The Barnes & Noble Review
Anne Rice writes grand romances in the traditional sense of the word, the Victor Hugo sense: novels with larger-than-life characters whose epic experiences sweep through all the great themes and emotions of life, death, love, passion, and loss, while also providing plenty of action.
Blood and Gold continues Rice's Vampire Chronicles by taking up the tale of Marius, who was for centuries the guardian of Those Who Must Be Kept, and whose duty to the King and Queen of the Vampires caused him much pain, loss, and suffering. Marius, who originally appeared in The Vampire Lestat and has figured briefly in the majority of the Chronicles that have followed, was an aristocrat of ancient Rome before his conversion to the Living Death. Blood and Gold follows his lonely life through the ages, sweeping from Imperial Rome to Constantinople to Venice during the Renaissance (Botticelli makes a brief cameo appearance) to the present day. His passion for longtime companion Pandora (detailed in a book of the same name, although told from her perspective), results in his loneliness and a centuries-long search for her.
Blood and Gold is one of Rice's finest achievements and has the added benefit of standing completely on its own for new readers. But those seeking the most complete picture of Marius will also want to revisit The Vampire Lestat, Pandora, and The Vampire Armand to understand how he's viewed by those his life has touched. (Greg Herren)
In Anne Rice's novel Blood and Gold, the comparison flatters us--surely one of the secrets of her popularity.
Los Angeles Times
Rice brings her long-waning Vampire Chronicles series back to life with this passionate book about the vampire Marius, who recounts his life story to a visitor he has invited in out of the cold. Made into an immortal by a band of Druids during the time of Caesar Augustus, Marius, once a Roman senator, spent centuries living an opulently idle life. His primary task throughout the years was to guard the unmoving forms of Akasha and Enkil, the queen and king of the vampires, who caused such a ruckus in Rice's earlier novels. Marius has always been one of the author's more fascinating characters. His florid, foppish recollections of Rome and Venice, run-ins with people like Botticelli, battles with hordes of Satan-worshiping vampires and the never-ending search for his true love, Pandora, make for a satisfying read, something Rice has not delivered in far too long.
After a long, deep sleep, the vampire Thorne looks to centuries-old Marius for guidance as he comes back into the world. Thorne is curious about Marius's life and his relationship to others in the community of Blood Drinkers, and Marius consents to tell all. It is this story that makes up the bulk of Rice's newest entry to the "Vampire Chronicles," the first of which was Interview with the Vampire. This complex tale presents the history of vampires through the eyes of Marius, who offers his perspective on several characters, most of whom have appeared in earlier volumes. Marius, who is something of an erudite philosopher, brings his own spin to the stories of the various undead he has met in his long existence. Though it is not as engrossing as the earlier books perhaps because so much of the story has already been told devoted followers of the series will find new information about familiar characters, and new readers will find this a good introduction to Rice's world of the vampire. Most public libraries will want to purchase. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/01.] Patricia Altner, Information Seekers, Columbia, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Large arterial heart-piece in Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Though much of the lordly speech ("Oh . . . you foolish, mad, self-important dreamer!") suggests no advance in dialogue since Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur (1880) or H. Rider Haggard's She (1887), Rice opens grandly, reviewing cultural vampirology, its origins and historical underpinnings, in a backstory skimmed from earlier works. Akasha, mother of all vampires and Queen of the Damned (1990), is 6,000 years old when red-haired twins Maharet and Mekare rise up and behead her. Mute Mekare becomes Queen, having taken into herself from Akasha the Sacred Core of blood drinkers. Akasha's destruction liberates Marius, who for 2,000 years kept safe the sleeping bodies of Akasha and her consort Enkil, to tell his story to red-haired Thorne, a Viking given the Dark Gift long ago by Maharet. Too sensitive to kill, Thorne encased himself in an arctic cave for centuries and only now awakens to the modern world. As Thorne listens, Marius describes carrying the royal vampire coffins from Antioch to Rome, seeing Byzantium change into Christian Constantinople, and (skipping the Dark Ages) participating in Italy's glory years of blood and gold, during which he becomes a great painter. For centuries he mourns his beloved Pandora, whom he fled in Antioch. A pair of two-dimensional vampires, angry Mael and tearful Avicus, cling to Marius as he meets the glorious Eastern vamp Eudoxia, who herself has drunk from Akasha. But Eudoxia must die and be replaced by Zenobia, a virginal variation on child-vampire Claudia. Besotted by Botticelli, painter Marius hears Satan whisper, Give Botticelli the Blood. Then Marius loves Bianca the poisoner and the Russian waif Amadeo/Armand. Later turns: Marius is burned by Christian Satanists and tries to win back Pandora. Given her historical antecedents, Rice-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed writes like a damned Queen.
“Tantalizing . . . Sustains its impact from start to finish.”
“A MARVELOUS ADVENTURE . . . Rice continues to be a fascinating, immensely talented writer; she’s taking risks that few other popular authors would even contemplate. Readers . . . will be enthralled.”
–The Dallas Morning News
“DIFFICULT TO PUT DOWN. This is perhaps, the finest Vampire Chronicle [Rice] has penned.”
–Lambda Book Report