“The Jews believe each life is a universe, and if you take a life, well, then you are destroying a universe. And I thought, Yes, this is true of us, this is why we must love one another, because we are each an entire world.” —Anne Rice, Blood Communion
I have appreciated the coming of this holiday season and the chance to catch up on a long backlog of books I’ve wanted to read. High on my list was the latest entry in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Blood Communion, which was released in October of this year.
Blood Communion is narrated by our beloved Lestat and we are back in the center of the Vampire Court, established on the refurbished grounds of his ancestral home in France. The estate has been lovingly restored and is the permanent home of all our favorites: Marius, Pandora, Armand, Gabrielle, Louis, and many others. Recall that in Rice’s most recent books, the Brat Prince, now officially crowned by all vampires, is ambivalent about his rule. Lestat reminds us that “one can be anointed a prince without reaching for the scepter.”
But Blood Communion begins with a challenge to Lestat’s irresoluteness: the ancient and powerful vampire Rhoshamandes resurfaces seeking revenge for wrongs done to him in Prince Lestat. However, Rhosh does not go after Lestat directly but, like a Vampire Mafioso, instead seeks to strike at Lestat’s family and loved ones to extract his blood price. We learn more of this evil from Mitka, an ancient vampire, but new to us and linked to Rhosh via events in Tsarist Russia.
With an internal vampiric war declared, Lestat must decide to lead the counterattack or abdicate his throne. The tale that follows is both action packed and emotionally charged. For those who felt Rice’s last books involved a heavy dose of Socratic-like philosophical dialogue, the story line of Blood Communion stands in thrilling contrast.
But, consistent to form, Rice weaves a deeper message underneath the harrowing battles depicted in Blood Communion. Never before, in a long history of over a dozen books, have we seen Lestat struggle with true loss before. War comes with casualties, even a war amongst immortals, as they are immune to death due to age, not destruction.
Never one for stoicism, we have watched for many years while Lestat cycled through stratospheric highs of exuberance to Stygian pits of depression. It will come then, as no surprise to the long-term fan that loss for Lestat is experienced as utter devastation. The wise elder Benedict (effectively Lestat’s vampiric “grandfather” through Magnus) counsels a distraught Lestat with the following: “Don’t ever think that two is enough. Don’t ever imagine it. And don’t ever be crippled by believing that you cannot live without one other being, and only that being. You must have more than that to love, because loving, loving keeps us alive, loving is our best defense against time, and time is merciless.”
Many of us may have harbored secret longings for immortality for ourselves and those close to us. But perhaps, in watching this fictional immortal embrace his internal humanity through loss, we can discover ways to come to accord with our perishability.