Blood and Gold

“The sordid things, things to do with blood and gold.”

–          Anne Rice, Blood and Gold

safe_image

Marius is the eternally paternal figure, a symbol of wisdom and control in a monstrous world which is all about losing control and trying to rein oneself back into some semblance of calm. He has constantly been a mythological character, almost, one that may or may not still exist, as a sign that there is some kind of stillness past all the chaos that being a vampire brings to the fore. At least he is all of that, until he tells his own story, confesses his own secrets, and reveals himself to be made of the same human clay as we all are.

On the day that Blood and Gold appeared in our local Estoril Books, it was as if the universe had conspired to make something beautiful occur. Considering that I was secretly in love with Marius, this novel could not have been better timed nor more perfectly in-tune with the trappings of my imagination at the time.

I devoured the book in one night, in between non-existent sleep and overdue school work. The end result was relatively fated – I both adored and sincerely resented Blood and Gold.

To date, this is my most treasured of any Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles novel. Marius has always been the steadiest character, the one that combines elements that readers worship in any given vampire, with the additional fatherly patience that he exudes when dealing with brat-ish behaviour from Lestat and unreasoned, illogical arguments from Akasha.

But there is an issue that arises out of the creation of a character whose behaviour is as unchanging as the surface of a lake – there must always be some depth beneath the shimmering reflection, some movement to validate certain actions taken. This is not to say that Marius never displayed signs of brash behaviour in previous novels: the incident which stands most firmly at the forefront of my mind as a reader is when Pandora and Santino assist him from the ice in The Queen of the Damned. His volatility in pushing Pandora away seems almost juvenile, unwarranted from the calm figure that Marius is. But his history with Santino would suggest otherwise. Seeing his greatest love and his most hated enemy working together had its negative effects on the man so many readers believe to be devoid of an emotion as debilitating as rage.

And so, Blood and Gold was the beginning of a new Marius, really, one heretofore unseen by the reader. One who sits by a fire with the newly arisen, Thornevald, and details his history with the peace-of-mind that confessing to a stranger promises.

“Why had I been so surprised? Could I not remember my painful quarrels with Pandora? I must know that in anger, Marius is not Marius. I must know and never forget it.”

–          Anne Rice, Blood and Gold

1091687314_iusPandora

An existence as long as Marius’s is bound to be bursting with tales and trappings, but what is clear in this novel is that Marius details each era of his life around the individuals he surrounds himself with. His ‘Perfect Time(s)’ as he refers to them.

It begins, of course, with the first and strongest love of his life, Pandora, and this whirlwind romance colours the entirety of the novel after the two part ways.

For centuries and, eventually, millennia, Marius seeks out Pandora, having brutally abandoned her in his apathetic rage when they were both still relatively young, and dedicates nights upon nights to painting her in various forms. This is the first inkling of Marius’s inability to lay control over the anger he denies in his rationality. Because he refuses to acknowledge the weakness of passion and its place in the downfall of his logic, Marius squashes his emotion until it becomes too much and rolls him, forcing him to actions that he will regret for more time than he would ever believe possible.

It is interesting to note that he devotes time to writing down the behaviour he notes in himself, as the emotions, and the reactions, of his passions. He uses these to refer back to, to make some sense of the spill of emotion he experiences occasionally. But when he loses control (which happens frequently – his mind too overwrought at the things, the people, he loses to time and the ravages of anger) he does away with these, impeding his own progress. If one is to believe that the scribblings in his journals were aiding his momentum, of course.

Marius then falls into some semblance of love again in the days during the fall of Rome. He is revisited by his old captor, Mael – a man he loves to some degree, but cannot see past what he thinks is his hatred for him – and Avicus, Mael’s maker. As the three blood drinkers attempt to come to terms with one another, and the time changing about them, having been forced to Constantinople, they are invited to present themselves to Eudoxia, the ‘vampire empress’ of the city. Eudoxia is Marius’s first warning against making ‘young’ vampires, having been no older than fifteen when she was made, and believing that it is better for a blood drinker to have no connection to his mortal life and weaknesses when he is turned. She demands that Marius take her to Those Who Must Be Kept, as she has drunk the blood of the mother in her youth (or so she claims), and she is older and more powerful than he is.

This is her downfall, she is crushed by the parents, after her disregard of Marius leads him to abandon her to their mercy. This leaves her lover, Zenobia, with him, in his care. Following on from Pandora, Zenobia is another of Marius’s great loves. It is yet another wound in his already miserable unhappiness when he is forced to leave her under the protection of Avicus and Mael.

In Venice, Marius once again experiences a ‘Perfect Time,’ residing in a home reminiscent of the one he thrived in in Rome. He emulates Sandro Botticelli, having fallen in love with the artist (more than simply considering making a blood drinker of the man) and begins painting again in earnest. Simultaneously he opens his home to boys that he intends to make powerful men of, and discovers a woman ‘painted by’ Botticelli in Bianca Solderini, as well as a living angel in the boy he rescues, Amadeo. This time in his long life is entirely perfect, it is lush with human adoration, love, thriving on the discoveries of the renaissance era. And the streets are still riddled with those capable of evil deeds, all in the name of survival. Marius is in love, again, and his happiness seems incapable of ruination, until the old evil that is Santino burns his ‘Perfect Time’ to ashes. All because he was slighted by Marius in Rome.

With the assistance of Bianca and Raymond Gallant of the Talamasca, Marius not only regains his strength, but dedicates two hundred years to this endeavour, intent on eventually destroying Santino, proving his will to Bianca and, most importantly, finding Pandora, who, he later, discovers, frequents Dresden in her travels. For all this time, he keeps to the solitude of the shrine of Those Who Must Be Kept, despite Bianca’s attempts to embolden him, to ‘have somewhere.’ The damage done to him runs far deeper than the scars of the fire. He finds Amadeo, and is bitterly disappointed in what he discovers, he knows he is using Bianca to uncover the whereabouts of Pandora and is ashamed of this, and most of all, he is only now coming to terms with the debilitation of his own anger.

Finally, in Dresden, he is reunited with Pandora, but the reunion is not what he was expecting, he only succeeds in driving her away, not understanding that she cannot live with him as they once did, that she only wanted to find him alive still. In a desperate act he offers to leave Bianca for her, never suspecting that the latter would be listening. In the darkest time of Marius’s existence, things only become blacker as he loses Bianca to his own denial of her as well.

“[…] And when he thought of Santino again, when he looked at the black stain on the stones, he felt a good deep pleasure.”

–          Anne Rice, Blood and Gold

The portrayal of Marius, up to this point in the series, was one of a timeless scholar, a constant figure of paternal love and devotion, a man capable of overcoming any anger, only to regain his composure and continue to love his companions unconditionally. Blood and Gold shattered that illusion. It took this infinitely gentle and exceedingly powerful vampire, and granted him human attributes, and with these came elements of a human nature – love, passion, anger, shame, guilt, self-loathing, to name but a few. Marius became a thing of fragility, a man more than just the mysterious silhouette in a darkened room.

As a reader, I adore this novel, it is immaculately written, detailed in its craft, and exquisitely delivered. And I am both saddened and enlightened by the portrayal of Marius as a ‘man.’ I would not have minded regarding him under the bulb of perfection forever, but I also think that his confession was inevitable. I love him all the more for it.

And it was about time that Santino got what was coming to him. It is only a pity that it was not by Marius’s hand.

Print Friendly

20 Comments

  • Reply Lyn May 11, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    You write beautifully, reviewing this super novel with exacting eloquence; thank you for this article: I enjoyed reading it and reminiscing of my Marius, and yours.

    • Reply Lafaeyette May 12, 2013 at 5:45 am

      I so appreciate this, Lyn. And isn’t that so apt? ‘My Marius?’ I suppose I have always thought of him that way.

  • Reply Devika Fernando July 6, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Once again, your review makes me itch to re-read a book. 😉
    I must confess that I had previously never attached any great significance to Marius. I was too infatuated with Lestat and then David. Sometimes, he plain infuriated me, sometimes he was just there and a part of the story. Now, seeing him through your eyes, he has “come alive”, probably much in the way that he does while reading Blood and Gold. I read the novel almost as soon as it was released and had HUGE expectations in it though Marius had never been one of my favourites. It did leave me with that eerie sense of satisfaction, heightened curiosity and renewed passion for Anne’s fiction but I have to admit that it failed to leave a lasting impression on me. Now your review makes me think that maybe I just hadn’t been ready for it or that I hadn’t opened up to it enough… Because as you so rightly say, he is on the one side as close to their leader that they can get and on the other side used to be more human than more than half of them.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique July 6, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Well, if you do re-read Blood and Gold, let me know what you think, if you pick up on anything I may have missed. I suspect, due to the need to pick articles to a reasonable length, I may have skipped some stuff.
      And thanks again for the kind words, Devika! As always, you have made my day 😀

      • Reply Devika Fernando July 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

        So have you! 🙂
        I will, though I suspect you have much more insight than I do (mine comes in retrospect *lol*).

        • Reply Carmen Dominique July 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

          Mine too, trust me. I had to read all the books at least three times before I could really comprehend what was at their core. I think I was too young when I first read the Chronicles.

          • Hook in Mouth May 17, 2014 at 1:12 am

            I read Interview in grade 8 because I liked the Twilight series and someone told me to read Interview bc its a “real” vampire story. It put me to sleep every night. Sorry Louis.

          • Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 9:58 am

            The reason was because I was tired though not bc it was boring.

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 17, 2014 at 12:33 am

    I didn’t get in the end why she took out Throne’s eyes. There must be some cruel hearted fledgling she could have taken eyes from. The guy Throne killed was a dick anyways and I did not think Maharet would do that when she had suffered such an inhumane punishment of having her eyes ripped from her head herself.

    Some people really hated this book and TVA because “GHEY!!!”. Also didn’t see how Marius could be a pedophile when he can’t even have sex.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique May 20, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      She took Thorne’s eyes because he offered them. He wanted to be close to her always. He was miserable without her, and he was happy to sacrifice something for her complete gain.

      As for the homophobia surrounding Armand and Blood and Gold, I reiterate what I have said in the following article:

      http://www.vampirebibliographica.com/vampire-philosophies/on-the-viability-of-vampire-sexuality/

      Vampires in Anne’s universe do not view sexuality as we do in our limited opinion of intimacy as human beings. And they are not bound by the fears that mortals are. All is love. Intimacy is a treasure, not something to mock or disparage.

      I am always angry when people wreck these two novels in reviews. Because from my perspective, the love Marius had for Amadeo was pure. He saved him through sexuality. He did not bind him as others had before. The physical love of a vampire is safe, because they gain no true pleasure from it. So the love is intended wholly for the recipient mortal.

      It is sublime, and exquisite. And the homophobes who find issue with it are simply sad for not understanding this.

      • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 10:01 am

        Homophobes are more than sad. They are dirty scum rats.

  • Reply The Light's Bane June 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I don’t get how vampires can cut their hair yet their hair is also apparently really strong and able to hold both Thorne and Lestat. If it is so strong how can it be cut?

    • Reply Carmen Dominique June 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      The hair that held Thorne and Lestat was not just anyone’s hair and it did not come from any old vampire. Maharet wove those chains from hair and blood and magic. Bear in mind that she was a witch before she was ever a vampire.

  • Reply The Light's Bane June 9, 2014 at 5:24 am

    *Flushes Santino down the toilet of Hell*

    • Reply Carmen Dominique November 29, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Hah!

  • Reply Silvia November 28, 2014 at 1:02 am

    I have really mixed feelings too, but my reason is different. Premise: my first Anne Rice book was Armand’s story and later I would become obsessed with Pandora, so Marius has always been a pivotal character to me. Maybe I paid more attention to him than the readers who would rightfully focus on Lestat, but I feel that Blood and Gold add almost nothing to our understanding of him.

    Basically, Marius is a man who dwells in delusions; the most emblematic episode being the first encounter with Lestat. Marius introduces himself as “the teacher”, the wise one, and looking at how pleased he is with Lestat you can see he takes great pride in it, as he takes pride in being the keeper of the parents. But he is also very, very lonesome, and that’s the reason he introduces Lestat to the parents. Being lonesome is not a weakness per se, but he behaves like a child overwhelmed with joy and desperate to impress the new little friend showing him “his precious”: he doesn’t see the pattern of his own behaviour, and thus makes a huge mistake. But there’s another reason: he is perfectly confident that no harm can come from Lestat, and why is it? Because he thinks he is the most special one to Akasha, and if she didn’t wake up for him all these centuries, if she didn’t respond to his pleas, if he couldn’t win her over, then no one can… here’s the delusion, and the mistake. And when the damage is done, he pretends to work it out like he is unaffected, but he is deeply hurt and broken and raging, and his pride is shattered and that’s the reason he cannot bear to see Lestat any longer. This is a rather pathetic man, isn’t he? Marius’s issues with self acknowledgement and understanding his own emotions (and rage) are all there.

    Then there’s Pandora’s book, which enlights Marius’ helplessness. Marius thinks that there are NOT “more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in his philosophy”, and that’s the point: things he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t accept them, they do not or should not exist. If something doesn’t fit in his perfect vision of everything, if something goes not the way he wants to, he breaks down (and gets angry, because he doesn’t know how else to cope with it). Like when he fails in persuading Pandora to leave Antiochia: he totally loses it, he is unconfortable with his own feelings, and Pandora sees it all. Or when he is so much shocked at the massacre of stupid “christian” vampires in Antiochia. His mind is weak, because he cannot understand/accept things happening around him, and his soul is weaker, because he wouldn’t acknowledge that. His rationalism is but a cover, his rage being the other side of the coin. Moreover, Marius’ story is a collection of failures, even before we learn of his book: he fails in protecting Pandora’s mortality, fails in living happily with her then he leaves her, he makes Amedeo way too soon than he wanted then he lets the parisian douches take him, he fails in keeping Akasha, fails in being loved by her like Lestat would, and fails the negotiation out of reason with her.

    For all these reasons, I think that Blood and Gold lacks a scope… like, it was not needed. I really had big expectations, but I finished the book and I was like “so… where’s the story?” On the other hand, I am grateful I could know how Marius was doing at the time, the whole Bianca thing (for years I hoped Armand did see her), the truth about the night with Pandora, and the truth about Arjun (I actually learned a lot about Pandora, so thanks!), and some other things gossip-like (like the discovery in rome of my beloved botticelli, the years spent in painting pandora… it’s so romantic it makes me squish).

    From a fangirl point of view, this is a must have, but as a piece of literature, i must say this book is no good. it’s like a biography of a historical character, century after century it doesn’t tell a story with a meaning. I feel that there is no real ending, no arrival point: Marius changed a lot over the centuries, but I don’t think he learned much about who he is, besides that he must not let anger control him. He describes his own feelings as he tells Thorne, but he does not analyze them thoroughly. I know it’s hard to build a story without action (a villain to kill, a quest etc.), but with Pandora Anne did a really good job, something like “How I lost everything and gained myself”; with Marius is more like “How I lost everything and got by”…

    • Reply Willow November 29, 2014 at 12:37 am

      Frankly your post dear girl is just a bit too long and boring – iN my opinion. This site is not done by a ‘Fan girl’. But a fantastic woman who has also researched many things. YES You are entitled to your opinions but you should, in my opinion, NOT go and book bash an entire book when you’ve clearly missed the meaning of said book. Every other vampire, for the most part got their own story, why not Marius.

      Pandora, yes that was a good book. I will not deny that, but I think you’ve all in all missed the concept of Blood and Gold.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique November 29, 2014 at 11:53 am

      I am afraid I have to disagree with you, Sylvia. While I appreciate the thought in your post, I viewed this novel through a different eye. It was the first story that really introduced the story of Bianca, Bianca as Marius, as someone who could see past her mask saw her. And more than that, it gave us this enigmatic man’s life through his own eyes. I did not see a failing in plot. I believe that the story was succinct. I remember reading the novel and, not at all, feeling unfulfilled. But, as I said, different perspectives. I understand that you say that he does not learn about who he is, but does anyone? People are stubborn. And the longer they are allowed to be themselves, the more stubborn, the more set in themselves, their own mold, they will become.

      In essentiality, all literature, all storytelling, is done with the intention of evoking a strong emotional response. I found myself weeping through Blood and Gold, though I know that not everyone enjoyed this tale. I do understand your point of view.

  • Reply Silvia November 28, 2014 at 1:05 am

    I’m sorry it is awfully long, I can’t believe how long it is.

    • Reply Armand November 29, 2014 at 12:49 am

      I liked reading what you had to say, and as I understand it, you were not calling the author of the page a fan girl, but merely stating that a fan girl would enjoy certain aspects of the book and that would make it enough for them, whereas you were not satisfied by what was there, you wanted more Marius story, more Marius in general. That you put that much thought into your reaction to the book, I like that.

    Leave a Reply