Servant of the Bones Analysis
by Anne Rice

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Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Anne Rice's trademark is her sensual writing style. Her rhythmic, lyrical style and the use of Hebrew ease the narrative along. The biblical and historical references are excellent and give a strong factual grounding to the story, unlike other novels by her. Rice also avoids the pitfall of making broad pronouncements about religious figures as she did in Memnoch the Devil (1995), incurring the wrath of critic and clergy alike.

Rice's description of the coalescing particles of Azriel's body also lends a factual air to the tale, especially in the explanation that the mechanism is not yet understood by science. In this, Rice joins together liturgical beliefs and scientific fact, paving the way for further such developments in novels to come.

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Anne Rice dedicated Servant of the Bones to God. Her books deal increasingly with issues of religion and faith; this novel tackles directly the question of the existence of God, the existence of gods, and the possibility of life after death. Set in much the same venue as Interview with the Vampire (1976; see separate entry), the work opens as Jonathan, a college professor with Jewish lineage, is saved by a supernatural being named Azriel, who afterwards tells him his story, which is recorded on tape for the benefit of the audience. Azriel was born a Hebrew in Babylon during the captivity of the Israelites under King Nabonidas. As a young man, Azriel worked as a scribe in the temple of Marduk. The priests there observe that Azriel seems to have a special rapport with the god. As was fashionable in that time, Azriel has chosen Marduk as his personal god, and he talks, prays, and makes offerings to him. Azriel's father, with whom he is very close, treats this lightly, but none of Azriel's family realizes that Marduk actually talks back to him. At nineteen, Azriel becomes strong enough to make the god visible, to even touch him and walk with him. This brings Azriel the unwanted notice of the prophet Enoch, the witch Asenath, and Remath and the priests of Marduk.

Cyrus the Persian has conquered Babylon, and he wants a peaceful transition of power. The priests of Marduk have a ceremony in which the statue of Marduk tours the city with the king to show his favor. The statue is made of a human body coated in gold, and the old statue has rotted through. Azriel, who bears a striking resemblance to the god and is clearly favored by him, is asked to become the new statue. He is coated in a special, poisonous mixture of gold and tours the city, a living representative of the god, showing his people that Cyrus is to be their new king. In exchange for his life, Azriel buys the freedom of the Israelites. At the end of the ceremony, however, Azriel is tricked by Remath and Asenath. He is thrown into a pot of boiling gold, and only his bones remain; his spirit is then bound, genie-like, to the bones. Azriel calls for Marduk's help. The god turns away, however, and Azriel's spirit is driven into the bones.

As The Servant of the Bones, Azriel is called upon over the centuries by many a powerful wizard. The first, Zurvan, teaches him the nature of magic, and the idea that the Hebrew God is the same as...

(The entire section is 833 words.)