A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Narcissus in Chains’ chapter twenty five

I made chicken tarragon for the first time today and it is yummy!

Sylvie grabs Anita and everyone starts fighting instantly. Thanks for deciding to be possessed by a violet spirit, Anita. That really helped. Richard’s face is a ‘red ruin’ and starts yelling for calm. He points out that Anita is right to be pissed about the ‘oubliette’ (French for forgotten dungeon. Why can’t you just call it the ‘bone pit’? Is it just not pretentious enough?) because she knows what Raina is like. The wolves drop all rats they were swinging around and are like ‘our bad, we forgot the werewolf ghost possessing you was an inhuman monster’.

Anita asks how injured Richard would be if he’d been human. Apparently, he’d have a broken neck right now despite the fact that LKH didn’t write Anita’s fist having an impact in the last chapter. She’s just so strong now and I’m having strong deja vu. Anita wants to drink Richard’s blood. Anita wants to know why Gregory was put in the bone pit, even though it was implied that Richard had no idea that Gregory was there. Anita asks who put Gregory in the bone pit.

I will give you three guesses as to who the villain is.


LKH, can you stretch yourself for one book to create a interesting, well developed villain?

Anita threatens Jacob generically, he laughs while stroking his moustache about how leopards can’t possibly fight off wolves.

Wolves eat squirrels and rabbits. Leopards can kill and eat crocodiles. While the animals fight in different ways, and a pack of wolves would be able to kill a solitary leopard, I don’t think a pack of wolves could fight off a large group of leopards.

Anita announces that this is a personal challenge between her and Jacob and that Jacob is really weak and that no one will accept him as pack leader. She then has a sudden authorial insight and announces that Jacob just doesn’t care!

Why the hell are the rest of the pack just listening and accepting of this? Can’t they get rid of him?

“Go fetch your cat before we change our minds.”

“You couldn’t changed your mind with a hundred watt bulb and a team of helpers.”

He frowned at me then. Sometimes my humour is a little esoteric, or maybe it’s just not funny. Jacob didn’t find it funny.

No one finds your humour funny. That’s why no one ever laughs in these books.

Richard orders Sylvie to help Anita and then she can go home. Jacob points out that Anita has to have a ceremony to break her ties with the pack but Richard pulls out the ‘I’m the leader’ card. Someone points out that the women auditioning for lupa are dressed as whores – I say someone because there’s no dialogue descriptor here, the sentence is just there. This all means that Anita is still lupa even though it was rescinded BOOKS AGO.

Anita then kicks Jacob in the face.

what did you say bitch

Punching Richard in the face made everyone start fighting instantly. WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN WHEN YOU KICK THE PACK’S THIRD IN THE FACE? WHY MUST YOU KICK PEOPLE IN THE FACE?

Anita has managed to break his nose. Congrats. Jacob doesn’t try to hit her back.

I think he knew that there were too many people close at hand aching for an excuse to hurt him. Jacob was weak, but he was smarter than he looked, and not quite as arrogant.

How is Jacob weak anyway? He’s managed to get to third in the pack and not get shanked for being obviously evil. Even with being entirely obvious, he’s more efficient than you Anita.

Anita announces that she is lupa, by gum, he had better respect her. Jacob retorts that he earned his place, he didn’t just fuck Richard (although that would be an interesting turn of events).


Anita just reiterates she is lupa, even though she’s dead in pack law and is not lupa. Richard starts talking, although AGAIN LKH forgets to tell us this. He just backs up Anita as he has no spine. Everyone supports Anita at once.

“Then let’s have a little irony,” I said. “Since it was Jacob’s idea to put Gregory in the oubliette, let him take Gregory’s place.”

You’re a petty woman, Anita Blake. She can do this because Richard says so. Jacob tries to fight but everyone goes haw haw, you can’t do that unless you want to be an outlaw.

“We voted her out as our lupa.”

“I’m voting her back in,” Richard said.

… voting doesn’t work like that. Jacob asks that the decision be made by a majority of the pack but Richard has turned his back on democracy to make it One Man One Vote in the most literal definition you can have. Jacob points out that Anita is mated to Micah but Richard says that’s his problem even though that was enough to get Anita thrown out of being lupa in the first place. Richard forces Jacob to ask whether Micah is ok with this arrangement.

“I’ve agreed to any arrangement that Anita wishes, as long as she remains my Nimir-Ra and lover.”


Micah is just so amazing and open minded that he’ll share Anita with all the men who could want her. He continues to talk about Anita as if she’s not present or even allowed to make a choice. Paris suddenly reappears to question all of this because Anita can’t be allowed to have a say in her sexuality. Richard is cruel to her, as he’s such an amazing and inspiring leader.

“You can’t just arbitrarily decide you don’t need a vote for this,” Jacob said.

“Yes,” Richard said, “I can.”

I stepped up beside Jacob. “That’s what being Ulfric means, Jacob.”

Why doesn’t Queen Elizabeth just decide to demolish the Houses of Parliament and start ruling on her own? She has the potential power to, after all. You know why she doesn’t? BECAUSE THAT’S NOT THE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT THE UK HAS. AND THAT’S NOT THE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT THE PACK HAS ANY MORE.


Jacob tries to argue that they have a vote about whether the pack can be a dictatorship which so completely misses the point I think Jacob is sailing through the Milky Way. Richard orders someone to deal with Jacob’s nose (it might heal crookedly, you see, and that’s bad because… that would be an imperfection) and orders him to be dumped in the bone pit. One person in the crowd protests. Richard shouts for everyone to just ‘shut the fuck up and follow my orders’.

Yeah, shouting and screaming like a child having a tantrum makes you appear like a strong and decisive leader. And you can’t give your pack members the freedom of speech and choice in decisions and expect them to NOT say anything when you do bad things! That is not how things work! All I’m seeing is a large group of people once again living under the fear of violence and terrifying retributions if they differ from the party line.

I could write a essay about the parallels with socialism in the communist block countries of Eastern Europe and Richard and Anita’s ideals of leadership.

Jacob then asks whether Anita kills and tortures for Richard.

Richard retorts with an erudite defence of his leadership and the stresses therein.

Lol, no. He just starts beating Jacob. That’s what you do when people accuse you being cruel and violent. Be cruel and violent.

“I thought we were people, not animals. I thought we could change the old ways and make something better. But we all felt it tonight when Anita and her leopards melded. Something safe and good. I’ve tried to be temperate and kind, and look where it’s gotten us. Jacob said Anita is my backbone. No, but she’s doing something right, something that I’ve missed. If you won’t take kindness, then we’ll have to try something else.”

Um… one guy questions you and you start freaking out and punishing everyone? There’s six hundred people in your care – you’re going to subject them to random petty cruelties, a lack of freedom, and anything that Anita enjoys doing – which includes torture and rape – because they’re just tooooo meeeeannnn to you.




This is awful, and made even worse by the fact that LKH sees this as being absolutely and completely right. There’s never going to be a discussion of morality and philosophy in these books. Everything is black and white, and… well, I don’t want to provoke any direct attacks on an author, that is not what I like to do at all, but Anita is LKH’s self insert. And Anita’s morality is fucking terrifying. LKH considers the particular brand of violent oppression Anita brings to a situation to be safe and good.

I don’t like this book. I really don’t like this book. I don’t like how it continues to argue that torture and violent dictatorships are good things. It’s disturbing and kind of disgusting. I don’t like moral absolutes but I enjoy discussing morality. This book does not discuss morality or opposing viewpoints. It gives you two viewpoints and tells you that Anita’s is the right one. There is no argument. You will agree that torture, rape, misogyny, and random acts of cruelty are good things.

Even though those are things Anita has been fighting against for ten books now. There is no discussion of how Anita has changed or how she is pretty much the villain of her own book. Nope, Anita’s not upset by this because God approves of all her actions.

Everyone, think about what your fates would be in the AB universe. I don’t think one of us would survive. I know I wouldn’t. I’m a leftist feminist asexual with a strong belief in universal human rights and the dignity of all beings alive on this planet.

I’d die a slow, bloody death. Because God doesn’t approve of my actions.

Now, I don’t think LKH intended this to be quite so scary. After all, she’s fairly liberal – for an American, this snooty European notes – and I don’t think she’s quite as hateful as Anita is. However, I just don’t think she thought about what she was writing. She just didn’t care. She just didn’t put any effort into this and wouldn’t let an editor fix her terrible writing. This has all been an exercise in why editors should exist because it stops you writing a great big tract on the how great the use of torture is in politics!

Everyone walks off to the bone pit and Anita is proud about how Richard is going to be such a good leader after all.


Honestly Anita, you make LOKI seem like a great and nuanced guy with a strong law of ethics.

And that’s pretty bad.


10 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Narcissus in Chains’ chapter twenty five

  1. Oh boy, this is…man, this book, with it’s morality (if you can call it that) is pretty disturbing. Black and white insanity is in full effect here…,..

  2. ” There is no argument. You will agree that torture, rape, misogyny, and random acts of cruelty are good things.”

    This is what I loathe the most. The set up is there but LKH can’t bring it home. She has the instincts, but she is such a barren person inside that she can’t truly explore anything moral or emotional.

    • The discussion of how far good men will go to stop evil is an interesting, if much discussed, theme in literature. But this is written by a woman who doesn’t understand underlying themes in literature and thinks you should only pay attention to what the author really wrote.

      Well, what you’re really writing is that totalitarian governments that rule through fear and oppression are great. That is pretty much the definition of a fuck up.

      • I honestly don’t think she thinks of her books as books, if that makes sense. She never acts as if she has control over it. She can’t pull back and look at it as a whole, so she can’t write towards certain themes.

      • Yes, the whole ‘the characters do it for me, that’s why you can’t critique it!’ defence. Oh lordy. The characters are not real! You are the author! Take responsibility!

  3. I do enjoy how differently our political systems see “liberal” and “conservative,” because no matter what LKH might prance about over, if she doesn’t vote Republican (or Libertarian) I’ll eat my shorts. No, I take it back: she probably votes Democrat because she really, really wants to believe she has the values the party espouses. And yet, if these books are any indicator, she is so far away from a US liberal she and Cliven Bundy could be friends. Government institutions are useless, democracy doesn’t work, killing people solves problems….

    Yeah, I think in this world I’d be in Canada.

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