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The Tale of the Body Thief (Vampire Chronicles 4) (original 1992; edition 1993)

by Anne Rice

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6,29139633 (3.42)36
Member:Nymeth
Title:The Tale of the Body Thief (Vampire Chronicles 4)
Authors:Anne Rice
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (1993), Paperback, 624 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Gothic and Horror

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The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice (1992)

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
The most erotic of all the Vampire Chronicles (so far). The endless passion between David and Lestat kept me reading more than anything else. She handled their relationship beautifully. I don't know if I can pick a favorite of all the books I've read of her's so far, but I know I love this one just as much as the first three. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
Lestat has become thoroughly disillusioned with his life as a vampire. Isolated, bored and generally dissatisfied he tries to end it all – which doesn’t work out as planned given his incredible power level

When someone makes him an offer he can’t refuse, though he really really really should as multiple people tell him. But since when has the Brat Prince listened to the advice of others?

He agrees to the Body Thief’s proposal – he will swap his incredible vampiric body for that of the Body Thief’s human one – letting Lestat experience humanity while the Body Thief, Raglan, a deeply unsavoury character, plays around with Lestat’s amazing powers

It does not go well.

I love that Lestat becomes human and hates it! Especially since this follows both Louis and Lestat playing the “woe, I wanna be human!” game – and since Louis is probably responsible for an entire genre worth of vampires moodily staring into the night and cursing their immortal super powers. I love how perfectly Lestat sums up just how much better it is to be a vampire, how awesome being a vampire is, how incredible his powers are – and no, getting to see the pretty sunshine does not make up for having to do all the nasty organic things that he hasn’t had to deal with for the best part of two centuries. I love how gross he finds the daily life of being a human. I love how hard he finds it, how painful, how difficult.

Yes, he looks hellaciously whiny when he complains to Louis about it, but it is a powerful moment – Lestat (and Louis) have reached such a power level that being human is beyond their conception. The struggles of humanity are insurmountable tortures to Lestat because he is so separated from them.

The real world parallels for this are many and deep (for example, the number of extremely privileged, wealthy people putting marginalised cultures, experiences et al on shiny pedestals without even beginning to understand what it actually means to be those people) and it’s an extremely well maintained theme throughout.

Are there things about being human Lestat likes? Yes. Is being a vampire an inherently lonely experience? That’s extremely clear as the human Lestat makes his connections (which fall apart when he becomes a vampire) but it has become clear over and over (and is overtly stated in this book) that the few remaining vampires in the world simply cannot get along for any great length of time. Of course there are attractions, but those can only be realised by ignoring a huge wealth of pain and hardship and difficulty that being a human brings compared to the vast abilities of vampiredome.

While I generally find the endless philosophical debates in this series incredibly, painfully dull, I actually really liked Lestat and Gretchen (not so much the fever dreams) with their delving into what is goodness, what makes a life worthwhile, what is a good life. It’s a big, meaty, thought provoking topic which was handled quite well – albeit long windedly. I also liked Gretchen’s point about her celibacy – she views celibacy as a way of ensuring all of her life can be dedicated to helping others without the ties or distractions of a relationship. As her growing preoccupation with her celibacy and desire to have sex grew, she recognised that as a distraction in and of itself and therefore the moral choice was, basically, to scratch the itch. It’s a fascinating moral viewpoint – the whole conversation really works (except for the repetition).

I like the development of the antagonist as well, for all his cunning his flaws are written large – and there’s a lot of thought gone into the whole concept of stealing a body; after all, would we really know how to move a body that is a different shape from our own? Let alone a body with super powers? I imagine, given Lestat’s incredible abilities, the only sensible response at controlling that power for the first time is some kind of terror – like a new driver suddenly behind the wheel of a Maserati.

Then there’s the negative. Firstly, the standard problem I’ve complained about with every book in this series – this book doesn’t need an editor, it needs to be assaulted by a drunk man with a chainsaw who’ll just chop huge chunks of it away quite randomly. Again, this book could have been half, a third as long as it actually is. We had a lot of random Claudia hallucinations that just seem to be there to fill up space. Lestat begins the book all suicidal which we’re told about at length, including his suicide plan… he then gets over it. After an interminable amount of time bemoaning his existence and trying to end it all, he decides he’s done that now and moves on – the whole thing feels like a painfully pointless way to give Lestat a tan.

In fact, the whole beginning of the book is like some kind of test of reader dedication to see if they have the mettle to keep reading. Beyond the Claudia hallucinations, unnecessary recaps and random not!suicide, we have a truly horrendously long conversation between David and Lestat that covers nothing of any real relevance – except maybe to try and tell us that these two are bestest buds ever, even though none of the books felt the need to develop that. Oh and Lestat kills serial killers and romances and kills old people for some unknown reason which, despite having zero plot relevance, required so many many many pages to describe. I also have a repeated notes with a growing number of exclamation marks saying “ENOUGH WITH THE BLOOD REMBRANDT!” I think a full quarter of the beginning of this book is spent on utter pointlessness.

Unfortunately this book moved Lestat from a character I found somewhat intriguing to one I found infuriating in the extreme. If something were to brutally murder Lestat I wouldn’t feel sad, I would smugly declare he got what was coming to him.

Lestat has the impulse control of a small child – no, small children show greater restraint. And not just in agreeing to Raglan’s deal – but in the end with David, in his interactions with Louis, most of what he did as a human, his early book angst, in fact, just about everything Lestat does, he does on a whim with little to no thought of the consequences. And he always has (Claudia is a classic example).

I could handle that – if he learned. If for one millisecond he learned. If he once decided to plan or consider or look back on his past mistakes or if he showed even a modicum of character growth. He doesn’t. Ever.

Read More ( )
1 vote FangsfortheFantasy | Jul 20, 2014 |
The more I read of Lestat's tales, the more I start to question exactly how much I like him. Now, the reader doesn't need to 'like' the narrator in order to enjoy the book, but it can make the reading pass more quickly.

This is the story of how Lestat gets tricked into switching bodies with someone--what he thinks will be an excellent idea, but soon learns that he doesn't like the weakness that comes with being human--or the bodily functions!

A fun read however, and I look forward to the rest of the series. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
This is a Lestat novel and the "brat prince" is in trouble again. Lestat decides he wants to be human again and agrees to swap bodies with someone who wants to know what it's like to be a vampire. Parts of it are very funny; parts are very sad. If you're a Lestat fan, you'll love this book. ( )
  JLMartinez | Jun 16, 2014 |
This was my least favourite Vampire Chronicle, hands down.

However, after listening to the unabridged audiobook, I think I misjudged it the first time. I'm rather fond of it now. And I'm especially fond of the relationship between David and Lestat. Can I fangirl David Talbot? :) ( )
  alyslinn | May 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Riceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Muller, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

The Vampire Chronicles (omnibus) by Anne Rice

10 Anne Rice Books: Interview with the Vampire, The Feast of All Saints, Tale of the Body Thief, Lasher, Taltos, Servant by Anne Rice

5 Titles in Vampire Chronicles By Anne Rice - Vampire Lestat - Tale of the Body Thief - Queen of the Damned - Merrick - by Anne Rice

9 Book Collection of Anne Rice: The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Interview With The Vampire, Memnoch by Anne Rice

THE Vampire Chronicles - 5 Titles - Interview with the Vampire - The Vampire Lestat - The Queen of the Damned - The Tale by Anne Rice

Collector's Set (5-Paperback Books): Taltos, The Tale Of The Body Thief, Queen Of The Damned, The Vampire Lestat, Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice

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Epigraph
Sailing to Byzantium
by W.B. Yeats

I.

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

II.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

III.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

IV.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
Dedication
For my parents,

Howard and Katherine O'Brien.

Your dreams and your courage will be with me alll of my days
First words
The Vampire Lestat here. I have a story to tell you.
Quotations
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 034538475X, Mass Market Paperback)

It's been said that Vladimir Nabokov's best novels are the ones he wrote after starting a failed novel. Anne Rice wrote The Body Thief, the fourth thrilling episode of her Vampire Chronicles, right after she spent a long time poring over that most romantic of horror novels, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, to research a novel Rice abandoned about an artificial man. Perhaps as a result of Shelley's influence, The Body Thief is far more psychologically penetrating than its predecessors, with a laser-like focus on a single tormented soul. Oh, we meet some wild new characters, and Rice's toothsome vampire-hero Lestat zooms around the globe--as is his magical habit--from Miami to the Gobi desert, but he's in such despair that he trades his immortal body to a con man named Raglan James, who offers him in return two days of strictly mortal bliss.

Lestat has always had a faulty impulse-control valve, and it gets him in truly intriguing trouble this time. On the plus side, he gets to experience romance with a nun and orange juice--"thick like blood, but full of sweetness." But Lestat is horrified by an uncommon cold, and his toilet training proves traumatic. He's also got to catch Raglan James, who has no intention of giving up his dishonestly acquired new superpowered body. Lestat enlists the help of David Talbot, a mortal in the Talamasca, a secret society of immortal watchers described in Queen of the Damned.

The swapping of bodies and supernatural stories is choice, and there's even a moral: never give a bloodsucker an even break. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:47 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Lestat, vampire-hero is alone, his covens scattered. He embarks on a dangerous enterprise in his need to destroy his doubts and his loneliness.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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