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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
The Harlequin (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Novels)
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on 28 November 2016
This book ties together the strings from the previous two which set the scene for this one! A great read and adds to the anticipation for the next book in the series.
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on 30 June 2007
.......I hated having to wait to read this, but my kids seemed to think feeding them was more important!!

This was a very welcome return to moving Anita's story onward - the powers she is growing, the reason behind some of the Vampire rules, and hearing about 'Harlequin' - the Vamp police. I really enjoyed reading this - for some time I have been able to pick up and put down the Anita stories and not worry too much. This one I had to read in one sitting because I wanted to find out what happened.

It was fab to see how Peter is getting on, and how honest his feelings/reactions to what happened to him. And strange though it may seem, it was good to see Olaf back as well. The sheer menace of his character is amazing.

Some bits made me smile - who is bigger than who between Micah and Richard, whilst other bits made me sad because deep inside I always wanted Richard to get over himself and be with Anita properly.

A really good book, and am happy to say I await the next Anita story with true anticipation. Well done.
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on 29 June 2007
I have remained loyal to LKH despite deploring her last 3 or so books and feeling that she had lost her way slightly, I am glad that I did as this book was a return to form for me. Whilst admittedly this book is not as good as her early works, I was pleased that the plot was more robust and that some of the more interesting storylines came back into play. Anita as a character is still probably the least likeable in the book for me though so the books will have to remain on form to keep me reading
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on 26 August 2007
Despite my increasing dissapointment with the Anita Blake series I decided to buy the latest book. The first 9 books in the series are still to this day some of the most enjoyable supernatural/fantasy books I have ever read and I must have read them at least a dozen times each. What really hooked me was Hamiltons ability to write really sexy male characters and then build massive amounts of tension between them and Anita. With the introduction of the "arduer"- a need for Anita to feed through sex rather like a vampire feeds on blood - the series rapidly spiralled into barely disguised porn with very little plot.

So I was pleasently surprised with "The Harlequin" which had a great deal more plot than the last couple of books at least. This book was also much better edited than the last one, although I was confused to find that the name of one character kept changing between "Mercia" and "Columbine" in what I can only assume was an editing mistake since one doesn't appear to be an abbreviation of the other.

Some disspointments in this book are that Dolph Storr (head of RIPIT the supernatural police division) is now truly a one dimensional character. He was quite dynamic and strong in the early books and now all he does is turn up in these books to demand a list of how many monsters Anita is currently shagging and then having a temper tantrum. Jason makes an appearence in name only and Hamilton makes a great deal of pages from the same tired themes that are brought out with each book. Anita's worried she's sleeping with too many men, she's upset that the police don't like her anymore, she's upset by Richard.....it really feels like Hamilton is getting very repetitive to sell more books when really she ought to have put this series to bed by now (no pun intended).

So am I recommending this book then? For die-hard fans it's at least more readable than the last two. For newcomers to Anita, I advise you to rush out and buy the first 9 books and then pretend the rest of these didn't happen. You really wouldn't be missing a whole lot.
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on 13 June 2007
Having been slightly disappointed with recent offerings in this series Harlequin was a welcome improvement. I really enjoyed the story and there was enough plot to keep me turning the pages. With the AB books being written in the first person you are always going to have a certain amount of content dealing with the character's thoughts and issues. As to the changes of other characters I can only offer the observation that none of us remains the same as time passes. We are all shaped to some extent by our life experiences so it is unlikely that any one character is going to be exactly the same book after book. I personally feel that the writer is back on track and I am looking forward to the next installment.
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VINE VOICEon 24 September 2007
I'm not a prude, I like a bit of sex in a story if that drives the story forward or adds in some way to character development. This series seems to have thrown away character development in favour of sex scenes or angsting about sex.

This isn't to say that there isn't some plot in the book (phew!) but I felt a great urge to kill several characters or slap them until they woke up.

Several of the male characters are just blending into a few cliches and it's becoming to be a situation where I can't understand why some of the other master vampires haven't just nuked St Louis to get rid of this monumentally powerful person who is threatening everyone.

Despite the angst and the paper-thin characters this does feature Edward, for which it can be forgiven lots, and he isn't completely destroyed as a character.

Interesting but it's really getting to the stage of being repeditive and lacks a push to keep it going.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 April 2008
The Anita Blake series started off well, continued for awhile, then took a sharp plunge down into the literary abyss of bad porn.

Well, "The Harlequin" scrabbles PARTLY back out of that abyss, but Laurell K. Hamilton's fifteenth Blake book still suffers from a surfeit of squickly sex, constant sexual ramblings, and a promising plot that gets swamped by the sex-with-Anitacentric politics of vampires and weres.

First a vamp cleric tells her of a threat so terrible that he can't name it, then a movie night with Nathaniel leads to a strange warning -- a white mask. Jean-Claude reveals that it's the warning of the Harlequin, a cruel vampire police who can warp their victims' minds. And apparently Anita and her string of adoring lovers (plus the still-upset Richard) have upset them.

And the politics of the situation are getting quite nasty, with alliances between weres and vamps getting nasty as they try to all have sex with Anita for power and influence, and Anita repeatedly getting hit by her various "beasts." And if they don't manage to kill the Harlequin soon, then Marmee Noir will reawaken -- and the Harlequin will be working for her.

"The Harlequin" sounds promising at first -- it's almost a hundred and fifty pages before Anita has sex with anyone. It's been several books since Hamilton could boast a length like that, and at first glance it seems to be promising a return to prior form.

Unfortunately, the sexless parts even duller than actual sex would have been: talking/remembering/agonizing about sex. There's two long chapters devoted to Nathaniel wanting Anita to tie him up and hurt him during sex, and Anita getting squeamish about it. And about halfway through, she starts having public ardeur sex, bloody sex, lesbian vampire dream sex, feathery sex, and Hamilton seems to be paving the way for sex with Edward's sixteen-year-old stepson.

None of this would matter quite so much if the plot were good -- and some parts of it are excellent. Edward's family vs. job struggle, the were politics and their tenuous relationship with the vampires, the fight between Richard and Jean-Claude, and the whole threat of the Harlequin itself is pretty thrilling, and pared down, it could have been a truly excellent book.

Unfortunately, these promising plots are bogged down in -- you guessed it -- sex. Everyone wants sex with Anita, and chapters of arguing about who gets to is just stupefyingly dull. As if that weren't bad enough, Hamilton takes another jab at her former fans, by announcing disdainfully that, "God hasn't forsaken me; it's just that all the right-wing fundamentalist Christians want to believe he has." Nice that now Anita is God's mouthpiece.

And though Anita doesn't come across near the levels of arrogance in books past, she still comes off as annoying, hypocritical (she likes bloody sex, but gets squicked at the idea of tying a guy up?) and ridiculously superpowerful -- turns out that she's also superpowering anyone she has sex with. And few of the long-haired, animeish femme-men do much but adore Anita, and the few who don't are either banished again (Richard) or are pale shadows of their former selves (Edward).

"The Harlequin" takes some baby steps back toward quality, but the obsession with sex and long-winded arguments drown the promising plot points. Better keep the mask on this one.
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on 30 June 2008
Hmmm, when I saw the low star rating on this one I wanted to balance it out and add some stars because I enjoyed it. But first I read the other reviews and, to be honest, I agree with them.

There is too much pointless, plot-less sex in the books (since about book 9) and now any storyline is stuffed behind Anita 'thinking' about sex, relationships and other general moaning. It's not that much fun to read yet read it we (fans) all still do. I finished the book really quickly and I do love all the characters and the politics, but where's the Goddamned story?!?!!? The books are never as good as the early plot driven novels - One thing I get really annoyed at is Anita's immense powers that never seem to amount to much. A sign of dragging the series out too long maybe?

I know that here on amazon.co.uk we're British and maybe sex isn't something we're totally hindged on (The american reviews often praise the sex) and I have to say the sex in the Merry Gentry books is perfectly pitched - I really enjoy that, but we're only on book 6 there, by book 14 that too may not be enough to keep me reading.

I just wonder if it's time for the conclusion of Anita Blake?
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on 16 November 2007
I believe this is the final nail in the coffin for me. If you've read the last few books, well its the same again, richard is a pain in the arse, anita sleeps a bunch of men and theres a crisis bla bla bla.
However it is better than the last two books, bit more story and a bit less sex. Nothing on the first, say, nine books.
My big issue with this is how anita has developed and has become so difficult to like, i don't see where laurell will be going with this. Ugh nevermind, i recommend this to people who have enjoyed the last few books. If you are new to this DO NOT start here! and avoid at all costs going past number 10!
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on 4 August 2010
In this book Laurell gets it all right, we have the action, drama, sex and Edward all in one book, finally an enemy with a little bite, pardon the pun. This is the first book in which all the characters in Anita's world are brought together, and she does it seamlessly, everybody has their moment in the spotlight, the plot is sharp and concise with no extraneous scenes. Her best to date.
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