Queen of the Damned is the third book in Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. It is the continuation of book 2, The Vampire Lestat, and should be read immediately after since TVL ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting to find out what happens next.
The Queen of the Damned is about Akasha, the mother of all vampires, who is first introduced in The Vampire Lestat. She has lived for 6,000 years she has lived, most of which as a “living” statue. Now she is awake and determined to fashion our world in her image. Can she be stopped before it’s too late?
“In the flesh all wisdom begins. Beware the thing that has no flesh. Beware the gods, beware the idea, beware the devil.”
The story of Akasha is woven throughout the book, and not only do we learn her story, but those of the First Brood. These vampires are the first generation of vampires, those made directly from the Queen herself. Many of these characters had previously been introduced, but their history wasn’t known until now. These histories add depth and richness to what might otherwise be classified as yet another vampire story.
Queen of the Damned was first published in 1988, but the message within is timeless. Suffering will not begat peace, for you can’t prosper off the misery of others. When Akasha awakens she has a depressing view on the human race. One that’s been created by an observer, and not from a participant. What would we, as a race, look like to someone looking in? This is only one of the thoughts Rice will leave the reader with.
“It’s an awful truth that suffering can deepen us, give a greater lustre to our colours, a richer resonance to our words. That is, if it doesn’t destroy us, if it doesn’t burn away the optimism and the spirit, the capacity for visions, and the respect for simple yet indispensable things.”
Having read this book back in 1995, I do believe my perception has shifted from when I was 16 yrs old. I guess that’s a good thing since it means my perceptions have grown through the years. This very idea was one that Akasha couldn’t seem to grasp since she herself stayed the same through six millenia. She pitied us as “lesser” beings, but I feel that she is the one most deserving of pity.
Like in The Vampire Lestat, Lestat was once again the narrator, but this time he wasn’t the only one. Other (new) characters stepped up to share the responsibility of narrator, which allows the reader the chance to get to know them. Besides Queen Akasha and Lestat, Maharet is the other main narrator of note. She is the one that tells the true story of how vampires came into existence, and reunites all of our beloved characters. By the end of this book you are left feeling like the first chapter in The Vampire Chronicles has closed, and a new one will begin.
“Keep your secrets
Keep your silence
It is a better gift than truth”
If you have ever watched the film of the same name you may have been left feeling like there was too much going on. There was. The reason behind this was that the movie joined the storylines from both The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. I hated that, but now understand why. he two books should be treated like one. Threads of the stories are woven between the two books, but told from the perspective of different characters. If you are a fan of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series from which the HBO series, Game of Thrones is based, then you are familiar with this concept. Sadly, the film cut out too much important information leaving the audience disappointed, and confused.
The fourth book in the series, Tale of the Body Thief, continues the adventures of the vampire Lestat. Gifted with Akasha’s powers, and burdened by guilt, Lestat grows weary of immortality. On the verge of suicide, his body is hijacked by Raglan James. James is a grifter who promises he can perform a body switch for the day so that Lestat can have a moment’s peace, but as the old adage goes… Be careful what you wish for!