(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Vampire Chronicles shift in time and place from Lestat’s vampire life in nineteenth century New Orleans to his prevampire days in eighteenth century rural France to his escapades in twentieth century United States. Lestat wants to know how vampires were created, mourns the loss of his mortal life, deplores but also adores his killing and bloodsucking, and explores the existence of good and evil. Searching for soulmates, he creates new vampires, but their strong wills oppose his own. Following Memnoch the Devil, Rice explores the lives of vampires who have been affected by Lestat’s story; as they recount their tales, they continue Lestat’s philosophical speculations on the purpose and value of vampire existence.

The first novel in the series, Interview with the Vampire introduces Louis, a vampire Lestat has created, telling his life story to a journalist in late twentieth century San Francisco. Louis grieves for his mortal life and describes the transformation of the child Claudia into Lestat and Louis’s vampire progeny. Trapped forever in a child’s body, Claudia attempts to destroy Lestat—an act that ultimately leads to her own destruction by Armand’s vampire coven in Paris. By the end of Louis’s tale, the young reporter Daniel begs to be made a vampire. Louis refuses, shocked that his story—meant to reveal the agony of his life—should seduce a mortal.

In The Vampire Lestat, Lestat describes his search for Marius, one of the oldest vampires, who may know the secret of the origins of vampirism. Like Louis’s narrative, Lestat’s story is published as a book—this time in an attempt to put right several of Louis’s errors. Lestat, like Rice’s vampire narrators to follow, is very much aware of the Vampire Chronicles. Ever the show-off, Lestat revels in publicity and uses his first book to launch a brief career as a rock star, which ends when his fellow vampires converge in an abortive attempt to destroy him for revealing their secrets.

In The Queen of the Damned, Lestat becomes the consort of Akasha, the Egyptian ruler who became the mother of all vampires when a demon invaded her body, giving her immortality at the price of drinking human blood. Marius has kept Akasha intact for more than two thousand years, but it is Lestat’s energetic wooing that brings her out of her long stupor. She is determined to rid the world of men, whose violence has made them unfit to survive. Having drunk her blood and fallen madly in love with her, Lestat nevertheless struggles against her project and is saved from her wrath by Maharet and Mekare, twin witches who destroy Akasha.

When The Tale of the Body Thief opens, Lestat is suffering from the loss of Akasha, his estrangement from Louis, and his separation from his mother, the vampire Gabrielle. When the occult...

(The entire section is 1171 words.)