Book Review and Summary: "Taltos" by Anne Rice

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Anne Rice’s novel, Taltos is centered on a family of witches and a near extinct race of human-like beings, called the Taltos. Taltos is the final installment of the Mayfair witch trilogy. This novel successfully wraps up the two previous novels while introducing new characters and a fresh plot. Taltos can be read as a stand-alone novel, but readers who have read The Witching Hour and Lasher will have a better understanding of it.

The Taltos are a race of giants that reach their full size within a few hours of birth. They are nearly extinct, but two witches that mate and have the right genetics may produce a Taltos. This is unheard of until Rowan gives birth to Lasher at the end of The Witching Hour. Lasher is actually the ghost of a Taltos that has been haunting the Mayfair’s for centuries and has managed to possess Rowan’s baby.

In the following novel, titled Lasher, Rowan is forced by her possessed offspring to produce yet another one of these beings. Birthing the Taltos takes a toll on Rowan’s health and she becomes very sick by the end of the novel. In the end, Rowan's husband Michael kills Lasher and Rowan herself kills her other offspring.

In the beginning of Taltos, Rowan is unwilling to speak. She spends her days at the Mayfair mansion, staring off into space. Rowan eventually snaps out of it when she discovers that her friend Aaron has been murdered. Rowan also comes to the realization that her thirteen-year-old cousin, Mona is pregnant with Michael’s child. This causes the Mayfairs considerable concern as Michael was the man who fathered Lasher and Mona is capable of bearing a Taltos.

Rowan decides to take Michael on a trip to avenge Aaron’s death, not knowing what is to become of Mona and the baby. The Mayfairs discover that members of Aaron’s scholarly order, the Talamasca, may have been responsible for his death. Rowan is determined to find these men  and bring them to justice. At the outset of their search, they discover another Taltos by the name of Ashlar.

Until this point it is believed that the Taltos had been completely wiped out. It turns out that Ashlar has walked the Earth since before mankind and he knows first-hand the history of the Taltos. He joins Rowan and Michael on their quest. He is convinced that there are only a few members of the Talamasca involved.

The trio soon becomes friends and they are able to restore order in the Talamasca and avenge Aaron’s death. After the adventure is over, Ashlar decides to tell his new friends the long, sad story of his life.

Ashlar tells the story of how his native land was destroyed by a natural disaster and how his people were forced to move to colder climes, specifically Europe. Ashlar becomes the leader and hero of his people. They begin building stone circles and eventually Stonehenge itself. Some time later the Taltos begin warring with the humans.

 The Taltos are unable to defend themselves and are forced into hiding. Ashlar remains their leader, and the race is eventually able to disguise themselves among humans. Ashlar later finds religion and aids in the slaughter of those Taltos who would not convert to Christianity. He is tormented by his mistake and cursed by his people. Over time the entire race appears to be wiped out and Ashlar spends centuries searching for others like him. He was painfully lonely, but successful at passing for human.

While Ashlar is in New York telling this story to Rowan and Michael, Mona gives birth to a female Taltos, named Morrigan, in New Orleans. Rowan and Michael return home a few days later and discover what has happened. They decide to keep Morrigan a secret from Ashlar until she is older. Five days later, Ashlar begins missing his new friends and decides to stop in for a visit. He sees Morrigan. The two run away together immediately. Rowan and Michael appear to understand, but Mona is devastated.

Taltos is far more in depth and intricate than can possibly be conveyed here. Anne Rice did a magnificent job of constructing the plot and characters of Taltos. Once again Anne leaves her readers wishing that her book was just a little longer.

Shelly Barclay

Marriage in "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

Title page of the
first illustrated edition
of "Pride and Prejudice"
Marriage runs rampant in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". It seems to be on every page of the book. There are marriage arrangements, marriage hopes, bad marriages, good marriages and engagements. Literally every character is involved in something that pertains to marriage. Mr. Bennet suffers through his marriage with amusement. Mrs. Bennet obsesses over getting her daughters married. The youngest Bennet daughters obsess about getting themselves married as much as their mother does and so on.

*Spoilers ahead

The eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, falls in love with Mr. Bingley in "Pride and Prejudice". He loves her back, but his friends and family believe an engagement to be a bad idea. Mrs. Bennet wants to see her eldest daughter married to the rich Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet just want to see Jane happy. In the end, all turns out well for Jane and she marries Mr. Bingley. This is a good example of how much marriages of the time were influenced by opinion. It is also a good example of Ms. Austen's love for happy endings.

Elizabeth doesn't dwell on the idea of marriage much in the novel. However, she finds herself falling in love with a man that she believes she has good reason to despise. In classic Jane Austen style, Elizabeth marries this man, who happens to be rich, and lives happily ever after. This is the main plot line of the story and it played out so well that the novel has been popular for nearly 200 years.

Elizabeth was proposed to before she married Mr. Darcy by her cousin Mr. Collins. Elizabeth refused to marry her cousin. He went on to marry Elizabeth's best friend, which she strongly opposed. However, in the end, it was a happy match and Elizabeth grew to accept it.

Speaking of engagements and cousins, Elizabeth's husband was engaged to his cousin before he met Elizabeth. Of course, love prevailed (Thank you, Jane Austen.) and the engagement was broken. Nonetheless, this engagement gave readers a good example of how marriages among the aristocracy were handled at the time. Furthermore, it gave us a little intrigue and kept us guessing. . . kind of.

Elizabeth's youngest sister Lydia also gets married in "Pride and Prejudice". Her marriage is a shameful one. She ran off with a disgraced military officer and was only saved from disgrace herself when Mr. Darcy came to her rescue and forced the officer–Mr. Wickham–to marry her. This little twist leaves the reader loving Mr. Darcy, hating Mr. Wickham and shaking their head and Lydia. It also gives us a glimpse of how societal whims played a huge role in marriages of the time.

There are many other marriage issues that are alluded to in "Pride and Prejudice". There is an attempted engagement with Georgiana by Mr. Wickham for money.  Miss Bingley's wish to marry Mr. Darcy is alluded to. The ill-advised coupling of the elder Bennets is mentioned, as is the happy coupling of Elizabeth's aunt and uncle. There is even a small mention that Mary Bennet felt Mr. Collins may be a good match for her. Marriage is not just a theme in "Pride and Prejudice". It is the theme.