Pandora by Anne Rice

(Cover picture courtesy of Books are a Garden.)

Anne Rice, creator of the Vampire Lestat, the Mayfair witches and the amazing worlds they inhabit, now gives us the first in a new series of novels linked together by the fledgling vampire David Talbot, who has set out to become a chronicler of his fellow Undead.

The novel opens in present-day Paris in a crowded café, where David meets Pandora. She is two thousand years old, a Child of the Millennia, the first vampire ever made by the great Marius. David persuades her to tell the story of her life.

Pandora begins, reluctantly at first and then with increasing passion, to recount her mesmerizing tale, which takes us through the ages, from Imperial Rome to eighteenth-century France to twentieth-century Paris and New Orleans. She carries us back to her mortal girlhood in the world of Caesar Augustus, a world chronicled by Ovid and Petronius. This is where Pandora meets and falls in love with the handsome, charismatic, lighthearted, still-mortal Marius. This is the Rome she is forced to flee in fear of assassination by conspirators plotting to take over the city. And we follow her to the exotic port of Antioch, where she is destined to be reunited with Marius, now immortal and haunted by his vampire nature, who will bestow on her the Dark Gift as they set out on the fraught and fantastic adventure of their two turbulent centuries together.

[Summary courtesy of Goodreads.]

Pandora is part of Anne Rice’s New Tales of the Vampires (although they’re not that new anymore) and there is virtually no difference in writing quality or style from her more popular The Vampire Chronicles.  What is different, though, is that we finally see the stories of formerly minor characters who aren’t really connected to Lestat.  Lestat, although he is a very interesting character, does get annoying after a couple of books, so a book from the point of view of Pandora was perfect for me.

Pandora is a woman during Pax Romana, or the golden age of Rome during the later years of Augustus.  Anne Rice paints a picture of a strong-willed woman very much in control of her own life and doted on by a loving father who is far from the average pater familias.  She is a free spirit, a dreamer and when she falls in love with Marius, the logical, cold Roman man, it makes for an interesting relationship.  The dynamics are definitely not that of a traditional one!

As with all of her novels, Anne Rice has done the research and paints a believable picture of ancient Rome in its glory and during its fall.  From the reign of terror of Sejanus to the murderous paranoia and sadism of Tiberius all the way to the spread and eventual acceptance of Christianity, Anne Rice takes readers on an amazing introspective adventure.  Pandora is actually my favourite book about Anne Rice’s vampires not just because I love Roman history, but because Pandora herself is one amazing three dimensional character.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

Amazon*    Barnes and Noble

*Unfortunately, Amazon only has Pandora available in a double book with Vittorio the Vampire unless you want to purchase a used novel.

12 comments

  1. J.J. Massa

    I keep thinking that i didn’t like that book for some reason. I went back and read her booklist–I didn’t like Violin or The Mummy–I’m notoriously bad with names. I expect I thought The Mummy was called The Pharaoh and went from there.

    That’s no lightweight book–all of her stories are so intricate and detailed. How did you read it so quickly?

    • Carrie Slager

      I didn’t find Pandora that difficult at all, but then again it’s right up my alley with all of that Roman history. It helps that I listen to the History of Rome podcast frequently, so I have context when I read something like this. And by the time I read this, I had already read most of The Vampire Chronicles, so I was used to her writing style and plot intricacies.

  2. Lisa Dee

    Lovely review. I loved Rice’s book, “Pandora”, and like you, thought it was well written and showcased Rice’s thorough and convincing historical research. Although I’ve never been deterred, or potentially discouraged by the length of any of Rice’s books I’ve read, “Pandora” is also shorter than many of the Vampire Chronicles, which would make it easier for some to finish.

    • Carrie Slager

      In some ways I wish Pandora was longer, but because of its shorter length, it didn’t drag on as much as the other Vampire Chronicles novels. I’ve never been deterred by longer novels, but I think Pandora was marketed more toward “regular” people.

  3. Rob

    blood and gold was actually favorite but pandora is a fantastic book i enjoyed all the vampire chronicles new and old…… its the mayfair witches i didnt quite take to.

    • Carrie Slager

      Blood and Gold was excellent as well! But I’m rather biased because I love ancient Rome. I haven’t tackled the Mayfair Witches and I don’t think I will. I didn’t really like her ‘crossover’ books that united the vampires and the witches.

  4. Sumiko Saulson

    I loved the book, and it also is my favorite Anne Rice book.. which is saying much, because I have read and loved many of her stories. I really enjoyed reading your review, and was pleased to see explained in words the very reasons I fell in love with the book and the character. She is very vividly drawn and three dimensional, and I related to her a lot more than other female characters in the Vampire chronicles, or the Mayfair witch books. With the other books, it was generally the men I found myself relating to, and it was nice to see the same kind of willful strength in a woman in her books – that is to say, a woman who was more of a moral neutral and not totally evil like Akasha.

    • Carrie Slager

      I too loved Pandora’s moral ambiguity. It made her seem more realistic to me and she was a much stronger character. When I first encountered her as a minor character, I didn’t like her, but seeing her side of the story sure changed it! Pandora is my absolute favourite character in the Vampire Chronicles. Marius, obviously, is my second.

    • Carrie Slager

      Each to their own, I guess! Pandora does hold a special place in my heart because I love ancient Rome, but I know she’s not everyone’s favourite. That doesn’t mean I don’t like all of the other characters, though. I do like Lestat, but he does get tiring.

  5. Nada Faris

    Great review! I think Lestat is deliciously dynamic but it is always great to see other characters fleshed out too. Anne Rice writes wonderfully well no matter the subject.

    • Carrie Slager

      Very, very true! Anne Rice is a wonderful writer, but I think she took the Lestat storylines a bit too far at times. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate all of her Vampire Chronicles.

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