The Queen of the Damned (1988) is the third novel of Anne Rice‘s The Vampire Chronicles series. It follows Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. This novel is a continuation of the story that ends in a cliffhanger in The Vampire Lestat and explores the rich history and mythology of the origin of the vampires, which dates back to Ancient Egypt.
This is about the Anne Rice novel. For the 2002 movie adaptation of the novel, see Queen of the Damned (film).
Part One follows several different people over the same period of several days. Several of the characters appear in the two previous books, including Armand, Daniel (the “boy reporter” of Interview with the Vampire), Marius, Louis, Gabrielle and Santino. Each of the six chapters in Part One tells a different story about a different person or group of people. Two things unify these chapters: a series of dreams about red-haired twin sisters, and the fact that a powerful being is killing vampires around the world by manner of spontaneous combustion.
Pandora and Santino rescue Marius, having answered his telepathic call for help. Marius informs his rescuers that Akasha has been awakened by Lestat, or rather his rock music, for he has joined a rock band of mortals named Alex, Larry and Tough Cookie. Having been awaken by Lestat’s rebellious music, Akasha destroys her husband Enkil and plots to rule the world. Akasha is also revealed as the source of the attacks on other vampires.
Part Two takes place at Lestat’s concert. Jesse, a member of the secret Talamasca and relative of Maharet, is mortally injured while attending the concert, and is taken to Maharet’s Sonoma compound where she is made into a vampire. The vampires from Part One later congregate in the Sonoma compound. The only vampires not present are Akasha and Lestat. Akasha has abducted Lestat and takes him as an unwilling consort to various locations in the world, inciting women to rise up and kill the men who (they feel) have oppressed them.
Part Three takes place at Maharet’s home in a Sonoma forest. There Maharet tells the story of Akasha and the red-haired twins (who are, in fact, Maharet and her sister, Mekare) to Pandora, Jesse, Marius, Santino, Eric, Armand, Daniel, Louis and Gabrielle. Also present are Mael and Khayman, who already know the story. (see “Maharet and Mekare“)
In Part Four, Akasha confronts the gathered vampires at Maharet’s compound. There she explains her plans and offers the vampires a chance to be her ‘angels’ in her New World Order. Akasha plans to kill 90 percent of the world’s human men, and to establish a new Eden in which women will worship Akasha as a goddess. The vampires’ refusal of her offer will result in their deaths. The vampires refuse to join her; but before Akasha can destroy them, Mekare enters. Mekare kills Akasha by severing her head. Mekare then consumes Akasha’s brain and heart, thereby saving the lives of the remaining vampires and becoming the new ‘Queen of the Damned.’
In Part Five, the vampires leave Maharet’s compound and assemble at Armand’s resort, the “Night Island,” (according to Anne Rice, inspired by Fire Island) in Florida to recover. They eventually go their separate ways (as told in The Tale of the Body Thief). Lestat takes Louis to see David Talbot in London. After their brief visit with Talbot they depart into the night, an incensed Louis and his angry words filling Lestat with glee.
The Origin of Vampires
The Queen of the Damned, the novel, deals with the origins of vampires themselves. The mother of all vampires, Akasha, begins as a pre-Egyptian queen, in a land called Kemet [which will become Egypt], many thousands of years ago. During this time two powerful witches (Maharet and Mekare) live in the mountains of an unnamed region. The witches are able to communicate with invisible spirits and gain simple favors from them. During this period there is a bloodthirsty, invisible spirit known as Amel who continually asks the two witches if they need his assistance, although they prudently decline the offer. The witches’ village is destroyed and they are incarcerated by the king and queen, who desire their knowledge. When the witches offends Akasha, the Queen condemns the twins. Enkil then orders his chief steward (who is Khayman as a mortal man) to rape the twins in his stead, which would prove their lack of power, before the eyes of the court. Afterward the witches are cast out into the desert. While making her way back home with a pregnant Maharet, Mekare curses the king and queen secretly with the bloodthirsty spirit. Eventually this spirit inflicts such torment on Akasha and Enkil that they again demand advice and help from the two witches.
Conspirators, unhappy with the young king’s policies, assassinate the royal couple in Khayman’s house whilst they were attempting to exorcise Amel, who had been tormenting Khayman. While the king and queen lie dying, the evil spirit sees its chance to ensnare the soul of the dying queen and pulls it back into her body. The spirit combines itself with the flesh and blood of the queen, transforming her into a vampire. Akasha allows the king to drink her blood, which saves his life. They then order Khayman to find the witches and bring them back to Egypt so that they could use their knowledge of spirits to help them, as they feel guilty because of their thirst for blood. However, when the witches admit that they cannot help the monarchs, Akasha orders the mutilation of the witches: Maharet loses her eyes and Mekare her tongue. Afterward, Khayman, who had been turned into a vampire by Akasha, comes to the witches’ cell and turns them too. The three flee together, but are caught by Akasha’s soldiers. Khayman escapes, but Maharet and Mekare are further punished. The witches are put into two separate coffins which are then set afloat on two separate bodies of water. They are only reunited near the end of the novel Queen of the Damned.
In Mekare’s absence, Maharet returns to watch over her daughter and her descendants. Maharet’s descendants become what she calls the Great Family. A maternal line, the Great Family includes every culture, religion, ethnicity, and race. The Great Family represents all humanity and shows the vampires what Akasha would destroy with the creation of her New World Order.
As the source of all vampires, Akasha is connected to all vampires by the blood and spirit they collectively share. In an experiment by the first Keeper, Akasha and Enkil are exposed to sunlight when they are several thousand years old. This merely darkens their skin. However, the result on all other vampires is extreme, and many of the weakest vampires die, thus confirming the legend that anything that harms Akasha will also directly affect all of her progeny.