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