The Vampire Armand (Vampire Chronicles Series #6) share button
Anne Rice
Format Mass Market Paperback
Dimensions 6.86 (w) x 4.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)
Pages 480
Publisher Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date October 2000
ISBN 9780345434807
Book ISBN 10 0345434803
About Book

In the latest installment of The Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice brings us the mesmerizing story of the eternally young Armand—who first appeared in all his dark glory in the now-classic Interview with the Vampire. . . .


From Barnes & Noble

The Barnes & Noble Review
And That's Why the Teenager Is a Vamp

Luxurious — this is the best word I can think of to describe Anne Rice's hot-blooded fiction. The Vampire Armand follows in the path of her last novel, Pandora, in which Rice picked up with the tale of one of her vampire offspring from the epic Vampire Chronicles. With The Vampire Armand, Rice has now written what may be her most lush and moving novel. By concentrating solely on Armand, the eternal teenager with the wisdom of the ages, she has excavated one of the most fascinating characters in the literature of dark fantasy. Armand first appeared in Interview with the Vampire, as the emotional center of the frenzied Parisian vampires whom Louis encounters on his search for both his supernatural kin and his own lost soul. Armand was even then one of the intriguing ones, a child-man who understood Louis's dilemma but had given himself over to a period of debauchery and sadism. But later, in Rice's Memnoch the Devil, which often read — delightfully so — as Rice's stab at understanding a religious model of the universe, Armand took on a supplicant's role beneath the Vampire Lestat who sought the ultimate knowledge of the Divine.

Now Anne Rice treats us to the life and times of Armand, from his origins onward. The conceit here is the same as in Pandora. David Talbot, the psychic detective member of the Talamasca, wants to write Armand's tale down so others will know his legacy. Perhaps this is how Rice best invokes her muse, for when Armand begins his lively — and undead—story, the prose billows like a soft curtain in a perfumed breeze. The Vampire Armand is riveting and beautiful.

Armand's young life was anything but gentle. When the Turks took over his homeland, he was forced into slavery, and as a preternaturally pretty boy — these were, after all, the ancient Turks — he was condemned to service in brothels. Armand doesn't mince words, and Rice, to her credit, doesn't romanticize his childhood up to this point. While Armand doesn't recount rape scenes in excruciating detail, he makes it clear that it was a brutal experience. But then, when a mysterious and rich man from Venice buys Armand for his household, Armand's life changes.

The man, known as Master to the young boy, is none other than Marius, possibly the most captivating and intriguing of Rice's pantheon of vampiric beings. Wealthy beyond measure, delighting in the sensual and erotic, Marius is smitten with the young boy from Kiev. Armand's name becomes Amadeo, "beloved of God," and Marius is in many ways Armand's only god. As Marius seeks to train the boy in the arts of love and lust, other people crowd into their life together in Venice. Included in this is the seductive and intelligent Bianca, a courtesan who is as adept at poisoning as she is at lovemaking, and the Earl of Harlech, a lusty Englishman who intends to possess Armand for himself or cut him to pieces. A highlight of the book is a scene in which Marius takes the still-mortal Armand to a den of upper-class rogues as they celebrate a feast. Marius toys with the guests, offering Armand up as a kind of bauble for them to bid on. But Marius drinks the life from each guest, one by one, until the score of vengeance is settled. It is a testament to Rice's erotic sensibility and artistry that she manages to make these dark, disturbing moments both terrifying and alluring without being repulsive.

As Rice spreads her canvas far and wide, we learn more of Armand's origins, of the secrets he carries, and, in that fateful change when he receives his Dark Gift, we share with him the beautiful and destructive world of the vampire. The Vampire Armand is easily Anne Rice's best vampire novel since The Vampire Lestat.
— Douglas Clegg, barnesandnoble.com

Mary Elizabeth Williams

The nocturnal neck suckers of Anne Rice's world have, over the course of 22 years and half a dozen novels, survived fire, ice, Satan, Christians and Tom Cruise. But as they creak and creep toward the millennium, can they do the one thing vampires never seem to think about -- age gracefully? As a character, the vampire Armand is a fresh-faced youth, eternally suspended on the verge of manhood. As the latest in Rice's lucrative, fanatically anticipated chronicles, however, The Vampire Armand is beginning to look a little weathered.

Armand, the nubile Venetian, the living, breathing remnant of the high Renaissance, narrates his own story here, and his world-weary perspective is a subdued contrast to the bombast of Rice's usual hero, the egomaniacal rock star/French fop Lestat. A complicated, sexually ambiguous pretty boy with an evolving but perpetually twisted relationship to Christianity, Armand at times comes across as endearingly muddled as any modern teen. Unfortunately, he can also be just as irritating. He may be 500 years old, but Armand apparently still has neither the depth to passionately probe his religious mysteries with convincing fervor nor the sense of humor to see the ridiculousness of his quests.

Interview with the Vampire revolutionized the stale bat-wings-and-fangs vampire genre because it was edgy, sexy and perversely funny. But two decades on, Rice's readers now find themselves in a double bind of tedium-inducing traps. Those familiar with the series have already trod much of the same lore in prior novels, while newcomers will find a whole passel of plot holes, many hastily plugged in with Truman Show-style product placement for Rice's other books. The result is a literary terrain that once teemed with gloriously amoral immortals but is now cluttered with a mess of clunky exposition.

There are still moments when Rice appears to be having fun -- she can fill a scene with enough voluptuous descriptions of silk- and velvet-swathed surroundings to fill a year's worth of J. Peterman catalogs. And it takes nothing short of brass cojones to make literal the obvious parallels between Christian lore and horror. Jesus invites his followers to drink of his blood; Rice's night crawlers brashly take him up on the offer. But gorgeous scenery and cheeky mysticism can't help an unfocused plot, and they can't turn a great supporting character into a real hero. Armand, for all his travels and all his adventures, emerges as a boy meandering through history in a preternatural state of adolescent angst.

His ennui isn't helped by the addition of a progressively less engaging cast of side characters. Armand's colorful Renaissance coterie of artists, courtesans and occasional psychotics are eventually replaced by two human companions -- a slightly daft piano prodigy and a street-smart 12-year-old whose stomach for gore is the only thing keeping him from being the cute sidekick who winds up in Jim Belushi movies. Ultimately, though, it is title character Armand who is the book's biggest draw and its weakest link. The sad, beautiful youth, so mesmerizing in previous glimpses, is all tapped out here. The best parts of his story have already been revealed in Rice's earlier novels. What's left behind is a dour little Botticelli angel, colorless as a freshly drained corpse. It seems at long last, Armand and company are facing the inevitable pitfall of vampirism -- when you live forever, it's entirely possible you may eventually wear out your welcome.

Publishers Weekly

Fantasy's great advantage is that authors can make anything happen -- even rewriting their own stories, as Rice does here. Readers of her 1995 novel, Memnoch the Devil, will recall that the vampire Armand ended his existence by stepping into the sun. Since he was a popular character from earlier tales, a resounding protest from fans followed. In response, Rice concocted a way in this, her seventh Vampire Chronicle since Interview with the Vampire (1976), to raise Armand from the dead. He is, in fact, the narrator of this story, in which he looks back on his earthly existence, revisiting his apprenticeship in 16th-century Venice to the regal vampire artist, Marius De Romanus, who saved his life with the kiss of immortality. Afterward, Armand returned to his Russian homeland, but when disaster parted him from Marius, he became the nihilistic leader of a pack of Parisian vampires. Rice offers exquisite details of erotic romps and political intrigues while reprising other material familiar to her fans, but finally returns to the pressing question of what happened to Armand in the sun's lethal rays. She supplies a vivid and resonant description of the experience, set against the counterpoint of Beethoven's Appassionata. Unfortunately, she dims the effect by dragging Armand through rambling scenes involving two odd children, Sybelle and Benji. Otherwise, this is a lavishly poetic recital in which Armand struggles with the fragility of religious belief. The final scene is a stunner.

Library Journal

This sixth installment in Rice's ongoing supernatural soap opera is the most satisfying in years. While protagonist Armand has appeared throughout the series, he's played mostly minor roles. Here, however, we get his full history. Set mostly against the perfect backdrop of Old-World Venice, Armand's life unfolds in rich, velvety prose, beginning with his kidnapping as a lad from the Russian wilderness and moving on to his tutelage under the powerful blood-drinker Marius and consequent rebirth as a vampire of light and then darkness. Rice concentrates a good deal on the physical, and all her characters appear young, beautiful -- and treacherous (think Melrose Place with fangs). Armand himself is comely to the point of femininity. Typically, there are large doses of Christian theology and homoerotic sex, and Rice recycles many characters and plot lines from earlier episodes. Unfortunately, the book flounders when it returns to the present in order to lay the groundwork for the inevitable next installment. Nonetheless, this is a sumptuous addition to the series which fans will drain to the last drop.
-- Michael Rogers

Michael Porter

. . .[T]he end of this uneven by enjoyable story is surely only the prelude to another. Stay tuned.
The New York Times Book Review

Nick Charles

. . .Rice. . .revisits too much familiar material . . .
People Magazine

Michael Garry Smout

Rice is not that helpful on background information, possibly knowing that only hardcore fans would pick this up anyway....Thumbs down on this one. Read Interview and drive a stake through the rest.
Barcelona Review

Kirkus Reviews

Here continues the stories of Armand, first met in Interview with the Vampire, and Marius, encountered in the ancient Rome of Pandora and still alive in New Orleans, where he tends the comatose body of top vampire Lestat, who's returned from Heaven and Hell with Veronica's Veil (Memnoch the Devil). The young Armand, first given the dark gift 500 years ago by Marius, still looks as boyish as a Botticelli angel and remains in thrall to Marius, who's trying to fathom the long sleep of Lestat and perhaps woo the unwilling Armand away from his two mortal children: dark-haired little Benji, an Arab boy, and the tender, willowy Sybelle. When the recently befanged and elderly scholar David Talbot, Superior General of the Talamasca, an order of psychic detectives, shows up, he is no longer old but has switched to a young body and coaxes Armand (as he did 2,000-year-old Pandora) to relate his memoirs to him. With vague memories of spending his boyhood in Kiev Rus, Armand awoke as an amnesiac boy in Istanbul many centuries ago as slave or captive, and was sold into Venice, where Marius, a great Renaissance painter with a taste for lavish living, took him as a special member of his harem of boys, making him a sex slave. By day, Marius disappears, returns to paint by night, and at last grants Armand eternal life. He educates him in history, philosophy, and the law. Then the Children of Darkness, vampires who kill for God, burn the palazzo and paintings, burn Marius and his harem, and capture Armand. Marius, of course, is not really dead. Eventually, all turns on Armand's love for Benji and Sybelle, on Rice's lush reading of Beethoven's Appassionata piano sonata, and on adreamy awakening of Lestat as Christ. Rice at her ripest, with research easily absorbed by the voluptuous text, though she fawns over her weaker, or more sentimental, moments.