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Taltos (1994)

by Anne Rice

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5,274311,541 (3.47)70
The Mayfair witches journey through time to explore an ancient civilization of mysterious origins that finds itself at odds with mortality and immortality, justice and guilt.
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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Taltos by Anne Rice (1996)
  arosoff | Jul 10, 2021 |
hb
  5083mitzi | Mar 20, 2021 |
The final, and in my opinion, weakest of the trilogy. We learn about the history of the Taltos, some annoying new characters arrive on the scene and I have only read this book twice, which means it just wasn't that great. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
A few years ago, I got back into reading Anne Rice, and found there was huge backlog of books to catch up on. Determined to go through them in order of publication, I picked up with the second stage of the Vampire Chronicles, and then moved on to the Mayfair Witches. These were a trilogy, set in the Louisiana and New Orleans of Lestat, and Louis, and the Talamasca, but with a set of characters completely separate from her universe of bloodsuckers. And as I stated in earlier reviews of THE WITCHING HOUR, and LASHER, I much preferred her tales of the undead to the hot and heavy story of the voluminous Mayfair family, and the “ghost” who had attached itself to them. The soft core eroticism, incest, and border line pedophilia were not really my cup of tea, and it is a testament to Rice’s talents as a storyteller and creator of compelling characters that I hung in there. It’s easy to be drawn in by Rice’s style, which is heavy on detail and mood, and she uses them to their zenith in the Mayfair books. If the pace slackened, which if often did, then the next chapter usually held the promise of something interesting, if only momentarily.

The main problem with TALTOS is that it is so unnecessary after the events of the previous two books which tied up the tale of Michael Curry and Rowan Mayfair, and their relationship with the entity known as Lasher, along with telling us everything we felt we needed to know about the Mayfair family. Yet Rice seems to have not wanted to leave this world behind, so she typed out one more epic elaborating on the mythos she had created. This time around, Rowan and Michael are not center stage, although they do figure in the story. Instead, we get the story of Ashlar, a personage alluded to in the previous books. He is a seven foot tall Taltos, a survivor of an ancient race passing among humans, and of course, at one point he sits down and tells Michael and Rowan his story, which extends back before the beginning of civilization. As I have stated in other reviews, this is where Rice really shines, as she clearly knows how to do research, and more important, she knows what to do with it. We get an interesting take on Britain from the pre Roman era to the coming of Christianity. We also get a look at the Talamasca from the inside, as the plotting of certain members figures in the story; a scene where justice is meted out to the treacherous Marklin and Tommy is right out of Poe, as is as good as Rice gets. Most of the Mayfair clan is absent, except for teenage Mona, a character some readers do not like, and her country cousin, Mary Jane, a welcome addition as I thought the interaction between those two really lit up their chapters.

Unfortunately, none of this comes together for anything close to a satisfying whole. There is no sense of a strong narrative or real plot tension building toward a climax, certain elements are introduced, and then dispensed with long before the final page. The question of whether the Taltos will survive as a species is the main plot point of the story, but it is hardly feels like a compelling one by the final chapters. And I found the climax of the book to be unsatisfying, as it felt as though it were leaving the door open for another sequel. As I understand it, Anne Rice resisted that temptation, and wrote MERRICK, a book that crosses over the Mayfair witches with her vampires. Already have a copy, and it’s on my Too Read pile. ( )
  wb4ever1 | Mar 30, 2020 |
As the trilogy continues, the reader is introduced to Ashlar, founder of a multi-million dollar toy corporation based in New York City -- and a Taltos, possibly the last of his kind on earth. He is quietly reflecting back on his long life when he gets a call from a friend named Samuel. A male Taltos has been seen in the glen of Donnelaith, and there is someone with information about the male. Ashlar is shocked, as he hasn't seen one of his kind in centuries, and immediately flies to London to meet with his friend.

As for Rowan Mayfair, after burying her daughter, the Taltos Emaleth, she goes into a semi-catatonic state. She walks, she bathes, she eats, but she does not speak, and does not respond to those around her. Her husband Michael Curry and adopted designess Mona are worried for her, and plead with her to speak. A visiting cousin by the name of Mary Jane takes one look at Rowan and declares that she is still there, and that she will speak again in her own time.

And so she does that same afternoon when we discover that her beloved friend, Aaron Lightner, an excommunicated Talamasca scholar who recently married into the family, has been deliberately run over by a car. She immediately goes to the morgue, taking Mona with her. After saying her good-bye to him, she makes plans with Michael to go to London and seek revenge on the Talamasca, whom she believes to be responsible for her friend's death.

Mona discovers that she is pregnant by Michael, and after Rowan gives her blessing, she ecstatically shares the news with the family. Michael and Rowan leave for London to meet up with Yuri Stefano, a pupil and friend of Aaron who has also been excommunicated by the Talamasca. Through Yuri they meet the Taltos Ashlar and his friend Samuel, who is one of the Little People of Donnelaith (Dwarf-like creatures which are Taltos who never fed on their mother's milk -- becoming stunted). Ashlar has by then killed the Superior General of the Talamasca, Anton Marcus, for his part in Aaron's death. They kidnap Stuart Gordon, an elderly member who has also had a hand in the death and the mysterious goings-on of late. Through him we discover that he and two of his pupils have hatched a scheme to unite Lasher with a female Taltos they have possession of so that they may witness the birth of a Taltos. To make sure that Aaron and Yuri didn't catch on, the pupils, Marklin and Tommy, sent fake communications to them that they believed came from the Elders, the governing force behind the Talamasca. When Aaron and Yuri continued to interfere, the Elders "excommunicated" the pair.

Stuart is forced to take the group into the countryside, where he keeps the female Taltos. Ashlar comes face to face with this female, exciting Stuart, who demands that they birth a child. Ashlar embraces the female, named Tessa, and informs Stuart that she is unable to birth any children. He points out that every strand of her hair is white, indicating her great age and her inability to conceive. This breaks Stuart's heart. And after finally knowing what has been going on, Ashlar decides to kill Stuart for all the trouble he has caused, killing people to achieve his goals. But Rowan beats him to the punch, using her strong telepathic abilities to cause a stroke. Yuri takes Tessa to the Talamasca, who now know what has been going on. They welcome Tessa with open arms, and punish Marklin and Tommy for their treachery.

Meanwhile, Mona has discovered that the child she carries is a Taltos, a female named Morrigan. She runs off with Mary Jane to Fontevrault, an old plantation sunken into the marsh that has been owned by a separate branch of the Mayfair family for generations. There Mary Jane's grandmother, Dolly Jean, helps deliver the new Taltos, who is a spitting image, if taller version, of her mother. Mona then and there names Morrigan the Designee of the Mayfair Legacy, and she and Mary Jane make plans for the future in case Rowan and Michael try to kill Morrigan.

Ashlar takes Rowan and Michael with him to New York, and tells them the story of his long life; how the Taltos once thrived on a tropical island north of the British Isles that apparently was a semi-active volcano. They had been there since "The Time Before the Moon" (briefly mentioned by the vampire Maharet in The Queen of the Damned, the third installment in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles), and lived innocently and peacefully until the land began to shift under their feet. The water became too hot, and the animals died. The tribe escapes in time and flees south to the bitter cold of Scotland. From there they can see the island as it sinks into the sea. They make do in their new home, becoming hunter-gatherers, and occasionally spotting the early humans, whom they kept as pets once in while. They break off into different tribes and the largest of them, led by Ashlar, goes south to Somerset where they settle. Their peace is often disrupted by the Celtic raids on the land. To adapt and live peacefully among humans, they become the Picts, and Ashlar their king. When Christianity comes to them in the form of St Columba, Ashlar converts with more than half his tribe. But there is a conflict between the Christians and non-Christians, and war ensues. Soon only five Taltos males left, and they all become priests, including Ashlar. Several years later, he attempts to tell his story to a fellow priest, but he only laughs and says that the story is blasphemy. Ashlar is disillusioned, and goes on a pilgrimage, leaving Donnelaith forever. So ends his story.

Rowan and Michael return to New Orleans, where Michael is introduced to his daughter, Morrigan. He and Rowan accepts Mona's decision to make Morrigan the Designee, and Morrigan settles in until Ashlar sends gifts to his new friends. When he doesn't hear from them, he goes to the First Street house to see them. There he sees this young female Taltos, who is in a frenzy. She can smell Ashlar on the gifts, and demands to know where she can find him. She catches his scent on the wind, and sees him standing outside. She breaks through a window and runs into his arms, and they run away making love to each other.

1 vote bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
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Epigraph
THE GARDEN OF LOVE

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And "Thou shalt not" writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore;

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briers my joys and desires.

From Songs of Experience,
William Blake
Dedication
Dedicated with Love
to Stan, Christopher, and Michele Rice,
to John Preston and to Margaret and Stanley Rice, Sr.
First words
It had snowed all day.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The Mayfair witches journey through time to explore an ancient civilization of mysterious origins that finds itself at odds with mortality and immortality, justice and guilt.

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When Ashlar learns that another Taltos has been seen, he is suddenly propelled into the haunting world of the Mayfair family, the New Orleans dynasty of witches forever besieged by ghosts, spirits, and their own dizzying powers. For Ashlar knows this powerful clan is intimately linked to the heritage of the Taltos.

In a swirling universe filled with death and life, corruption and innocence, this mesmerizing novel takes us on a wondrous journey back through the centuries to a civilization half-human, of wholly mysterious origin, at odds with mortality and immortality, justice and guilt. It is an enchanted, hypnotic world that could only come from the imagination of Anne Rice . . .
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