Narcissus in Chains is the tenth book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of horror/mystery/erotica novels by Laurell K. Hamilton. The events of this novel take place in June, a month after the events of the novel Obsidian Butterfly.
Narcissus in Chains takes place shortly after the events of Obsidian Butterfly, and approximately one year after the events of Blue Moon. At the beginning of the novel, Anita Blake has been out of contact with Jean-Claude, Richard, and the vampires and werewolves that follow her two lovers. After the events in the last novel, Anita is determined to renew her connections to Jean-Claude, Richard, and their followers, but she encounters several new problems as a result of "marrying the marks" that Jean-Claude has placed on Richard and herself.
- First, Jean-Claude feeds his ardeur, a rare power seen only in vampires of Jean-Claude's bloodline, through Anita. Shortly afterward, Anita develops the power herself. Although this power allows Anita to draw energy from lust, it also requires her to "feed" on this sexual energy every day, sometimes multiple times a day.
- Second, in Anita's absence, Damian, a vampire linked to her after she raised him from true death, has become a feral killing machine and has been locked away by Jean-Claude, and Richard has attempted to substitute democracy for the strictly hierarchical nature of the local werewolf pack, threatening to destroy the pack. A new werewolf in town, Jacob seeks to take advantage of this chaos to raise to third in the pack; to become Ulfric, he would need to first take out second-in-command Sylvie, and then Richard himself.
- Third, a new alpha wereleopard, Micah has arrived with his pard of wereleopards, and seeks to merge groups with Anita and consequently becomes her Nimir-Raj and mate.
- Fourth, a new group of shapeshifters has arrived in town, and attempts to capture Nathaniel and several swanmanes. In the fight against those shapeshifters, Gregory accidentally claws Anita, potentially infecting her with wereleopard lycanthropy.
- Fifth, Anita eventually learns that several of the weaker werespecies in town have had their alpha weres mysteriously disappear.
Ultimately, Anita resolves each of these issues with help from her various allies.
- Anita helps Damian to regain his sanity, assuming her position as Damian's master and rendering him the first "vampire servant" in centuries. She becomes the bolverk for the werewolves, performing the acts too evil for Richard to do them himself, and inspires Richard to reorganize the werewolves' power structure by showing him how close the wereleopard pard has become under her own dominance.
- Anita learns that the conflict in the shapeshifter world is due to the arrival of Chimera, a panwere who seeks to dominate shapeshifters by finding weak groups and eliminating their alphas. Both Jacob and Micah arrived in town as agents of Chimera, intended to deliver the local werewolves and wereleopards to his control. Micah, however, switched his loyalty to Anita and was nearly killed as a result. In order to save Richard and Micah's lives, Anita uses her powers to draw the life from Chimera and share that energy with them, killing Chimera and making allies of Narcissus and his werehyenas. The ease with which Chimera played the various species against one another inspires Anita to begin forming a coalition of all the shapeshifter species in St. Louis, headed by Micah.
- Anita comes close to reconciling with Richard, but Richard ultimately leaves her after she uses the ardeur to feed on him, declaring that, like Anita herself, he will not allow himself to be used as food. Anita accepts Micah as her lover and Nimir-Raj. Micah, who appears willing to accommodate any desire of Anita's, becomes part of a menage a trois with Jean-Claude, allowing Jean-Claude to feed on him.
In the epilogue, Anita mourns Richard, but explains that she believes that their romantic relationship is finally over. She is no longer the lupa of the Thronnos Rokke Clan, but has become its bolverk. She is not herself a wereleopard, but her affinity with the leopards apparently means that they are her animal to call as if she were herself a master vampire. Anita and Micah are happily leading their wereleopards, and she, Micah and Jean-Claude are a happy threesome, but, being Anita, she doubts that happiness can last long.
Narcissus in Chains takes place in June, less than a month after the events of Obsidian Butterfly.
- Time of year:
- Narcissus in Chains, chapter 01: "June had come in like its usual hot, sweaty self..."
- Narcissus in Chains, chapter 12: "June was back its normal hot, sticky self."
- Time since previous novels:
- Less than a month since Obsidian Butterfly. Narcissus in Chains, chapter 10: "You almost died in New Mexico less than a month ago."
- A year since The Killing Dance. Narcissus in Chains, chapter 06: "How long had it been since Marcus's death, a little over a year?" Chapter 64: "How long have you been your leopard's Nimir-Ra?" / "About a year."
Other time-related information:
- Anita is 26 years old. Narcissus in Chains, chapter 01: "I'd turned twenty-six early in the year, and, frankly, at the rate I was going, I probably wouldn't have to worry about hitting thirty."
- Nathaniel is 20 years old. Narcissus in Chains, chapter 12: "Nathaniel had only had his driver’s license for a few months, even though he was twenty."