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Authors: Anne Rice

Prince Lestat

BOOK: Prince Lestat
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ALSO BY ANNE RICE

The Wolves of Midwinter
Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story
The Wolf Gift
Of Love and Evil
Angel Time
Called Out of Darkness
Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt
Blood Canticle
Blackwood Farm
Blood and Gold
Merrick
Vittorio, the Vampire
The Vampire Armand
Pandora
Violin
Servant of the Bones
Memnoch the Devil
Taltos
Lasher
The Tale of the Body Thief
The Witching Hour
The Mummy
The Queen of the Damned
The Vampire Lestat
Cry to Heaven
The Feast of All Saints
Interview with the Vampire

UNDER THE NAME ANNE RAMPLING
Exit to Eden
Belinda

UNDER THE NAME A. N. ROQUELAURE
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
Beauty’s Punishment
Beauty’s Release

THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF

Copyright © 2014 by Anne O’Brien Rice

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC, New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto, Penguin Random House companies.

www.aaknopf.com

Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Alfred A. Knopf for permission to reprint an excerpt from “Sunday Morning” from
The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens
by Wallace Stevens, copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens, copyright renewed 1982 by Holly Stevens. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Rice, Anne, [date]
    Prince Lestat / Anne Rice.
       pages cm — (The vampire chronicles)
    
ISBN
978-0-307-96252-2 (hardcover) —
ISBN
978-0-307-96253-9 (eBook) 1. Vampires—Fiction. I. Title.
  
PS
3568.1265
P
86 2014
  813′.54—dc23 2014009319

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Jacket design by Abby Weintraub

v3.1

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

TO

Stan Rice, Michele Rice, Christopher Rice

and

Karen O’Brien and Cynthia Rice Rogers

Victoria Wilson

Lynn Nesbit

Eric Shaw Quinn

Suzanne Marie Scott Quiroz

and

The People of the Page

and to my muses
,

Mary Fahl

and

Jon Bon Jovi

From my stone pillow I have dreamed dreams of the mortal world above. I have heard its voice, its new music, as lullabies as I lie in my grave. I have envisioned its fantastic discoveries, I have known its courage in the timeless sanctum of my thoughts. And though it shuts me out with its dazzling forms, I long for one with the strength to roam it fearlessly, to ride the Devil’s Road through its heart.

—Allesandra,
yet unnamed in
The Vampire Lestat

Old truths and ancient magic, revolution and invention, all conspire to distract us from the passion that in one way or another defeats us all.

And weary finally of this complexity, we dream of that long-ago time when we sat upon our mother’s knee and each kiss was the perfect consummation of desire. What can we do but reach for the embrace that must now contain both Heaven and Hell: our doom again and again and again.

—Lestat
in
The Vampire Lestat

In the flesh all wisdom begins. Beware the thing that has no flesh. Beware the gods, beware the
idea
, beware the devil.

—Maharet to Jesse
in
The Queen of the Damned

Contents
B
lood
G
enesis

In the beginning were the spirits. They were invisible beings, heard and seen only by the most powerful sorcerers or witches. Some were thought to be malevolent; some were praised as good. They could find lost objects, spy upon enemies, and now and then affect the weather.

Two great witches, Mekare and Maharet, lived in a beautiful valley on the side of Mount Carmel, and they communed with the spirits. One of these spirits, the great and powerful Amel, could, in his mischief making, take blood from human beings. Tiny bits of blood entered the alchemical mystery of the spirit, though how no one knew. But Amel loved the witch Mekare and was ever eager to serve her. She saw him as no other witch ever had, and he loved her for it.

One day the troops of an enemy came—soldiers of the powerful Queen Akasha of Egypt. She wanted the witches; she wanted their knowledge, their secrets.

This wicked monarch destroyed the valley and the villages of Mekare and Maharet and brought the sisters by force to her own kingdom.

Amel, the furious familiar spirit of the witch Mekare, sought to punish the Queen.

When she lay dying, stabbed over and over by conspirators of her own court, this spirit Amel entered into her, fusing with her body and her blood and giving her a new and terrifying vitality.

This fusion caused a new entity to be born into the world: the vampire, the blood drinker.

From the blood of this great vampire queen, Akasha, all the other vampires of the whole world were born over the millennia. A blood exchange was the means of procreation.

To punish the twins who stood opposed to her and her new power, Akasha blinded Maharet and tore the tongue from Mekare. But before they could be executed, the steward of the Queen, Khayman, a newly made blood drinker himself, passed on to the twins the powerful Blood.

Khayman and the twins led a rebellion against Akasha, but they could not stop her cult of blood drinker gods. Eventually the twins were captured and separated—sent out as castaways—Maharet into the Red Sea and Mekare into the great ocean to the west.

Maharet soon found familiar shores and thrived, but Mekare, carried across the ocean to lands yet undiscovered and unnamed, vanished from history.

This was six thousand years ago.

The great Queen Akasha and her husband, King Enkil, went mute after two thousand years, maintained like statues in a shrine by elders and priests that believed Akasha contained the Sacred Core—and that if she should be destroyed, all the blood drinkers of the world would die with her.

But by the time of the Common Era, the story of the Blood Genesis was completely forgotten. Only a few elder immortals passed on the tale, though they did not believe it even as they told it. Yet blood gods, vampires dedicated to the old religion, still reigned in shrines throughout the world.

Imprisoned in hollowed-out trees or brick cells, these blood gods starved for blood until the holy feasts at which they were brought offerings: evildoers to judge and condemn and feast upon.

AT THE DAWN
of the Common Era, an elder, a keeper of the Divine Parents, abandoned Akasha and Enkil in the desert for the sun to destroy them. All over the world young blood drinkers perished, burnt to death in their coffins, their shrines, or in their tracks as the sun shone on the Mother and Father. But the Mother and Father themselves were too strong to perish. And many of the very old ones survived as well, though badly burned and in pain.

A newly made blood drinker, a wise Roman scholar by the name of Marius, went down to Egypt to find the King and Queen and protect them so that no holocaust would ever again ravage the world of the Undead. And thereafter Marius made them his sacred responsibility. The legend of Marius and Those Who Must Be Kept endured for almost two millennia.

In the year 1985, the story of this Blood Genesis was told to all the world’s Undead. That the Queen lived, that she contained the Sacred Core, this was part of the story. It appeared in a book written by the Vampire Lestat, who also told the tale in song and dance in film and from the stage where he performed as a rock singer—calling the world to know and destroy his own kind.

Lestat’s voice waked the Queen from millennia of silence and slumber. She rose with a dream: that she would dominate the world of human beings through cruelty and slaughter and become for them the Queen of Heaven.

But the ancient twins came forward to stop Akasha. They too had heard Lestat’s songs. Maharet appealed to the Queen to stop her superstitious blood tyranny. And the long-lost Mekare, rising from the earth after untold aeons, decapitated the great Queen, and took the Sacred Core into herself as she devoured the dying Queen’s brain. Mekare, under the protection of her sister, became the new Queen of the Damned.

BOOK: Prince Lestat
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