Pandora

“The finest thing under the sun and moon is the human soul. I marvel at the small miracles of kindness that pass between humans, I marvel at the growth of conscience, at the persistence of reason in the face of all superstition or despair. I marvel at human endurance.”

– Anne Rice, Pandora

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People often judge an author by the emotional strength of his/her most prominent female character. Recently this question was asked of Anne Rice: Has she incorporated any strong female characters into her work? If so, whom? The question would seem to be answered by the most glaringly overwhelming woman to span the chronicles: Pandora.

Her tale, like so many others, started for us in The Vampire Lestat, where we received but snippets from Marius’s early history. We were to meet her again in Queen of the Damned, and granted a fuller description of her character; one in which she is dedicated, loyal, and calm, in spite of being treated somewhat unkindly by Marius (still suffering from something of a bruised ego from being tricked and mistreated by Akasha, and earlier arguments with Pandora which are only hinted at).

Pandora’s story was finally told to us in full in the novel Pandora, regarded as a part of the New Tales of the Vampires series, a departure from the original Vampire Chronicles, but still closely linked. As is to be expected – being introduced to a character in the smallest details possible, and then gaining the opportunity to hear the story from her side – readers were thrilled to read this particular novel.

“This is not another novel of a Vampire in Rice’s collection, this is the story of Pandora. A woman whose mind rivaled that of a scholar, her thirst for knowledge and the meaning of what it is to exist, her main quest in this life. She is a woman who is betrayed, but that will not stop her. She embraces her induction into vampire hood, because this way, she can savor her love of life and feel it all the more.”

–          Susan Shams, Mesmerizing

As with Armand, one cannot help but feel for Pandora. Her strength of will is great, as is her pride, and this element of her, combined with those same tendencies in the character of Marius, drives the two apart. And being that they are so closely tied by blood, neither one can hear the other. It is merely accidental and fortuitous when they meet again in the future. Though both are too filled with pain from previous wrath to admit that they have been lost without each other.

Whereas Marius is rational to a fault and reasoned to the extreme, Pandora is spiritual and exuberant. Countless arguments later, these clashing perceptions drive them from one another and leave them to pine for centuries to come.

But, as is most clear to us in Queen of the Damned, Pandora handles her cold-war status with Marius with far more maturity than he does. She makes deals she does not feel at ease with, to find him as he lies somewhere beneath the snow, and continues to assist him, even though he fobs her off (assumedly for slighting him at their last meeting). The history between these two characters is remarkable. It would seem that fate will not allow them to be apart. Initially, the two met when both were still human; Pandora a child, and Marius seeking to marry her. Separated by circumstance, they rediscovered one another in Antioch after Marius had become a vampire, and, by the still hand of Akasha, were bound together.

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Some people (as is always to be expected from reviewers) found the book to be wanting. One reader, in particular, was disappointed that the character of Pandora was so beautiful:

“And, of course, Rice has once again fallen back on her old standby of making every notable character in the story unbelievably beautiful, even before they got their vampire makeovers. Heavens forbid that any of Rice’s hero(ine)s should suffer a pimple or (gasp!) split ends.”

–          K. Carpenter “Mettle,” Don’t count Anne Rice back in the game just yet…..

A character that inspired an immortal man to paint portraits of her feverishly for entire nights on end for far too many centuries to count… Yes, you are absolutely right. She should be hideous.

I don’t see Pandora’s beauty as a reflection of her outward appearance. The character herself, with her generous (if occasionally dark) nature, is the true beauty.

And, naturally, this character brings a bit of life to Anne as a person, and not just a writer.

All the strongest characters of whatever gender, most accurately resemble their creators, don’t they?

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34 Comments

  • Reply Dawn Corbett February 24, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I have read all of your books and thought pandora was a beautiful story of love and loss.. Her character is different from the others and that was refreshing so what ever critics say I would ignore you did a great job with her story I am just reading the whole series again..I wish they would do a movie of the book Pandora and that is the name of my cat..thank you..

    • Reply CAZ March 7, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Pandora is definitely one of my faves. Following her forays into Violin and Servant of the Bones back then, I so wanted Anne to return to her Vampires and when she announced the mini-series, New Tales of the Vampires and being headlined by Pandora, I was ecstatic.

      After reading it, I fell in love with Anne Rice all over again. She gave us a character which, as you say exuberant and so full of life and yet pained and dealing with her own demons. Pretty much like us human folk, who lash out at the people closest to us when they fail to remember that we all have baggage to spare and it is accepting this and relinquishing our need to control one another by way of our wants and preferences, can we truly see the person for who they are and that they are capable and deserving of love, regardless of the their past.

      So wanted these shorter tales to have been continued following Vittorio. But inspite of it all, I still have hopes that our beloved Anne will return to Lestat and weave another tale worthy of telling and attention

      • Reply Lafaeyette March 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm

        Yes, it is definitely a pity that the New Tales were so brief. But maybe there is hope, maybe there will be more in the future.

  • Reply paula February 26, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    tambien he leido todos los libros unos de personajes poco comentados ha sido pandora, mujer diferente con rasgos personales muy contradictorios a las mujeres de su epoca me hubiese gustado q describiera mas sus viajes, aventuras y hubiera un final , pero ha sido y sera pa los lectores un personaje destacable, fuerte y sobre todo con una gran personalidad propia

  • Reply Sumiko Saulson February 27, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Lovely article. And I really.. really love me some Pandora. I’ve read that book more times than any other Anne Rice book simply because I own it and I’ve read it repeatedly. I never really thought about how she looked (although it is, I know, in the book) – I thought about her struggles for liberation in Rome.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 27, 2013 at 8:27 am

      Thanks,I always found the fact that we see very little of her as an addition to her mystique.

  • Reply Devika Fernando February 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    yet another of anne’s vampire characters that never got its due. she’s underrated and that not by us the readers but also by most of the vampires in the books, i think. which is a shame but maybe in itself a reflection of how the world works. then again, in the novel dedicated to her, she also comes up with her own ways of defying the way the world works.
    i don’t make much sense, do i? 😉 sorry. what i mean is that on the one hand, she never got the attention she deserved because she was a woman but that on the other hand, she has got the attention she wanted from others exactly by being the woman she is.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      You make perfect sense. But we must remember that in a world dominated by men, women are not seen, let alone registered as important :(.

      • Reply Devika Fernando February 28, 2013 at 5:00 am

        *nods* exactly. that’s one of the reasons why I liked the entrance of mona into their world though sometimes she just plain out gets on my nerves. 😉

        • Reply Lafaeyette February 28, 2013 at 7:43 am

          Oh yes, on mine too.

  • Reply Paul R. Vickers February 27, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Pandora was my first Anne Rice Book. Bought 4 a plane trip!! That was the start of a very long “” Only Author that knowing she has written something NEW I buy”” …..Know one can tell a story in that way…In the way it’s written I see ,smell, feel it as if it’s just happening in front of me !!!!!

  • Reply eye_care May 15, 2013 at 12:06 am

    i love you

  • Reply rozy March 11, 2014 at 2:39 am

    I disagree with the reviewer because the vampires are really open minded so someone that is not considered beautiful by current standards may be considered beautiful to them. There was also Nicolas, an important character though underrated who is hinted at not being conventionally attractive without saying it outright.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique March 11, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Agreed. The vampires see beauty through a different filter to what human beings do. I’ve always imagined that they could see a spark of something in someone, something small, like a brief smile, or a flutter of their eyelashes, or the way their fingers curl around a lock of hair, and fall in love with that alone, deem it beautiful, obsess over it. I mean, vampires are the epitome of obsession.

      • Reply Rozyve May 14, 2014 at 8:10 am

        I love your insight into the VC. I love your blog. Maybe the most beautiful lesson from this series is to see beauty in humankind and not project our self hatred on it selfishly. How did you feel about Marius’s pessimism the last time he spoke in a Chronicle?

      • Reply Rozyve May 14, 2014 at 8:17 am

        Just think of how abritary a lot of modern beauty standard are. The ideal nose, almost no one, not even a white person has though beauty ideals are claimed to be Euro-Centric. You know that nose that is short, slender, perky and cute? Is there no room for noses with character anymore? How much of what we consider beautiful is actually culturally conditioned? Some argue that beauty has roots in natural selection but body hair protects us from bacteria and it is considered ugly especially on females and must be removed. bushy eyebrows protect stuff from getting on our eyes better but they are considered ugly especially unibrows which would actually do the best job. Reminds me of this charming article. http://www.xojane.com/beauty/8-reasons-to-love-your-big-nose
        I think Lestat did a really good description of what its like to know someone that is beautiful bc of the fire of their soul. That was what he saw in Nicolas. I loved it when Lestat called it a somber light. I don’t believe Nicolas was all darkness by any means even if he thought of himself that way.

        • Reply Rozyve May 14, 2014 at 8:21 am

          Not that I doubt beauty and natural selection are tired together its just not the whole story.

          • Carmen Dominique May 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm

            I suspect that we will see the follow up to that pessimism in Prince Lestat. I have a theory regarding Marius and religion… But I do not want to colour anyone else’s opinion just yet.

          • Hook in Mouth May 16, 2014 at 11:36 pm

            tied* together

  • Reply Rozyve May 14, 2014 at 8:06 am

    For some reason Pandora reminds me of the singer from Leaves Eyes.

  • Reply Rozyve May 14, 2014 at 8:08 am

    What I LOVED was that her story included reincarnation. Always an interesting subject, especially to hear Anne’s take on it.

  • Reply Rozyve May 14, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Pride is a rare and beautiful thing in a woman.

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 16, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Please colour my opinion on Marius!

    • Reply Carmen Dominique May 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Hahaha, I am not so sure you would like me to do that. I both love and loathe him, to be honest.

      • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 9:34 am

        But you express loathing so eloquently, this is no easy task… and I should so love to read it. *pouts*

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 18, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Will you review House of Night by PC Cast?

    • Reply Carmen Dominique May 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      I might, as soon as I am done with everything I need for this encyclopedia.

      • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

        I thought it was damn cool to see Pagan themes in a popular book series. I loved the tattoos they get even though it reminds me of a show I watched as a kid called Dragon Tales. In that show if the dragons did a good thing this necklace around their neck would glow.

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 18, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I really liked how in TVL Marius said children are not truly innocent because they aren’t civilized. I was a very miserable child. Children can be so cruel. Of course adults can be too but I have never known an adult as bad as the kids I went to elementary school with.

    It is blasphemy I have used this essay to talk about other characters. Pandora is an intelligent strong female character, loved the reincarnation as part of the story and the odd scarecrow experience she had. I liked what she told it. I would have been more gentle to it though.

    Why did Marius turn Benji because he was still a kid and I thought Marius was against that.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique May 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      …. Middle-life crisis? I don’t know. He had started to act very very very strangely at that point in the series. I think he’s been going through some changes. Poor dear.

      • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 9:42 am

        They say vampires don’t change but his sentiments in TVA were much different than the second book.

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Look at this cute bird I never knew existed! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzal

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 23, 2014 at 9:47 am

    How is she dark? I’m not saying I don’t see it bc I do I just want to know your thoughts.

  • Reply The Light's Bane July 17, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I would have still liked her if she was hideous! I think the vampires are openminded and don’t accept society’s narrow standards of beauty.

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