Happy New Year everyone! Let’s ring in 2017 with a review of Anne Rice’s latest installment in the Vampire Chronicles.
The previous book in this series ended with Lestat becoming the host of the ancient force that connects all vampires throughout the world. The famous Brat Prince is now Prince Lestat, linked to the spirit Amel – who the vampires learned is fully sentient and aware. Anything that harms Lestat will now harm all other vampires, so Lestat will have to bear that responsibility for the rest of his existence.
You all knew that situation wouldn’t last.
Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis introduces another race, sheds new light on the origin of the vampires, and completely alters the course of their future. After this, everything’s going to change.
The concept for this book is a little out there, so let’s just get the giggles out of the way with now. The new race being introduced here is from another planet. They created the vampires (not exactly on purpose), and their civilization was almost completely wiped out with the destruction of the fantastical city of Atlantaya. Yes, that’s right: aliens, vampires, and the lost city of Atlantis. You’re going to have to be okay with the series going in a really strange direction in order to enjoy this one.
Quibbles first, the pace drags at times while Rice dives into the full details about Atlantaya. The introduction of sci-fi elements into what’s always been a gothic tale feels very abrupt, and sometimes a little silly. (Replimoids, really?)
I’m going to say right now that only those who have read the entire series will be able to understand what’s going on, and even then there were so many new characters introduced in the last book that it’s still hard to remember enough about some of them to really care about what happens in their chapters (Rhoshamandes, I’m looking at you here).
(And speaking of characters we’re supposed to care about, Mona Mayfair and Quinn Blackwood were never my favorites, but I’m not at all happy with how their story was dealt with here. I get that authors sometimes decide that they’re done with writing a character, but why exactly would you devote two books to someone if writing for them was such a chore that you just wrap up everything off camera?)
That said, if you want sumptuous details about clothes and palaces and music, if you want to learn about a completely different race and their technology, and if you want to see many of your old favorites and watch Lestat being Lestat, then this book is still a lot of fun.
For some reason the historical sections are usually my favorite parts of Rice’s books, and here we get to listen to one of the Replimoids (sorry, can’t keep from rolling my eyes every time that name comes up) tell the tale of their trip to Earth and the beautiful, modern-but-more-so city of Atlantaya. It’s Rice’s usual habit of going into loving detail about wealth and luxury, but magnified a hundred times and wrapped up in futuristic technology and a civilization that makes sure everyone has everything they need, and then takes time for feasts and dancing and city-wide festivals.
And then there’s the tie-in with the vampires’ origin. I know some readers are upset that this book changes so much about what we have already been told, but let’s face it, the old series couldn’t keep going on exactly the same way forever. The vampires are in the modern world now, with all kinds of modern inventions to play with or have to work around (iPhones = good, having to stay a secret in a world with cameras everywhere = bad). Now that you have scientists and doctors becoming vampires and still having access to modern technology, it’s inevitable that they learn more and more about what they really are.
I think Rice has been amazingly clever with this. This isn’t any kind of hand-waving revision or “it was all a dream” kind of change; there are elements pulled in from previous books that we’re now seeing in a completely different light. I still haven’t decided if Rice had some of these things planned all along, or if she’s just good at looking over the entire history and picking just the right parts to think “Hmm, I wonder what if…”
It’s gorgeous, it’s intricate, it’s taking everything in a new direction and it still has philosophy, vampires dancing and Lestat being madly in love with everydamnbody. Prince Lestat is left in a new position by the end of the book, and the whole world is facing the possibility of change, with several new players waiting to reveal what their real plans are.
And speaking of plans, according to Anne Rice’s latest update on Facebook, she’s hopeful that 2017 is the year that a Vampire Chronicles TV show will finally start production. Is the world ready for yet another vampire series? I guess we’ll find out…