2007 TBR Challenge #6
After many decades asleep beneath the ice, the Norse vampire Thorne makes a return to civilisation, where he is taken in by another blood drinker. Eager for the sound of another voice, he encourages Marius to tell his story. And Marius obliges. Beginning in the early days of his immortal life, his tale travels from the heyday of Ancient Rome to Constantinople to Mediaeval Venice and Dresden. Companions come and go, but two things remain constant. One is his enmity with the cult of Satanic vampires who become known as the Children of Darkness. The other is his search for Pandora, the woman he loves and whom he abandoned at Antioch after and argument. In the hope of finding her, he establishes communication with a member of the Talamasca, an organisation so old its origins have been forgotten and which collects information about all things preternatural. He shares much with them in return, but never mentions the secret that he has kept from as many as he can through the centuries: he is the caretaker of Those Who Must Be Kept, the most ancient vampires of them all.
How much you get out of this book will probably depend on which other books in the series you’ve read. A lot of the backstory is filled in, but not all, so it would help to have read at least the first three of the Vampire Chronicles, particularly since Marius stops his tale at the late eighteenth century, around the time that Interview with the Vampire begins. He also started it after he became a vampire; I was disappointed to see that there was no depiction of his mortal life. But I think there was one in another book (though I can’t remember which) and I guess it would be quite a challenge to cram two thousand years into less than 500 pages. Having read Pandora I was pleased to see information in here about a period she, telling her tale, largely skipped over; I wish there was more to read about her travels through India and Europe. But I think I would have appreciated Blood and Gold more if I hadn’t read The Vampire Armand. A good portion of the book - about one-sixth, though it felt like more - just rehashed part of the same ground from a different viewpoint. I found myself wishing that Marius would hurry it along and get to something new. When he did I finally got to discover how Bianca became a vampire, but I’m not sure whether that was a good thing or not. Afterward she became very clingy and dependent; yet as a mortal , while controlled by her relatives and forced to do their dirty work under threat of her life, she had carried out their orders without flinching. It seemed strange that a process which left her physically so much stronger should also make her so much weaker.
By times interesting and frustrating, this book was useful for satisfying points of curiosity but not a great deal more.