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Taltos: Lives of the Mayfair Witches - Anne Rice !!Warning; Can contian spoilers if you haven't read The Witching Hour and Lasher!!

Taltos is the story which birthed the journey of Lasher and the Mayfairs taken in The Witching Hour and Lasher. Yet it also furthers the relationship development between Michael Curry and Rowan Mayfair. After all the tumultuous events in Lasher I tumbled in to a story that I found very bittersweet to read at times. There are more troubles ahead for the Mayfairs. Characters who I had to say goodbye to and more history to absorb from newly introduced characters. Once more, Anne Rice put me through the emotional wringer in Taltos. I absolutely fell in love over the course of this trilogy with the magic of her storytelling but it also took a lot out of me.

The bittersweet unfolding of Rowena and Michael's situation didn't give much room for happy moments. The painstakingly honest dialogues, the sharing of opinions about personal and family matters leave nothing to the imagination. There is no lovey-dovey romance here but an irrevocable bond forged through an attraction that defies all. There is adversity and survival but no sunshine and daisies or an over the top happily ever after for them. Oh no, it is a double-edged sword of pleasure and pain. It has a gritty vibe yet the core of them burns fierce for one another. No matter what they individual decide it is their form of love that fuses them together. The complexity of Rowan and Michael's relationship in gradually layered through the three books. It is but one example how Anne Rice has deepened and enriched various storylines and characterization over the course of this trilogy. I have a penchant for complex and dark romance but even for me it was at times hard to digest all the dilemmas this main couple faced. I wanted some happy time as well but never really got it, not even at the ending, which left a tinge of sadness as I closed this book.

Another complex character was Taltos himself. The very thought of such a being tantalizes my fantasy. He was vast intelligence wedded to primal instinct with at times innocent reactions or emotions. Every single time a character opens up about his or her past I'm mesmerized by their stories. They take me back to other times and in the case of Taltos, to forgotten times. Anne Rice spins her own take on the history of the Picts, the creation of Stonehenge and historical England. Via Taltos I was shown a time in which he lived, what his customs and rituals were, how he encountered mankind and how he ultimately got cursed. I was completely absorbed again by the imaginative and at times such detailed storytelling! I was rapidly flipping the pages to discover more and in my queste to discover more I turned to be quite the gluttonous reader.

On the other hand I got a bit tired of the Talamasca. The slow disintegration of their duty to watch but never to interfere was evident. There was scheming within the Talamasca by individuals but I was done with all the scheming on their part. These three self-absorbed characters were annoying the daylights outta me. Before their introduction in Taltos I did not know them, their motivations contrived and they failed to add any suspense to the overall plotline. The Elders also irked me, I was to be believed they never came forward in moments of need and loss of structure. Or when a being of significant importance to their history was brought over, that they would not react. That they would choose to be forever cloaked in mystery. For me the dialogues and story development between Taltos and the Mayfairs was all that mattered. The Talamasca had lost its effect and function for me at a certain point in the story.

The arrival of Mona Mayfair in Lasher allowed the plot to thicken that much more in Taltos. She is a strong headed teenager and together with the spunky Mary Jane they added an exuberance with their antics and interactions. Both were quick witted and I instantly liked them. Even with things that were hard to swallow, such as the pregnancy, it wasn't an uncommon thing in the Mayfair family. Anne Rice has created a family with its own set of customs, rituals, habits and structure. They fascinated me to no end and it was this very factor that made me read on and on from the first page in The Witching Hour. All these woman, whether strong, normal or weak, they all came alive with their quirks. Many had an imperative part to play and I cherished them for it.

With the ending I found some closure but many questions are left unanswered. Perhaps this is what Anne Rice wanted, to leave many things to the imagination of the reader and it does fit the complete vibe of the storytelling. Still, with such an intense emotional investment in reading this trilogy I would've liked an ending that gives a bit more satisfaction. I'm left with questions and an image of resignation, that in the end the Mayfairs have been pawns in the larger scheme of things. While Michael and Rowena's gestures speak of approval, what did they think of the final moments? What is in store for them now? How will Mona deal with the decisions made? What did the Talamsca do with Tessa? Smaller story threads found a conclusion but the bigger picture is definitely left to the imagination of the reader. I stand divided about it, at one hand I find it completely fitting and at the other hand I wanted an ending that left me with the knowledge that after all this pain and strife the Mayfairs are in a good place. And I did not get that notion...

3.5 stars