Blood Canticle

“You make me miserable. You really do, I want you to know that. Much as I love you, much as I need you, much as I can’t exist without you, you make me miserable.”

–          Anne Rice, Blood Canticle

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Blood Canticle is the final novel in The Vampire Chronicles series. It concludes Lestat’s quest for Goodness as he discovers that the Good – which he seeks in everything, from religion to the actions of mortals and immortals alike – is apparent in his own mind, his own actions, in his capability to be inherently good, if the stakes are high enough.

Lestat believes himself to be evil; that is clear from his first nights as a vampire in The Vampire Lestat, as he contemplates that he must be a thing cast aside from God. That taking life is an abhorrent nature fit only for an abhorrent creature. That God could never abide the existence of such a thing. Or, at the very least, not acknowledge the presence of it. He curses and challenges God, trying to call out a smiting from the heavens, but it never comes. And, believing himself to be a thing of evil, as much as he protests this own self-actualisation, Lestat makes himself evil, by behaving in a manner he thinks an evil thing should behave.

This is Lestat’s modus operandi through the entirety of The Vampire Chronicles series, to be on the verge of doing something good and then thwarting it with an act of evil, something that will remind him in nights to come that he is damned.

For all his negations of the fact, Lestat never speaks of what he is with anything other than at least a hint of distaste, malice almost, but when the reader enters the realm of Blood Canticle, the hero of the piece allows his blood to speak to him. He revels in being what he is, clearly, without conscience, for the first time. Whilst simultaneously being keenly aware that he is a thing of evil.

Blood Canticle opens with Lestat’s statement that he wishes to be a saint, that he desires Goodness, that he does not want to be evil anymore. He states this quite clearly, if babbled, in a rushing stream of consciousness. A fountain of words that once more sweeps the reader up in his magnificence. He imagines himself being loved, adored, and prayed to. Following this manic diatribe, the novel picks up where its predecessor, Blackwood Farm left off, with Lestat offering the gift of his blood to a dying Mona Mayfair.

“And so the literal dissolves. She drinks and she drinks. And alone I dream, a suicide in a bathtub with streaming wrists, I dream.”

–          Anne Rice, Blood Canticle

From these first few lines of the tale itself, the reader is pinned under a vast sea of beautiful imagery. The making of Mona is the most detailed and exquisite moment of the creation of a vampire described in any of the novels, because it follows the fervour of Lestat as he pictures what Mona is now and what she will be when she is changed. He practically tries to destroy himself in her creation in order to give her all of his strength, passing out before the change is complete.

But his idea of Mona does not quite equate with what she is, a raving, tempestuous little genius harbouring the darkness of the Mayfair witches, the loss of her child, one of the Taltos. The mother in her is still very much present, and her love for her daughter, Morrigan, drives her to fits of anger and depression. All this in the upheaval of the Mayfair family, members of which now know instinctively through their gifts that something is wrong with their heiress.

Because of his making of Mona, Lestat is bombarded with a number of influences that tear at his soul, including the ghost of Julien Mayfair, who, being a ghost and thus being mostly irrational in his reasoning, haunts Lestat. Julien’s spirit blames Lestat for what he sees as the death of Mona, because, sensibly, for a ghost, a vampire is the epitome of what is unnatural. It is dead, but it is not tied to the laws of spirit, it is free to be alive, whilst being dead. Of course, Lestat’s approach to ‘thwarting’ Julien is to mock him for his impotence as a ghost, to brazenly laugh in his face for the mistakes he has made, and for being unable to stop the Brat Prince in any action he wishes to take.

A further strain on Lestat’s mind is the presence of Rowan Mayfair, with whom he falls almost instantly in love. She is a constant torture to him, and she is well aware that he is directly responsible for whatever has occurred with Mona. Rowan also finds herself painfully drawn to Lestat, falling as thoroughly in love and lust with him as he is with her; a heart-wrenching situation when one considers the presence of her overwrought, gentle husband Michael, who worships Rowan as if she were his one and only light.

Finally, there is the issue of Mona herself. From the first few nights, it is apparent that Mona and Lestat will never see eye to eye. Both are unbearably hot-headed and Mona is intent on not being bullied, which is a personality trait Lestat fails to see in himself. However it becomes clear that Mona’s grief is the main source of her instability, the thing which drives her entirely to brashness, to acts of stubborn rebellion. She believes herself a grown woman, or a girl that has experienced too much. Their fights very nearly tear the tentative little coven apart, regardless of the affection they feel for one another.

However, Lestat swears to assist her in finding her child, and he is true to his word, enlisting Maharet’s help in locating the little island which the Taltos should inhabit. What they find there is nothing but mayhem, the destruction that humans wreak on anything that lends itself to tranquillity. Morrigan is dead, having been brought to the state by her own children, and only one Taltos is left alive, one that immediately goes into the care of Rowan and Mayfair medical, following a bloody slaughter of the island’s criminals by the trio, Lestat, Quinn, and Mona.

On an evening after the massacre and the rescue of the Taltos, Lestat awakens to find that Quinn and Mona have left him to be received by Maharet. This should be a betrayal, but it is to be expected; it was, without a doubt, something that could not have been avoided. And Lestat has to, once again, cope with the knowledge that he has been abandoned by his children as he sees them. Quinn is as much his pupil as what Mona is.

Having nothing left to lose, Lestat gives himself over to Rowan for a brief time, allowing himself to imagine her as his new companion, allowing himself intimacy with her.

But then he does something uncharacteristic for once. He makes a decision which prevents the loss of yet another loved one, and the ruination of more than one life.

He leaves her.

He tells her to return to Michael and he leaves to be on his own.

“Be gone from me, oh mortals who are pure of heart. Be gone from my thoughts, oh souls that dream great dreams.”

Anne Rice, Blood Canticle

Lestat has done something inherently good. He has cherished Rowan in a manner that, some would say, he has never cherished another. As much as he wanted her in his loneliness, and she wanted him in her infatuation, he did not act on his impulse to have her. He saved her mortality, and the love between her and Michael, and defended Mayfair medical, and the Mayfair family against further grief and disarray.

For centuries Lestat sought out Goodness by acting on selfish, and sometimes evil, impulse. He sought it and he never came to understand that Goodness is not something to be achieved at the foot of an altar, or from the vantage point of a saint.

The blonde hero finally achieved his own semblance of Goodness by thinking of what the domino effect of his actions may be. By choosing to preserve instead of destroy, even if it meant his own loneliness.

This being our Brat Prince, of course, he leaves us with the vague promise that someday he will return as the old charming devil we know him to be. But for now we are charged with the knowledge that the series has ended. Ended with a sorrowful Lestat who finally understands what it means to be Good.

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10 Comments

  • Reply Devika Fernando July 13, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Ah, what a great way to start the day, with one of your wonderful reviews – and that of one of my Top 3 Anne Rice Books (next to “The Tale of the Body Thief” and “Memnoch the Devil”, I alternate between this novel and “Interview” in my Top 3 *lol*).
    I had instantly loved Quinn when he was introduced in “Blackwood Farm” and I thought he’d make a perfect as could be companion for Lestat, so I was really looking forward to more on the pair when “Blood Canticle” came out. And I had HUGE expectations with regard to Mona as another female vampire. Keeping in mind what happened to Claudia (too young) and Gabrielle (too masculine), I was eagerly waiting how Mona with her ideal age but weird character would evolve. To be honest, I can’t stand her most of the time. 😉 But I see her as very important in welcoming Lestat in the modern world, in challenging him a way only the women in the Chronicles have so far been able to and of course in introducing him to even more supernatural events than Merrick had.
    What I love about the book is indeed what you have pointed out, that Lestat changes in his behaviour and moral standpoint without ever actually losing himself or it not being credible. It reminds me of the metamorphosis in “Body Thief” and somehow can be transferred to the way modern-day people could and do change after just being plain disillusioned…
    With regards to Lestat and Rowan… Ugh, I was never a big fan of the Witch Doctor Rowan in all the Witching Saga books but I have to admit that I can totally see what attracts her to him and him to her. I don’t see them as lovers though, so I’m perfectly happy with Anne’s decision to let them suffer and live apart from each other.
    There was a distinctly more modern feel about this novel which I now see enhanced in “Wolf Gift” but Lestat never felt out of place, more ready for a new challenge. All the carnage on the island and the cynical character of the Taltos as well as the way he interacts with his pupils and the Mayfairs have somehow made him seem “good” indeed, though in a bizarre way.
    This book has almost made me cry because it’s the last in Anne’s epic Vampire Chronicles. Somewhere deep inside, I haven’t given up hope that we might encounter Lestat again – and he seems to be still very much in love with Anne and vice versa, judging from her Facebook posts. 😉

    • Reply Carmen Dominique July 13, 2013 at 7:53 am

      I’m glad I could do something to brighten your day, Devika :)! I really don’t know, I can’t seem to decide which one of these novels is my favourite. I constantly think it must be Blood and Gold… But I really love this one.
      Quinn was a sweet character, I adored him from his first words, but, having read the Mayfair Witch novels, I found the injection of Mona into the Chronicles to be almost frustrating. I was never her biggest fan, though I did understand her. However, that aside, Both this and Blackwood Farm were superb novels in my opinion. I see a great deal of negative reviews for them, and, I’ll be honest, I don’t see all the fault that others do. I like Lestat in a modern setting, I think a brightly lit up world with fast cars and even faster people suits him impeccably.
      Rowan… Rowan, Rowan… I liked her. But I felt she was too cold for Lestat. I know that is what he felt to be appealing about her. But I think Lestat needs some light in his life, no more heavily brooding people…
      The book DID make me cry! I knew from the first lines that the series was over, I just knew. And by that last beautiful few lines on the final page, I was bawling like a baby. Even thinking about it now makes me sad :(.

      • Reply Devika Fernando July 13, 2013 at 8:15 am

        The reviews… Somehow it seems to me that Anne’s most distinguished and wonderful workds receive the worst criticism. :/ Take “Memnoch” for example, which she claims to be her favourite among the Vampire Chronicles. I think people don’t want too much complexity and change, which is wrong. Just because Lestat is adorable as the fierce Brat Prince, doesn’t mean that he’s not allowed to develop, to go through an all too human side. Just as much as people – maybe because of the blood? – vampires seem to be influenced by what goes on in the world, though in a different way. I’m sure we’d have just as many people booing if Anne had chosen to write all her books in the fictional time of the 80s and 90s and Lestat not becoming modern or growing at all. *sigh*

        • Reply Carmen Dominique July 13, 2013 at 8:34 am

          There are two opinions. Some people love everything up to Tale of the Body Thief and say that the rest was rubbish. And some people firmly believe the exact opposite. I love all of them. And I think, while I do believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, I’ve read some really disgustign reviews lately on Goodreads.

      • Reply Heather F. February 5, 2014 at 12:00 am

        You’re not the only one who bawled like a baby! God! The ending was so powerful!

  • Reply Teresa Walters July 14, 2013 at 5:32 am

    I first read The Vampire Chronicles: Interview With A Vampire when I was 12 years old. I instantly fell in love with Lestat, and no man in my life would ever compare to him. I read every novel that followed faithfully, hanging on every word, dying to know what could possibly come next in Lestat’s life. I learned so much about life, and the human condition from these novels, the rest I learned the hard way on my own in The Savage Garden. Now, I am 30 years old, and I still turn to Lestat in a novel whenever I find myself disappointed in human men. I still wish there were more to be told about him. I believe that now that he had found redemption by discovering the meaning of goodness and discovering the goodness within himself through his walking away from Rowan, he deserves a second chance at love, a chance to get it right this time around. He’s waited long enough, been through hell and back literally, he deserves another shot at finding it.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique July 14, 2013 at 7:55 am

      I’m certain there is still plenty to be told about him, it’s just a case of thinking about it. He isn’t gone, he’s just quiet.

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 25, 2014 at 11:16 am

    ” What they find there is nothing but mayhem, the destruction that humans wreak on anything that lends itself to tranquillity.” I wouldn’t say it fair to say it is an inherent trait of humans to trash the earth, our society is set up unsustainably but there have been human societies in the past that walked gently upon the earth. Or did you mean the peacefulness of the Taltos people compared to humans?

  • Reply Nataly Johana March 21, 2016 at 12:41 am

    Here I am, 2016.. just starting 3rd Mayfair Witches book, and trying to recall my beloved characters endeavours and whereabouts 6 years after reading the whole chronicles (all but prince Lestat, which I MUST read once I’m done with Taltos) still gotta say, every single review of this saga posted in this page has done lots to help my memory and made me fall in love once again with the brat prince and Anne’s marvellous writing, Thanks a lot to whomever wrote them, in spite of reading this reviews you just made a fan happy and also made me want to read the whole series again :3

    • Reply Carmen Dominique March 21, 2016 at 7:42 am

      Hi there,

      You are most welcome, I am glad that they could be of help to you 🙂 I will be posting more soon.

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