Clash of Old and New
As mentioned in my previous post on “Queen of the Damned”, what I like most about QoTD is how it alternately hurled us back and forth between the mystical and distant reign of Akasha and the world of the modern vampires.
Through the use of multiple narrative perspectives, the dizzying cacophony of voices that reverberated through the novel lets you peep into the lives and minds of the other vampires in the series. Not only do we revisit old friends, we are also introduced to a whole cast of new characters who each bring their own personality and experiences to fully flesh out the Vampire Chronicles universe. And of course, Rice’s ever-lavish descriptions (e.g. Lestat’s glittering rockstar career, the technology-filled sanctum, which Marius had built to house Akasha and Enkil, etc.) further helped to reinforce this point.
In this ensemble, I have tried to emphasise the novel’s skilfully woven juxtaposition between the past and the present, the old and the new. The simple gold jewellery, almost austere-looking white dress and the sandal-like heels echo the relaxed silhouette of ancient Egypt. On the other hand, the overall minimalism of the outfit, the nearly monochromatic palette, as well as the edgy details (i.e leather, studs, cut-outs) symbolise the glamorous world of rock stars and electric lights.
The main narrator of QoTD, Lestat, is male. Indeed, it seems that most of the vampires that populate the Vampire Chronicles are male. Yet, whilst the Vampire Chronicles series has been criticised for being overly male-centric, in QoTD, at least, the overarching plot is driven by the acts of 3 immensely powerful female vampires.
Akasha presents a fiercely proactive, strangely naïve and brutally straightforward solution to supposedly end all the problems in the world. At the same time, Maharet shows us another way of leading the vampires: caring, wise, logical, and possibly a little too reticent to effectively deal with the tumultuous events that unfolded in QoTD.
Arguably, neither style is perfect and it is only when Mekare combined the traits from both, that the deadlock in the vampires’ council meeting could be resolved. Mekare acted logically and without illusions (insomuch as she could) to bring down Akasha, by sending out streams of telepathic images to communicate her story with vampires all over the world and slowly but surely making her way to the vampire council meeting. Simultaneously, she acted simply but violently to exact her revenge on Akasha.
In this outfit, I have combined elements to represent the two competing ideologies. Akasha’s desire to build a “warrior goddess” cult-like following presumably arose from her queenly status in mortal life, as well as the god-like worship of royalty in Ancient Egyptian culture. This is symbolised by the ornate gold details, and the “hardness” of the materials used. The dominance of the various shades of red (which could represent life, victory, anger and evil in Ancient Egypt, depending on the context), is also apt in describing Akasha’s attitude throughout her campaign.
On the other hand, Maharet’s “Earth Mother” model of leading the vampires seems to be rooted in her spiritual powers as a witch. The use of white (which represented cleanliness and purity) and green (which represented nature, growth and regeneration), as well as the various floral accents, reflects her strong links with the natural world.
Part 1 of my post on the “Queen of the Damned” can be found here: The Book: Queen of the Damned (QoTD).
The first of my series of posts on the Vampire Chronicles novels can be found here: Interview with the Vampire.