Lestat de Lioncourt

“Lestat and I are dancing; slow dancing like kids did in the 50’s; he’s holding me and I’m leaning against him as we barely move on the dance floor. The bar’s dark and almost empty. Just the lights of the juke box in this corner. And this is my song for him, funky, old, pure — playing on the Juke Box. “Tonight you’re mine…completely.” Oh, how I’ve missed you. How I’ve longed for you. Oh, how much I love you.”

 

Anne Rice recently posted these words on her facebook fanpage and immediately my stomach flipped. I’d almost forgotten how much I loved this character, how much he has inspired me and others, and how much I adore Rice, herself, for the man she created.

The character of Lestat is the heroic catalyst of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series. Originally cast as something of a villainous antagonist in the eyes of his fledgeling, Louis, he soon transformed into the engine propelling the story forward with his incessant magnetism for trouble and his mantle as the ‘Brat Prince;’ a term of endearment granted him by Marius in response to his reckless behaviour. As a hero, he has naturally has the burden of a flaw – or several, if his companions are to be believed – which, most glaringly, is his desire to do ‘good’ and his constant sabotage of his own inherent ‘goodness.’

The character’s first appearance in the series, which is later to become his collected memoir, is not as the protagonist, the primary character, or even the storyteller, as one may have suspected from his virulent presence in subsequent novels. But rather it is as the maker of Louis, the interviewee in Interview with the Vampire. The portrait Louis paints of Lestat in this novel is not a kind one. Rather, the blonde Frenchman is depicted as something of a condescending, greedy simpleton, if one with immense passion. It is substantially apparent that Louis both fears and mistrusts Lestat, for acts which the reader must accept as truth, despite the obvious bias of the first person narrative. Little of Lestat’s history is revealed by his fledgeling, with the exception of commentary by vampires Louis encounters in his travels. At the novel’s close, Lestat has been revealed as, at the very least, powerfully vital, having survived and overcome two ‘murders’ at the hands of his children. Dealing with these betrayals, Lestat sleeps with the intention of putting a close to his mortal life with Louis and Claudia.

lestat_and_claudia

Awakened in the 20th Century, Lestat rises to the news of Louis’ tale being a paperback bestseller in a world that has no place to believe in the presence of evil. Vampires are of no consequence to the mortals of this new day and age, but as amusing thrills in a jaded society. A vampire with a desire to be recognised for what and who he is, Lestat plunges into this new time with his own novel in response to Louis, as well as a rock band, intent on taking the stage for one glorious concert and showing the world what he is. Whether they believe him or not is of no relevance to him. But, in displaying himself and the secrets he has come to collect over the few centuries of his life, Lestat strives to do ‘good’ by forcing the world to recognise his evil. This is achingly reminiscent of his early excursions on the little Parisian theatre stage of his mortal youth, as well as his later return to that stage as the Vampire Lestat, during which time he scared the living hell out of the audience with the unnatural pitch of his vampiric voice. In his novel, The Vampire Lestat, the character reveals his fear of evil, of wickedness. This not being the wickedness one would associate with traditional, religious definitions of good and evil, but rather with an ethical scale. Death, the unknown aftermath of death, cruelty, and pain, these things are already forming in his mind as ‘evil.’ Beginning with his childhood experience of what he and Nicolas call ‘the witches’ place;’ where he was told sickening stories of witches being burned for their sins against the church.

In the novel, The Queen of the Damned, Lestat, having awakened the first vampire, Akasha, comes into the closest possible contact with true evil, though his mind does not accept it as such. Akasha is blatantly heartless, cold, and callous, but her visions of grandeur, of altering the world to what she perceives as god-fearing perfection, obscure her wicked nature. This, combined with her undeniable beauty, bedazzles the hero and he strives to control the struggle in his soul. He wants to revel in the cruelty, adamant that it is his nature as vampire to partake of Akasha’s destruction, but ultimately, his human sense of ‘goodness’ wins as he impassively watches Akasha destroyed. This moment is not the victory of his good nature, but the realisation that he, and others of his kind, are capable of ‘good.’ Though he fails to recognise it as such, mourning for the loss of her.

Black and white

On the precipice of a moral duel with his nature as a vampire, Lestat is manipulated too easily by a mortal man, Raglan James, into giving up his vampire form for a human one. Ultimately he accepts the deal, having attached to mortality the connotation of divine blamelessness. From the character’s perspective, one can infer that humanity carries with it a sense of ‘good’ that vampirism does not, a moral compass that requires conscious choice to set off kilter. It is with this tone that Lestat takes a human body, giving up possession of his own for a brief time, in The Tale of the Body Thief. And while he does find a certain peace in experiencing humanity for the first time in centuries, and seeing the sun, he uncovers pain and dilemmas of the flesh that he had never to contend with as a vampire. This is compounded by the sheer evil of Raglan James, who, despite his mortality, is a vicious minded man with an eroded conscience that allows him free rein as he takes lives at a whim. Lestat is comforted only by his friendship with David, and his love for the nun, Gretchen, who later turns from him in fear and divine revelation as his presence in his vampire body causes her to experience the stigmata. It is a sign to Lestat of the fact that he can only do ‘good’ by being this evil thing that engenders good in humans when they are faced with his unnatural countenance.

In Memnoch, the Devil the character comes to face to face with the true existence of good and evil as he sees it, or, quite possibly, his own interpretations of it – as what he narrates feels so thoroughly like a dream, an hallucination. His journey to Heaven and Hell does feel jarringly like what he would perceive as good and evil, a theist’s interpretation of these realms as if the notion of both were purely black and white. Whatever the case, what he does see so thoroughly dents his mind that he is forced into a coma-like stupor, stepping away from the real world to dream.

For a long period, the illustrious Brat Prince is absent from the series, but for on instance when he wakes to the sound of Sybelle’s beautiful music, a throw-back to his own violin playing which awakened Akasha, and then later when he wakes to aid Louis in Merrick. But finally he is reunited with the reader in Blood Canticle in which it is apparent that he intends to achieve ‘goodness’ from the very first page. Lestat tells the reader that he wants to be a saint. He wants to do good, be good, be the opposite of what he perceives himself as, a creature of evil. At the close of this novel, Lestat makes a choice, the first purely unselfish act he has made, he forces Rowan Mayfair back into the arms of her husband and leaves to be alone with his misery, instead of taking her as he has every other mortal that he had entirely within his immense power. By performing this entirely selfless act, Lestat proves to the reader that he is capable of the ‘goodness’ he has sought, that he is not ruled by the evil he believes has formed him from a mortal man into a vampire. His transformation required no church and no confession, but the confession which he offers the reader. Rather, ‘goodness’ is achieved through simple human compassion.

Whatever the case, and however you feel, I shall now leave you with words which perfectly sum up the melancholic, yet hopeful end to a series of adored novels:

“And then my heart cries out, my heart will not be still, my heart will not give up, my heart will not give in-

-the blood that teaches life will not teach lies, and love becomes again my reprimand, my goad, my song.”

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49 Comments

  • Reply Mandela_s_mom February 24, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    This is why there are writers. You take my feelings and turn them into the words I want to say. I now need to reread them all. It has been several years. I now have a five year old who is asking all sorts of vampire questions. When he is old enough, I will share these books with him too.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      I feel that everyone should be able to experience vampires. I hope your son enjoys the books as much as you did :).

      • Reply Diana April 16, 2014 at 6:27 am

        What more can one say of Lestat? I love him because of his desires. He knows what he perceives as goodness. He strives for it but often fails because he is never fully satisfied by the answers he finds. He is always on a quest to find “why”. He questions everything which is very relateable to us as mortals. It is his curiosity that gets him into such complex predicaments. He is almost naive in the questions he asks and yet nothing satisfies him unless he sees for himself. Lestat dares to ask the questions and seek out the answers that we do not. His charm and honesty keep us begging for more.

        • Reply Carmen Dominique April 16, 2014 at 7:03 am

          Very well said. It is his childlike curiosity that makes him endearing to the reader.

  • Reply Mário Baptista February 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    The most deep and smart vampires are in the Anne Ricce vampire chronicles …

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      Absolutely!

  • Reply April February 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I adore everyone of Vampire Chronicles,not so much The Tale of the Body thief,but I digress.They have brought me through alot of hard times and helped me grow as a person,as vampire books they are without a doubt my absolute favorite and my 11 yr old daughter is already wanting to read them but I feel I should wait,I started at 14 with Interview and proceeded through the years with them,and have lamented the end of the series ever since.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      I agree whole-heartedly with you. When I realised the Chronicles had come to an end I was completely heart-broken :(.

  • Reply Tomii Sonic February 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I agree with this article, the depth to the character is the ups and downs, the life cycles. If Lestat is always wins, and the endings are always happy, he becomes James Bond. Lestat’s depth is (of course) owed to Anne’s up’s and downs, and what is more honest and captivating then someone exposing their life in the form of the character they created.
    Secondly, the true existence of this character, would it not be filled with bouts of conflict with social norms, technology, depression? Lestats character had already faced these things, and been in these places, it was just never written about, more like suggested or eluded to.
    Let me put it another way. When I was growing up, (not to go into a sympathy for me rant, just to gain perspective on my angle.) I moved 8 times in my first 10 years of school, as a result, I had no friends to speak of, and my lonely existence was quenched by fantasy, GI Joes’ and Transformers mostly. I had a favorite GI Joe that always represented ME. All of the good, all of the bad. I would find myself on occasion, make him lose at things and create doubt around his character. Why? Because it grafted him to me, he became “realer” and as a result, his triumphs were huge because of the contrasts! (I lost him in some rose bushes when I was 14, and that was when I decided to be a musician)
    Anyway, you get my point, always winning means nothing without that contrast.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Absolutely, I can’t help but agree with you. What is a character without a bit of conflict :P.

    • Reply Grace February 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      I love how you describe your relationship with your G.I. Joe…I moved several times and had the same sort of issues. My Barbies were probably the most wacked on the block. LOL
      From my standpoint, characters with no loss or pain or embarrassment are flat and dull…I want to identify with them, journey with them, heal with them when they feel pain; it lets us know WE can heal in reality…I’m not putting this as eloquently as everyone else here, but I’ve loved Lestat since I discovered him as a teenager, (long, long ago…lol) precocious punk that he is, and I haven’t actually been able to read “Blood Canticle” yet, because I’m not ready to say goodbye. And we don’t have to, since there all those books to reread and fall into…but I’m a stubborn sort of emotional goober. Someday…
      No one makes the reader feel like Anne does…her novels are SO immersive and vast and it’s so hard to pull yourself out of them when it’s time to face reality. So allow me to get all immature here and say, “Stuff it, douchebags” to anyone who can’t feel her power….=-) She pours all her heart and soul and happiness and pain and loss into those books and that alone takes more courage than they realize….

      • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

        😀

  • Reply Samantha February 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Everything You have said here, I agree with.

    Lestat is the Alpha vampire. The one who you stack everyone else’s characters against, even the other characters of Anne Rice. Flawed yet gloriously beautiful.

    Also, I agree with you about the writing:
    1. I have tried so many times to write stories based on these kind of vampires, but I could not even come close to the beauty and grace of Anne Rice’s chronicles.
    2. Every single writer writes themselves into every single character they make. Period. Each character created has qualities of their creator. It is a fact, and it is inevitable.

    Thank you for this article. It reminded me just how much I love writing and how much I love reading this series.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      You are very welcome, Samantha :).

  • Reply Dorothy Ann Harrison February 24, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I have read many Vampire novels. But NONE can compare with The Vampire Chronicles of Anne Rice. I’ve read each and everyone 3 times, and will reread them again soon. I’ve loved every one of them. Lestat is my love, my unrequited amour. I wish they had never ended. I feel like I lost some of my best friends. Thank you Anne Rice for sharing your wonderful creativity with Us the reading community.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      I cannot agree with you more.

  • Reply Andrea February 24, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Most people would say that I’m still very young to say that The Vampire Chronicles are some of the best books ever written. I am 16, I still have lots to read, but I’m a great reader, and these books are until now some of the best I’ve ever read.
    I’m still unfinished with the series, the last one I read was Queen of the Damned, but I fell in love with Rice’s writing since I read Interview with the Vampire, when I was 11. He has a beautiful, flawlessly, unique way of writing.
    Lestat de Lioncourt is one of my favorite characters of all time, and I’m sure he’ll always be.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Andrea, I’ll be honest with you… They ARE the best books you will ever read :).

  • Reply Victoria February 24, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I’ve been reading The Vampire Chronicles since the fourth grade, at first it was just because I was young and wanted to read whatever book my cool older sister was reading, but it really became my favorite series. Since then I’ve never not been in the middle of reading one of the books (I’m only on Blood and Gold now, what with school-required reading and other distractions) and I never get how people say they get worse after the 4th book. I mean, yeah Memnoch the Devil was a little much to get through but it was still good. And then you get to see more of each character bit by bit. My favorite part has always been hearing what the other vampires thought of Lestat though, because you really get to know what he’s like from all sides of the story. Lestat has always been my favorite vampire (Armand being a close second), not just in this series but in any vampire series. I don’t think that when my sister recommended these books to me she thought that I would fall so completely in love with the characters, even more so then she did since she hasn’t read them in years and has long since forgotten the details.
    Long story short, when I was about 9 or 10, I fell in love with Lestat (even in the first book he was my favorite, if you can believe that) and now at 14 I can really understand the complexity of these books and how Lestat as developed and I can’t thank Anne Rice enough giving us this wonderful character.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      I started reading the books when I was very young too. By the time I got to my final year in school I had read them all and it was only then that I began to fully understand what I read. I had to start from scratch and read all over again.

  • Reply Devika Fernando February 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    All I can say is: AMEN. To every single word. 😉 Lestat is the most fascinating vampire ever and indeed an inspiration. I remember wishing so much for him to on the one hand evolve and on the other hand stay true to himself – which is exactly what anne has done to him or he has decided to do through her writing.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Absolutely! 😀

  • Reply Lestat deLioncourt March 15, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Hello! Armand pointed me in your direction. Look out.

    Just kidding! He said I should peruse your pages. You’ve piqued my interest here.

    • Reply Lafaeyette March 15, 2013 at 8:34 am

      I’m ecstatic to hear from you! And I’m thoroughly glad that you are intrigued by the site. If you have any suggestions for something you’d like to see on the website, let me know. I’d love to have your insight.

    • Reply Hold the Heathen Hammer High April 16, 2014 at 4:27 am

      What do vampires do on the internet?

      • Reply Carmen Dominique April 16, 2014 at 7:05 am

        Talk cats and get embroiled in flame wars, like the rest of us.

        • Reply Hold the Heathen Hammer High April 17, 2014 at 4:43 am

          Flame wars? But I thought they were flammable. 😉

          • Carmen Dominique April 17, 2014 at 9:49 am

            Aw, just little, teeny virtual flames, these; )

    • Reply The Light's Bane June 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Hi Lestat!

  • Reply Ariel Hassium May 13, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Lestat has been in my mind and in my heart since I was twelve years old. Ever since I had first seen the movie and fell in love with Anne Rice’s novels from the start. My mother told me I could not read them until I was older, and in an act of defiance, I greedily devoured the series behind her back. That was five years ago, and even now, with all of these modern distractions, I revisit the yellowed pages of this series and I love every bit of it. Lestat and his vampiric companions have not left my mind alone. I have now started developing my own character with the hopes of matching lestat’s magnificence. Lestat is not just a character in my mind. He has become a living and breathing influence upon modern vampire novelists. And, with the hope of the new generation, he will remain in our hearts as the first and only modern antihero. He was the first vampire I ever met. And he will remian my most beloved and my most favorite.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique May 13, 2013 at 6:49 am

      And again, I cannot disagree with you. It is also bolstering to know that there are so many more fans out there that have had such similar responses to Anne’s novels as what I did. I too sneaked around with these novels when I was strictly forbidden to read them and I do believe I am better off for my efforts. I feel the same way you do for all the characters in these novels; they are not the simple ink and paper creations that most characters devolve into. To me they are real, more real than I would sometimes like them to be, haunting my every waking thought. But I would not give that sensation up for anything in the world. 🙂

  • Reply Ellie May 15, 2013 at 3:28 am

    It’s been ten years since I’ve read the Vampire Chronicles, and yet Blood Canticle is still on my bookshelf, unread. No matter how many times I try, I simply refuse to part with Lestat =(

    • Reply Carmen Dominique May 15, 2013 at 8:29 am

      Aw, I’m sorry to hear that, Ellie. You should take the time to read it though. It hurts, but it’s beautiful.

  • Reply Cian mac Conmara November 7, 2013 at 3:24 am

    This is a very well written summary of Lestat in the Vampire Chronicles. However, you did not mention his appearance in Blackwood Farm.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique November 7, 2013 at 3:28 am

      I felt that his appearance in Blackwood Farm was very much a precursor to his domination of Blood Canticle. But thank you for bringing it to my attention, it certainly does warrant mention!

      • Reply Devika Fernando November 8, 2013 at 12:42 pm

        I’d agree that his role isn’t “big” in ‘Blackwood Farm’ but I’d love to see him described in this novel nevertheless. For, I think that helping Quinn with his request underlines his tilt towards not only being evil and thus causing good but really having a go at being “good”. And him sort of making new friends as well as interacting with old friends might be worth a mention, too.
        Also – sorry for nagging, love – I’d love a sentence or two more on Lestat in “Memnoch the Devil”. Maybe that’s just based on the book being one of my favourites in the series… But I think it would be good to mention how he is about to be hired to do the Devil’s work and refuses, even losing his eye in the wake of his desperate attempt to join the living (undead) again. That was one of the times for me where he chose good over evil though never being sure of it.
        Oh, and before I forget it: I LOVE your new take on the character descriptions!

        • Reply Carmen Dominique November 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm

          I’ll look into it, thanks love. I agree that there needs to be more. And there certainly will be for the encyclopedia. but people tend to lose interest if I make my posts too long 🙁

          • Devika Fernando November 14, 2013 at 10:41 am

            All too true. 🙁
            That encyclopedia is going to ROCK! 🙂

  • Reply MaDonna Moody November 7, 2013 at 3:39 am

    I started reading these books when I was eleven. I found my mom’s copy of Interview and I fell instantly in love with Lestat. My mom wasn’t too thrilled to discover I was reading these books, but she know what a voracious reader I was, so she wasn’t all that surprised. And for a lonely bookworm, Lestat became my constant companion. I was so sad to say goodbye in Blood Canticle, but still, I found it a beautiful, fittiing ending to the series. And whenever I feel the need, I return to the Chronicles and let Lestat take me away.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique November 7, 2013 at 3:41 am

      I feel I can relate to every word you have placed here. Thanks for a beautiful comment 🙂

  • Reply Hold the Heathen Hammer High April 16, 2014 at 2:46 am

    People were all hatin’ on Blood Canticle but I thought it was good. From the bad reviews I read people were annoyed that Lestat was using slang and that it was “out of character” but remember in TVL he says he is fond of slang? I thought the book was in character, ppl should have been grateful after having Lestat not in the books for so long!

    • Reply Carmen Dominique April 16, 2014 at 7:08 am

      My sentiments exactly. I adored Blood Canticle

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 18, 2014 at 8:49 am

    God Raglan was such a scum bag.

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 1:07 am

    I hate myself for finding vampires likable!

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Lestat is mentioned in the Cradle of Filth song “Libertina Grimm”. He is called “Count” Lestat though which I did not like.

  • Reply The Light's Bane June 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Lestat is impossible to dislike bc he likes himself so much.

  • Reply The Light's Bane June 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Lioncourt surname history. http://www.houseofnames.com/Lioncourt-family-crest

  • Reply The Light's Bane June 6, 2014 at 6:01 am

    I just wanted to say on that first pic- Lestat does not slurp blood off his hands! That is about as refined as the disgusting habit of licking your fingers after you eat cheesies. What have they done creating this bastard slob in place of Lestat? And a side hair part? I don’t think so!

  • Reply The Light's Bane July 13, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Metal songs about Lestat- http://www.metal-archives.com/search?searchString=Lestat&type=song_title

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