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3.2 out of 5 stars
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on April 27, 2003
Disappointing, sleazy, and boring.
I could, maybe, have liked this book more, if it actually contained Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner. The sleazy nymphomanic with all of supergirl's powers, but without the risk of kryptonite, kind of left me wondering "Did LKH just use her left-over sex scene notes from Merry Gentry, or what??" It seems like LKH has forgotten that they are two different series. I certainly did not recognize this Anita as The Executioner.
I will say that I liked that the reactions from the people Anita cut off during her 6 month stint away from everyone, and the changes and/or developments that occurred during that time was introduced. Things definitely would have changed in six months, and it was logical to reflect that.
Also, the break-down of Dolph was unexpected, and different. I defintely felt sorry for him.
Those are about the only 2 things I liked in this book.
The Micah thing was COMPLETELY unbelivable-Anita went from basically being a rape victim in their first tete-a-tete (she asked him to stop several times), and afterwards never even questioned her lack of reaction to it. After that, he was a permanent fixation. There was no background to him, he was just a there, flat and two-dimensional. The Anita I had known would have killed him, even afterwards, just because he had basically stolen her willpower, and that would have terrified her. She had always prized her self-control, and now doesn't even raise an eyebrow that she doesn't have any?? Whatever.
Sleeping with Nathaniel completely grossed me out. Anita had said all along how he was anyone's meat, and that she would always protect him, but I did not see much of that. Instead, she took advantage of his severely messed-up psyche and never looked back, at least not seriously.
Another thing: How many powers is she going to get, anyway?? It's like LKH just runs out of ideas with what she had, and instead of moving on, keeps degrading Anita's personality, and stuffing her full of more superpowers. This last one, the ardeur, just disgusts me. But I never got really worked up, though, because other than Phillip, I haven't seen Anita lose anyone yet. I knew, almost as a given, that once again, she would develop yet another power right at the last minute that would save whoever she was trying to save. No risk element at all. And the excuse: "These are things from legend. We have no idea what power you will develop next." has REALLY worn thin. Boring.
Gone are Anita's morals, her hard-as-nails willpower, her determination and individuality. Now, she is just a sexaholic with little qualms, and all her seeming otherworldly "friends" seem happy as clams to indulge her, whatever the mood: murderous, critical, sexual, whatever. (And, is there anyone in this little world who DOESN'T want to sleep with her? Geez!)
Which reminds me of Edward. I hope he decides that Anita is now his perfect idea of quarry, and doesn't suddenly feel the need to sleep with her, too. After all, she seems pretty much the pinnacle of the monsters he hunts now.
If I was reading this story as my introduction to the story, I would never have known Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner, had ever existed. I would have called this a cheap sex Harlequin book with a supernatural twist, shook my head, and not bothered with any of the other books in this series.
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Narcissus was a legendary young man who fell in love with his own reflection, and starved to death while adoring himself. It seems somehow appropriate that Laurell K. Hamilton's worst Anita Blake novel to date is called "Narcissus in Chains" -- a tepid, kinky exercise in literary self-worship, chained by adoration of the author's lookalike lead.

Anita Blake returns from a six-month sojourn, but her love life is no simpler than it was before. And that her pal Nathaniel has been snared into a dangerous S&M club. To save him, she calls on her sort-of-lovers Richard the werewolf and Jean-Claude the vampire. And they "marry the marks," making Anita more powerful than she ever dreamed.

But a fight in the club leads to Anita being in danger of becoming a wereleopard, and Jean Claude is arrested. Richard captures the wereleopard. So when Anita wakes, she not only finds that her friends are in (or causing) trouble, but that she now has the intense craving for constant sex called the "ardeur" from Jean Claude.

Of all literary devices in fantasy, "ardeur" may be the absolute worst. After a relatively solid fantasy/horror series, Hamilton delves into a device that porn writers would be embarrassed to use. But unfortunately, long pages of clinical sex scenes are only a few of the problems that "Narcissus in Chains" has. It's simply a poorly written book.

Hamilton appears to have thrown her writing ability out the window, in favor of constant Anita-worship. (This seems even weirder when you see that Anita strongly resembles the author) The dialogue loses its sting in favor of descriptions of Anita's clothes, weapons, the genitalia of her assorted sex partners, and the passionless pages of coitus that she bounces through. The prose is turgid and slow-paced, as if Hamilton didn't bother having it edited.

Anita herself fast becomes an annoyance -- not only is she endowed with powers as big as Micah's member, but she has a newfound arrogance that grates on the reader. Not to mention an apparent willingness to be quasi-raped by her apparent soulmate. Jean-Claude and Richard start off strong, but as the ardeur strikes they begin acting oddly. Leopard king Micah is basically a gigolo for Anita's personal pleasure.

"Narcissus in Chains" lacks the qualities of good fiction -- even of good romance. Hamilton stumbles through a silly, turgid plot, leaving tatters of the characters' personalities in her wake. A ghastly mess.
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on July 12, 2004
I stared the Antia books starting from the start and I loved all of them. I even found some things I liked in all of them But this one. I baught it as soon as it came out in paperback and I read the first two chapters and haven't been able to finish it. Fianlly I picked the book up four months later and finsihed another chapter. two months later I pick it up again and was able to finish nearly half of it. Finaly yesterday July12 2004 I finish it. Now normaly i can finish a 400 page book in less than a day so that really says something. This is the most idotic book I have ever read in my intire life and I have read a *LOT* of books. I don't mind sex in my books in fact I am a huge fan of erotica, but this. It was nothing more than porn. I'm sorry if LKH can't make the book as long as it is without sex MAKE THE BOOK SHORTER! if she can't go any futher with Antia I think she should give up writting about her alltogher. I have to say I loved these books and an very sad to say this. Skip this book don't waste your money!
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on April 20, 2003
It's sad to see Yet Another Fatuous Female Author (yes, I'm a woman) going the pathetic way of Patricia Cornwell - so self-absorbed in her own problems and resultant fantasy life that she forgets how to be a storyteller, and mires the reader in her own self-analyzing "therapy." And, let's face it, Mediocre so-called "erotica" is easier to write than first-class supernatural detective thrillers.
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.
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on August 16, 2006
I became a fan of Anita Blake because I enjoy reading vampire stories, similar to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The first books were amazing but I have read half of Narcissus in Chains and I can't see a point to this story. I have read over the old comments from past readers and felt that maybe I could find something different in the book, but most of her readers are correct when they say that this book is a waste of time.

Does Anita even go to work anymore? What of Laurell's other strong characters? I didn't much care about Edward but what gives? The funny thing is that I enjoy reading erotica but the dialogue that bounces back from character to character is very dull and never ending. The action has dwindled to action in bed and this makes Anita a whore instead of an action heroine. She used to have strong morals and a good personality but now she seems to open her legs to any man with long hair.

Mistakes still occur throughout the book which makes me wonder if she even had an editor and the repeated words are pathetic - over and over and over again! Please Laurell, if you are going to write about sexual acts, learn to write them properly. The description is so clinical that no sensual energy is detected at all and stay away from "inside me". Those words are used much to often. I am sure as a writer, she would have the use of a variety of different words and phrases.

Unfortunately, I still like the concept of the story but, then again, I have already gone out and bought all the books before I read reader's reviews. I have no choice but to continue to read the other books or loose my money alltogether. This book is so thick but it is full of trash. Narcissus in Chains is no where near the great writing and powerful characters it started out with in the writer's first books. I am just waiting for Anita to walk into her office and start working at her real job instead of making porn!
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on July 8, 2004
I started the Anita Blake series during my senior year of high school. I was totally hooked. I am now entering my junior year of college, and I have become very disappointed since I read Narcissus in Chains.
The story is full of mindless sex. I enjoy sex in novels; it's great, but most of these sexual scenes are out of nowhere and not tied to the actual plot.
More and more, I can't stand Nathaniel. He's a whiny little baby who looks to Anita for EVERYTHING. It's like someone suddenly yells FREEZE and the plot suddenly halts because Nathaniel needs something. I'm surprised that he isn't dead yet, really.
The villian in this novel was terrible. LKH pushed aside almost all of the plot's mystery so she could present us with smut. Suddenly, as the book is winding down, she has the gang drive over to the club and the gun fight is on. It's just too random. There was no extreme detective work. And LKH presented the villian as though we were supposed to know who it was all along. What the hell?
The series was wonderful when she was animating, solving crimes, and suffering under the weight of the sexual tension. LKH uses the arduer as a poor excuse for all the sex in her novels now.
This is the worst of all the novels in this series in my opinion. I'm going to read Incubus Dreams because I've already been a long time fan, but I don't have much hope for it.
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on January 21, 2004
I read all of the Anita Blake series within my college winter break. I was so excited devouring every word then re-reading them again. I loved the jc/ab/rz love try angel because though Anita didn't always handle the triangle with grace, she was strong and always Anita, always striving to uphold her own brand of morality not someone who just gives in (even to mystical wanton lusts.) In this book, I lost a lot of respect for one of my favorite heroines. I have no problem with the graphic sex scenes personally in the other books they were superb but within this book it seems that Hamilton put the scenes in just because she could, some times less is more (I rarely ever say that so if you knew me that is a big statement.) In addition, it was a dilemma. But, this crap with the "ardeur" it was sex for sex not for morality and Anita's abandon made me lose faith in her. In addition, I will mourn the "lose" of Richard. What happened to our Anita?!? I feel like I should mourn the loss of a dear friend..
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on December 9, 2003
This is my first Anita Blake book. I loved the imagery and the character development. The tension between all the alpha males was very well played, and the dominant/submissive aspects to their relationships was credible. HOWEVER, I am giving this book only 3 stars because some of the writing was excruciating ("pile of puppies" was used about 20 times, for example) and the entire plot consisted of: Anita rushes to save Gregory, Anita rushes to save Gregory AGAIN (this takes 424 pages!!!), Anita rushes to save Damian, Anita rushes to save Micah and Cherry, Anita saves all the werefolk in the entire city in one fell swoop (no kidding), end of book). Ugh. My other problem was with pacing. Almost every action sequence and alot of the sex/feeding scenes grind to a screeching halt so Anita can talk and talk and talk with another character for 5 to sometimes 15 pages as she's supposedly reaching for a gun or a body to take care of imminent danger/hunger. I don't mind conversation, but right when something is supposed to happen makes for very, very awkward storytelling.
All that said, the book still gave me chills in some points and definitely quickened my pulse in others. So many hot men to choose from! If Ms. Hamilton can smooth out the action vs. non-action interplay of the characters (and what wonderful characters they are!), she will deliver a truly genius story.
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on September 30, 2003
I think this is my second review I have ever written, but I find it really necessary. I must admit that I agree with many of the reviews. This book was a disappointment. I have read all of the books in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and I have absolutely loved them. Each book was original, fun, and sexy, with new and exciting monsters for Anita to face. However, each book continued to be filled with way too much sex. Sex with plot is interesting, but the kinky sex and as another review indicated "the emphasis on bodily fluids has become grosser and more prevalent to the point of disgust." I am very disappointed to say that I no longer care about the characters or the relationships and haven't decided whether to buy the next book or not or even to keep my series on my shelf. I hope that Ms. Hamilton continues the series, she will revert back to the things that made her books and writing so special. I gave her new series "A Caress of Twilight and A Kiss of Shadows a chance and this is much interesting read, except book two begins to get way too kinky again.
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on June 8, 2002
... as the review titles suggests, this book is part of a larger series that has seen better stories so far.
After the events in the last two books (Blue Moon and Obsidian Butterfly), it would seem that Anita is ready to face Jean-Caude and Richard, but that would be wrong. It seems that no one in the triumvirate is ready (with the possible exception of Jean-Claude) for the consequences of the growing power from the sharing of the marks. Shapeshifters are missing and Anita is beginning to experience side-effects of the bond she shares with Richard and Jean-Claude. Another variable is introduced in the form of another lycanthrope, a male wereleopard with a pard of his own he wishes to merge with Anita's.
The story moves the reader along as quickly as any of the other books, no failure there at all. Jean-Claude and Richard remain as contradictory as ever, a strong praise for consistant chracterization... and in any good story or drama there has to be some change, but Anita's is too dramatic. She abruptly changes from prudish to wanton, although there IS some precedent for this, the groundwork having been laid with the introduction of Richard in the first place, it seems forced. The objection that there is too much "kinky sex" has some merit... this particular book leans heavily toward the erotic end of the spectrum that LKH has skirted and touched on with the previous books. The book would be much shorter were it not for the graphic descriptions involved in the sexual encounters. Anita has been shown as stubborn, brash, blunt, and , to be fair, she HAS been shown to have strong sex appeal and a repressed sensual nature. She has crossed legal lines and is afraid of losing her 'humanity' as she perceives it, yet she forgets what got her into this end of the business... her nercromantic, or animation, HER power.
My only real issues were that I could see where most of the story was heading, and found it difficult to believe that Anita would forget such a fundamental part of herself that she would nearly allow both herself and those dear to her die before remembering what she was capable of... seeming to become so afraid of abilities she gained through the marks that she forgot what she herself brought to the triumvirate.
I conclude these remarks by stating that my rating was determined more by the conclusion of this book than the body of the book. It is NOT boring, just not as focused as previous efforts. The payoff is the information left behind that sets you up for the next books... and the feeling that we might see more of the mean old cast-iron ... we all know and love.
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