What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to review and recap Anne Rice’s “Blood and Gold”? After all, this novel recounts the life of Marius de Romanus, a two thousand years old vampire born in the height of the Roman Empire. He is a scholar, a teacher, a painter, a gentleman…and possibly the only character in the Vampire Chronicles who has loved and lost more than Lestat.
Skipping over the frenetic way in which he was made into a vampire and his taking the Mother and Father of the vampires (AKA Akasha and Enkil, or “Those Who Must Be Kept”) into his care, Marius begins his story at a low point in his life. He has been quarrelling with Pandora, the only person whom he has loved in both his mortal and vampiric life, over how they should deal with rogue vampires who were after the powerful blood of “Those Who Must Be Kept”. In a fit of anger, he left their home in Antioch without a word, and took Akasha and Enkil with him. This would prove to be a decision that he would regret for centuries to come.
Back in Rome, Marius once again met Mael, the ex-Druid who had once captured him and offered him as a blood offering to his “gods”, and Avicus, Mael’s maker. Although Marius was still angry with Mael for consigning him to life as a vampire, he still yearned for some sort of vampiric companionship and the three of them eventually fell into an awkward alliance to fend off the rogue vampires who turned up continuously in Rome.
As Rome fell into decay around them, the three vampires moved to Constantinopole, the new centre of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, they then had to deal with Eudoxia, a vampire who was older and more powerful than any of them, and who ruled the city like a queen. Having claimed to have drunk Akasha’s blood before, she threatened Marius to take her to see Akasha and Enkil again. After she met her untimely demise, Marius met and fell in love with her young lover, Zenobia. However, as he knew that he had to act swiftly and brutally as the caretaker of Those Who Must be Kept, Marius was forced to leave her in the care of Avicus and Mael.
After a catatonic slumber through the Middle Ages, Marius rose once more to experience the Renaissance in all its glory. He settled in Venice, opened his house to train and educate poor young boys, and met the other two greatest loves of his life, Bianca Solderini (a courtesan who resembled the women painted by Sandro Botticelli) and Amadeo/ Armand (a teenage boy who was kidnapped from Kiev and sold to a Venetian brothel before Marius rescued him).
Marius’ happiness turned to ashes when Santino, a fanatical coven master whom Marius had once met and treated with indifferent contempt, returned to exact his vengeance. Deeply anguished and severely weakened by Santino’s attack, Marius turns Bianca into a vampire to support and comfort him. For the next two centuries, Marius busied himself with plans to destroy Santino, as well as to find Pandora (whom he has not seen for centuries) and Amadeo (who was kidnapped by Santino and forced to join his coven).
Having been separated over a millennia, Marius was finally reunited with Pandora in Dresden. This was a bittersweet moment: Pandora was happy to find him alive and well but, having found her own companion and led her own life for so long, she did not wish to live with him again. To make things worse, in a last-ditch attempt to make Pandora stay, Marius had offered to leave Bianca for her. Unfortunately, this was yet another one of Marius’ big mistakes. Bianca overheard him and decided to leave him too. By the end of his story, Marius was all alone once more.
The first of my series of posts on the Vampire Chronicles novels can be found here: Interview with the Vampire.