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Servant of the Bones (1996)

by Anne Rice

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4,008262,599 (3.46)24
In a new and major novel, the creator of fantastic universes o vampires and witches takes us now into the world of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the destruction of Solomon's Temple, to tell the story of Azriel, Servant of the Bones. He is ghost, genii, demon, angel--pure spirit made visible. He pours his heart out to us as he journeys from an ancient Babylon of royal plottings and religious upheavals to Europe of the Black Death and on to the modern world. There he finds himself, amidst the towers of Manhattan, in confrontation with his own human origins and the dark forces that have sought to condemn him to a life of evil and destruction.… (more)
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English (25)  French (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Not the first Anne Rice book I would have picked to read, but I had limited options. I liked the premise a lot--the idea of a human who became an immortal spirit and was coping (and not coping) with eternity--and I thoroughly enjoyed the sections set in the past. Once the story hit the present, though, it started to get bogged down. There were several agonizingly long conversations involving Gregory that just went on and on for pages without giving us much new information. For example, when he's with Azrail in his Temple of the mind, he spends about six or seven pages saying how much he wants to explain his grand plan...only to NOT do it. And I didn't get the sense from the text that the character was taunting, just that we never got around to it. Also felt that the divide between good and evil was a bit too obvious at the end, which made Azrail's sacrifice seem to count for less--it seemed like something almost anyone would have done in that situation, unlike his better-structured decision to sacrifice himself for the Jewish population of Babylon several thousand years earlier.

My biggest beef, though, is the uneven presentation. For about the first third of the book, Azrail's telling his story to Jonathan in quotations--literally every paragraph has quotation markes, though Jonathan doesn't interject nearly enough to justify this decision. What editor failed to tell Rice that this set up was a bad idea? And then we inexplicably lose the quote marks partway through. Azrail still addresses Jonathan from time to time, so why didn't a copyeditor point out that the book should be made internally consistent?

The uneven presentation applies to the narrative as well. It's a big deal that Azrail can't remember his past--but that's the first part of his story that he tells Jonathan, so he then has to remind us in the rest of the story that he doesn't remember this or that. It makes for a confusing read--we know more than he does, but we're asked to sympathize with him not knowing. Frustrating! A good editor should have had a serious conversation with Rice about moving the big reveal to later in the story. Or just not bothering with it--after all, if the reader already knows Azrail's past, then there's really no reason, narratively speaking, for it to be a secret. There wasn't really a purpose to his being suspended in time--and I know that Rice could have done it, I definitely got that vibe from the quality of the writing that survived the lack of editorial intervention.

A long read with good foundations, but I'm not going to rush out and insist that everyone read this book. ( )
  books-n-pickles | Oct 29, 2021 |
hb
  5083mitzi | Mar 20, 2021 |
In a new and major novel, the creator of fantastic universes o vampires and witches takes us now into the world of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the destruction of Solomon's Temple, to tell the story of Azriel, Servant of the Bones.
He is ghost, genii, demon, angel--pure spirit made visible. He pours his heart out to us as he journeys from an ancient Babylon of royal plottings and religious upheavals to Europe of the Black Death and on to the modern world. There he finds himself, amidst the towers of Manhattan, in confrontation with his own human origins and the dark forces that have sought to condemn him to a life of evil and destruction.
**
  buffygurl | Mar 8, 2019 |
Servant of the bones by Anne Rice (1996) ( )
  zvati | Jan 27, 2019 |
Great stand alone book. This book will keep you hooked from the beginning from to end ( )
  LVStrongPuff | Nov 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The Bones of Woe

Golden are the bones of woe.
Their brilliance has no place to go.
It plunges inward,
Spikes through snow.

Of weeping fathers whom we drink
And mother's milk and final stink
We can dream but cannot think.
Golden bones encrust the brink.

Golden silver copper silk
Woe is water shocked by milk.
Heart attack, assassin, cancer.
Who would think these bones such dancers.

Golden are the bones of woe.
Skeleton holds skeleton.
Words of ghosts are not to know.
Ignorance is what we learn.

-Stan Rice, Some Lamb 1975
Dedication
This book
is
dedicated
to
GOD.
First words
This is Azriel's story as he told it to me, as he begged me to bear witness and to record his words.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

In a new and major novel, the creator of fantastic universes o vampires and witches takes us now into the world of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the destruction of Solomon's Temple, to tell the story of Azriel, Servant of the Bones. He is ghost, genii, demon, angel--pure spirit made visible. He pours his heart out to us as he journeys from an ancient Babylon of royal plottings and religious upheavals to Europe of the Black Death and on to the modern world. There he finds himself, amidst the towers of Manhattan, in confrontation with his own human origins and the dark forces that have sought to condemn him to a life of evil and destruction.

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