I have a disclaimer, or rather a confession: prior to reading Anne Rice’s latest book in The Vampire Chronicles, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, I had only read the first book in the series, Interview with a Vampire and the latest, Prince Lestat. But while I don’t have the in-depth knowledge of every book of the series—that will come at some point—the latest book and its predecessor gave enough backstory in their narrative so I could not only follow what’s going on but also see how each book has been building on the previous work.
Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis not only expands upon a lot of the ideas set forth in Prince Lestat but it’s also more entertaining. Whereas Prince Lestat meanders and takes its sweet time getting anywhere, Atlantis moves along at a steady pace. There’s still a lot of vampires and ghosts sitting around talking and unnecessary detail cropping up all over the place (seriously, I don’t need to know what each character is wearing every time one shows up in a scene). But the filler is laced with plenty of tension and in some cases action to make the story interesting.
The book also allows for the series to take on science fiction elements as well. Enter the Replamoids—creatures that were sent to Earth thousands of years ago to seek out Amel and assassinate him, or at least coax him in to returning with them to the home world of the Parents, owl-like aliens who monitor the universe. Amel has previously in The Vampire Chronicles existed as the spirit from which the vampire race stems. In Prince Lestat Amel possesses Lestat as the latter ascends to the throne of Prince of all of the Vampires. The new book finally reveals Amel’s past with a dramatic twist for those used to the character, shocking the vampires and reader alike.
Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis finally provides some conclusions to aspects of the vampires’ own mythology, while seeking to answer new questions about their own nature. At the same time by the end of the book it doesn’t feel like the story is finished. There’s more to tell about life after the events with Amel and Lestat that are presented. The book also occasionally foreshadows a possible return of Memnoch. Tensions also linger with the rogue vampire Roshamandes, although I get the feeling that any future tales with him won’t focus around him specifically but he’ll show up to be a pain in Lestat’s backside once more.
The book is intelligently and romantically written, despite the above complains about filler. Yes, it could be shorter without losing any of its impact. But that impact isn’t lost with it, either. Perhaps the new television series, which will simply show what the actors are wearing, will be able to stick to the point. But right now I’ll live with the books as the way they are. I’m certainly looking forward to see where The Vampire Chronicles go from here.