Monday, 5 September 2011

I picked up the latest Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Novel in the library.  We're up to 20 books in the series and there is no sign of the train slowing anytime soon.
On the one hand this is good because it presents werewolves and vampires as beings that are inheriently dangerous.  Unlike Twilight which shows them as little more than teenagers so whiny that other teenagers instinctivly avoid them. [1]

On the other hand the last few books haven't been that wonderful and I'm really starting to think about not bothering with the rest of them.
At the very start of it all she was a tough independant woman who had the ability to raise the dead.  Although she works as an animator privately many of the books center on her helping the police on their more bizarre cases and more often than not was the only voice of common sense in the room.  Admitedly most of her suggestions began with "I've got a shotgun" and it says something about the situations that she repeatedly found herself in that this was the path of common sense.

She was courted, rather unwillingly by Jean Claude a vampire of note but threw him over for Richard a dual classed werewolf/science teacher combination but threw him over for Jean Claude, willingly this time, then both of them at once, then nobody.
At the present time she has ended up with a stable of men, weres and vampires.  None of whom, it should be noted, sparkle [2]

What I find Irksome:

  • The overall story just doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

She's pretty much living the dream by the time of the current novel.  She's got money, is surrounded by a small army of men and assorted creatures of the night and generally wants for nothing.
In short she is pretty much perfect and thats something that I don't like in a main character.  It's the flaws that make them interesting which is why villians always get songs with powerchords and catchy lyrics while heros are stuck with sappy love songs.  A bad temper is not a flaw is what I'm saying.

  • "You mean that..."

All too often in these books people will talk about the matter at hand and the conversation will go something like this:
"That werewolf needs to be killed and I must hit with a silver bullet if it's going to stop him"
"You mean that the bullet needs to be silver in order to kill the werewolf?"
"Yes, if the bullet is not silver then all your going to do is make him angry"
"Wow you know it seems that in a world where werewolves and other monsters exist I would have known about this crucial weekness that the werewolves have.  I mean I don't even have to be any sort of monster hunter since it's modern day St Louis and I can get classic werewolf movies, almost all of which reveal this secret method of killing them, from the video store and buy silver ammunition from any gunshop"

The phrase "you mean that..." is repeated over and over again in these books and if it were only once or twice for some important information that the reader absolutly needs to know or the plot won't make any sense then I could forgive her but it pops up so much that you can pretty much guarentee that anytime any sort of new information is given then the reader will get another round of it.[3]

  • Almost all the police resenting her.

She's the expert in things that go bump in the night and often gets called in to assist the police.  Some of them don't like the fact that she's a woman, while others are resentful of the fact that she gets in the papers.  Still others simply don't like that she's physically stronger than them.

All this is fine but over the last few books I've noticed the same scene between her and the police which goes along the lines of:
Supervising Officer calls her into his office or over to a quiet spot of the crime scene.
Asks her a few questions about her conclusions thus far, allowing us to sit through another series of "You mean that..." and occasionally pouncing on her contradicting guesswork.  Eventually he will bring up a case she worked on, usually from a previous book, and that detective/officer/person X "says something bad about you"

The something bad is usually that she's had to bend or break the rules, which she has, in order to get the job done and this she will sit through without admiting to anything or setting the record straight but then the whole sex question comes into play and this she will shoot down quickly.
Finally to end it all the officer will say something bad about her personally which she will respond to with a threat of official action which is justified given how the officer is more or less harassing her about her personal life.
But she's never had to follow through with these threats because thats enough to make the officer back down and establish to the readers that Anita is a tough woman trying to get the job done and this is just one more layer of bull that she has to wade through.

  • She's just too powerful.

I'll allow that in the series quite a bit of time has passed and in that time she's gone from strength to strength.  Starting out, as I noted above, as an animator who raises the dead and helps the police out and finally ending up with her present day situation where she is:
Jean Claudes live in sweetie which gives her access to vampires as and when needed.  Although they allow for a certain level of bitchiness from the occasonal vamp who doesn't see why he has to take orders from a mere human [3]
Leader of the were leopards, who have gained a much stronger group because of it.
Very tight with the werewolves.  Thanks to Richard who has taken over the cities pack of werewolves
Queen of the weretigers.  This one is an ongoing plotline so I'm not 100% certain on all the details
One third of a triumvirate between Richard, Jean Claude and herself.  At first the only effect is their individual powers being boosted when they are together and more so when they are touching.
One third of a union between Asher (vamp) Nathanial (wereleopard) and herself (human) although this one was created accidentally unlike the first one
A Panwere.  Which means that she is carrying 4 different strains of lycanthropy but unable to fully shift yet.  So far she has been immune to lycanthropy but there's always a possibility that she will shift one day.
Succubus daywalking vampire.  I'm not joking.

I'm not begrudging her any of these abilities.  Each of them have come with a price that needs to be paid and each time she gets a shiny new power it's usally a great help in stopping the latest big bad to roll into town.  Unfortunetly this translates into

Big Bad arrives and starts making trouble.
Anita gains new powers/abilities  that assist her in stopping the Big Bad.
The reputation spreads and Big Bad +1 arrives to make trouble in new and interesting ways.

It's a never ending cycle but, if she doesn't do whats necessary, then people start dying and say what you will about Anita she's never been a fan of people dying.  But at the same time I think that the earlier books were better simply because she didn't have the semiphenominal nearly cosmic power that she presently does.

And just before anyone reading this starts thinking that this is just me moaning about things I don't like here's the flip side of the coin about he series.

  • She isn't all knowing.

Yes she's up with the play in regards to most things and is an expert in her own field as well as being someone that the monsters will go to before they'd go to the police themselves but she admits to not having all the answers and doesn't suddenly recall that the current Big Bad can be defeated with a strange combination of cat hair and Grateful Dead Albums [5] due to reading it in a newspaper three tuesdays ago.

  • She's kept her humanity.

Even with all the powers and abilities that she has gained and/or deals with on a daily basis she has never lost her humanity.  This translates into a very strong character who very rarely backs down from things that could eat her head with a nice white wine. This is especially true when she has to play vampire politics, which she hates.

  • The sex.

Due to the fact that Jean Claude is an Incubus and she is a Succubus means that there are lots of steamy bits in these tales.  Also adding to this the amount of times that she is required to feed the ardeaur, which is less of a double entendre and more of a side effect of the triumvate mentioned above, makes for alot more steam heat.  But Laurell K Hamilton puts alot of sex into her books and writes it well.

  • The wereleopards.

She managed to inherit them because she killed their leader who was trying to kill her at the time and is fair enough.  The previous leader had made a right mess of the group and they were one of the lowest groups in the city.  But she took them under her wing and they benifited in this becomming much stronger and healthier all round.  Except for Elizabeth who activly betrayed them to the vampire council and paid the ultimate price. [6]

  • Her humor in inappropriate situations.

Like Jim Butchers Harry Dresdon novels.  Anita he will often attempt to make a joke at the worst possible momment.  If she's hanging around vampires they generally won't get it since she'll make a pop culture reference and the vampires have never really been the kind to stay at home watching the telly of an evening.  There is a small runnig gag of the series is that one of the bad guys will get the joke when nobody else will.

  • The Weres in general.

Alot of tension is generated by the fact that, historically, the different groups of weres didn't work together.  Each belonged to their own seperate community and while they might say "good morning" to one another they wouldn't band together in their time of need.  But after the abduction of several werecreatures they were able to put it all aside and ask for help.
The upside of this is that the Furry Coalition was created and although it hasn't figured largely in the novels as yet may do so in the future.
The downside of this is that she was infected with the panwere virus by the latest BigBad to hit town.

  • The research
From the specs on the firearms to the individual characteristics of the wee beasties.  The research has obviously been done and that aspect really shines through since you do feel that "Yes, this is something that a person like her would know" rather than other books where the vital piece of information is something so obscure that even trekkies would scratch their heads and wonder at the level of geekiness required to know something like that.[7]


  1. It's a post about vampires.  Of course I'm going to do Twilight jokes.
  2. Except for some of the strippers and then only occasionally
  3. I can think of no point to this except using it to win obscure pub trivia contests
  4. Cue the "You mean that..." for the next three pages
  5.  (It's the way I'd want to go) 
  6. But nobody minded because Elizabeth was always a nasty piece of work.
  7. True story, I know someone who once proudly pointed out that the ships being displayed on Voyagers viewscreens were actually displaying the Enterprise.


  1. Wow, 20 books....that's dedication. I always hate super long series, especially if they start to drag or become repetitious as this one seems to be, because once kinda have to finish it just to see how it turns out in the end.

    Twilight, not a long series, but...after reading the first book (which I trudged through, mind, because of my personal opinion of the writing) I had to make my way through the others. Of course now, when I say it sucks, there's a certain validity behind it because yes naysayers, I have actually read them. It wouldn't have held that weight if I didn't.

    Anyway...the plot and all seems pretty cool to these books, but. Thanks for your thoughts on them....maybe I'll skip these because I don't go much for leads who are a little too bad-arse, or that annoying "you mean?" thing. *flips coin*

    Hey, if she keeps inheriting powers and such and keeps getting stronger....maybe the last book will just be a couple of pages long. It'll be like "Baddie walks into town. Watch out, here she comes! Rowr. Zing. Slash. Boom. The End."

  2. "Zing Slash Boom the end" actually sums up the series better than this post.

    I gotta say, You did better than me with Twilight. I gave it a shot but gave up somewhere around the time of her fifth visit to the hospital. I did sit through the first two movies with my ex girlfriend and heckled it so very much.

    PS: She didn't become my ex over Twilight. We'd broken up a long time ago but kept in touch