Written in 1998, The Vampire Armand is part of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series, it focuses on Armand who is present as Lestat slumbers, and he is approached by David Talbot to tell his story. Armand agrees and charts his life from his pre-vampire days to how Armand came to be in Paris, his involvement with the Théâtre des Vampires along with his early encounters with other vampires.
I am something of a vampire fan, and believe me during the Twilight years it was very hard to say you were a fan of vampires without someone piping up about the heap of utter dog shit that somehow became one of the most successful book and film series of recent years. Now it finally seems that the vampire bubble has burst and now zombies are the flavour of the times so it is safe to talk about vampires again without people instantly jumping on the “is it like Twilight?” bandwagon.
If you are going to talk about vampires in literature and you have read any other vampire book that doesn’t revolve around vampires that light up like…[shudder]…disco balls in the sunlight, then you will have come across Anne Rice.
Personally I saw Interview with the Vampire years ago and whilst it was not the best vampire film in the world it did enough to keep me interested. A few years later I watched Queen of the Damned and whilst it was cheesy, it was never-the-less enjoyable to watch.
The charcterer of Armand (played by Antonio Banderas in Interview with the Vampire) was interesting enough to make me want to know more about him, so whilst browsing in a book shop I came across Vampire Armand on sale and decided it was worth a purchase…oh how wrong I was…
Armand (first introduced in the book Interview with the Vampire) begins his tale in 15th century in Kiev where he is purchased by the vampire Marius de Romanus (whose life story is told in Blood and Gold which I haven’t read but Marius is in Queen of the Dead, the film, so I kind-of known who he is), who names him Amadeo. During this time he is Marius’ apprentice and along with several other apprentices, is educated, given shelter, and the relationship between the two becomes sexual. He eventually becomes a kind of ‘head boy’ in the household.
When he was around 15 or 16 he was turned into a vampire by Marius after he was badly wounded.
The rest of the book follows his life as he learns about how to be a vampire from Marius and eventually finds his way to Paris where his path crossed with Louis de Pointe du Lac. The story told in Interview with a Vampire is not repeated in great detail but Armand does recount several instances from their time together from his point of view.
This is a film that like the Marvel Cinematic Universe is dripping with references to other characters, with the majority of the vampires being on more than familiar terms with one another having encountered each other several times during their long time on this Earth.
Like I said, Armand was introduced visually on screen by Antonio Banderas in the 1994 film Interview with the Vampire, however, after reading the book Vampire Armand it seems that he was meant to be considerably younger. Fans going from the film to the book may have trouble adjusting to the fact that the adult they saw in the film was actually supposed to be a child around the same physical age as Claudia.
In the book Armand, like the rest of the vampires, seems to be bisexual. Marius (portrayed as being camp but otherwise harmless by Vincent Perez in the 2002 film Queen of the Damned) is shown to not only be bisexual (which most people can deal with) but his interest in young boys and Armand surely makes him a paedophile. The context of the story put his sexual relationship with Armand happening way back when and Armand claims that he was in love with him, but surely it doesn’t make any difference as he is still messing around with young boys. This did not make me really like him as a character especially when Armand is describing Marius…er…well there is no other way to put this delicately so I’ll just say “tossing him off” which I could have done without being described at all.
The Anne Rice vampires seem to drift through the past as observers of the strange people called humans around them. Most people would be delighted at the prospect of remaining young and beautiful forever, yet the vampires in the Vampire Chronicles always seem to have grown weary of time and are just drifting around pointlessly. If that is how they feel then why do they not simply walk out into the daylight and let it burn them to ash? In this universe a vampire can actually die in the sunlight so if they are so joyless why not stop moping around and just pour a drink and wait for the sun to come up?
Anne Rice tells of a world filled with vampires that a reader will either love or hate. The idea of vampires as erotic figures, with pale skin, and the capability to love but never being able to be part of the world will appeal to some. However, others will read one of the Vampire Chronicles and wonder exactly what the point of it was. Armand tells his story, but his past seems to have very little to do with anything. It seems to be a more of just in case the reader was wondering how he became a vampire and what he has been doing since being turned. It is difficult to understand what Anne Rice was hoping to say about Armand by showing the reader his back story, which she hadn’t previously said during the earlier books in which he was first introduced.
I can appreciate the slant that Rice puts on her vampires but it doesn’t really make them more interesting. I have read other Vampire Chronicles since so I cannot say that this book made me not want to read others but it seems that all you have to do in this world is ask one of these boring misery guts a question and they will roll off their life history when they could have simply…you know…told you the answer to the question without going off on one about their past.
The first 200 odd pages focus on his human life, and in all honesty the reader could skip those pages to when he is turned and they would not have missed anything. Armand was poor, starving, miserable, etcetera, etcetera, until he was saved from this life by Marius.
People either love Anne Rice or hate her. With so many vampire stories out there and the majority revolving around the idea of tortured immortals it will be down to the readers to decide which books are worth their attention. This is a million times better than the dismal Twilight Saga but unfortunately the Vampire Armand tells the story of the boy-vampire but there are no shocking insights which will really affect the reader’s opinion of him from Interview with the Vampire.
As I said I have read other Anne Rice novels since but they are pretty forgetful, so much so that as I write this I am trying to think of the name of some of the others I have read but I can’t without getting up and checking my book shelf which I cannot be bothered to do.
I give Vampire Armand an indifferent “meh”, it was alright, but I seriously doubt I would read it again so whilst it is not a bad book and anyone who claims to be a fan of vampires really should check it out my Thumb lingers lazily Horizontal.
5/10 – It is alright, but like I said nothing too special, and nothing that makes me say you must read it to call yourself a vampire fan but also nothing that makes me say it is not worth your time – even I think this is a weak ending to this critique but what else can you really say??