Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Narcissus in Chains

Posted July 28, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Narcissus in Chains

Narcissus in Chains


Laurell K. Hamilton

erotic romance, urban fantasy that was published by Jove on September 24, 2002 and has 644 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Hit List, Bloody Bones, Killing Dance, Burnt Offerings, Obsidian Butterfly, Bite, Incubus Dreams, Micah, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin, Blood Noir, Skin Trade, Flirt, Bullet, Never After, Kiss the Dead, The First Death, Affliction, Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, "Shutdown", A Kiss of Shadows, Lunatic Café, A Caress of Twilight, Seduced by Moonlight, A Stroke of Midnight, Mistral’s Kiss, A Lick of Frost, Blue Moon, Dead Ice, Jason, Crimson Death

Tenth in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter horror/urban fantasy series and revolving around Anita, a necromancer and totally conflicted woman. It’s been a six weeks since Obsidian Butterfly, 9.

My Take

Hamilton does crack me up with her sense of humor. I love Anita’s snark whether it’s actually said or she simply thinks it. It helps to offset the stupid side of her.

“…other girl talk … pretty ordinary talk. Sex, guys, turning thirty, vampires, werewolves. You know, the usual.”

While Anita does tick me off with her self-righteous, holier-than-thou approach to the men in her life, I appreciate that she’s capable of change. Able to absorb new information and change her mind to accept truths. Ronnie, now, she’s really buggin’ me with her sanctimonious pronouncements. A friend is supposed to be supportive. To say no, to push you to reconsider bad choices. Then there’s being so damned stubborn and unyielding, not listening to your friend, not taking her lessons or experiences into account.

Anita’s hypocrisy drives me nuts:

Tell me the truth, but not if it pisses me off.

Why didn’t you tell me this would happen, but yes, I’d have wanted to kill you if you had.

Richard should have counseled Louisa better, forced her to practice beforehand, but don’t make Anita do it.

Let’s worry more about appearance than about reality.

Yes, give me the mark so I can save you, but don’t expect me to follow through on anything.

Don’t feed on me, but don’t feed on anyone else.

Don’t sleep with anyone else, but don’t sleep with me either.

I can sleep with anyone and everyone, you can’t sleep with anyone but me.

And you don’t get to sleep with me.

With “I didn’t know” and “I didn’t understand” Anita’s only rallying cries.

“You are simultaneously one of the most direct women I know, and one of the most self-deluding.”

What is with Anita Blake? She almost dies in Obsidian Butterfly due to the holes in her aura. Holes she has to fix, so she’s still futzing around two weeks after she gets back from New Mexico?

Yup, Jean-Claude has learned to be very cautious around Anita. I appreciate some of her requirements. Truth is always best. However, if it’s a currency you insist upon, don’t get angry when you don’t like the truth. Don’t blame others because you lie to yourself. Honor is always good. But whining and punishing people because you didn’t ask the right questions, ignored the truth, or didn’t think through possible consequences is not one of the things which I like about her. There are times I simply want to smack her upside the head. She pulls her damned blinders over her head and never considers what consequences may be to others. But then she gets angry when others do the same to her. Arghh. Then again, Jean-Claude has taught her to be suspicious.

“To give up his moral code is to give up who he is.”

Narcissus is so pushy and demanding, and Jean-Claude gets his own back on him. At last. And we learn, right along with a horrified Anita and Richard, a lot more about Jean-Claude’s past. Appeasing Narcissus is Asher’s opportunity to hurt Jean-Claude and explain the basis for dominance and submission.

Jesus, it was bad enough what they did to Gregory, and their attack. There’s still Nathaniel to come. And Anita finally understands the smell of weakness and defeat.

Richard learns the negatives of the democracy he’s forced onto his pack. And Anita may well kill him for it. God, Richard is so naive. Richard is just as schizo as ever wanting Anita and not wanting her. He’s another like Anita in wanting his cake and eating it too. I could wish she would simply wash her hands of him. His experiment in democracy shows up for its uselessness although it does provide a lovely platform for the ideal of shifter harmony.

What’s worse is Anita learns of the ardeur and how little control she has. I have to wonder if the ardeur suddenly showed up because of Anita, Jean-Claude, and Richard marrying their marks and then Anita’s little “accident” at Narcissus in Chains? It gets worse too as it opens Anita up to Belle Morte! Eeeeek.

“True power comes when others offer it to you and you merely accept it as a gift, not as the spoils of some personal war.”

Let me smack her! Please, let me whap her upside the head a few times…please, please, please…! She makes me so nuts. Why must she always fight so damn hard? She hears what Jean-Claude tells her, and I swear, she doesn’t take it in. Doesn’t apply it to herself.

I love the show Anita and her pard put on at the lupanar! Just goes to show what can be done! A nice poke in the eye for Jacob, especially when the munin come out to play.

Ooh, talk about throwing it back in her face when Richard offers to go into the ground to rescue Gregory! Give Anita something to think about, because we all know it wouldn’t cost Anita anything to kill Jacob for him.

Ah geez, turnabout and turnabout. This time it’s Richard getting all squeamish about Anita’s ardeur.

It is one way to remodel the kitchen.

Hmm, we get some background on Rafael!

The Story

Anita has been avoiding everyone. And I mean, everyone for the past six months as she attempts to bolster her shields. Only to find that her shields are crap and everything has fallen apart in her absence. All of St. Louis is ripe for a takeover—the vampires, the wolves, the leopards, everyone.

Then the rats and swans arrive at the lupanar in support of Anita and her leopards…snicker…no one was expectin’ that one!

Celebrating Ronnie’s 30th birthday, Anita gets a call for help from Gregory to come rescue Nathaniel. And learns too late of betrayal from one of her own.

The Characters

Anita Blake wears many hats: Nimir-Ra, leopard queen; lupa to the wolves; the human servant in a vampire triumvirate; munin channeler; and, necromancer.

Ronnie Simms is her best friend, unhappily. She’s also dating Dr. Louis Fane, wererat, one of Rafael’s lieutenants, and Richard’s best friend. Marianne is the psychic (and vargamor for the Tennessee pack) with whom Anita’s been working on her meditation, learning ritual magic, and blocking the marks Jean-Claude bestowed on her and Richard.

Jean-Claude is the vampire Master of the City and is at least 400 years old with the ability to gain power by feeding from blood or sexual energy, an incubus. As the master, he runs a number of clubs in St. Louis including the Circus of the Damned where his daytime resting place is, Guilty Pleasures, and Danse Macabre. Asher, his body horribly damaged, is his second-in-command, a former love who has chosen to remain in St. Louis while looking for the chance to hurt Jean-Claude in retaliation for how his human servant, Julianna, died. Willie McCoy was a weaselly human when Anita first knew him; now he’s a weaselly vampire. Ming Die and Faust are vampires new come to St. Louis. With Anita’s return to the supernatural life of St. Louis, Damian and Gretchen are both revived from their cross-locked coffins with Damian; that six-month distance has had a bad effect on him while Gretchen has been in a cross-wrapped coffin for three years now.

Arturo, one of Belle’s favorites. Belle is negotiating for Musette (a name that horrifies Asher and Jean-Claude) to come visit.

The Thronnos Roke Pack is…
…a werewolf pack. Richard Zeeman is the third of their triumvirate, the alpha king, and a junior high school science teacher. Jason Schulyer is Jean-Claude’s little dress-up wolf (he’s twenty-two now). Jamil is Sköll, Richard’s chief enforcer. Shang-Da is his Hati, the other enforcer. Sylvie is his second-in-command, his Freki who sells insurance in her day job. Jacob is his new Geri, his new third. Paris is the more forward of the candidates for lupa. Irving Griswold is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and just one of the many Anita has saved.

Wereleopards include…
Gregory; Zane; Vivian, she’s dating Stephen, a wolf; Cherry, a former nurse; Nathaniel, a pet, even less than a slave in the BDSM world who becomes her pomme de sang; and, Elizabeth, who had been Gabriel’s sweetie and is not playing well with others, are part of Anita’s pard.

Caleb and Micah Callahan, Nimir-Raj for the Maneater Clan who can call flesh, are the wereleopards Anita wakes up to. Micah, the leopards’ Nimir-Raj to Anita’s Nimir-Ra, appears and is the first “casualty” of the ardeur. A beacon to recall as we get further into the series. Seems Elizabeth invited him to be Nimir-Raj, but won’t help any other way. Merle is the former leader who gave it up as Micah did a better job. Now he and Noah are Micah’s bodyguards. Gina and Viola are more of Micah’s.

The wererats include…
.…Dr. Lillian, a wererat who treats the shapeshifters in town. Rafael is the Rat King allied with Richard; he will bring his rodere. Some of Rafael’s rats, Bobby Lee (he appears for the first time), Claudia, and Igor, serve as bodyguards for Anita.

Other shifters in St. Louis include…
Donovan Reece is the new swanking. Christine is a weretiger; Nilisha MacNair is Kadra of the werecobras, and she and her children, Ethan and Olivia want their husband and father, the Kashyapa, Henry MacNair, back; Boone is a werebear is missing Rebecca Morton, his Ursa; Gil is a werefox; Janet Talbot is missing her son, Andy, a weredog; and, Joseph, a werelion, is missing. His mate, Amber, is pregnant.

Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (RPIT) is…
…a division of the St. Louis PD. Detective Sergeant Dolph Storr heads up this team with Zerbrowski as his irrepressible second. Lucille is Dolph’s wife; Darrin is Dolph’s oldest, a lawyer, and he’s engaged to a vampire. Paul is an engineer, the youngest, and he and his wife can’t have kids. Detective Clive Perry is the polite one amongst them. Detective Jessica Arnet is keeping Nathaniel busy.

Orlando King had been one of the country’s premiere bounty hunters before a shapeshifter nearly killed him.

Narcissus in Chains is…
…a club run by shapeshifters and a neutral place for them. Narcissus himself is a cross-dressing hermaphrodite with a taste for pain — he can top or bottom. He’s also the leader of the werehyenas, the only army allowed within the club’s walls. Ulysses and Ajax are his bodyguards and they’re lovers. Bacchus and Dionysus are lovers. Zeke is a werewolf.

Chimera’s people are led by…
Chimera, a panwere, a lycanthrope that can take more than one form. Marco is a lion shifter. Coronus of the Black Water Clan is a snake shifter.

Shielding goes outside one’s aura. Master vampires can hide their allegiances. The munin are the pack’s spirits of their dead. They are a repository of all the knowledge of the pack. Raina, the old lukoi lupa, is the munin who likes Anita best.

The Cover and Title

I’m not quite sure about this cover. Against a dragged-green background hang two shackles suspended from chains…they look more like stirrups at first glance.

The title, Narcissus in Chains, is certainly appropriate for all the actions continue to revert back to Narcissus’ club and usually in chains. Certainly Narcissus himself ends up in chains as the Chimera takes over.