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A love letter to Anne Rice’s The Mummy, or, Ramses the Damned

May 4, 2011

Re-read. The Mummy, or, Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice (1989)

Length: 398 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, kind of a mish/mash of Horror (although it’s not particularly scary), Fantasy, and Romance.

Started: Late March, probably.
Re-read Finished: 14 April 2011

Where did it come from? Absolutely no idea; my copy’s so old and so well-worn that it’s impossible to tell.
Why do I have it? I went through a HUGE Anne Rice phase in my early and mid-teens… and really, my late teens and early twenties as well. While I love the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witches (at least the first one, I was less crazy about Lasher and Taltos), I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for The Mummy in all of its stand-alone glory.

Being immortal
has to be less fun when you’re
alone all the time.

Summary: Lawrence Stratford, wealthy London business man and prominent Egyptologist, has made the find of a lifetime: the tomb of a mummy, filled with Greek and Roman artifacts, but filled with scrolls that proclaim him to be Ramses II, the Pharaoh who had ruled 1000 years earlier. Ramses claims in these scrolls to be immortal – an eternal wanderer, teacher, and lover of Cleopatra – and that he is not dead, but merely sleeping beneath his mummy wrappings. However, Lawrence is murdered before he is able to truly investigate his discovery, and the mummy travels to London, to Lawrence’s daughter, Julie. She’s charmed by the story, but doesn’t really believe it – until she sees the mummy come to life to save her from the same fate as her father. She’s overwhelmed by Ramses – immortal as he claimed, intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and every inch a king – and is soon swept up in showing him the wonders of the early 20th century, even while trying to protect his secret from those who desire immortality for themselves. Unsurprisingly, she falls hopelessly in love with him, a love that can only be fully returned once Ramses has put his past behind him. But as they travel through modern-day Egypt, his memories of the past, and of his lost love threaten to engulf Ramses… and then a chance discovery at the Cairo Museum will lead him to commit an unspeakable act, one whose horrific consequences will resonate through the rest of eternity.

Review: I read this book so many times as a teen that it’s impossible for me to give it a clear-headed evaluation now. (That’s why this is a love letter, not a review proper.) While I can’t tell how I would have reacted to it if this had been my first read-through (or even my tenth read-through), I was still able to pick out the things that kept me coming back time and time again. Anne Rice is a whiz at evoking historical periods, and her portrayal of colonial Egypt is no exception. The romance is epic and sweeping – hard to get any more epic when a literal eternity hangs in the balance. The characters are recognizable and multi-layered, and intensely sympathetic; it also doesn’t hurt that Ramses is a hugely attractive leading man. Finally, Rice effectively plays on the horror conventions of her story on multiple levels – both in the straightforward horror-movie “the mummy walks!” way, but also in a more subtle way, when the characters and the reader are forced to contemplate the horrors of true immortality.

There were also a few things that I picked up on that probably would have annoyed me if this had been my first time reading the book. Rice is a fan of switching her POV character every few paragraphs, which is admittedly effective at moving the story along, but which I think is overused here, making the narrative seem a little jumpy. The main conflict also doesn’t really show up until halfway through the book; the first part doesn’t ever feel like it’s dragging, but there is a somewhat abrupt shift. Finally, I wasn’t quite as caught up in the romance this time around as I was half a lifetime ago; although Ramses was definitely still crush-worthy, I found him a wee bit whinier than I remembered.

But honestly, none of these things really mattered; I still enjoyed the heck out of this book – maybe not quite as much as I did when I was fourteen, but definitely enough to let it keep its place on my “favorites” shelf. 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Is this one of Anne Rice’s best books? No. Is it a thoroughly entertaining story? Yes. Is my current love for it based primarily on my fondness for it as a teen? Probably. Do I still think that anyone who likes books set in Egypt or fans of historical romance Gothic horror novels should give it a try? Absolutely!

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: The Biblio Blogazine, Things Mean a Lot, Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The camera flashes blinded him for a moment.

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2011 7:19 am

    I can’t tell you how much this review made me want to reread Anne Rice! I read The Mummy for the first time only four years ago, so I’m not attached to it like I am to the books I’d read and reread constantly at 14 and 15. Having said that, I still had tons of fun with it.

    • May 9, 2011 11:23 am

      Nymeth – That’s good to know that it at least sort of holds up for someone reading it the first time as an adult… I can never tell with my long-time favorites.

  2. May 4, 2011 8:27 am

    I read the Vampire Chronicles a few times years ago, but never this one. Sounds like I’ll have to check it out.

    • May 9, 2011 11:27 am

      Laura – It’s not as good as the Vampire books at their best, but it’s still a lot of fun. I hope you like it!

  3. May 4, 2011 9:20 am

    I haven’t read Anne Rice yet, which makes me feel like a bad fantasy/paranormal fan/blogger. BUT holy crap I love Egypt and I desperately want to read The Mummy. I wonder if this is on Kindle? Hmm, may have to investigate.

    • May 9, 2011 11:30 am

      April – Looks like it is! And this would be a good way to get some Anne Rice into your reading life without committing to a huge series.

  4. May 4, 2011 10:24 am

    I read the first three books in this series a while ago, but The Mummy always sounded awesome. Off to put it on my reading list!

  5. May 4, 2011 10:52 am

    I love this book too! I read it way back when it came out and I too went through a huge Ann Rice phase, but never made it through the later book in the vampire stories. My favorite book of hers is The Witching Hour, but I love Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned too. Your review makes me want to re-read this! Thanks!

    • May 9, 2011 11:34 am

      Julie – I read through the later Vampire books, mostly to get to Blood and Gold, because I love Marius. I think Queen of the Damned is still my favorite, though.

  6. May 4, 2011 6:54 pm

    Read it a few years ago, and definitely recommend it! Rice didn’t do anything for me when I was a teenager, but I did enjoy this book.

    • May 9, 2011 11:38 am

      heidenkind – Really? I barely read anything else as a teenager, just Anne Rice’s books over and over again…

  7. May 4, 2011 7:22 pm

    I tried Ann Rice years ago and it was too graphic for me, so I think I’ll skip this one.

    • May 9, 2011 7:01 pm

      Kathy – I didn’t think this one was particularly graphic in terms of either violence or sex, but I’m not particularly sensitive to such things, either.

  8. May 5, 2011 12:15 pm

    This is one I haven’t read. I loved the Mayfair Witches and really want to reread them and I like the Vampire ones as well. I may have to give this one a try someday.

    • May 9, 2011 7:04 pm

      Darlene – As I was writing up this review I was thinking more and more about the Mayfair Witches books, and I think I might try to re-read at least the first one at some point soon.

  9. May 5, 2011 8:47 pm

    Aw, I understand. I have many books like this. I think I missed my Anne Rice window of opportunity by a few years — by the time I started paying attention and reading Interview with the Vampire, she had gotten into her Christian phase, and then she was all, I quit Christianity, and what with one thing and another, she just irritates me now. :/

    • May 9, 2011 7:04 pm

      Jenny – Oh, I do my best not to pay attention to anything she actually says in real life, because I’m sure she’d irritate me as well.

  10. May 6, 2011 1:22 am

    I enjoyed this book when I read it years and years ago. Her characters do tend to get whiny at times but it wasn’t a huge problem for me.

    I also read the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witches. I agree the first book was the better of the three. But my very favorite has always been the Vampires especially Lestat. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on each new book… until I read Servant of the Bones. After pushing through that incomprehensible mess I lost interest in her books. I did read a few of the new vampire ones. Maybe someday I’ll go back and read the rest of them.

    • May 9, 2011 7:06 pm

      I buzzed through Servant of the Bones when it came out, really disliked it, and haven’t thought about it since. :)

  11. May 15, 2011 7:02 am

    I read The Mummy as a teen, enjoyed it, but haven’t ever read it again. Might have to give it a re-read… I was never a fan of Rice – I think I read Interview With A Vampire once, too, but I think that was all.

    • May 20, 2011 11:07 am

      Ela – If you do decide to re-read, I’ll be interested to hear if/how you’re opinion’s changed!

  12. May 18, 2011 7:35 pm

    I read this book in my early twenties & thought it was great! I wonder if I now read it as a 37 year old I would feel the same way…

  13. May 19, 2011 12:55 am

    I also loved this book as a teenager, and I remember thinking the movie (with Brendan Fraser) would be based on it. I was soooooooo disappointed when it wasn’t!

    • May 20, 2011 11:16 am

      Abby – I’d forgotten until you said this, but I remember being disappointed that The Mummy (the movie) wasn’t the same as well!

      Although at the time, Brendan Fraser did sort of look like I had pictured Ramses in my head – blue eyes and floppy brown hair. I don’t know that he could pull off the right degree of regalness, though.

      • November 25, 2011 9:03 pm

        Brandon and regal? lol – he’s very handsome – but The Rock – now there’s a Ramses for you…. yum ;))

  14. May 20, 2011 4:38 am

    Anne Rice was huge in my life during my late teens and early twenties. I have read both the Vampire and the Mayfair witches books, but this one sounds so interesting. How on earth did I miss it? Have to check it out from the library. Thanks for the recco :)

    • May 20, 2011 11:18 am

      Nishita – Ah, the perils of being a standalone book on the bibliography of an author who writes such long series! I hope you enjoy this one now as much as you did the rest of Rice’s books back in the day!

  15. November 25, 2011 8:57 pm

    I feel the same about Anne Rice’s books – loved the ones you love – passed on some – and yes, it was years ago when i could not get my hands on them fast enough – it is
    Nov 25th, 2011 and i am reading The Mummy for the 3rd time (I think?) and love it! And yes, I wanted a sequel…., now I have to get back to my book. :)

  16. BK Reeder permalink
    February 10, 2012 8:40 pm

    Not sure why any of you are praising this book – stock characters, predictable plot, and about as much depth as as wading pool. The sentence structures and contexts are about what I’d expect from a seventh-grader. I would bet Ms. Rice cranked this one out in about six weeks, under pressure from a publisher to fulfill a contract.

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