Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton (3/5 stars)

Okay so I am sucker. I asked for this hardcover Anita Blake book for Christmas; after swearing never to buy another hardcover book from Hamilton again. Although I guess *I* didn't buy it.

This is the 15th (yes, count them, 15th) book in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. In this book both Anita and Jean Claude are contacted by the Harlequin who is some type of elite vampire special force that the vampire council sends out to get people they don't like. Somehow this is mixed up with some vampires from Malcom's Church of Eternal Life getting framed for murder. The book follows Anita, Jean-Claude, and the whole complicated bunch of their associates as they try to figure out how to survive the Harlequin, how to figure out what the Harlequin wants, and how this all ties into the Church of Eternal Life. Also Marmee Noir makes a couple more appearances as her interest in Anita grows.

Good Stuff:
- Anita is actually at her office; yes she does work.
- Edward is in this book...I don't think that needs any more explanation.
- Olaf is in this book. He is here in all his glorious creepiness; still he is a very interesting character.
- There is a plot, kind of.
- There is a lot more action; the guns are out in full force.
- Requiem is developed more as a character
- Nathanial is becoming a force to be reckoned with
****Two spoilers, but the best positives*****
- The nasty ardeur that has forced Hamilton's hand into so many gratuitous sex scenes is finally looking up. What you mean that arduer can be love and not just lust? You mean people can love things and other people without screwing them? Yes, that is what it happening. Maybe she heard the readers cry for some sanity.
- Could Richard actually be out of the loop for good? Oh that would be wonderful!
****End spoilers****

- Still lots of rambling metaphysical scenes in this book
- Still lots of whining from Anita about how she hates sleeping with so many different guys
- The addition of a couple newbies added to Anita's already long list of bedding partners.
- Where is Anita's friend Ronnie; did they ever make up after their huge fight?
- The intense conversation that Anita and Asher were supposed to have (despite him almost killing her in the last book) is completely absent; in fact Asher is only present in passing.

So in summary this book is better. It is still definitely not up to par with the earlier books; but it is getting there. There is a lot more action, a lot more gore, and a lot more horror in this book. There is also the presence of Edward and Olaf that make things way more interesting. These two items hark back to the early books of the series.

Still there is a lot of metaphysical baloney; all of the stuff about Anita having multiple strands of lycantropy in her bloodstream had best be leading somewhere because a lot of time is spent on this. There is a lot of sex, and it is with different men than in the past books. The minimal presence of Asher and Jason is very noticeable in this book. Although the changes that are brought about to the ardeur at the end of the book lead me to think that there might be an end to this sex-filled escapade; maybe this is a trend toward future books being filled with all the supernatural action-filled-gore that made these book so great in the beginning.

If you are still reading this series, this could be the change of pace you are looking for. I have my fingers crossed that the next book continues on the improvements of this one.

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