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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.
About the Author
ANNE RICE is the author of twenty-two books. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, the poet and painter Stan Rice.
Hometown:Rancho Mirage, California
Date of Birth:October 4, 1941
Place of Birth:Rancho Mirage, California
Education:B.A., San Francisco State University, 1964; M.A., 1971
Read an Excerpt
They said a child had died in the attic. Her clothes had been discovered in the wall.
I wanted to go up there, and to lie down near the wall, and be alone.
They'd seen her ghost now and then, the child. But none of these vampires could see spirits, really, at least not the way that I could see them. No matter. It wasn't the company of the child I wanted. It was to be in that place.
Nothing more could be gained from lingering near Lestat. I'd come. I'd fulfilled my purpose. I couldn't help him.
The sight of his sharply focused and unchanging eyes unnerved me, and I was quiet inside and full of love for those nearest memy human children, my dark-haired little Benji and my tender willowy Sybellebut I was not strong enough just yet to take them away.
I left the chapel.
I didn't even take note of who was there. The whole convent was now the dwelling place of vampires. It was not an unruly place, or a neglected place, but I didn't notice who remained in the chapel when I left.
Lestat lay as he had all along, on the marble floor of the chapel in front of the huge crucifix, on his side, his hands slack, the left hand just below the right hand, its fingers touching the marble lightly, as if with a purpose, when there was no purpose at all. The fingers of his right hand curled, making a little hollow in the palm where the light fell, and that too seemed to have a meaning, but there was no meaning.
This was simply the preternatural body lying there without will or animation, no more purposeful than the face, its expression almost defiantly intelligent, given that months had passed in which Lestat had not moved.
The high stained-glass windows were dutifully draped for him before sunrise. At night, they shone with all the wondrous candles scattered about the fine statues and relics which filled this once sanctified and holy place. Little mortal children had heard Mass under this high coved roof; a priest had sung out the Latin words from an altar.
It was ours now. It belonged to himLestat, the man who lay motionless on the marble floor.
Man. Vampire. Immortal. Child of Darkness. Any and all are excellent words for him.
Looking over my shoulder at him, I never felt so much like a child.
That's what I am. I fill out the definition, as if it were encoded in me perfectly, and there had never been any other genetic design.
I was perhaps seventeen years old when Marius made me into a vampire. I had stopped growing by that time. For a year, I'd been five feet six inches. My hands are as delicate as those of a young woman, and I was beardless, as we used to say in that time, the years of the sixteenth century. Not a eunuch, no, not that, most certainly, but a boy.
It was fashionable then for boys to be as beautiful as girls. Only now does it seem something worthwhile, and that's because I love the othersmy own: Sybelle with her woman's breasts and long girlish limbs, and Benji with his round intense little Arab face.
I stood at the foot of the stairs. No mirrors here, only the high brick walls stripped of their plaster, walls that were
old only for America, darkened by the damp even inside the convent, all textures and elements here softened by the simmering summers of New Orleans and her clammy crawling winters, green winters I call them because the trees here are almost never bare.
I was born in a place of eternal winter when one compares it to this place. No wonder in sunny Italy I forgot the beginnings altogether, and fashioned my life out of the present of my years with Marius. "I don't remember." It was a condition of loving so much vice, of being so addicted to Italian wine and sumptuous meals, and even the feel of the warm marble under my bare feet when the rooms of the palazzo were sinfully, wickedly heated by Marius's exorbitant fires.
His mortal friends . . . human beings like me at that time . . . scolded constantly about these expenditures: firewood, oil, candles. And for Marius only the finest candles of beeswax were acceptable. Every fragrance was significant.
Stop these thoughts. Memories can't hurt you now. You came here for a reason and now you have finished, and you must find those you love, your young mortals, Benji and Sybelle, and you must go on.
Life was no longer a theatrical stage where Banquo's ghost came again and again to seat himself at the grim table.
My soul hurt.
Up the stairs. Lie for a little while in this brick convent where the child's clothes were found. Lie with the child, murdered here in this convent, so say the rumormongers, the vampires who haunt these halls now, who have come to see the great Vampire Lestat in his Endymionlike sleep.
I felt no murder here, only the tender voices of nuns.
I went up the staircase, letting my body find its human weight and human tread.
After five hundred years, I know such tricks. I could frighten all the young onesthe hangers-on and the gawkersjust as surely as the other ancient ones did it, even the most modest, uttering words to evince their telepathy, or vanishing when they chose to leave, or now and then even making the building tremble with their poweran interesting accomplishment even with these walls eighteen inches thick with cypress sills that will never rot.
He must like the fragrances here, I thought. Marius, where is he? Before I had visited Lestat, I had not wanted to talk very much to Marius, and had spoken only a few civil words when I left my treasures in his charge.
After all, I had brought my children into a menagerie of the Undead. Who better to safeguard them than my beloved Marius, so powerful that none here dared question his smallest request.
There is no telepathic link between us naturallyMarius made me, I am forever his fledglingbut as soon as this occurred to me, I realized without the aid of this telepathic link that I could not feel the presence of Marius in the building. I didn't know what had happened in that brief interval when I knelt down to look at Lestat. I didn't know where Marius was. I couldn't catch the familiar human scents of Benji or Sybelle. A little stab of panic paralyzed me.
I stood on the second story of the building. I leaned against the wall, my eyes settling with determined calm on the deeply varnished heart pine floor. The light made pools of yellow on the boards.
Where were they, Benji and Sybelle? What had I done in bringing them here, two ripe and glorious humans? Benji was a spirited boy of twelve, Sybelle, a womanling of twenty-five. What if Marius, so generous in his own soul, had carelessly let them out of his sight?
"I'm here, young one." The voice was abrupt, soft, welcome.
My Maker stood on the landing just below me, having come up the steps behind me, or more truly, with his powers, having placed himself there, covering the preceding distance with silent and invisible speed.
"Master," I said with a little trace of a smile. "I was afraid for them for a moment." It was an apology. "This place makes me sad."
He nodded. "I have them, Armand," he said. "The city seethes with mortals. There's food enough for all the vaga-
bonds wandering here. No one will hurt them. Even if I weren't here to say so, no one would dare."
It was I who nodded now. I wasn't so sure, really. Vampires are by their very nature perverse and do wicked and terrible things simply for the sport of it. To kill another's mortal pet would be a worthy entertainment for some grim and alien creature, skirting the fringes here, drawn by remarkable events.
Table of Contents
On Wednesday, October 21, 1998, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Anne Rice, author of THE VAMPIRE ARMAND.
Moderator: On October 21, 1998, barnesandnoble.com was pleased to bring Anne Rice back to our Authors@aol series for another chat. One of the country's most widely read and celebrated writers, Anne Rice is author of the Vampire Chronicles series, three books on the lives of the Mayfair Witches, and many other novels. Her latest novel is THE VAMPIRE ARMAND.
LeightonBN: Ms. Rice, welcome back. We had so much fun last time, we had to invite you once more.
Anne Rice: I'm very happy to be here!
LeightonBN: Ready to open the floodgates?
Anne Rice: Absolutely ready!
Question: I was wondering -- if it's not too personal -- what your own religious beliefs are, and how you feel that they come across in your work?
Anne Rice: I think my religious beliefs are completely expressed in my work. I identify completely with Lestat at the end of MEMNOCH THE DEVIL. And I identify as well with Armand at the end of THE VAMPIRE ARMAND.
Question: What inspired you to use the "Apassionata" as Armand's song?
Anne Rice: I make choices like that instinctively. I love the "Apassionata" sonata, and it struck me as exactly the right music for Syvelle. I was obsessed with it, so she became obsessed with it.
Question: Have you heard of this fringe phenomenon among youth of living as vampires -- sleeping in coffins, getting fanglike dental implants, ingesting blood, etc.? What are your thoughts on it?
Anne Rice: I've heard a lot about the readers getting their own dental implants, and I think that's a lot of fun. I think sleeping in coffins is fine -- what's wrong with that? When it comes to ingesting blood, I can't give my approval to that, and I can't recommend it. It's too dangerous.
Question: When you finished MEMNOCH THE DEVIL, had you decided then that Armand would live, even though the book made him look as if he had died?
Anne Rice: I had made no clear decision. I deliberately planned it so that there would be no witnesses to Memnoch's death. There couldn't be any vampire witnesses; people would only see a burst of flame. I kind of knew he survived, but my thoughts weren't clear.
Question: Hi, Anne! I'm Danielle. I'm the one who threw the doll up to you at the Halloween party last year. Remember? The drunk blonde girl! (LOL) I just wanted to ask why you shut down your tours in New Orleans? I loved them.
Anne Rice: Danielle, I remember you! [laughs] I shut down the tours because their purpose was completely misunderstood in the press. I was trying to provide access to New Orleans because I love it. The tours also provided work for New Orleanians, but this was completely misunderstood by the press, who criticized me for being exploitative. In bitter disappointment, I closed them down. My home is open every Monday to the public from 1 to 3pm at no charge. I don't see how the press can criticize this.
Question: Hello, Anne. You are wonderful! I am really enjoying ARMAND, and I have two quick questions. How old was he when Marius embraced him (it's an ongoing debate), and why was Armand's transformation so different from that of all the other vampires?
Anne Rice: Armand's age actually shifts about in my mind. I think he was about 17 when Marius made him a vampire. However, he is often described as looking like a 15-year-old by others who've seen him. His transformation was spectacular because Marius in his wisdom made him so. He made the process as drawn out as he could possibly make it so that Armand would have the maximum mythical and physical knowledge when he was finished. Armand had the time to read his own past and see numerous visions while he was being made a vampire.
Question: What do you think of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer"?
Anne Rice: I haven't seen the TV series at all, but I thought that the movie was very funny, and I thought that Buffy was very cute.
Question: What Vampire Chronicles characters might feature in another major novel soon?
Anne Rice: I hesitate to say, but I have a good feeling that it might be the Vampire Lestat.
Question: Are you considering in any of your upcoming novels making San Francisco the main setting?
Anne Rice: It's been ten years since I lived in San Francisco. I doubt it will ever be a main setting in any of my novels. I travel every chance I get, and I love to use new sites like Rio de Janeiro and Rome and Florence, Italy, and Paris and other such places that I have visited.
Question: Is there another movie in the works, and if so, when can we expect to see it?
Anne Rice: Right now James Cameron, the director of "Titanic," owns the rights to THE MUMMY. Write to Jim! As regards the Vampire Chronicles, the situation is tragic. There is no real development going on at Warner Bros. on any book of the Chronicles. Write to Warners, please! Tell them how much you want to see a movie based on the Chronicles. Maybe it will do some good.
Question: I understand that you have done a lot of research on the after-life that has made you comfortable with death. What were the most helpful books that you have read on the subject?
Anne Rice: The most helpful writer was Dannion Brinkley. Dannion videotapes and books were absolutely convincing that there is life after death. I was also inspired by the books of Raymond Moody. I have read anthologies of accounts by people who have had near-death experiences, and the material is very convincing.
Question: Ms. Rice, I can't wait to start reading ARMAND. I bought it today. I was wondering, what is your earliest recollection of writing, and what is the first story you ever wrote about? Did you always have an interest in the supernatural?
Anne Rice: I always had an interest in what's called speculative fiction. The first story I ever wrote was actually a novel about two people coming here from Mars. It was from the Martian point of view. It was very dramatic and very tragic. I was in the fifth grade in grammar school at the time.
Question: You've been very public with your support for the President. Has that changed since the Lewinsky affair emerged?
Anne Rice: I still completely support President Clinton. I think the Republican Party are making fools of themselves. The President has been outstanding. Monica Lewinsky is a self-centered, gossipy trophy hunter. She has no regards for the President, Mrs. Clinton, Chelsea, and the office of the President. I will never vote for anyone who participates in persecuting the President.
Question: Where did the name Khayman come from? I have named my son after him and would love to know the origin.
Anne Rice: I know of no origin for the name except my own imagination. It sounded like an ancient name to me, with possible origins in Ancient Egypt, and I went with my instincts.
Question: Do you think feminism has taken a regressive turn in the last ten years?
Anne Rice: I don't know what that means. I think feminism has always been divided. Some feminists want to protect women at the cost of their rights. Others want to see women more and more get their rights. The protectionists have always angered me with their puritanical attitudes. I want women to have equality with men. Monica Lewinsky should apologize to Mrs. Clinton.
Question: You've shown yourself to be a fan of Tom Cruise, at least so far as "Interview with the Vampire" is concerned. Have you heard anything about his new Stanley Kubrick picture, which has been such a closely guarded secret?
Anne Rice: I have heard nothing about it. I only know that they're still working on it.
Question: Do you think there's less room than in the past for myth and lore in this technical, rationalists' world? Is there a greater need for it in response? Does this account, in part, for your books' success?
Anne Rice: I think that right now, the public is desperate for myth and lore. They need meaningful, fantastic fiction. There is no contradiction there between fantastic and meaningful. For 1,500 years, the Christian West and the Jewish West have told tales of the supernatural, magic, and meaning. Pedestrian fiction will probably have a very short tenure.
Question: In the book CRY TO HEAVEN, did you create Christina to be what you thought your daughter would have been at that age? I noticed that the physical description was very similar to your daughter. Maybe you thought she would be a painter like your husband.
Anne Rice: I never thought of it. It never crossed my mind. But it's a lovely thought.
Question: Hi, Anne! The vampires' theory of God and religion is very interesting. Is this based on your own theology?
Anne Rice: Yes, completely. My questions about God and the Devil are the same as Armand's questions and Lestat's questions.
Question: Is James Cameron still set to direct THE MUMMY?
Anne Rice: We haven't heard from Jim in a while. We feel that right now the best thing to do would be to give him some space. "Titanic" was a true titanic success, and Jim must be facing many opportunities.
Question: Hi, Anne! I was wondering if you need to be alone to write or if ideas come better when you are with other people.
Anne Rice: Ideas come all the time; they're no respecters of crowds. But I like to write alone in a room by myself.
Question: When is the movie THE VAMPIRE LESTAT coming out? Is it coming out? --Jessy
Anne Rice: There may never be such a movie as long as Warner Bros. has a stranglehold on Lestat. They don't want to make a movie based on that book. As far as I know, Warner Bros. has no respect for me or the readers. But if they don't make something soon, they will lose their rights to the Vampire Chronicles. That's what I pray for -- I pray for the books to come back to me in the year 2000. My worst fear is that they will make a trashy film using the characters' names with an original story of their own, not based on any of the books. If you fear this as much as I do, please write to them and tell them what you think. Write to Lorenzo Bonaventura.
Question: Do you think you've become something of a cult of personality among your fans?
Anne Rice: Yes, I do, and I rather enjoy it! And I regard the whole thing very highly; I love my readers. They're the only ones I know that have never told me to shut up!
Question: Bonsoir, Madame Anne Rice. Je vous aime! My name is Lionel, and I am a young Frenchman who loves you since 1990. My favorite character ever is Louis. I see him as the personification of the best part of my inner self. Is there a chance that we get more of him?
Anne Rice: Bonsoir, Lionel! I think Louis will always be in the novels, but it's unlikely that he'll have his own novel...I don't know.
LeightonBN: Ms. Rice, thanks for joining us. Any closing comments?
Anne Rice: First of all, let me thank you all for having me on and letting me talk to the readers. And lastly, let me express my grief over the death of the young gay man Matthew Shepard in Wyoming recently. This was a horrible crime -- an unspeakable crime. If we could just have a brief second of silence for Matthew, I think that would be a good thing.
[moment of silence]
Thanks very much, again.
LeightonBN: Ms. Rice, thanks so much for your company. We hope to see you again.
Anne Rice: Oh, it was great! I want to come back!
Anne Rice: Goodnight!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am wildly enthusiastic about The Vampire Chronicles... I read the first five books at record speeds (even the Body Thief which was probably the worse out of the first five). I literally plowed through those books, then I hit the barricade which is The Vampire Armand.
Now, I don't mind all the homosexuality in these books as I am not homophobic, but I draw the line when Marius gives oral sex to Armand when he was just a bit older than a child. This semi-pedophilia theme goes on all throughout the beginning in great detail and it makes the book difficult to read.
Not to mention Armand is just a boring storyteller who hits on David Talbot a bit too much for an asexual immortal.
Buy it if you're a hardcore Vamp Chronicles reader only! Or maybe for your collection. The only thing that pushed me to finish was that I have to read everything I start... hopefully Merrick is better...
This book is so original. I remember reading it when I was younger. It really can be very shocking at first, but I promise it will not disappoint you. Ultimately,it's very moving and gives you a different perspective on life, religion and cultures/traditions that precede our time, our culture. I really enjoyed it. I can't tell you how many times I have read this book.
It's a bit hard for me to say, but it's being a strugle to read it, i kind of like it, so I will just finish it because I already bought it.
Another great book by Anne Rice. Love learning more about Armand and his story. Love how Anne really paints the picture for you in her story telling. Can't wait to start Merrick.
The book was good but it was a slow read. I'm not sure what the point to the story was it seemed to lean toward being a good person with all but one person chagning their views on life. kinda weird.
I ran out of steam by the time I got to this book. I just couldn't get into this one.
I liked this book very much.It transported you through time and space.