(Cover picture courtesy of Rankopedia.)
Once a proud Senator in Imperial Rome, Marius is kidnapped and forced into the dark realm of blood, where he is made a protector for the Queen and King of the vampires—in whom the core of the supernatural race resides. Through his eyes we see the fall of pagan Rome to the Emperor Constantine, the horrific sack of the Eternal City at the hands of the Visigoths, and the vile aftermath of the Black Death. Ultimately restored by the beauty of the Renaissance, Marius becomes a painter, living dangerously yet happily among mortals, and giving his heart to the great master Botticelli, to the bewitching courtesan Bianca, and to the mysterious young apprentice Armand. But it is in the present day, deep in the jungle, when Marius will meet his fate seeking justice from the oldest vampires in the world.
If not for Pandora, Blood and Gold would be my favourite novel by Anne Rice. The story of Marius, a logical Roman man, kidnapped and turned into a vampire against his will. But what stands out for me is the amazing amount of detail Anne Rice puts into her historical fiction. The splendor of ancient Rome, the horror of the Black Death, the energy and creativity surrounding the Italian Renaissance…all of the settings come alive and you feel like you’re really there along with Marius.
Marius himself is a very complex character. His traditional Roman upbringing and his naturally logical personality clash very well with Pandora’s free spirit and dreamy personality and it makes for a very interesting relationship. However, since Pandora mostly focused on their relationship, Anne Rice doesn’t spend nearly as much time on it. Instead, she focuses on the relationship between Marius and Armand, his student and the courtesan Bianca in Renaissance Italy. Blood and Gold certainly fills in a lot of the questions I had from reading The Vampire Armand. If nothing else, it paints Marius in a more sympathetic light!
Blood and Gold isn’t for everyone. If you get annoyed by long, detailed descriptions of historical events and daily life, you won’t enjoy Blood and Gold. But for someone like me, who loves it when a writer showcases their knowledge of the era, Blood and Gold is perfect.
I give this book 5/5 stars.