Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series

Shogun

I've been meaning to start on Hamilton's series for awhile now. I finally picked up a free copy of Cerulean Sins (nothing like picking up a series at the end of it) and enjoyed it immensely. I then got my hands on Narcissus in Chains and enjoyed it even more, but I resolved to stop reading the series backwards and wait till I had the first book in my paws.

So after Christmas I had accumulated almost the whole series (I'll get to that in a sec). I'm reading Obsidian Butterfly now and I have wholeheartedly enjoyed the character development of Anita Blake, and the plot twists that Hamilton occaisonally throws in amidst the murder mystery and prenatural thriller storylines. The introduction of the "ardeur" in the 10th and 11th books make a little more sense in the context of the entire series, and now that the history of all the various characters have been filled in I can't wait to re-read both Narcissus in Chains and Cerulean Sins.

Which leads me to Incubus Dreams, the only one I haven't obtained yet. I've been put off by the reviews of the many disappointed Hamilton fans. Here's one from Amazon, kinda sums up my trepidation:

Unless you are interested in buying a book of erotica, DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS BOOK! Borrow your library's copy instead.

As was mentioned in an earlier review, the majority of the pages in this book have been used to impose what appears to be the author's sexual fantasies upon the character of Anita Blake, under the guise of the ardeur and of having the character "grow". This book is just basic pandering to the segment of the audience that just cares about "hot sex scenes" to the exclusion of any consideration of plot or character continuity. LKH apparently has taken the phrase "sex sells" to heart with a vengeance. The sexual activity is so frequent, and in such a short time frame that one wonders how Anita is even able to walk. LKH has finally managed to remove all sexual tension from a series where that was one of the highlights, by the sheer overuse of sex. It's almost as if she was working from a check list: "Now let's see who hasn't Anita done, and in what position hasn't she done it?". Bah!

If you are looking for the combination horror-mystery-romance, action/adventure book that was typical of the pre-"Narcissus In Chains" books of this series, you're going to be sadly disappointed. Up until page 385, there's only 10 - count 'em 10 - pages devoted to the crime that is highlighted on the book jacket blurb. The rest of the pages are devoted to Anita agonizing about her various relationships and having intercourse or near-intercourse with five (or was it seven - I'm already losing track of them) different characters. And, let's not forget the metaphysical rolling beasts - what would an Anita Blake book now be without them? Forget that the whole concept still doesn't make any sense. With the exception of the ardeur, none of the plot threads left hanging at the end of Cerulean Sins have been picked up. The Mother of Darkness is non-existent, the vampire children are nowhere to be found, Belle Morte has apparently lost interest in Anita, etc.

This book is extremely poorly edited. The pacing is very uneven. Continuity errors about, the spelling errors have become laughable, and basic writing errors are present throughout. I don't know who's at fault for all that - but there's enough blame to spread around. This is supposed to be a professional product, but it doesn't even seem as though a spell checker was used on it. LKH's favorite words and phrases are used ad nauseam, for example "spill", "meat", "pulse like a piece of candy on my tongue", and her latest "taking one for the team" (which was funny when used for the first time in CS, but did it have to be repeated at least three times in this book?).

I'm not even going to go into what was done with the various characters, otherwise I'll wind up writing an epic. Richard is still emotionally off the charts, Jean-Claude is still batting clean-up, and Micah's sainthood continues to grow. Suffice it to say, that though lip service is paid to character growth, what really occurs is further character disintegration. Anita seems to be becoming LKH's avatar more and more, parroting the statements that have been showing up in the author's recent blogs. It's a very sad day when an established character, one that readers have seen evolve in a logical manner over the course of numerous books suddenly turns into something completely unrecognizable, and actually something dislikable.

Will I buy the next book? Probably, because after all, I am hooked on the series. Am I looking forward to it? No. Do I expect less sex and more plot in it? No.

And that's sad.

Like the reviewer, though, I am hooked on the series, and I'm sure once I finish (again) Cerulean Sins I'll purchase a copy of Incubus Dreams and wade through it. And yes, I'm sure even if I endure that book and it turns out to be as bad as it has been made out to be (though I tend to start a book unprejudiced and let the author try to win me over) I'm sure I will buy the next book out, whenever that will be. Incubus Dreams was published September 28, 2004, and in her interview with Amazon she reveals that she does not have a title yet for the 13th book nor a publish date, but I'm guessing it will be out in time for Christmas 2005.

The Victorious Opposition

Shogun

The latest volume in Turtledove's colossal and brilliant saga of an alternate (and disunited) United States may be the strongest and most compelling since the opener, How Few Remain (1997). Juxtaposing historical dilemmas and universal human ones, the novel explores weird twists of history at both levels. Jake Featherston leads an independent Confederacy toward war, with his propaganda chief a scrawny undersized Jew. Anne Colleton attends the Richmond Olympics of 1936, still dynamic but worried about losing her sex appeal. George Enos has lost his mother, accidentally shot by her drunken lover Ernie, and is now following in his late father's footsteps as a commercial fisherman out of Boston. Cincinnatus Driver and Scipio are on a collision course with the Holocaust that the Confederacy is preparing for African-Americans in Alabama, but Cincinnatus has also borne the burden of making peace with the parents of his Chinese daughter-in-law. Jonathan Moss is climbing back into the cockpit of an alternate P-40, ready to wield it like a sword of vengeance against Canadian terrorists who killed his wife and daughter. And one does wonder what will come of a WWII with France and Britain under quasi-Fascist regimes. Readers will not have long to wait, as the WWII trilogy is only a couple of years from seeing the light of print-which many fans will find far too long.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Tai-Pan

Tai-Pan

"Dirk Straun, a pirate, smuggler, and ruthless individual, finds glory beyond his dreams as the Tai-Pan, or supreme leader, of Hong Kong."

Prequel to Noble House, this book tells the story of the Straun house ancestor so often referred to.

Shogun

Shogun

"An explorer in seventeenth-century Japan, ambitious Englishman Blackthorne encounters the powerful and power-hungry Lord Toranaga and Catholic convert Lady Mariko."

Four and a half stars from Amazon out of 206 reviews. I'd give it 5 stars. Easily one of the best novels I have read in quite awhile. Clavell's Noble House was my first, and it was an engrossing read. Shogun definitely topped it by a mile. Depressing to know that he passed away in 1994, so much talent gone. I have to find all his books now...

AUTHOR SERIES

J.K. Rowling
  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

James Clavell
  Shogun: 1600
  Tai-Pan: 1841
  Gai-Jin: 1862
  King Rat: 1945
  Noble House: 1963
  Whirlwind: 1979

William Gibson
  Neuromancer
  Count Zero
  Snow Crash
  Mona Lisa Overdrive
  Pattern Recognition
  Burning Chrome

Harry Turtledove
  How Few Remain
  American Front
  Walk in Hell
  Breakthroughs
  Blood and Iron
  The Center Cannot Hold
  The Victorious Opposition
  Return Engagements
  Drive to the East