In The Vampire Armand, Anne Rice returns to her indomitable Vampire Chronicles and recaptures the gothic horror and delight she first explored in her classic tale Interview with the Vampire (in which Armand, played by Antonio Banderas in the film version, made his first appearance as director of the Théâtre des Vampires).
The story begins in the aftermath of Memnoch the Devil. Vampires from all over the globe have gathered around Lestat, who lies prostrate on the floor of a cathedral. Dead? In a coma? As Armand reflects on Lestat's condition, he is drawn by David Talbot to tell the story of his own life. The narrative abruptly rushes back to 15th-century Constantinople, and the Armand of the present recounts the fragmented memories of his childhood abduction from Kiev. Eventually, he is sold to a Venetian artist (and vampire), Marius. Rice revels in descriptions of the sensual relationship between the young and still-mortal Armand and his vampiric mentor. But when Armand is finally transformed, the tone of the book dramatically shifts. Raw and sexually explicit scenes are displaced by Armand's introspective quest for a union of his Russian Orthodox childhood, his hedonistic life with Marius, and his newly acquired immortality. These final chapters remind one of the archetypal significance of Rice's vampires; at their best, Armand, Lestat, and Marius offer keen insights into the most human of concerns.
The Vampire Armand is richly intertextual; readers will relish the retelling of critical events from Lestat and Louis's narratives. Nevertheless, the novel is very much Armand's own tragic tale. Rice deftly integrates the necessary back-story for new readers to enter her epic series, and the introduction of a few new voices adds a fresh perspective--and the promise of provocative future installments. --Patrick O'Kelley
In the latest installment of The Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice summons up dazzling worlds to bring us the story of Armand--eternally young, with the face of a Botticelli angel. Armand, who first appeared in all his dark glory more than twenty years ago in the now-classic Interview with the Vampire, the first of The Vampire Chronicles, the novel that established its author worldwide as a magnificent storyteller and creator of magical realms.
Now, we go with Armand across the centuries to the Kiev Rus of his boyhood--a ruined city under Mongol dominion--and to ancient Constantinople, where Tartar raiders sell him into slavery. And in a magnificent palazzo in the Venice of the Renaissance we see him emotionally and intellectually in thrall to the great vampire Marius, who masquerades among humankind as a mysterious, reclusive painter and who will bestow upon Armand the gift of vampiric blood.
As the novel races to its climax, moving through scenes of luxury and elegance, of ambush, fire, and devil worship to nineteenth-century Paris and today's New Orleans, we see its eternally vulnerable and romantic hero forced to choose between his twilight immortality and the salvation of his immortal soul.
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