Taltos (Rice novel)
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|Series||Lives of the Mayfair Witches|
|Genre||Horror, gothic, science fiction|
|Published||September 19, 1994|
As the trilogy continues, the reader is introduced to Ashlar, founder of a multi-million dollar toy corporation based in New York City—and a Taltos, possibly the last of his kind on earth. He is quietly reflecting on his long life when he gets a call from a friend named Samuel. A male Taltos has been seen in the glen of Donnelaith, and there is someone with information about the male. Ashlar is shocked, as he hasn't seen one of his kind in centuries, and immediately flies to London to meet with his friend.
As for Rowan Mayfair, after burying her daughter, the Taltos Emaleth, she goes into a semi-catatonic state. She walks, she bathes, she eats, but she does not speak and does not respond to those around her. Her husband, Michael Curry, and adopted designess Mona are worried for her and plead with her to speak. A visiting cousin by the name of Mary Jane takes one look at Rowan and declares that she is still there and that she will speak again in her own time.
And so she does that same afternoon when we discover that her beloved friend, Aaron Lightner, an excommunicated Talamasca scholar who recently married into the family, has been deliberately run over by a car. She immediately goes to the morgue, taking Mona with her. After saying her good-bye to him, she makes plans with Michael to go to London and seek revenge on the Talamasca, who she believes to be responsible for her friend's death.
Mona discovers that she is pregnant by Michael and, after Rowan gives her blessing, she ecstatically shares the news with the family. Michael and Rowan leave for London to meet up with Yuri Stefano, a pupil and friend of Aaron who has also been excommunicated by the Talamasca. Through Yuri they meet the Taltos Ashlar and his friend Samuel, who is one of the Little People of Donnelaith (Dwarf-like creatures which are Taltos who never fed on their mother's milk—becoming stunted). Ashlar has by then killed the Superior General of the Talamasca, Anton Marcus, for his part in Aaron's death. They kidnap Stuart Gordon, an elderly member who has also had a hand in the death and the mysterious goings-on of late. Through him we discover that he and two of his pupils have hatched a scheme to unite Lasher with a female Taltos they have possession of so that they may witness the birth of a Taltos. To make sure that Aaron and Yuri didn't catch on, the pupils, Marklin and Tommy, sent fake communications to them that they believed came from the Elders, the governing force behind the Talamasca. When Aaron and Yuri continued to interfere, the Elders "excommunicated" the pair.
Stuart is forced to take the group into the countryside, where he keeps the female Taltos. Ashlar comes face to face with this female, exciting Stuart, who demands that they give birth to a child. Ashlar embraces the female, named Tessa, and informs Stuart that she is unable to bear any children. He points out that every strand of her hair is white, indicating her great age and her inability to conceive. This breaks Stuart's heart. After finally knowing what has been going on, Ashlar decides to kill Stuart for all the trouble he has caused: killing people to achieve his goals. But Rowan beats him to the punch, using her strong telepathic abilities to cause a stroke. Yuri takes Tessa to the Talamasca, who now know what has been going on. They welcome Tessa with open arms, and punish Marklin and Tommy for their treachery by burying them alive.
Meanwhile, Mona has discovered that the child she carries is a Taltos, a female named Morrigan. She runs off with Mary Jane to Fontevrault, an old plantation sunken into the marsh that has been owned by a separate branch of the Mayfair family for generations. There Mary Jane's grandmother, Dolly Jean, helps deliver the new Taltos, who is a spitting image, if taller version, of her mother. Mona then and there names Morrigan the Designee of the Mayfair Legacy, and she and Mary Jane make plans for the future in case Rowan and Michael try to kill Morrigan.
Ashlar takes Rowan and Michael with him to New York and tells them the story of his long life; how the Taltos once thrived on a tropical island north of the British Isles that apparently was a semi-active volcano. They had been there since "The Time Before the Moon" (briefly mentioned by the vampire Maharet in The Queen of the Damned, the third installment in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles), and lived innocently and peacefully until the land began to shift under their feet. The water became too hot, and the animals died. The tribe escapes in time and flees south to the bitter cold of Scotland. From there they can see the island as it sinks into the sea. They make do in their new home, becoming hunter-gatherers, and occasionally spotting the early humans, whom they sometimes kept as pets. They break off into different tribes and the largest of them, led by Ashlar, goes south to Somerset where they settle. Their peace is often disrupted by the Celtic raids on the land. To adapt and live peacefully among humans, they become the Picts, and Ashlar their king. When Christianity comes to them in the form of St Columba, Ashlar converts with more than half his tribe. But there is a conflict between the Christians and non-Christians, and war ensues. Soon only five Taltos males are left, and they all become priests, including Ashlar. Several years later, he attempts to tell his story to a fellow priest, but he only laughs and says that the story is blasphemy. Ashlar is disillusioned, and goes on a pilgrimage, leaving Donnelaith forever. So ends his story.
Rowan and Michael return to New Orleans, where Michael is introduced to his daughter, Morrigan. He and Rowan accept Mona's decision to make Morrigan the Designee, and Morrigan settles in until Ashlar sends gifts to his new friends. When he doesn't hear from them, he goes to the First Street house to see them. There he sees this young female Taltos, who is in a frenzy. She can smell Ashlar on the gifts, and demands to know where she can find him. She catches his scent on the wind, and sees him standing outside. She breaks through a window and runs into his arms, and they run away together.