Armand

“I know nothing, because I know too much, and understand not nearly enough and never will.”

Generally when readers try to understand child-like vampires in Anne Rice’s literature, they focus particularly on Claudia. Mostly because she’s an extreme character in this regard. Very young; too young to be self-sufficient in a world where children stand out. But in nature, her ‘youthful’ qualities do not compare with those of Armand; an under-acknowledged child-like vampire in the Vampire Chronicles series.

Even today, seventeen-year-olds are young, boisterous and possessed of a self-assuredness that adults and very young children do not have the capacity for. Children are almost always bashful and shy, and adults are almost always broken by the ways of the world. Armand is a character caught between these two universal truths. Made a vampire at seventeen, he retained his child-like nature, while breaching maturity. It is this quality, combined with his strange history, that has made him one of the more eccentric and intriguing of vampire characters.

When we first encounter him, it is his youth (regardless of his obvious power) that Louis hones in on in his description. He is a youthful sage in Louis eyes. The ‘oldest’ vampire in existence, in a world which is so very small for poor Louis who can’t even hear the thoughts of others. One must consider Louis’s predicament here, he is completely isolated from any form of vampire society, so when he meets Armand, this boy-ish vampire becomes his mentor. And because he is so incapable of reading others, he has no notion of the history that exists between Armand and Lestat.

“How can so much beauty hide such a bruised and steely heart, and why must I love him, why must I lean in my weariness upon his irresistible yet indomitable strength? Is he not the wizend funeral spirit of a dead man in a child’s clothes?”

And so it is a surprise to the reader when The Vampire Lestat is encountered. There is a long, tumultuous history between the two vampires. Clashing personalities maybe? Or just miscommunication. Both vampires are orphans in their own rights, but how they handled their abandonment is completely polar.

My heart goes out to Armand, as I have stated before when discussing Marius. Many readers see him as either weak, for falling into mind-bending propaganda (delivered in the harshest fashion, I may add), or cruel. But what choice did he have? Never the most emotionally stable of characters, it is unsurprising, really, that Armand’s mind snapped under the tender ministrations of Santino, who tortured him, body and soul, through starvation and murderous acts of survival.

Armand was swept from a comfortable life with a simple family, and even a clear future as a holy artist, to a life of sexual slavery and degradation. Saved from this by Marius, his religion was shaken, along with his mental stability. Suddenly, this impoverished, broken boy is lavished with affection, jewels and leisure that he doesn’t think – at first – that he deserves. As an impassioned character, we can clearly understand that Armand would choose to replace his previous ‘God’ with this new Master.

And then Marius was taken away from him.

armand

It is undeniably cruel on the part of those that ‘killed’ his master, but what is worse is what we discover later with Blood and Gold. Marius could have taken him back again. But instead he chose to abandon him. To see him as a failed project.

Of course Armand then finds another ‘God’ to bend his knee before, only this one is a twisted mockery of the heavenly father he knew as a child. It doesn’t matter though, he needs something to put his faith in.

And it is in this spirit that Armand tries to end his life. When Lestat returns from hell with Veronica’s Veil clutched in his hands, Armand’s beliefs are finally verified and he gives himself over to the sun.

Only to find he cannot die. Fate, the powers-that-be, or maybe just the strength of his blood, prevents him from attaining salvation. From entering death and thus heaven.

Abandoned by all his ‘Gods,’ Armand chooses to spend his time in the company of mortal children, the two that saved him from a long, torturous stay in the sun. By this point, it feels as if Armand has given up hope on any form of divinity, just as he believes Marius always had.

And then Marius is responsible for taking that away from him as well.

Armand Dany&Dany

The most beautiful reunions, for me, are the ones between Armand and his maker. But at the same time, they are the hardest to read, the most difficult to sit through. Purely because I always feel that, considering what he has suffered, Armand deserves to be treated better by his peers and the people who claim to love him.

Ah yes… Reviews. How I loathe thee…

“I felt little or no sympathy for the characters. Armand was not the alluring devil with an angel’s face as he was in previous novels, but an oversexed brat. I felt he got what he deserved when the englishman attacked him.”

Written by A Customer and entitled A poor novel considering Anne Rice’s previous works

Why, oh why are so many reviews of Rice’s work uninspired and hateful? I spent the majority of this book crying or putting the book down and walking away to stop from crying, yet this individual felt “very little sympathy?!”

As I have said previously, I believe this may come down to individuals who are not thoroughly acquainted with the series, who have not burgeoned a love for these characters within their hearts. Again, this review, amongst others, makes me feel as if the person responsible merely skimmed the book, neglecting to take in the richness of plot, the exquisite nature of the setting, and the beautiful madness of Armand, himself.

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41 Comments

  • Reply Yvonne Haynes February 24, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Sorry, but I Don’t care what ANYBODY says, Anne Rice, is a FABULOUS Author.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      Darn tootin’, Yvonne 😀

  • Reply Kelly Lemieux February 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    In the new world of Twilight vampires, its beautiful to see Rice’s vampires still being relevant in the 21st century. I miss falling in love with Armand when I read Interview With The Vampire back in high school in the Eighties.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      I have to concur with you on that point 🙂

    • Reply Blzangurl April 6, 2013 at 12:32 am

      Absolutely!

  • Reply Kaci February 24, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Armand is my absolute favorite character in The Vampire Chronicles…and perhaps even my favorite fictional character of all time. I find him so compelling, heart-breaking, curious, lovely, maddening. I both understand Marius’ decisions and personally wish he had acted differently. But he’s a whole person too, with his own eccentricities and faults. I find their relationship to be very complex…which is perhaps why I am so drawn to it.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      I feel much the same way. But whenever I am asked which of the characters I love the most, I find it difficult to answer.

  • Reply Nathanielle February 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I read the Vampire Chronicles out of order. That is to say that I read Interview and Lestat respectively, but then I started with the Vampire Armand and worked my way back.

    Naturally, I was seventeen when I first read the Chronicles, so Armand was the one I gravitated towards even as I was seeing him through the eyes of Louis and Lestat. Marius was my close second favorite. Whereas more people fell in love with Lestat, I think I broke the mold in being in love with Marius and the vampires associated with his “tribe”.

    I appreciate your views on the character and thank you for your insight. Incidentally, it was Anne Rice’s Facebook page that led me here. 😉

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      I appreciate you taking the time to read through the item, Nathanielle :).

  • Reply Dallas February 24, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I didn’t love Armand before I read his book but I loved Marius from the first time I read TVL and I had liked Pandora well enough and while she told her side of the story well I still sided with Marius on his decision to leave her but Armand….? I spent a great deal of that book weeping and I may have just teared up a little now as I think about it. I did not like Armand before I read his book and I had always wondered how Marius had made such a cruel fledgling, such a failure of his own teachings (Marius even tells Lestat on the island how disappointed he is in Armand and I feel a little cheated that I took Marius at his word there, I feel like Marius left out some kind of important details, ya know? – I just went to look for the quote now and I did find the line where he calls Armand “the greatest crime he ever committed against his own kind” I didn’t find the line I was looking for… in the musical the line was something to the effect of “Armand cannot feel or love.” and I recall there being a similar line in the book – which I reread after seeing the musical… though not exactly that line).

    I feel like the Roman coven reinforced all of Amadeo’s fears about punishment when you turn away from the true God. ie he was made to leave the monastery and not long after he ended up on a slave ship. He lives a life of luxury with Marius and as a result all of his brothers (save Riccardo… poor Riccardo) are burned in front of him to make a point. I think for Armand it instilled a very real sense of “If I turn away from this, what will the next punishment be?” an urgent need to fulfill his role of keeping the religion/coven alive to the best of his abilities lest punishment of biblical proportions happen… again.

    I think if Marius had gotten him early enough, before he was sent to Paris, he might have been able to save him but after he made it to Paris…. Marius probably made the right decision not to take him away and might have even been kinder just to end the whole coven, including Armand then. But there’s a song that, for me, as always reminded me of Armand’s years with the Roman coven and I think it’s appropriate it’s a Christian song about remembering who you are to God… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSIVjjY8Ou8 … I have this feeling like Armand spent a lot of his time with the Roman coven hating who he was becoming and just waiting for Marius to save him, even if he did think maybe Marius was dead… [a lot of Christian music reminds me of Marius, actually, I mean, where else do you hear men singing songs about their love for father figures? Other than, I guess, George Michael 😉 ]

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Dallas, that was so beautifully said, thank you.
      And perhaps this is why many readers cannot forgive Marius.

    • Reply melodious February 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      I forgot about how Marcus described Armand. That just makes me feel more sympathy for Armand, that Marius never really knew him. Armand was damaged, by many, even by Marius, but I never felt he was a victim. Even with the coven, I never found him a monster. He led a purposeful life.

      At the end of the book, Marius looks at the whole of human history from a great height, as if it, like Armand were an experiment. But Armand’s speech about Christ being a human being, who sacrificed, that made me love Armand, that made me believe in him. That also illustrated perhaps why Marius could not retrieve him. Marius is logic and judgement. Armand is humanity, good and evil, forever hoping, forever seeking meaning and purpose and goodness.

  • Reply Alessandra February 24, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Armand was and will always be my favorite in the V.C. Throughout Interview, TVL, And QotD I longed to learn more about him. I was fortunate that this was around 2004, and so The Vampire Armand was waiting for me. His story, character and personality resonate with me greatly. He is a fascinating vampire, and one of the most curious and enigmatic of the VC. Anne Rice did a wonderful job telling his story, and The Vampire Armand is one of her best written books in my opinion. Thank you for this review, I think you captured the book and Armand perfectly!

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      Thank you, Alessandra 🙂

  • Reply Victoria February 25, 2013 at 12:25 am

    I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Armand. I was young when I first started reading the series (about 9 or 10) so I naturally loved the young, beautiful vampire. He was one of my favorites from the very beginning and the stories of his past were always one of my favorite parts of the books. One of the things I love is how we see each part of his personality throughout the books; the wise older vampire in Interview with the Vampire, the cult leader in The Vampire Lestat, and the cold sides of Armand, but then we see the playful, loving Armand in Queen of the Damned, and the troubled, broken angel in The Vampire Armand. I think the only reason I couldn’t fully enjoy Memnoch the Devil is because I was so anxious to just get through it so I could read The Vampire Armand. I’ve heard people say that they didn’t like The Vampire Armand for numerous reasons; Marius and Armand’s scandalous relationship, the fact that they didn’t feel pity for him, or the truth behind what happened to Claudia. But in truth, his and Marius’ relationship is my favorite in the whole series. It shows how childlike Armand was and how he clung to those who protected him, and for lack of a better phrase I found him really adorable. There was no point throughout the whole series when I didn’t want to just give him a hug and never leave his side. He just didn’t have the best of luck. Even when he was a cult leader, he didn’t want to become one in the first place, he was forced into it when he was cruelly taken away from his blissful life.
    Even though Armand and Lestat tie for my favorite characters, The Vampire Armand is without a doubt my favorite book int he series.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Wow, you put it exactly as I felt. I also started reading the Vampire Chronicles when I was very young. I always felt very powerfully for Armand.

  • Reply Thomas Fitzgerald February 25, 2013 at 12:47 am

    First I want to say thank you for a wonderful essay on one of my favourite novels. I must however admit I feel qutie uneasy at your thoughts on how Marius abanded Armand. It is just to simple to put it in these terms, Marius decided that he no longer wanted to interact with Armand, the same way a perent must let there children go into the world and see it for what it really is. Let’s not forget the fact that Marius gae Armand an actual life, one free of religious restraint and obressive peers, yes one could argue that he placed him in situations that had he still been human would have killed him, but thats the crux, he survived though the waves of pain and came out the other end, all be it a better being.

    • Reply Dallas February 25, 2013 at 6:44 am

      This is a great analogy. When children are abducted and the parents know the child is in a hellish situation including torture and brainwashing they often agree that, you know what, it’s just time to let the kid go and see the world. That’s the stuff of lifetime movies right there. I love Marius but making no effort to save Armand was a crime.

      • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 7:08 am

        Agreed.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 7:10 am

      I understand what you are saying, but I have too much sympathy for Armand not to feel that he was sorely wronged by Marius. It’s the mannerisms that Marius holds when he deals with Armand in Blood and Gold which set me off. It feels as though he treats Armand much like a science project and not really like a person at all.

      • Reply Thomas Fitz February 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm

        Oh, don’t get me worng, I absolutley agree with you Marius did treat Armand like a pet project something to amuse himself with as he did with all the apprentice boy’s in his ward. However we must remember of all Marius’s students, Armand is the only one he deemed special enough to give the dark gift to.

        • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 6:41 pm

          That is true, and for that we should thank him, otherwise we would be Armand-less. And that would truly be a tragedy.

    • Reply Lafaeyette March 12, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Hmm, but now that I have considered your argument, what about the fact that Armand believed Marius to be dead? And this injured him? Don’t you find it cruel then that Marius did not right the score with his child?

  • Reply Melodious February 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    The Vampire Armand was always my favorite book. Not necessarily because he was my favorite character but because the story really resonated with me. Anne Rice made him the perfect age to really reflect the hope and the seeking that humanity experiences. Armand seeks a God, an structure outside of himself that gives his existence meaning. He follows a strict god, a god of power and sex, a devil, and a loving and doomed Christ. How many of us have also sought meaning in similar structures? I never felt that Armand was weak for believing in the propaganda. I felt that cult made a profound statement about belief that reminded me of Paradise Lost and felt that it was reasonable in a horrible way.

    I don’t have a ton of sympathy for Marius, but I feel that, in the end, he was more interested in himself than being Armand’s saviour. I love his final speech about history to Armand, love his adult cynicism juxtaposed with Armand’s still youthful seeking, hoping. I love how Marius gives up on humans as a group while Armand finds comfort finally in not an outside structure, but just a couple of other individual, youthful humans.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Very well said.

  • Reply K.Towne February 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Absolutely perfect summation of one of my favourite characters of all time. Thank you.

    • Reply Lafaeyette March 1, 2013 at 6:33 am

      You’re so very welcome!

  • Reply LLCoyote March 8, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Thank you! Someone who finally seems to see Armand the way I do! I’ve never really seen him as a devil, maybe an antagonist in the first novel, but by The Vampire Lestat I felt extreme sympathy. Anyone who says he is weak for bowing to Santino’s cult or religion over all, obviously knows nothing about psychology. He was born into an era and a place where science had no foothold and god was a major part of his life. To have that ripped away and reestablished over and over again, be it through kindness or torture, it crippling for anyone to go through. Even up until 20 years ago religion was a major part of our development and woven into the core of our being. I don’t think anyone can really imagine what Armand’s been through. He and Claudia are two of the most tragic characters in my opinion. How he’s managed to survive and create his own ‘family’ and beliefs is an amazing testament to his strength.

    I have always been accused of being bias because I’ve adored Armand from the first time I saw Interview with the Vampire (I wasn’t allowed to read the novels until much later in my life. I had to sneak and see the movie. Oh, childhood). He is my favorite out of Anne’s characters, quite possibly my favorite vampire of all , and I have a lot of respect (and love) for him. This was a beautiful article! Anne posted your essay on Claudia, and I haven’t been able to stop reading through your stuff.

    • Reply Lafaeyette March 8, 2013 at 5:42 am

      Oh yes! I remember the days of having to sneak my Anne Rice novels around :D. And I totally agree, I adore Armand, he is a much-loved character, despite the fact that many people do not understand why. Something that has always confused me, how could one not love him?

  • Reply A. March 12, 2013 at 9:27 am

    The… propaganda.
    Never believed it, not really. Inspired yes, struck by visions, held in the thrall of the moment on seeing proof in the form of a face, yes. Believing in the serving of Satan, no. Even believing in a God as depicted by the church? No, and if in his youth he did as we all do- believe what is presented to us at first, as it is presented, after 5 centuries to imagine the addiction to the myths is a bit reaching.
    “I know nothing of God or the Devil. I have never seen a vision nor learnt a secret that would damn or save my soul.”

    I think it is clear in the end that he realizes the ‘balm of salvation’ is in fact love and purest love. Not selfish, not possessive, and unconditional love, and this is that balm.
    This is demonstrated in his love for Benji and Sybelle. He does not mean to kill them and make them vampires, and is furious at the betrayal at Marius’ hands, especially since it was done with the intentions that he said it was- for his sake.

    Marius made a few mistakes in his relationships, big ones, and not just with Armand. But I wish to point out that his failings are not all to blame for the choices and sacrifices in Armand’s life, and through it all, ultimately, he loves him and is loved in return, no matter what ‘hate for one’s maker’ may be. For Armand, seeing Marius’ face is to succumb to that love as much as for the love of any God.
    “Beloved of God” – Amadeo – was loved by Marius.
    To a child, who embodies God more than our fathers and mothers, tyrannical or kind?

    If Marius’ approach to his students was seemingly calculated and aloof, keep in mind the structure of thought he has that the passions in life are a weakness. Greek and Roman stories depict the evils of any passion overcoming reason. He was lied to.
    Passion is what gives life any meaning at all. And love, the ultimate unreasonable thing, the most high meaning there is.
    So it is easier to forgive Marius for his mistakes, and forgive Armand for his as well. In the grief and desperation, without a God or without love, actions carried out may have seemed meaningless at the time. In Hell, what is another torture? Passion and love were unaffordable in Hell, to feel in that darkness would have meant death.
    No idea where I was going with this, just felt the need to vent.
    You have a wonderful little shrine here to the vampires of Anne Rice. Thank you very -very much. And thank you to the people who reply to this thread. It’s good to see such thought and yes, passion! … put into this.
    I am glad to see you love Armand this much.

    • Reply Lafaeyette March 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      It is a symbol of youth that one chooses to believe in the reality of goodness, that one looks above for a protector. What followed on from that, the dark covens, the fixation on the ‘veil,’ this could simply have been an extension, a shadow of the religious fervour of earlier life. But I maintain that what Santino drew out of him was nothing but belief in the evil within himself, not acceptance of proof of evil. As you have said, after five centuries, only a madman would still cling to myth.

      “I know nothing of God or the Devil. I have never seen a vision nor learnt a secret that would damn or save my soul.” – The incident with the Veil may suggest otherwise; however it did come later. And what followed most likely washed away the resurgence of belief. The fact that death did not arrive, nor did salvation with it.

      Salvation is the simple wealth one affords oneself through a series of simple interactions with others. And yes, love. Although that abstract concept has gained a ‘triteness’ of late that has cheapened it, so thank you for qualifying that as the pure essence of love without the strings.

      Ah, Marius. He tries to ‘assist’ and give in order to cultivate joy, but he essentially does the opposite. At the very least, however, whatever sin came of it (‘killing’ the two), it does not rest on Armand’s soul, but on that of Marius.

      *It is at this juncture that I have to pose the question: Can one really say that creating a vampire is killing a person? Is it really death? I think I should write an article for this topic.*

      It intrigues me (and this may be why I love the character of Marius), that he dislikes the passion within himself, and yet he is such a slave to it. The more he tries to stifle it, the harder it gets to resist. If one loses one’s passion entirely, he becomes inhumane in the strictest sense.

      Yes, it is evident that Marius is a ‘God’ to Armand. And I don’t mean this literally, obviously. But being liberated from cruelty is something a god is meant to do, isn’t it? Something one would only expect of a god, a figure to be worshipped. And I think, perhaps, Marius prides himself on being the saviour. Just a little.

      Parents are clearer to children, more apparent, than a distant deity. They can relate to their parents – “Mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of all children.”

      “Thus a mind that is free from passion is a very citadel; man has no stronger fortress in which to seek shelter and defy every assault.” Enough said, really. One cannot live without passion. To live is to feel.

      In all of vampire literature, the work of Anne Rice speaks the most vividly for me. For that reason, and many other reasons, you are most sincerely welcome.

    • Reply rozy March 12, 2014 at 8:55 am

      You are Armand.

      • Reply A. March 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

        “The Vampire Armand” is a character from a work of fiction by Anne Rice, but I won’t say I’m not flattered that you recognize him in me. As they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

        • Reply Hook in Mouth May 22, 2014 at 9:34 am

          Why don’t you just admit it since almost no one will believe it anyway.

    • Reply rozy March 12, 2014 at 8:57 am

      His love for Benji and Sybelle was admirable and selfless I will give you that.

  • Reply Devika Fernando July 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Hey, how did this review escape my notice for so long? Do I have to check my eyes or did it hide itself from me cunningly only to attack now and captivate me twice as strongly? 😉
    As usual, I love what you’ve written. Armand is one of the treasures in the Vampire Chronicles, one of those who just HAVE to be in the books for them to make sense and cause such an emotional turmoil in us. I always liked – if not – loved Armand and couldn’t fathom why people wouldn’t. Then I recently re-read “The Vampire Lestat” and suddenly seeing him through Lestat’s eyes did bring up sides in him that I had comfortably forgotten but somehow made him even more vivid and fascinating. I was devastated when I thought Armand had died in “Memnoch” and I am pretty sure that IF Anne ever continues the Chronicles, we’ll see more of him.
    He never gets enough credit for all his suffering and for having a will and ego that is almost equal to Lestat’s. Considering his circumstances, he’s done really well and he was never simply bad or weak but in his way – like Louis in a different way – another portrayal of how vampires can be like if they retain something human in them.
    PERFECT review! *bows down*

    • Reply Carmen Dominique July 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      Well, thank you, Devika, M’Dear. I am thoroughly glad you enjoyed it. I had fun writing it. Even if I did cry a little in the process… Again 😛

  • Reply Kqarla June 10, 2014 at 9:07 am

    I am delighted and surprised with the use of Björn Andrésen (the second photo, who played the role of Tadzio in the 1971 film Death in Venice) as the representation of Armand. I’ve always thought his looks capture Armand’s very well. 🙂

    I’ll come back and leave a better comment on Armand later when I get off from work. Haha.

    • Reply The Light's Bane June 16, 2014 at 7:34 am

      That film was mentioned in one of the Chronicles.

  • Reply The Light's Bane August 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    There is this conversation going in the Lestat’s Book Coven Facebook group where people are calling Lestat and Armand narcissists. One person says:

    (On Armand) “I think it’s interesting when we looks at the psychological aspects of character. I wrote a thesis about it during one of my college courses and I specifically looks at Armand psychologically. I consulted with two different psychologists and the results were quite interesting. I found Armand had many psychological problems from when he was a little boy, from Narcissistic tendencies to Post Traumatic Stress disorder. It shines a new light on a character and it also helps with questions like, why would he or she do this or why does he or she do it in this particular way. I had fun breaking down Armand’s as a character and comparing him psychologically to nonfictional people.”

    and on Lestat- “I was thinking of looking into the psychosis of Lestat to see why he does what he does, through I have already ruled he’s obviously someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. We all know how he feels about himself and he has a high ego.”

    Wanted to know your thoughts Carmen. On Armand anyone could have told you being sex trafficked as well as kidnapped and tortured would be traumatizing (does that really take a frigging psychologist?!).

    Lestat is fond of himself yes but he can also see the beauty in others even where others and even the person themselves may not see it. I think all the vampires are like that. I don’t think Lestat is so self obsessed it is pathological and impacts his ability to form connections with others. People love throwing around the word narcissist.

  • Reply The Light's Bane September 3, 2014 at 8:42 am

    “Armand’s the most treacherous of all the vampires.”- Anne Rice.

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