Mayfair Witches is the second in what AMC is calling their “Immortal Universe,” which is their name for the two series based on the supernatural novels of Anne Rice (the first being Interview with the Vampire). And in Mayfair Witches, we’ve now been introduced to the element that Rice used to connect her vampiric protagonists with her family of witches—the psychic order known as the Talamasca.
Although not introduced yet in Interview with the Vampire, this ancient, scholarly order is what united Rice’s supernatural cosmology. Although the two series have made significant changes from the novels, we expect this Talamasca connection to remain. But what exactly is the Talamasca in Mayfair Witches and what is its history? Spoilers for not only Mayfair Witches thus far, but also several Anne Rice novels it is based on.
The Talamsca: “We watch. And we are always there.”
Rice first introduced the Talamasca in her 1988 novel Queen of the Damned. That was the third book in her Vampire Chronicles series. She described the Talamasca as an order dating back hundreds of years. It was their sacred duty to gather information on all things paranormal in the world, and investigate their validity. For the Talamasca, this would include watching over vampires and the Mayfair Witches. The group’s official motto, which they printed on their business cards, was “We watch. And we are always here.” Rice found the word “Talamasca” in a history book, learning it meant “animal mask” in Latin. (In some cultures, it meant witch or shaman.) Although very few things from the book transferred to the 2002 movie adaptation, the Talamasca was one of them.
The Order had motherhouses all over the world, with vaults containing all manner of supernatural artifacts of great historical value. The Talamasca took orders from mysterious Elders who no one ever saw, and whose true identities were shrouded in mystery. The Talamasca had motherhouses in cities like London, Rome, and Amsterdam, with other libraries spread all over the globe. However, the main branch was the London house. Two of the higher-ups in the Talamasca Order, elderly British gentlemen Aaron Lightner and David Talbot, first came to life in this novel. We should mention the Watchers Council on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was likely influenced as well by the Talamasca.
Chronicling the Undead
In Queen of the Damned, our true main Talamasca character was a young woman by the name of Jesse Reeves. Her superiors tasked her with validating the historical facts of events described in the memoirs of the vampires Louis and Lestat. Their life stories were published as the novels Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. The world at large passed off these books as works of fiction, but the members of the Talamasca knew better. Jesse got wrapped up in the world of the vampires, and eventually became one herself. Meanwhile, Lestat became enamored with her superior, the affermetioned, David Talbot, leading to a long relationship between the two.
Talamasca in Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, the basis for Mayfair Witches
The second appearance of the Talamasca was in Rice’s 1990 novel The Witching Hour, the literary inspiration for Mayfair Witches. Aaron Lightner, a minor character in Queen of the Damned, was the main Talamasca agent asked to chronicle the history of the Mayfair clan of New Orleans witches. His paranormal powers include moving objects by telekinesis, and telepathy. His involvement with the family goes back decades, and later he begins to suspect that his benevolent, scholarly order might have darker intentions. For the Mayfair Witches TV series, they reimagined this Talamasca agent as the character Ciprien Grieve, a much younger African-American man, and the lead’s love interest.
The Talamasca Order appears in several Rice novels over the subsequent years. She included them in almost every novel involving the vampires and witches. In fact, one novel, Merrick, was about one of the Mayfair witches who is a part of the Talamasca, who then became a vampire. Throughout, the identity of the mysterious Elders remained a closely guarded secret. Rice toyed with the idea of doing an entire book about the origins of the Talamasca, but she never got around to it. However, Rice finally unlocked the origins of the Talamasca in her 2014 novel Prince Lestat, over 25 years after their introduction.
The Origins of the Talamasca, Explained
Rice finally revealed that three ancient beings founded the Order in 758 A.D. The original founder of the Talamasca was a being with the unusual name of Gremt Stryker Knollys. He was a disembodied spirit who gathered molecules to create a corporeal form. He encountered another similar spirit, Hesketh, who had once been a vampire, and whose spirit remained earthbound. Her vampire maker, the ancient Teskhamen, was still alive (so to speak). The three of them formed a pact to create a society whose purpose was to uncover the secrets of the supernatural, to better understand their own existence. They were the original Elders of the Talamasca, eventually passing down that mantle to human scholars, who then chose their own successors.
The Talamasca in AMC’s Interview With the Vampire and Mayfair Witches
Will we see this complex history all play out on the AMC shows? Well, if they do, it would be way down the line. The Immortal Universe would have to have the kind of longevity that the Walking Dead franchise has before we get to all this intricate backstory. And we have not heard a peep from the Talamasca so far in Interview with the Vampire. However, we suspect they might pop up in that series much sooner than they did in their respective novels. We don’t expect AMC to waste any time in connecting their Anne Rice series together and the Talamasca could be a way to bring Interview With the Vampire and Mayfair Witches together. Even if it means it happens much faster than it ever did in the novels.
Originally published January 15, 2023.
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