Martin Carr reviews Prince Lestat and The Realms of Atlantis by Anne Rice…
This is a sprawling universe which might seem overwhelming for the unprepared but have heart. Prince Lestat and The Realms of Atlantis comes with everything necessary to enjoy it without prior knowledge. As Anne Rice has been writing these books since 1978 there is a vast back history, including names, places, events and certain linguistic anomalies in need of clarification. These are all catered for thanks to a comprehensive appendix both serving as prologue and epilogue front to back.
For those with background in The Vampire Chronicles however it feels like coming home. Lestat and Armand feel familiar, tangible, grounded and engaging. This tale of blood drinkers ties nicely back into the invented mythology Anne Rice has built her career upon. Well sculptured prose neither too dense nor paper-thin and bland, gives a sense of history, time and place which seeps between the cracks drawing her reader in. Meaning ideas continued on from previous novels feel natural rather than contrived and preordained.
As events unfold her style of prose enables a sense of involvement meaning that as a reader very little feels expositional. Pacing, structure, tonal changes within dialogue and moments of tension build from circumstance and discussion, rather than direct narrative decision. At its best Prince Lestat and The Realm of Atlantis felt dense in its invention, concise in descriptive terms yet detailed enough that the reader is satisfied.
Split into three distinct parts Rice toys again with ideas of spiritual possession and ancient blood rites. Familiar friends make an appearance, old locations are given heart and soul, while her prose flits between coldly clinical, majestically ornate and salaciously sultry depending on character, location, situation and topic.
Moments of feeding are intimate, frenzied, uncomfortable and vaguely voyeuristic in nature. Stepping inside the mind of Derek we feel that sense of surrender, succumbing and ultimate sacrifice which he undergoes. Rhoshamandes may be old, opinionated, conceited and omnipotent, but his inability to see his own flaws comes through in reaction, dialogue and tangible sense of self which Rice manages to conjure. Thankfully Lestat has managed to shake off the movie star mantle.
As a character he is defined indelibly by that performance yet an internal monologue from mind to mind which is ongoing adds another layer. Such is the longevity of Lestat in popular fiction now, that neither Tom Cruise nor Stuart Townsend can leave an impression. At four hundred pages plus Prince Lestat and The Realms of Atlantis remains engaging without requiring effort. Having read Interview With The Vampire almost twenty years ago and following that on with four subsequent novels, it felt like a homecoming to me.
Linguistically masterful, structurally solid and weaved like a gossamer web of nightwalker excellence. Anne Rice further solidifies her undisputed reputation for penning novels of dark poetry, where Lestat lives and breathes in all his benevolence. Pompous, preening, princely and beyond earthly reproach. For the uninitiated and experienced traveller alike this continuation of The Vampire Chronicles makes a mockery of any shared cinematic universe you can name.