Friday, November 10, 2017

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis by Anne Rice

“To love any one person or thing truly is the beginning 
of the wisdom to love all things.”
-Lestat in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis by Anne Rice

I recall reading Interview with the Vampire in 1977 and thinking what an amazing talent the author possessed. Decades later and a dozen books later, that author is internationally renowned, a cultural icon, wealthy and incredibly friendly with her fans who use social media to contact her. I think she’s one of a kind. I’ve never met her. The crowds at her appearances are a bit much, so I stayed away. Among her many wonderful books I admire The Witching Hour, The Mummy, The Queen of the Damned, and Angel Time. Such a terse statement that lists only four novels is, naturally, an injustice. All of her books are treasures. Those just happen to be my favorites. Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis is the twelfth novel in her “Vampire Chronicles” and a true masterpiece. I recommend reading Interview with the Vampire, The Queen of the Damned, and Prince Lestat before indulging yourself with this astonishing book. Take your time and don’t rush anything, because Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis is that rare work of fiction that will affect you deeply. Defining this book with labels such as “horror fiction” or “supernatural thriller” detracts from the high literary quality of the writing, the profound themes and topics, and all of the brilliantly realized characterizations that form the heart of this novel. Anne Rice has done the unexpected and written a novel that separates itself from the preconceived expectations that comes with writing a popular series. She’s changed the game and created a new set of rules. She has done this without changing what has gone before, but the changes will affect everything that happens going forward, and this includes the perceptions of her readers. It’s not unusual for any series writer to initiate changes, and its often necessary to keep the narrative fresh, but Anne Rice is successful because her creative powers are at their peak. With Lestat now the prince and driving force behind the organized vampire culture, the enigmatic spirit Amel that possesses him becomes the focus of several non-human entities who had previously resided in Atalanaya or Atlantis. This small group was created by “the parents” on another planet, and this less than subtle infusion of a science fiction element is but one of many surprises. These children, called Replimoids, had been sent to destroy Atlantis, but the Replimoids had become enamored of Atlantis and its amazing people and and its rich culture. To destroy something so wholesome seems to them an aberration. The crux of the novel lies in understanding the Replimoids. Long after Atlantis is destroyed, they re-emerge in modern times intent on freeing Amel from what might now be considered a prison within Lestat. The key section of the novel is titled “Kapetria’s Tale” which recounts their origin and journey of self-discovery from the stars to earth. This is Rice at her best, describing a lost culture and the beauties of life; the exuberance of discovery and the very human desire for peace, love and understanding. Is she, I wonder, commenting on the demise of civilization as we know it? She never overplays her hand, but Rice incorporates a discussion on possessing a soul into the framework, which is the novel’s theme. Do all living creatures have a soul, both human and non-human alike? On a larger scale, but employed in such a subtle manner that I was thrilled by her deft touch, Rice is promoting that all life is sacred, and that we all belong and come from the same “stardust” as Lestat points out late in the novel. In her own way, Rice is condemning religious, ethnic and sexual prejudice. This metaphysical dialogue and philosophical musing is balanced against some plot elements that stem directly from the grand tradition of pulp fiction. The discovery of the Replimoid’s ability to regenerate is a scene that might have been at home in a 1940s story from Fantastic Adventures. Rice has fused seemingly disparate elements and created a compelling tale that is unique in fantasy literature. As always, her writing is lush and imagistic, measured and carefully presented. I am quite the fanboy, and Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis is now my favorite of all of her books. In fact, if anything, this book’s marketing would have benefited from a cover commissioned from Brom rather than the usual photo-shopped bland stock images most New York publishers use. Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis is available now in paperback. 

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