Jean-Claude vs LeStat–Battle of the Vampire Titans

interviewwiththevampireWho came first, sinfully sexy Jean-Claude from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, or Lestat, Anne Rice’s dark and dangerous vampire from her Vampire Chronicles?

On the eve of the release of the 25th Anita Blake book, I had to look to see which one released first, Guilty Pleasures (Hamilton) or Interview with the Vampire (Rice). I thought I had read them both soon after their release and have given them joint credit for my love of All Things Vampire, but couldn’t remember which came first. Do you?

Lestat, by a landslide. Interview with the Vampire came out in 1976–OMG 40 years ago–while Guilty Pleasures didn’t appear until 1993. So my memory failed me. I didn’t read Lestat in 1976–not by a long shot. I think I read The Vampire Lestat (before Interview, in fact) in the mid-1990s while living in New Orleans less than a half-mile from Anne Rice herself. I read the first Anita Blake book about the same time, not long after book three, Circus of the guilty_pleasuresDamned, came out. My friend Meg loaned the then-three Anita Blake books and I inhaled them. “Urban fantasy” hadn’t even been “invented” yet–a feat for which Ms. Hamilton takes credit and, in the modern sense of urban fantasy, she has a valid argument. Although Tanya Huff, whose first Blood Book came out in 1991, can also lay claim to the title.

Anne Rice? Maybe. I’m not sure the Vampire Chronicles novels really fit the notion of what we currently think of as urban fantasy, being somewhat literary, somewhat horror. They’re definitely the precursor to modern UF.

So, say what you will about the twists and turns and sexcapades Anita has enjoyed over the past 23 years, she was a groundbreaker. She wasn’t always likeable, she wasn’t always a sympathetic heroine, but she had hella good taste in vampires.

What was the first vampire book you remember reading? Are you sick to death of vampires, or do they still make your blood run hot? Heh.

23 thoughts on “Jean-Claude vs LeStat–Battle of the Vampire Titans

  1. I think my first vampire book was Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, 1975. My favorite vampire/urban fantasy books are Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. I didn’t read Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton until recently. Never tired of vampires, unless they sparkle.

    • Haha–I agree with you on the sparkling thing. Although a lot of people seemed to like those sparkling “vegetarian” vampires! You know, I hadn’t thought about ‘Salem’s Lot. That would’ve been my first vampire book too. Definitely not romantic vampires!

  2. I used to love the Anita Blake books, but no more. Oh, I still read them, in hopes of improvement. I remember when they used to have a plot, much more of a plot that the last several. Now they just seem to be sex scenes and angst. No female character needs to refer to her breasts as “creamy goodness” and especially not twice in one book! If Anita was as short as she is credited with being, with breasts as large as they are written, she would probably kill herself if she tried to run. Not to mention the back troubles.
    I love Barbara Hambly’s “Those That Hunt The Night”, one of the best vampire books I’ve read. Also, the Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine are favorites. I still like a well-written vamp.

    • Hahaha—she’d be like a short Barbie! I agree. I loved the early Anita Blake books and somewhere around the book seven or eight I got really tired of the sexual shenanigans and then once Jean-Claude became basically a puppy dog and was no longer of any danger…well, I think I kept reading until #17 or so but haven’t read them since.

  3. My first vampire story was Guilty Pleasures. I never could get into the LeStat stories. I loved your rendition of vampires in the Penton series. I still enjoy a well written vampire story.

    • I liked Lestat in the book The Vampire Lestat but not in the previous or subsequent books–and the film was just a travesty IMHO. I must say as I work on the next Penton book, it has been fun getting back into the vampire world again 🙂

    • I think you’d like the early books–the first six or seven–but not so much after Anita becomes a succubus and the books basically become all about the creatures with whom she has sex. The more recent ones, I’ve been told, have returned more to their urban fantasy roots but I haven’t read any in a while.

  4. The first vampire book I read was Dracula. I picked it up at a school book fair. I also read most of the books by Marilyn Ross that were based on the Dark Shadows TV show. And pretty much every vampire book that was released in the 70s and 80s – most of which are out of print and have faded into obscurity.

    • I never read Dracula, I’m ashamed to say. I do remember being obsessed with “Dark Shadows.” Hannah’s dog in the Penton books is named after Barnabas Collins 🙂

  5. Dracula was my first. I remember reading others afterwards, most notably some of the Chelsea Quinn Yarbro books.

  6. Not a vampire book, but a book with vampires, Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey in 1990. I was quite taken with Andre.

  7. My daughter in law gave me her copies of the first 2 books in Christine Feehan’s Dark series. I enjoyed the early books but went off them a while ago. I agree with the comments on Anita Blake , the early books were really good and then they just became pro poly sex rambles with no real plot.

    • “Pro poly sex rambles” — hahaha. That’s a great way of putting it! I read the first Christine Feehan Dark book and found it very interesting. I was bothered by all the head-hopping POVs, though, and didn’t continue. (Ditto with Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series.)

  8. I can’t remember my first vampire story! I’ve certainly read a lot over the years. I tend to prefer books where the vampires aren’t the main focus but are side characters in the world, although I do confess a fondness for the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Even if it is a bit full of crazysauce.

    One of my favorite early urban fantasies is War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. It’s fae rather than vampires, but it was definitely influential in shaping the genre. I think that came out in the late eighties.

    • War for the Oaks is, I think, another strong contender for the first “urban fantasy” as we know that genre. I only read it a few years ago, but it’s definitely UF!

      I love the BDB series, of course…or at least what I think of as the core of original characters. Once we got past Phury’s book (I think that was the last of the original brothers to get a book), I began liking them less. I think the last one I read was John Matthew’s. I’ll catch up one of these days, though. (And I still think Vishous got cheated!)

  9. Well…. If anyone can take credit for modern UF I would point to Mercedes Lackey with Burning Water (Diana Tregarde #1) 1989. Hamilton’s claims on this (and other things) have made me wary of her I must say.
    Anyway: First vampire book is probably Dracula, with Lackey’s Children of the Night (Diana Tregarde #2) 1990, being the first UF I read.

    • Yes, LKH has been pretty vocal about proclaiming herself the inventor of urban fantasy. I think she has some argument for our modern notion of UF, but technically, I’d probably end up giving it to Anne Rice in the late 1970s. And apparently I need to check out some early Mercedes Lackey!

      • I love her Diana Tregarde books. I will confess to borrowing and not (yet) returning Children of the Night from my mother ages ago.

  10. Dracula, in grade school, courtesy of the older brother who taught me to read at age 4. Book three Jean Claude was sexy vampire incarnate. Obsidian Butterfly was a fantastic book, in large part because it focused on Anita’s sole platonic relationship with Edward, the bounty hunter who would be a serial killer if not for his job as a vampire hunter. Now there’s a fascinating character. Unfortunately, LKH decided kinky sex was more interesting, and lost the magic.
    Anne Rice is not my favorite author. She wrote the most unappealing porn it has ever been my misfortune to read. Sleeping Beauty forever tainted lol.