Monday, March 5, 2012

Bloody Monday - Hamilton's Jean Claude

With so many vampires to choose from, it's hard to pick just one.
But just for a rocking good time, let's pick Jean Claude from the amazing Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. (Marvel comics is doing something with the Anita Blake series, too - FYI)

Now - the first thing I have to admit is the last Anita Blake installment I read was "Flirt." There are three books after Flirt, but I am avoiding them at the moment because the next book is Bullet. And I got the feeling from Hamilton's tweets while writing Bullet that someone I care about a lot is going to die in that book, and I am scared.

If either werecat Jason or Nathanial died, well, I would be shattered. So anyway, let's just say that I'm not ready to face it yet. One day I will rip the band-aid off. But not today.

Meanwhile, back at the (laz-e-boy chair) ranch... Let's talk more about Jean Claude, because he is sooo yummy.
Hamilton sets up what I think of at the original ardeur - that is, a vampire's ability to feed from the lust and sex of others. Whoa - how hot hot hot is that?

He'll make you feel all sexy and horny, and make you want him, and then your wanting of him increases his power. Damn, even better than blood, right?

But of course, the object of his ardeur is Anita - and she's not all that thrilled about being a dead guy's lover, so she has a terrible internal struggle, which she ultimately loses - and Blake fans were tickled for her to lose. Because come on, vampire fans, Jean Claude is exactly what we love in a vampire - cold, calculating, manipulative... and yet, somewhere in his cold heart he's actually quite attached to prickly little Anita Blake.

In the early parts of the series, the struggle between Anita and Jean Claude also pulled in Anita's love interest, werewolf Richard. Richard loves Anita and hates Jean Claude, but circumstance and Jean Claude's power combine to make Richard become Jean Claude's wolf to call, and Anita to become his human servent. Oooh, talk about evil, right? That Laurell K. Hamilton has no problem putting her beloved characters into really uncomfortable situations.
There's an extended push and pull between the three of them throughout the series - Richard and Jean Claude each at times issue Anita the ultimatum to choose one of them and forsake the other, but Anita stands firm. And the way their powers get combined and interwoven pretty much makes it impossible for Anita to choose without bringing harm to herself or someone she loves.
For a character who has some really firm physical boundaries (that would be Anita, folks) - she is forced to face the situations that make her uncomfortable and forced to grow into a person who accepts love, high regard, and physical affection. The physical affection part really comes forth when she becomes Namir-ra (female pack leader) to a pack of werecats, who experienced increased anxiety if their pack leader doesn't show them physical affection.

Jean Claude's powers (from Wikipedia):

Powers and Abilities of Jean Claude

Jean Claude is an incubus, and so gains power through sex and lust. After forging the triumvirate with Anita and Richard he becomes the sourde de sang of his own Bloodline. Like all vampires his powers grow stronger with age. His general master class abilities include:

Being able to disguise the perception of his true age (seeming older or younger as he chooses) to the senses of other vampires, as well as enhancing his beauty.

The ardeur, which allows him to gain power ("feed") from lust and sex. His first business, the strip club Guilty Pleasures, allows him to use the ardeur to his advantage. In Cerulean Sins Jean-Claude becomes sourde de sang of his own line when Belle-Morte is no longer able to use her own ardeur to feed from him.

Hypnosis, including using his voice, gaze, and aura to excite or calm humans, lycanthropes, and lesser vampires.

Calling wolves and werewolves.

Controlling the magics of Anita and Richard and being able to shut them down.

Forming a triumvirate with his human servant, Anita, and his animal to call, Richard.

Superhuman strength, speed, healing, endurance, agility, and senses (able to smell a human's emotional state and night vision) far superior to those of younger, non-master vampires.

[end Wikipedia]

Mmm, yeah, Jean Claude is hot. Not mentioned above, but he uses his voice alone to set Anita's nerves on edge, and he has a certain laugh that sounds like breaking glass. That really stuck with me.

As a reader, I'm always a little amazed (and bummed out) when Anita resists him. I wouldn't even want to resist him. But of course, I'm not Anita. 

 I'll be back later this week to tell you more about why I think Jean Claude is one of the coolest vampires out there. In the meantime... tell me - what do you love about Jean Claude?

(ps - this post was written in the pre-emergency room stages of a migraine, so it is not my most scintillating writing. My apologies to Jean Claude. I'll redeem myself by Friday).


  1. All right, well... now look what my promises made me do. I picked up Blood Noir to refresh my memory of why Jean Claude is the bomb, and now I'm all sucked in and am going to have to read the whole book again. Because it's awesome. Because I love Anita and Nathaniel and Jason and, of course, Jean Claude (happy sigh).

    Here's a sample from Blood Noir, a reminder of the power of Jean Claude: He laughed, that wonderful, touchable laugh. It made me shiver, and not from fear. Nathaniel cuddled closer to me, as if he'd gotten a taste of it. "Thank you for taking care of Jason in a way that I could not."

    See, it's not just that Jean Claude is the Master and Anita his human servant, and Jason his pomme de sang (blood servant) - any powerful vampire could possess, own, and command - yes - powerful vampires do such things without regard for moral consideration - there is an arrogance inherent to being the Master. Other vampires have similar abilities, whether they use the terms that Jean Claude uses or not.

    The difference is that Jean Claude truly VALUES these servants, and is not afraid for them to know it. In fact, he tells them quite elegantly and with a raw kind of honesty that he values them. He could command them into their roles with cold arrogance, and as a Master vampire, it is his right to command.

    He doesn't have to love them to possess them. And yet he does.

    "Jason is my pomme de sang, and is precious to me. That my human servant is taking care of him in such a caring way is a lovely thing."

    Damn. Beautiful.

  2. And that, my darlings, wraps up Bloody Monday. Comments are never closed, however, and I will respond to them. Ultimately, I want Bloody Monday to be a week-long discussion, so please, comment away!

    To nominate a vampire for a future week, comment here, or send out a tweet using hashtag #BloodyMondaySMJ. If your nominate a vamp is featured, you win a DeVante ebook of your choice.

    Hey! Lookie lookie - it's FRIDAY! Be good. Or if you can't be good, at least be safe.

  3. Excuse the terrible sentence structure - if I could figure out how to edit comments, I would fix it.

    It should read "If your nominated vamp is featured, you win a DeVante ebook of your choice." Haha - laughing at myself, because I am the grammar police. (Still sounds awkward).