I REALLY wanted to like Vampire Chronicles. Really. Cult status and shit. The series started out so well and even with the obvious alterations due to transition from standalone novel to the whole series and the rapid change of the whole Lestat’s personality form the undead psychopath to a sensitive survivor it was a good story. A bit of cringe here and there but nothing major. The Queen of the Dead though… I hope it’s just a slip, a weaker point of the Chronicles because I’m starting to feel too disappointed to continue reading.
Remember how when the movie adaptation hit the theaters people would say it’s embarrassing? That the story is ridiculous? Frankly, minus the whole idea of mixing Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned together which was totally unnecessary I think it kinda made the long story short. Akasha awakes from her thousands-years-old hmm immobility? to fall in love with Lestat and burn all the others vampires alive for no reason and needs to be stopped or the Earth will plunge into chaos. And you know what? That’s just it. There’s not much more to it in the case of the book. But let’s get into more detail as to why I’m sooooo disappointed with the Queen of the Damned.
This is the scene in which Anne realizes she can no longer pull of the first person narrative and instead of just switching to the third person, she makes some awkward excuses through the mouth of Lestat. He says even though he cannot carry it on anymore it’s ok because ‘even as you will hear different voices it’s in fact still me narrating and if you read people saying I’m beautiful and suave it’s not because I say and think that of myself (suuuure…) but because I’ve often heard people say and think that about me.’ So yeah, sleek, Mrs Rice. Another thing is how she tries out different narrating styles for different characters but it turns out forced and annoying. The most annoying is how the Lestat’s narrative from the beginning is so wink wink cool bad boy and then he drops it all of a sudden later. It’s like he tried to be the only non-pompous vampire on Earth but it turned out so unnatural that he gave it a rest.
*Sigh* What was that even for? Some hush hush super secret organization for paranormal research doing an extremely important work that is of no profit to anyone. And of no consequence either. Just watching all those dangerous beings. Watching to what end? It’s not like they can do shit to vampires, witches and whatnots. ‘The order’ of Talamasca is tastefully placed in an Elisabethan mansion and served by the servants, chauffeurs and cooks round the clock. Everyone has their own fucking penthouse with a fireplace and generous pocket money. Sounds more like something between luxurious private club and royal court to me! Where do they get funds for that, given that their work is „of no profit to anyone”? Ok, a great unveiling of a secret: it’s all to give the mary sue character of Jesse a bit of mysterious aura and polish. Which brings us to…
Every vampire is very beautiful and very powerful, Jesse is extremely attractive, brilliant and reads and writes in all the language she encounters. She also lives permanently in the lap of luxury and her step family loves her, all of her friends adore her. Is there a single flaw, suffering or struggle in her life? It looks like Anne Rice got high on her own stuff with this book. But ultimately Jesse is a very weak character. We get reminded all the time about how she’s Maharet’s descendant and we have to go through her highly detailed and monotonous memories of Maharet and the time she spent with her as a kid. That’s all there is to her. She wouldn’t be able to exist as a standalone character. What happened to the multidimensional characters from the previous parts?
When it comes to Lestat, in this part he’s neither stupefyingly sadistic and cynical (part I) nor an interesting philosopher and curious experimentator (part II). In this part he is just annoying and passive. He had strong reasons to provoke an attack on himself at the concert but then he had no idea that would happen. It was a meticulous plan but he didn’t know what he was doing… And so on. And then he’s just a victim of his addiction the murderous queen and her blood which is sooo goood yum. He knows killing everyone around is bad but then she’s sad when he voices his doubts so you see for yourselves he doesn’t have a choice. His persona from the Interview would just revel in all that blood and being fed such a powerful blood. His persona from the Vampire Lestat actually cut ties with his own mother precisely because she didn’t respect human life. But people change and, apparently, vampires too.
In the tale of the twin sisters, Khayman (is that supposed to be an Egyptian name?) and also some other characters act with complete, blatant disregard to the mentality and customs of the time and place. Khayman frequently bursts into tears thinking about what the poor girls had to go through. He faithfully visits them in prison. The king uses him to rape the twins ‘in his stead’ ‘for the love of his queen’. Those things would NEVER happen in the ancient Egypt. Life was brutal, people were used to blood and violence. Adult men didn’t cry thinking of some captive women’s dignity. Kings ruled with an iron fist having as many women as they wanted without asking their wife’s permission. And so on. It was a completely different mindset from ours. It’s very similar to how Lestat woke up in the 20th century and deemed is beautiful. Now being a 18th century man, he would never see our age of plastic, polyester and machine-made-music beautiful. So yeah, Anne Rice didn’t care about anachronisms, obviously. Too bad, it really breaks immersion.
Akasha. Where do I even begin? After all this tension and mystery built carefully around her in the tome II, it turns out this fascinating, beautiful, terrifying woman… has no personality. That often happens with human women. It turns out Akasha was still and silent through thousands of years because… she had nothing to say!!
Not only that! She was busy thinking about how to make this world a better place. And she finally was enlightened: The key to the world’s happiness is… to exterminate all the men.
That’s right. Because men make war and crime. Men kill and abuse women. And no woman ever was seen doing a single evil thing to add to the general misery of a mankind. Women are gentle, compassionate and benevolent creatures who come in peace. So Akasha appears in the different places all over the world to convince and manipulate women into killing their loved ones who happen to be men and the women somehow just take rocks and baseball bats and kill the poor defenseless men. Really, Anne? You could make anything out of it and this is what you came up with??
There is some, mainly involving Akasha and also the twins but mostly everyone is just talking. Talking, conferring, confessing, debating, musing, reminiscing, predicting, arguing and making up. Also, the ending is really disappointing. Mekare ending the immortal Mother with… a piece of broken glass? Why no one got this idea earlier? Oh and let’s not forget the BIG secret in the secret room: genealogical tree of the Big Family which is really a one great mankind family. Because it’s all about the brotherhood of men. Everyone has tears in their eyes, little children join hands and sing, doves are taking flight. Does anyone have a tissue?
It’s so painfully clear that Anne Rice has never been to Europe except maybe as a tourist. And even so, one would expect her to be more realistic about it. The way she mixes topographical namesdropping with cultural stereotypes… It only serves to prove you shouldn’t write about things you don’t know anything about.
The same goes for Egypt. Seriously, the ancient Egypt was such a culturally and otherwise rich land , so much to describe. But nooo, it’s empty. There are some uh.. golden furniture and … slaves, that’s right! They had slaves. And the king is somehow never called a pharaoh even though such a fancy, history accurate (kinda) name (‘Kemet’) is used for Egypt. Barren land, just a few pyramids.
It’s sad how the book is an open propaganda tube for the author’s views. The lengthy speeches about how mankind ‘evolved’ out of superstitious faith into the era of tasteful reason, the whole sabbath of vampires unable to come up the any strong argument against killing all men, how no one dares to say that women are as evil as men (hehe are we equal or not?) and this autoerotic euphoria about how the aesthetics are the only absolute, unfailable category of good and evil… It just isn’t a mature book.
Queen of the Damned is unsatisfying, inconsistent and plain boring. The series built great expectations and fell short of meeting them. A lot of trivial pseudophilosophy instead of some good action. Pompous dialogues, a lot of drama with very little substance to it. Lore much poorer than I expected. The material in general is unnecessarily stretched. Seriously, if all vampires are going too hang around through eternity dispensing their leftist wisdom of the ages than I’ll pass.