Servant of the Bones by Anne Rice
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Servant of The Bones is Azrael’s recounting of how he became a spirit bound to his own bones, passed down through the eons. It unfolds as he recounts his story to the writer, Johnathan, in an attempt to ensure his tale is finally documented, beginning with his relationship with the God Marduk and how he (Azrael) was manipulated into sacrificing his life by the elders of his community and by the conquering King Cyrus of Persia.
Having agreed to sacrifice himself for the greater good Azrael’s body is completely covered in liquefied gold and he steadfastly endures hour after hour of ritual as his body is slowly poisoned and suffocated by the hardening gold on his skin. As sweet oblivion is finally within reach and he believes it is finally time to let go and meet death Azrael is unexpectedly and violently shoved into the boiling liquid gold catapulting him into the worst agony he has ever felt. As his flesh melts and the boiling metal invades every orifice his soul shoots upward away from the pain where he floats above the scene watching as his body slowly dissolves into the liquid metal…eventually boiling away, leaving nothing but his gleaming gold bones. Realizing he has been betrayed he hears the witch below him cursing him rather than setting him free to go onward. He was to be denied heaven! His soul had been bound to his golden remains! Whoever possessed his bones could call him forth as his Master and he was bound to their commands….for eternity.
Now, I would think this is enough to make anyone just a tad bit cranky. Is it really any wonder that he turned vengeful and murdered those who dared to call him? I really don’t think so. I think he was pretty well entitled to do that if they were dumb enough to call him forth. I know I’d be pretty ticked off if this had been done to me! So, after he gruesomely dispatched a few of his “Masters” someone finally wised up and put a warning on the casket containing his golden bones basically saying in Hebrew “call forth at your own risk!” and there he stayed until one day he finds himself called to modern day New York City just in time to witness three thugs brutally murder Esther Belkin in a department store.
Esther is the beautiful stepdaughter of the extremely rich and charismatic leader of the Temple of the Mind, Gregory Belkin. Azrael struggles to figure out why this innocent woman was callously cut-down and now the real modern day story of one mans’ twisted vision for a bright new world is laid bare. Azrael finds himself wanting revenge for Esther’s death, she was an innocent! She didn’t deserve to die as she did! Those responsible should pay! Is Azrael really a vengeful spirit, an avenging angel….or maybe he just really needs some intensive therapy? You’ll have to actually read the story for yourself for the answers to those questions.
So, what did I like about this book? I really enjoyed Azrael’s re-telling of his ancient life. Delving into ancient Babylon and hearing about how life was for him at the time, his family…their relationships, I find that interesting. I mean, not just anyone has a Babylonian God for a best friend, right? I also enjoyed his journey of self-discovery and growth throughout the story. Azrael is constantly referred to as “vengeful” but there are so many moments in this story where he is extremely compassionate and kind, making the reader really feel for his plight.
As for Johnathan (the writer) at the beginning of the story I feel he was just simply a tool to be used for Azrael to get his story told; he really didn’t add anything to the story for me at all. If Ms. Rice hadn’t made it quite clear that Azrael went to a writer to have his story actually written down I think this story could have been just as successful leaving him totally out. Azrael could still have told the story in his own voice. Having the extra character in the story-telling process sometimes contributed to the speakers voices being a bit muddled; I found I wasn’t quite sure for a few moments who precisely it was that was talking.
Naturally, Anne Rice weaves a really good tale. No surprise there. Overall I do like this story. It is interesting enough to keep me reading, not really a page-turner as I did find some of the description of Azrael’s manifestations to be unnecessary and repetitive but still interesting nonetheless. Oh, my last comment on the book review…read this one don’t get the audio book version of it. You will enjoy this story much more if you read it for yourself rather than listen to it. I have now done both, so my review of the audio book performance is below as well.
Reader: Michael Prichard
The story of the Servant of the bones itself is really quite interesting, I really love the ancient history aspect of it…but having said that read the book for yourself don’t bother with purchasing the audio version. Sadly, Michael Prichard, while a wonderful reader for certain genres brings absolutely no life to this story, no joie de vivre or character to it at all and that can simply kill an audio book for the listener. He reminds me of listening to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” on the radio; while that is a fun thing to listen to for a very short snippet on the radio because that’s his trademark way of speaking however enduring that style of speaking for a very lengthy book becomes extremely monotonous.
To be quite honest, I had purchased this title previously through Audible and returned it because I simply could not get into it due to Prichard’s reading style. I thought perhaps I should give it another try as it had been one of Ms. Rice’s books I really enjoyed when I read my own copy…so I repurchased it. Ugh! Unfortunately, I have to say this reader truly brings absolutely nothing to the table when reading this particular book. He doesn’t change anything up for the characters at all! He barely even raises his voice when someone is angry. I halfway expect him to throw in “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” Every single character sounds exactly the same which can make it hard to follow when someone else is reading the story, particularly the portions where Azrael and Johnathan (the writer) are together.
As for the audio quality that was extremely disappointing. There were several places where the quality would come and go, it would get tinny or sound like the reader was in a tunnel and it was very staticky. In short, the quality was very inconsistent. About thirty seconds into chapter 16 the audio was very distant and crackly, absolutely horrible quality! I am truly surprised that audible allowed this one to be sold.
Only 3?! Oh wow. This is by far one of my favourites from Anne Rice. I give this at least a 4/5.
Don’t get me wrong, 3 stars does mean I liked it, I just didn’t love it. There was plenty I liked about it….especially his finding his “humanity”. It just didn’t hit my favourites list for her as it did for you. This is why I love comments from other readers, we each will have something to contribute to discussion about it. I would love to know what made this one of your fav’s.
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To be honest, I read it in the middle of a hurricane back in 2012 and really couldn’t tell you exactly why I loved it. I enjoyed the characters and watching Anne Rice navigate through modern living, after mostly reading the Vampire Chronicles.
My absolute favourite though would be Memnoch from the Vampire Chronicles. Did you read that one?
Fair enough! One of the main reasons I only gave this 3 stars is that this time around….I listened to it via audible (don’t do that with this book)…and then blended that experience with my previous reading of it. I much preferred the actual reading experience truthfully because my mind added so much to it. That’s why I posted two reviews. Memnoch is one I haven’t read yet….but it is coming up soon for me to review.
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