Bienvenue chez nous!
Logo Ex Libris

Servant of the Bones

  • Livre Relié
ANNE RICE is the author of thirty-five books. She lives in Palm Desert, California. www.annerice.comTexte du rabat In a new and m... Lire la suite
CHF 29.90
Habituellement expédié sous 2 à 3 semaines.

Description

Auteur

ANNE RICE is the author of thirty-five books. She lives in Palm Desert, California.

www.annerice.com



Texte du rabat

In a new and major novel, the creator of fantastic universes o vampires and witches takes us now into the world of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the destruction of Solomon's Temple, to tell the story of Azriel, Servant of the Bones.

He is ghost, genii, demon, angel--pure spirit made visible. He pours his heart out to us as he journeys from an ancient Babylon of royal plottings and religious upheavals to Europe of the Black Death and on to the modern world. There he finds himself, amidst the towers of Manhattan, in confrontation with his own human origins and the dark forces that have sought to condemn him to a life of evil and destruction.



Échantillon de lecture
Servant of the Bones: Chapter One

This is Azriel's tale as he told it to me, as he begged me to bear witness and to record his words. Call me Jonathan as he did. That was the name he chose on the night he appeared in my open door and saved my life.

Surely if he hadn't come to seek a scribe, I would have died before morning.


Let me explain that I am well known in the fields of history, archaeology, Sumerian scholarship. And Jonathan is indeed one of the names given me at birth, but you won't find it on the jackets of my books, which the students study because they must, or because they love the mysteries of ancient lore as much as I do.


Azriel knew this--the scholar, the teacher I was--when he came to me.

Jonathan was a private name for me that we agreed upon together. He had plucked it from the string of three names on the copyright pages of my books. And I had answered to it. It became my name for him during all those hours as he told his tale--a tale I would never publish under my regular professorial name, knowing full well, as he did, that this story would never be accepted alongside my histories.

So I am Jonathan; I am the scribe; I tell the tale as Azriel told it. It doesn't really matter to him what name I use with you. It only mattered that one person wrote down what he had to say. The Book of Azriel was dictated to Jonathan.

He did know who I was; he knew all my works, and had painstakingly read them before ever coming. He knew my academic reputation, and something in my style and outlook had caught his fancy. Perhaps he approved that I had reached the venerable age of sixty-five, and still wrote and worked night and day like a young man, with no intentions of retiring ever from the school where I taught, though I had now and then to get completely away from it.

So it was no haphazard choice that made him climb the steep forested mountains, in the snow, on foot, carrying only a curled newsmagazine in his hand, his tall form protected by a thick mass of curly black hair that grew long below his shoulders--a true protective mantle for a man's head and neck--and one of those double-tiered and flaring winter coats that only the tall of stature and the romantic of heart can wear with aplomb or the requisite charming indifference.

By the light of the fire, he appeared at once a kind young man, with huge black eyes and thick prominent brows, a small thick nose, and a large cherub's mouth, his hair dappled with snow, the wind blowing his coat wildly about him as it tore through the house, sending my precious papers swirling in all directions.

Now and then this coat became too large for him. His appearance completely changed to match that of the man on the cover of the magazine he'd brought with him.

It was that miracle I saw early on, before I knew who he was, or that I was going to live, that the fever had broken.

Understand I am not insane or even eccentric by nature, and have never been self-destructive. I didn't go to the mountains to die. It had seemed a fine idea to seek out the absolute solitude of my northern house, unconnected to the world by phone, fax, television, or electricity. I had a book to complete which had taken me some ten years, and it was in this self-imposed exile that I meant to finish it.

So it was no haphazard choice that made him climb the steep forested mountains, in the snow, on foot, carrying only a curled newsmagazine in his hand, his tall form protected by a thick mass of curly black hair that grew long below his shoulders--a true protective mantle for a man's head and neck--and one of those double-tiered and flaring winter coats that only the tall of stature and the romantic of heart can wear with aplomb or the requisite charming indifference.

By the light of the fire, he appeared at once a kind young man, with huge black eyes and thick prominent brows, a small thick nose, and a large cherub's mouth, his hair dappled with snow, the wind blowing his coat wildly about him as it tore through the house, sending my precious papers swirling in all directions.

Now and then this coat became too large for him. His appearance completely changed to match that of the man on the cover of the magazine he'd brought with him.

It was that miracle I saw early on, before I knew who he was, or that I was going to live, that the fever had broken.

Understand I am not insane or even eccentric by nature, and have never been self-destructive. I didn't go to the mountains to die. It had seemed a fine idea to seek out the absolute solitude of my northern house, unconnected to the world by phone, fax, television, or electricity. I had a book to complete which had taken me some ten years, and it was in this self-imposed exile that I meant to finish it.

The house is mine, and was then, as always, well stocked, with plenty of bottled water for drinking, and oil and kerosene for its lamps, candles by the crate, and electric batteries of every conceivable size for the small tape recorder I use and the laptop computers on which I work, and an enormous shed of dried oak for the fires I would need throughout my stay there.

I had the few medical necessaries a man can carry in a metal box. I had the simple food I eat and can cook by fire: rice, hominy, cans upon cans of saltless chicken broth, and also a few barrels of apples which should have lasted me the winter. A sack or two of yams I'd also brought, discovering I could wrap these in foil and roast them in my coal-and-oak fire.

I liked the bright orange color of yams. And please be assured, I was not proud of this diet, or seeking to write a magazine article on it. I'm simply tired of rich food; tired of crowded fashionable New York restaurants and glittering party buffets, and even the often wonderful meals offered me weekly by colleagues at their own tables. I am merely trying to explain. I wanted fuel for the body and the mind.

I brought what I needed so that I might write in peace. There was nothing that peculiar about all this.

The place was already lined in books, its old barn wood walls fully insulated and then shelved to the ceiling. There was a duplicate here of every important text I ever consulted at home, and the few books of poetry I read over and over for ecstasy.

My spare computers, all small and very powerful beyond any understanding I ever hope to acquire of hard drives, bytes, megabytes of memory, or 486 chips, had been delivered earlier, along with a ludicrous supply of diskettes on which to "back up" or copy my work.

Truth is, I worked mostly by hand, on yellow legal pads. I had cartons of pens, the very fine-point kind, with black ink.

Everything was perfect.

And I should add here that the world I had left behind seemed just a little more mad than usual.

The news was full of a lurid murder trial on the West Coast having to do with a famous athlete accused of slitting his wife's throat, an entertainment par excellence that had galvanized the talk shows, the news shows, and even that vapid, naive, and childlike connection to the world that calls itself E! Entertainment.

In Oklahoma City, a Federal office building had been blown sky high--and not by alien terrorists, it was believed, but by our own Americans, members of the militia movement they were called, who had decided in much the same manner of the hippies of years before that our government was a dangerous enemy. Whereas the hippies and the protesters of the Vietnam War had merely lain on railroad tracks and sung in ranks, these new crewcut militants--filled with fantasies of impending doom--killed our own people. By the hundreds.

Then there were the battles abroad, which had become regular circuses. Not a day went by when one was not reminded of atrocities committed among the Bosnians and the Serbs in the Balkans--a region that had been at war for one reason or another for centuries. I had lost track of who was Moslem, Christian, Russian ally, or friend. The city of Sarajevo had been a familiar word to television-watching Americans for years now. In the streets of Sarajevo people died daily, including men they called United Nations peace keepers.

In African countries, people starved as the result of civil strife and famine. It was a nightly sight as common as a beer commercial to see on television fresh footage of starving African babies, bellies swollen, faces covered with flies.

Jews and Arabs fought in the streets of Jerusalem. Bombs went off; protesters were shot at by armies; and terrorists destroyed innocent people to strengthen their demands.

In the Ukraine, remnants of a fallen Soviet Union made war on mountain folk who had never given in to any foreign power. People died in the snow and cold for reasons that were nearly impossible to explain.

In sum there were dozens of places raging with suffering in which to fight, to die, to film, as the parliaments of the world tried in vain to find answers without bullets. The decade was a feast of wars.

Then there was the death of Esther Belkin, followed by the scandal of the Temple of the Mind. Caches of assault weapons had been found in the Temple's outposts from New Jersey to Libya. Explosives and poisonous gases had been stockpiled in its hospitals. The great mentor of this popular international church--Gregory Belkin--was insane.

Before Gregory Belkin, there had been other madmen with great dreams perhaps but smaller resources. Jim Jones and his People's Temple committing mass suicide in the jungles of Guyana; David Koresh, who believed himself the Christ, perishing by gun and fire in a Waco, Texas, compound.

A Japanese religious leader had just recently been accused of killing innocent people on the country's public subways.

A church with the lovely name of the Temple Solaire had not so long ago staged a mass suicide coordinated at three different locations in Switzerland and Canada.

A popular talk show host gave directions to his listeners as to how they might assassinate the President of the United States.

A fatal virus had only recently broken out with stunning fury in an African country, then died away, leaving all thinking individuals with a renewed interest in the age-old obsession: that the end of the world might be at hand. Apparently there were more than three kinds of this virus, and numerous others equally as deadly lurking in the rain forests of the world.

A hundred other surreal stories made up each day's news, and each day's inevitable civilized conversation.

So I ran from this, as much as anything else. I ran for the solitude, the whiteness of snow, the brutal indifference of towering trees and tiny winter stars.


It was my own jeep which had brought me up through "the leather stocking woods," as it is sometimes still called, in honor of James Fenimore Cooper, to barricade myself for the winter. There was a phone in the jeep by which one could, with perseverance if possible, reach the outside world. I was for tearing it out, but the truth is I'm not very handy and I couldn't get the thing loose without damaging my car.

So you see, I am not a fool, just a scholar. I had a plan. I was prepared for the heavy snow to come, and the winds to whistle in the single metal chimney above the round central hearth. The smell of my books, the oak fire, the snow itself whirling down at times in tiny specks into the flames, these things I love and need now and then. And many a winter before this house had given me exactly what I asked of it.

The night began like any other. The fever took me completely by surprise, and I remember building up the fire in the round pit of a fireplace very high because I did not want to have to tend it. When I drank all the water nearest the bed, I don't know. I couldn't have been fully conscious then. I know that I went to the door, that I myself unbolted it, and then could not get it closed; this much I do recall. I must have been trying to reach the jeep.

Bolting the door was simply impossible. I lay for a long time in the snow itself before I crawled back inside, and away from the mouth of the winter, or so it seemed.

I remember these things because I remember knowing then that I was very much in danger. The long journey back to the bed, the long journey back to the warmth of the fire, utterly exhausted me. Beneath the heap of wool blankets and quilts, I hid from the whirlwind that entered my house. And I knew that if I didn't clear my head, if I didn't recover somehow, the winter would just come inside soon and put to sleep forever the fire, and take me too.

Lying on my back, the quilts up to my chin, I sweated and shivered. I watched the flakes of snow fly beneath the sloping beams of the roof. I watched the raging pyramid of logs as it blazed. I smelled the burnt pot when the soup boiled dry. I saw the snow covering my desk.

I made a plan to rise, then fell asleep. I dreamed those fretful stupid dreams that fever makes, then woke with a start, sat up, fell back, dreamed again. The candles were gone out, but the fire still burned, and snow now filled the room, blanketing my desk, my chair, perhaps the bed itself. I licked snow from my lips once, that I do recall, and it tasted good, and now and then I licked the melted snow I could gather with my hand. My thirst was hellish. Better to dream than to feel it.

It must have been midnight when Azriel came.

Did he choose his hour with a sense of drama? Quite to the contrary. A long way off, walking through snow and wind, he had seen the fire high on the mountain above, sparks flying from the chimney and a light that blinkered through the open door. He had hurried towards these beacons.

Mine was the only house on the land and he knew it. He had learnt that from the casual tactful remarks of those who had told him officially and gently that I could not be reached in the months to come, that I had gone into hiding.

I saw him the very moment he stood in the door. I saw the sheen of his mass of black curling hair and fire in both his eyes. I saw the strength and swiftness with which he closed and locked the door and came directly towards me.

I believe I said, "I'm going to die."

"No, you won't, Jonathan," he answered. He brought the bottle of water at once and lifted my head. I drank and I drank and my fever drank, and I blessed him.

"It's only kindness, Jonathan," he said with simplicity.

I dozed as he built up the fire again, wiped away the snow, and I have a very distinct and wondrous memory of him gathering my papers from everywhere, with great care, and kneeling by the fire to lay them out so that they might dry and some of the writing might be saved after all.

"This is your work, your precious work," he said to me when he saw that I was watching him.

He had taken off the big double-mantled coat. He was in shirt sleeves which meant we were safe. I smelled the soup cooking again, the bubbling chicken broth. He brought the soup to me in an earthen bowl--the sort of rustic things I chose for this place--and he said drink the soup, and I did.

Indeed, it was by water and broth that he brought me slowly back. Never once did I have the presence of mind to mention the few medications in the white box of first-aid supplies. He bathed my face with cold water.

He bathed all of me slowly and patiently, turning me gently, and rolling under me the new fresh clean sheets. "The broth," he said, "the broth, no, you must." And the water. The water he gave me perpetually.

Was there enough for him, he had asked. I had almost laughed.

"Of course, my friend, dear God, take anything you want."

And he drank the water down in greedy gulps, saying it was all he needed now, that once again the Stairway to Heaven had disappeared and left him stranded.

"My name is Azriel," he said, sitting by the bed. "They called me the Servant of the Bones."

Informations sur le produit

Titre: Servant of the Bones
Auteur:
Code EAN: 9780679433019
ISBN: 978-0-679-43301-9
Format: Livre Relié
Editeur: Random House N.Y.
Genre: Romans et récits
Poids: 744g
Taille: H244mm x B171mm x T35mm
Année: 1996

Évaluations

Vue d’ensemble

Mes évaluations

Évaluez cet article