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November 22, 2002

Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton

Narcissus in Chains is the latest (until Cerulean Sins comes out) Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter book. I waited to buy it in paperback, if you know what that means.

Now that I've been completely weaned from even re-reading the pablum of Lackey's Valdemar series, I have replaced my "candy reading" with the Anita Blake series. It's sexy soap-opera splatterpunk, with less and less redeeming value in each addition to the series. Which isn't to say that I'll not be picking all of them up... just that I'm aware it's not mind-broadening work.

On the other hand, I realize there are people who read for entertainment, so I'll try to accept that as a potential. Me, I'm constantly trying to do something with what I've read, either work it into a project (usually gaming) or, well, something else. (Yes, I'm thinking pornography. Just once every seven seconds or so.)

Erm. Anyway.

So, in this latest installment, Anita discovers (as soon as she stops fighting it) that she's picked up some of the abilities and drawbacks of both her magically-superglued partners. The majority of the book is spent in sexually-charged situations, but the violence counterpart is still well represented. The main storyline suffers significantly to the intercharacter politics, making the inevitable climax unfulfilling.

It's hard not to describe Anita Blake books except in sexual metaphors, and that may be why my interest is waning. See, before with Anita, the relationship was charged. It had "maybe she would, maybe she wouldn't" in it. She had personal grit and that grit opened the world to her, not any powers she might have had (and using her powers usually came at a significant cost.) Personal grit is attractive. Assertive women can be sexy. This book showed that her vulnerabilities, however, are overwhelming the aspects that attracted me. After Blue Moon the seduction is over, and now the excitement is gone as she is swallowed by the dark forces.

Some of the conflicts are resolved, but others are developed in the continuing storyline. Frankly, it's hard to say if Hamilton took the "easy way out" or if she's just complicating things to the point that it'll be very hard to work new (or lapsed) readers into the romantic plot. While the BDSM community is being better represented, as well as a bit of the genderbending one, so that's a positive. On the other hand, there are scenes that certainly qualify as pornographic in this one. (Down to copious amounts of male reproductive fluids, I must admit. It takes the phrase, "She certainly shows some spunk!" to a whole new level.)

With that image left sticky in your mind, I'm going to say that to its credit it does develop some new information on the lycanthropes, as well as setting the stage for more on vampiric politics. While it's still leaving us wanting on that level, this book fails to satiate.

Posted by Meera at November 22, 2002 12:23 PM