Queen of the Damned (Novel)

“Come on, say it again. I’m a perfect devil. Tell me how bad I am. It makes me feel so good!” 

– Anne Rice, The Queen of the Damned

Over twelve novels, Anne Rice has gifted readers with the trials and victories of a myriad of characters. These are not just any characters, however. These are immortals, with lifetimes far exceeding the span of what readers have become accustomed to understanding. We’ve followed them as she laid their natures out for us to study, as she bared the truth in its entirety, sparing us no painful details.

Reading the Vampire Chronicles is like melting into another world. Worlds, even. The characters become more than just descriptions on paper; without warning, we find ourselves relating to them, crying with them, loving them as they traverse centuries of time. Sometimes millennia.

It is in this spirit that we purchased and devoured The Queen of the Damned.

The story begins where The Vampire Lestat ends; on a cliff-hanger. Or more accurately, we are kept suspended over that precipice that we feel is waiting to engulf us as the story is reconstructed around the experiences of core characters – all leading up to the incident which ended the previous novel.

In a modern age, where voices can be transmitted anywhere in the world, Akasha (thanks to Marius) has heard Lestat’s goading music and finally pulls herself out of the strange catatonic state she has been in for thousands of years. She devours her king, Enkil, debilitates Marius, and walks away from her throne in search of Lestat, destroying any vampires, too young or too important to her quarry, that step in her way. She protects him from the shadows, killing his would-be attackers, and finally takes him with her – intent on teaching him what she has learnt as she sat on her throne, wandering through the minds of the world.

What she has learnt, as it turns out, is coloured by her own prejudices, something we should have expected. Akasha has reached the conclusion that the world’s travesties could have been prevented, if only men had been kept in line. And she seeks to fulfil two goals: eradicate the male influence until the world is ready to receive it again, and make of herself, Lestat – and any others he chooses to keep around – gods among men (or women, as it were).

It is under this imminent threat that the characters we have come to adore, converge in one place, seeking to stop Akasha’s insanity before it ends the world.

On the way, however, we gain new insight into these people, and get to see them in a modern environment, a relatable time. We can feel their fates spiralling towards the centre of the gyre, to the calm before the storm – the ‘conference’ with a queen they thought would never speak again.

The most natural solution would be to kill her (if they can), but there are too many unanswered questions. Most importantly: will her death be theirs as well? All evidence indicates this to be the truth, so they choose instead to band together, to try and reason with her.

“There are too many other inexplicable things around us–horrors, threats, mysteries that draw you in and then inevitably disenchant you. Back to the predictable and humdrum. The prince is never going to come, everybody knows that; and maybe Sleeping Beauty’s dead.”

– Anne Rice, The Queen of the Damned

Until this point in the series, certain points of view have been veiled from us by Lestat and Louis’s narratives. It is QotD which allows us to hear from the others for the first time, and reconnects us with characters who could easily have become background noise if left to their own devices. But in this story we finally learn more about them; Marius, Armand, Mael, amongst others. We also learn of others that predate Marius by twice his life-span, at least.

Not to mention that we are reintroduced to the boy who interviewed Louis: Daniel Malloy. This is one of the more intriguing parts of this novel, whatever happened to Daniel after Interview? It turns out that Daniel became obsessed with finding out more than he already had. It would have been wise of him just to stop. Instead he went looking for Lestat, he hunted down the house trying to find him; and somewhere between the search and the discovery, Daniel’s mind started slipping. Fortunately (or possibly unfortunately, depending on how you view the situation), it was not Lestat he found, but Armand.

What follows through the course of The Queen of the Damned is a terrifying, exhilarating love affair, which finally ends in Daniel’s self-destruction and Armand’s resignation.

“Goddamn it, do it yourself. You’re five hundred years old and you can’t use a telephone? Read the directions. What are you, an immortal idiot?”

– Anne Rice, The Queen of the Damned

images

This is just one of many short tales designed to further embellish these individuals for us, intended to inspire further adoration in us, and Rice is spectacularly talented with human emotion. With scarcely a single comment from any one of these characters, we begin to feel as though we’re sinking into their lives, entrenched in their minds, lost in vivid descriptions.

Rice blends ancient culture with modern living and creates a universe which caters to every curiosity.

The Queen of the Damned is a culmination of events, of stories which all drain towards the end. An end which becomes a new beginning.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

8 Comments

  • Reply Anne February 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I think as always, you are provocative, and your, cultural competence as well as time period accuracy, makes all of your books, extremely enjoyable, as well as educational!

  • Reply Mike February 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Nice review. It took me back to when I first read interview, after plucking it out of a discount bin. I still have that hardback book and the autographed copy of Lasher I got when I met Anne Rice.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Jealous! So very jealous!

  • Reply Sumiko Saulson February 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Love the review. Queen of the Damned is one of my favorite books… I loved all of the little extra details given to Anne Rice’s vampire mythology, such as information about the way vampires from a number of different cultures changed, and of course the delicious origin story. Also – you make a very good point about the narrative: in Interview the only thing we could know about vampires was what little Louis knew, and there was so much that was unknown to him.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 22, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      Thank you! And yes, I absolutely agree with you. What better in a book than to have ALL the characters in it 🙂

  • Reply Devika Fernando February 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Hm, now I’m positively itching to re-read QotD, it’s been ages… But first I’ve got to finish re-reading “The Wolf Gift” by Anne.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      I still need to finish Wolf Gift as well…

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 18, 2014 at 11:03 am

    It is pretty sad Akasha did not become a radical feminist. Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, Sonia Johnson, Mary Daly, Janice Raymond, Sheila Jeffreys etc were all active when she woke up. I think a healthy society does need to have a lower percentage of males.

  • Leave a Reply