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

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