We all have them, those fictitious men that we dream about, and mine is Lasher from Anne Rice's Lives of the Mayfair Witches novels. Lasher is seductive, romantic, and mysterious. Throw in the fact that he has dark hair (always have been a sucker for dark hair) and I am hooked.
I always pictured him as looking a little like Michael Praed. Yes, that is that male that I judge all other men by, but this time it actually makes sense because he is described as being tall and thin with dark hair.
Anyway, Lasher is the main character in the Lives of the Mayfair Witches novels, which includes:
In this book we meet some of the trilogy's leading characters: Dr. Rowan Mayfair, a brilliant neurosurgeon who is ignorant of her family history; Michael Curry, a contractor who specializes in the restoration of old homes while dreaming of his childhood in New Orleans and yearning to return there; Aaron Lightner, a psychic scholar and member of the Talamasca; Lasher, a spirit with wicked motives; and the Mayfair Witches, an old Southern family with a taste for poetry and incest. They have a talent for secretiveness and successful business ventures. The majority of the Mayfair Witches are female (with the exception of Julien), and the family line matriarchal in lineage; i.e. families pass down the maiden name "Mayfair" instead of adopting the respective husband's last name. Rowan and Michael fall in love after she saves him from drowning, and when he decides to return to New Orleans, she follows him to learn the secrets of her past against the wishes of her adoptive mother.
Aaron has studied the Mayfairs and Lasher from afar for years. He tracks down Michael to share with him the history of the family and the spirit, whom Michael has seen since he was a boy. (He was also interested in Michael because
of the psychometric power he purportedly developed since waking from a near drowning experience.) What follows is a gruesome story filled with murder, incest, and betrayal. There are, however, many gaps which can only be filled in by Lasher himself.
Rowan and Michael marry despite all this, and Rowan takes on the responsibilities of the Designee of the Mayfair Legacy. She dreams of a medical center where anyone, regardless of age, race, or financial status, can be treated and healed. She conceives, and it seems as if she and Michael may escape the curse of the Legacy.
This is not to be, however, as Lasher finally reveals himself to Rowan, and explains his wish: to be made flesh so that he may walk the earth again and sets about slowly seducing Rowan through many intense intimate
encounters. Secretly thinking that she can outwit this spirit, she agrees to send Michael away from the house on Christmas Day so that Lasher can fulfil his centuries-old ambition. Her plan (to bind Lasher to 'weak matter' which can be destroyed by her mental killing abilities) backfires as Lasher enters her womb, and makes himself at home in the fetus. Rowan immediately goes into labor, which is violent and bloody, and Lasher is born.
Michael returns to the house then, and seeing what has become of the child that he had desperately wished for, he throws himself at the creature, thinking to kill him. Lasher is much too strong, though, and attempts to drown
Michael in the pool. Upon this second near death experience Michael loses the power in his hands. Terrified for Michael's life, Rowan drags the creature away, and they run off together.
Throughout the novel there are mentions of the "Thirteen Witches" and the Thirteenth being the "Doorway". This is in reference to Lasher selectively manipulating the Mayfair bloodline so that the thirteenth witch, Rowan, would
be more powerful than all the others. Lasher required a witch as powerful as Rowan because she possessed the ability to make him live again. Lasher had possessed dead bodies with the help of Mary Beth and Julien Mayfair (two of the most powerful witches in the family), but due to limits in medical knowledge at the time, he could not reanimate the corpse and was unable to transform the bodies into Taltos form. When Lasher possesses Rowan's baby, the child effectively dies and as Lasher exchanges the cells, Rowan's diagnostic/healing abilities, along with her medical knowledge, are required to keep Lasher from dying.
The novel begins shortly after the mysterious disappearance of Dr. Rowan Mayfair, recently married to contractor Michael Curry. Michael, feeling betrayed by Rowan, has sunk into a depression helped along by the useless drugs prescribed to him after his close encounter with death.
Along comes the sexually adventurous Mona Mayfair, a precocious teenager and powerful witch and Rowan's cousin sharing lines of descent from Julien. She seduces Michael, causing him to snap out of his stupor and renew his vow to find his wife at all costs. He is now convinced that she hasn't gone willingly.
And though it was she who spirited her mutant child Lasher away from the
house, she is now a prisoner of the monster she has spawned. His first two
attempts at impregnating her are failures ending in miscarriage, but he is successful the third time around. As he accompanies her throughout Europe, Rowan manages to send off DNA samples to colleagues in San Francisco. They discover that Lasher is a completely different species, and that Rowan herself has a genetic abnormality, polyploidy, or 92 chromosomes, which was probably what made Lasher's quasi-supernatural birth at all possible in the first place.
The dyad returns to America where Lasher sets out to impregnate other female members of the Mayfair family. All attempts are unsuccessful as the women immediately miscarry and hemorrhage to death. Rowan manages to escape
Lasher, and after hitchhiking to Louisiana, she collapses in a field and gives birth to Emaleth, a female Taltos. Rowan's last words to Emaleth are to find Michael, which she sets out to do, thinking that Rowan has
Rowan is found and is rushed to a nearby hospital where she is diagnosed as being in a state of toxic shock. An emergency hysterectomy is performed to save her life, eliminating all chances of her ever giving birth again. She is taken home to Michael where she remains in a deep coma.
Much of the book is set into four sections of "Julien's Story" which delineates the life of Julien Mayfair and what he has discovered of the entity known as Lasher.
Lasher returns to the house to tell Michael and Aaron his story of his past life. Born to Queen Anne of England, the second wife of Henry VIII, and a man from Donnelaith, Lasher is believed to be a saint known as Ashlar, and is quickly taken away by his father to Donnelaith. His father is the son of the Earl of Donnelaith, and from there he is sent to Italy to become a priest. He returns to Scotland after Elizabeth I takes the throne, and is killed there
while performing Christmas Mass by followers of the Protestant reformer John Knox. He knows nothing again until Suzanne calls him back into existence.
Michael patiently hears Lasher out, and when his story is complete, Michael wastes no time in killing him and burying him under the great oak in the yard. Soon after, he discovers Emaleth in Rowan's room, feeding her the highly nutritious milk from her breasts. This resuscitates Rowan, but upon seeing Emaleth before her, she panics and screams at Michael to kill her. Michael refuses to, so Rowan grabs a gun and shoots her daughter in the head. Rowan immediately realizes what she's done, and crying for her daughter, insists that she be the one to bury her alongside Lasher under the oak tree there.
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 back 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, whom 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. And 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 kept as pets once in while. 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 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
Rowan and Michael return to New Orleans, where Michael is introduced to his daughter, Morrigan. He and Rowan accepts 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.