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Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 10) Mass Market Paperback – September 24, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Hamilton's Anita Blake, police consultant, executioner, necromancer, private eye and wereleopard protector, returns in her amorous 10th adventure, driven more by conflicting desires for the lovers she neglected in her last outing, Obsidian Butterfly (2000), than by the urge to solve any mystery. Once again, in a world where vampires and werecreatures are protected by law, Blake attempts to resolve her libido's constant crisis. Plunged into the netherworld of a leather D/S (dominant/submissive) bar, Narcissus in Chains, by the abduction of one of her inherited wereleopards, Blake finds herself deep into shapeshifter politics and a were creature power struggle that is all a metaphor for her own inner struggle. Whom should she choose werewolf Richard or vampire Jean-Claude? Or should she take a new lover? Who cares? Blake is eventually infected by the "ardeur" from the vampire clan and tinged with shapeshifting abilities from the were clan. As she becomes more like the fantastic creatures she protects or kills, she, alas, doesn't get any more interesting as a character. Her obsessions with lust serve mainly to overwhelm a rickety plot. Blake needs to put her clothes back on and get back to work. Too much flesh and not enough plot leads to the old but so true saying, "Less is more." (Oct. 9) Forecast: With a 15-city author tour and 100,000 first printing, this should be as successful saleswise as previous books in the series.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Hamilton's vampire-hunting Anita Blake faces a plethora of foes in her tenth outing. Just returned to St. Louis after six months away, Anita is still no closer to choosing between her lovers--Jean-Claude, a vampire, and Richard, a werewolf. But she has to rely on both for help after two of the wereleopards that she has been watching are abducted at a seedy club called Narcissus in Chains. Anita and her boyfriends rescue the wereleopards from the sinister people holding them, but Anita is wounded in the fight and put at risk of becoming a wereleopard herself. Richard angrily captures the wereleopard he believes is responsible and threatens to execute him. Anita must now rescue that wereleopard from Richard and the werewolves he leads, even as she mourns the apparent end of her relationship with him. Then she realizes that those who kidnapped the first two wereleopards are targeting other lycanthropes. Maybe she will be next. With plenty of steamy sex and graphic violence, this is engaging reading for vampire cultists. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This is definitely not the book to read to introduce yourself to Anita Blake's universe (Anitaverse). Without knowing the background of the characters, a new reader would be totally lost. Knowing the background of the characters and the prior storyline adds so much to this book. I would definitely recommend reading this series in order, starting with the first book, "Guilty Pleasures".
Having said that, this book is definitely for the fans, in that it brings back almost every character in the Anitaverse. The primary focus is Anita, her relationships, and the effects on her of the joining of the psychic marks between her (a necromancer), Jean-Claude (a master vampire), and Richard (a werewolf leader). It also introduces a huge number of new characters. And that is a problem, because with so many new people, the old ones are slightly shortchanged with their behavior somewhat inconsistent, and the new ones aren't really fully developed. I think the previous book, "Obsidian Butterfly" was much more tightly plotted. For example, the whole question about Asher, the extent of his disfigurement, and what happened with Narcissus, set up in the teaser in "Out Of This World" is just left hanging (no pun intended). We also find out what's been happening with Damian since Anita was gone, but when everything is said and done, he's still basically in the same situation he was in at the end of "Blue Moon" - Anita's vampire-to-call and still happy about it. But no mention is made of how that is going to function day-to-day. (Which annoyed me to no end, since I'm a Damian fan.) But fans of Nathaniel will be pleased - he's heavily involved in this story and even (gasp!) exhibits some personal growth! Anita herself changes so much in this story that you have to wonder, what monsters are there out there left for her to fear?
The "mystery" definitely takes a backseat in this story. The book is chock full of plots and subplots, which makes for an interesting read, but the mystery itself is only a means to an end, not the primary focus. One of the villians of the piece is quite clear early on.
The introduction of Micah (the wereleopards' Nimir-Raj) as Anita's new alternate main squeeze seemed very forced - their relationship advanced way too quickly to be true to Anita's previous hesitancy towards personal commitment and her avowed moral character, "ardeur" or not. It would have been more believable if she had resisted the "ardeur" at least once (I'm thinking of her resitance to the munin in previous books). Her relationship with Jean Claude vacillated hot and cold throughout the book. In the beginning chapters, when she reunites with him, their relationship seems to be on a much steadier footing (and the reader is thinking "at last"). But as the story progresses, and she finds out how he's had to cope with things caused by her absence, her attitude didn't ring true and her anger at him wasn't really understandable. As mentioned by another reviewer, Richard seems as though he's being phased out for the time being. But even his behavior wasn't consistent - at first he's at peace with his beast, then we've got the angst again, then he's okay with it, then he he wants to die. That last attitude didn't make any sense at all. A suicidal Richard? I don't think so.
This book is much more sexually graphic than the rest of the series. This is not going to please a lot of readers, but it was inevitable. There had to be some sort of resolution to the situation that has been building up in the previous books. Everything made sense in the context of the story, but the sexual tension was virtually nil because everything was acted upon. And sexual tension has been one of the strong hallmarks of these books. Some scenes were definitely not for the sexually squeamish, but the scene where everyone suddenly realized that Anita wasn't on birth control *was* funny. The problem for a lot of readers will be that Anita does a complete 180 in her attitude toward her sexual behavior, as compared to her rather uptight behavior in the last book, "Obsidian Butterfly".
Contrary to what it might seem, I really did enjoy the book (even though I think that the changes to Anita's character are starting to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, I have faith that LKH will settle things somewhere along the line.). My complaints are really just the annoyances of a rabid fan, because things aren't evolving the way *I* think they should. But then again, I'm not Anita's creator - I'm just along for the ride. That's what makes this series so interesting - just when you think you know what is going to happen, the storyline takes a sharp left and heads off into a completly different direction. This is a fast-moving, enjoyable book. Most of the favorite characters got their moment in the sunlight (or moonlight, as the case may be), and fans of the wereleopard pard should be ecstatic. It is a typical LKH rollercoaster - erotic, horrific, violent, romantic. It's a book where something is happening all the time, and the many subplots ultimately tie together at the end. I know me, I'll probably wind up re-reading it a couple more times. (...)
I had hoped, after reading Obsidian Butterfly, that Hamilton was going to return to the actual THEME of "Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner," as opposed to drowning us in redundant, superfluous sexual drivel and alleged "romance." But, alas, Narcissus in Chains is nothing more than the "same old, same old" that has become SOP in the last few Blake novels...Blake worries about whether she's a monster, Blake makes excuses to have sex, Blake has sex with pretty much everyone - including, mind-blowingly, an abused S&M man-child who has come to her for PROTECTION. ...
I had equally hoped that Hamilton would get the annoyingly predictable "erotica" out of her system with the Merry Gentry series, but it is clearly overflowing like a tsunami into the AB series.
Of course, there are innumerable vapid females out there who will plunk down their money just so they can read these AB novels, which have degenerated from pretty nifty and creative detective/horror thrillers to insipid "romance" books, just for the purpose of imagining being wanted by supernatural studs. Hamilton has sunk to the lowest common denominator, reader-wise, and appears not to care whatsoever about the early readers that made her popular.
"Cerulean Sins" is out, and is already being panned as having yet another overdose of "romance" and sexual content. For this reader, who began LKH with Nightseer (and hopes to see a return of this series), I find LKH's penchant to replace imagination and good writing with her character's love life to be BORING. When the romance titillated around the edges of sweet mystery and creepy monsters, and the sexual tension was thick enough to require Blake's back-holstered long-bladed knife to cut it, this series was GREAT. Now, I won't spend another penny on it.