This month the selection was the novel Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice. I decided this time around to skip the movie version, as I've talked about it a few times before on here. (last year when I covered The Vampire Lestat in book club I talked about the movie version of Queen of the Damned)
plot: It's a week until the big rock concert by the Vampire Lestat. Everyone in the world, be it human or supernatural is planning to attend. Some are going to experience the show, others are out to kill Lestat. As the week progresses, we learn that Akasha, the oldest living vampire, has awoken after thousands of years. She makes her way towards the gathering, destroying all in her path. We also learn of a common nightmare all the vampires, and many of the human psychics have been having repeatedly. They keep seeing two red haired twins and a burnt body. No one is certain what the meaning of the nightmare is? It isn't until after Lestat is kidnapped by Akasha, and turned into her personal steward, forced to kill for her, that the remaining vampires come together under one roof to learn the truth of the nightmares and their origins. Akasha feeling affronted by the remaining vampires, gives them an ultimatum. They refuse, and a final showdown between them and Akasha begins.
Okay, so first off, this is one of those novels that has been studied in university courses and by professionals countless times in the last 30 years since the novel was written. I don't know how much I can actually add to it?
This book, which is book 3 of The Vampire Chronicles, is told through the eyes of many characters. From the main characters like Lestat, Jesse, and Maharet, down to minor "extras" like Baby Jenks. Keeping with a bit of a theme, it's like from Royalty down to the Commoner.
It's also the first major depart from a straightly solid vampire story into witchcraft and the outlining areas of other paranormal issues; with the story of the Twins and the Great Family. (something Anne Rice would expand on in other novels)
For me, the characters of Jesse, The Talamasca and the Twins -Maharet and Mekare, were the most interesting. These are the witches and the paranormal researchers in the story. And the core of the two major family lines.
It's a very global thinking story. One that tackles the issues that were being faced in the 1980's when it was originally written. Issues we are only now really years later dealing with. A conscious thought that pointed out the flaws. The vampires gathered at the end; the survivors, are almost like a small version of the united nations. Each representing a "nation" so to speak. (Egypt, Rome, Iceland etc) and take on the responsibilities and perspective of such an enclave. A ruling factor advising the monarch.
It's almost visionary in the way Anne Rice describes the way Akasha sits undisturbed in front of screen after screen, connecting to the rest of the world without participating in it. Much like we do now with endless hours of internetting. It's hard to believe it was written 30 years ago before this was the norm. And Akasha's initial response to the images she sees, is equal to a child acting out on impulse learning that the information isn't always as it first appears. Akasha is trapped not just physically as a statue for thousands of years, but emotionally in her stubbornness. Her need to be right even when she knows just how wrong she is; is one of her only driving desires for so much of the story.
Where as the second novel in the series, The Vampire Lestat, was a clear metaphor for paganism, this seems to be a note on feminism and what one would consider extremism.
It's very female centric. Parallel in the fact Akasha begins killing all the men in the areas she visits, while Maharet ignores all the male family members basically stating that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Choosing to focus her attention and wealth on the females of her family.
The story is about evolution as much as it is about political boundaries. It parallels the idea of evolution itself with "two great families", both coming from one root. The human descendants and the surviving vampires. Proving that everyone is connected and all is one. We are given a clearer version of this metaphoric truth through the eyes of Baby Jenks as she sees the webbing of souls upon her final death. The same webbing Akasha claims to have seen when she was turned in the beginning.
Unlike the first two novels, the male perspective is down played to the point Lestat is afraid to use his powers. To test just how strong he truly is. As we're reminded time and again in the story that history can repeat itself. It's almost as if he's not sure he wants to admit he could be capable of falling into the queen's viewpoint/actions on his own. Even the most powerful of the male vampires, seem to be in a more docile role. Khayman being forced to rape the twins by the King's order, while the King being controlled by Akasha. Marius, being trapped in ice and completely unable to help himself as he waits for Pandora to rescue him. Daniel the newly turned vampire, who is addicted to Armand's blood.
Okay, I'm going to end this here. I think I've said all I can without a degree in anything.