I have read this book twice.
It vies with "Interview with the vampire" for the honour of being my favourite Rice novel. Though interview is likely better, it has the advantage of being the first, whereas this has the disadvantage of being a sequel.
The book's imagery is top quality as it explores the coming of an apocalypse for vampires all over the world. Akasha, the mother vampire, the source of vampirism, and the one who's death would bring about the deaths of all vampires, has awoken from her long sleep and is travelling the world, slaughtering her own kind, and creating visitations among third world communities, where she encourages them to slaughter their males to bring about a 'perfect' world, free of war, rape etc.
Step in all the vampires we know and love from the previous two books (Armand, Louis, Marius, Lestat, Gabrielle), and a few new (and in my opinion even more interesting) ones led by a vampire as old as Akasha, the fascinating and bizarre character of Maharet, an old foe of hers, who was indirectly responsible for making Akasha a vampire 6000 years ago. These survivors gather and await a final meeting with their queen who's awakening was caused by the irreverent rock music of the vampire Lestat. There is also a love interest between Lestat and Akasha, and the highlight of the book, a spellbinding recounting of the events of six thousand years ago the Legend of the Twins, which is so skillfully and subtly brought to life.
The book is packed so full of interesting new characters, that eventually even Marius begins to look unspectacular in comparison. There is the enigmatic Khayman who is as old as Akasha, and Mael, Eric and Azim, as well as Jesse and Daniel. I reallu enjoyed reading this book, and i would strongly recomend it to anyone who enjoys quality fiction.
I can only give it four stars because a book that gets five should be nothing short of outstanding. But for me, four stars = excellent.