice of the Renaissance he meets the great vampire Marius, who gives him the gift of the vampire blood and shows him how to be an "ethical" vampire. Upon Armand's vampiric transformation, the tone of the book immediately changes. Raw and gritty scenes give way to Armand's more introspective thoughts of anger with the Christian God, his battle with good and evil and the struggle for salvation of his immortal soul.

After he is forcibly separated from Marius, he falls from grace, serving as leader of a cruel renegade vampire coven, then later as mentor to the Theatre des Vampires.

The final chapters of the book remind one of the archetypal significance of Rice's vampires, who offer keen insights into the most human of concerns.

Rice paints a beautiful historical tapestry, using exotic locales to highlight the ever-present struggle between man and God. But she often wanders in the narrative and doesn't explore the more religious aspects of the novel.

The Vampire Armand is a worthwhile addition to the epic series and readers will enjoy the intertextual aspect of having more than one narrator. Thankfully, Rice steps away from the sci-fi/fantasy model of her recent works and returns to her earlier gothic horror. Enough history is included for new readers to enter her series, while veterans will relish the new perspective given by characters such as Armand.


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Copyright The Gazette 1998