Okay, so this is a couple days late. I know you all were just waiting with anticipation.
Today, we’re going to explore the Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward (http://www.jrward.com). This is an intense series from the point of view of the vampires. Humans are the bad guys and vampires just want to be left alone.
Series Overview: Overall, JR Ward creates a world from the vampire’s perspective. They don’t feed off humans, they don’t hurt humans at all really (unless the humans strike first). In essence, they are completely harmless and just want to live their lives. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Hunted down and often tortured, their race is dwindling. Only the Black Dagger Brotherhood stands in the way of their extinction.
The Brotherhood is a group of warriors who are enlisted by the king to protect their race. Born only of other warriors and the Chosen (think vampire nuns who exist only to serve their deity and give birth to more brothers), the brotherhood is treated like royalty. Built like mac trucks, they are genetically engineered to be stronger, faster and be fierce protectors.
Ironically enough, the biggest threat to their race is a human militia group, the Lessening Society, led by the Omega (another deity). In this world, vampires don’t even drink human blood; it’s too weak to sustain them. They drink blood of other vampires. They completely and totally leave humans alone, but the lessers insist on killing and torturing them anyway, the big meanies.
The writing is strong and forceful. The plots are usually fairly involved and can be brutal. The characters aren’t always your typical hero/heroine type. They have issues and problems and it’s working through those issues that make the books great.
Here’s what irks me about the books (and these little quirks have totally turned off some people).
1 – For some reason, vampire warriors are gangsta. Everything they say is slang or abbreviated. Quite a few times I had to stop reading to go back and figure out what the heck they were talking about. I usually figured it out, but it did bring me out of the story.
2 – Major brand name dropping. There are constant references to products and brand names. I think this is just her writing style, but some get turned off because they think she’s getting paid to drop names.
3 – This is the one that gets me more than the other two. The names are ridiculous and the “Old Language” from somewhere over in Europe is basically English with a bunch of ‘h’s and ‘r’s stuck in various places. The deity who created vampires is called the Scribe Virgin (and she’s neither scribe nor virgin) and their nemesis is the Omega. Seriously? Yes, seriously.
Dark Lover – this is the start of the series and it starts out with a bang (literally and figuratively). She focuses on the King and a half human/half vampire woman named Beth. This really introduces you into the world and the culture as Beth goes through her coming of age. I found this book enjoyable, but it didn’t enthrall me. It took quite some time for me to pick up the second one. I really didn’t see what the fuss was all about.
Lover Eternal – This is the book that made me a devoted fan of the series. I laughed, I cried, I went through a whole range of emotions. This book focuses on Rhage and a human named Mary. Bella is also introduced and the next book is set up quite nicely. We also start hearing about John Matthew who is key in an ongoing plot throughout the series. (Supposedly, he’s the focus of the next book.)
Lover Awakened – Another great book in the series. So much pain and so much healing. This book focuses on Zsadist and Bella. Some of the other ongoing plots will rip your heart out in this one. There’s a lot going on in the series at this point, so there’s a lot of switching back and forth between the different characters.
Lover Revealed – For many people, this is their favorite one. It was good, but Lover Eternal is still my favorite. This is the story of Butch and Marissa. Marissa got screwed over big time so far, so it’s nice to see her character evolve and grow. Butch has been lingering as a character too and it was time to do something with him.
Lover Unbound – I was extremely anxious to read this book. Vishous was my favorite of the brothers and this was his story. I have to say that he got jipped. In an interview with the author, I found out that Vishous was her least favorite character and that she struggled with this particular book. I have to say that it shows. This story is about Vishous and a little bit about Jane. It’s only redeeming factor is that it really delves into the vampire world and society. Quite a lot is explained in this book. In fact, the author has been criticized that she’d gotten away from the “romance” element and focused on more fantasy instead. Although there is a romance story predominant, it is not the only story and all the other plots do start to compete for dominance.
Lover Enshrined – Since I was disappointed with Vishous’s story, I looked to this one to bring the series back to life for me. Phury is also a favorite of mine and I really wanted to see his life take on a more rewarding path after all he’d been through for his twin brother, Zsadist. This is the story of Phury and Cormia, but as with the previous book, there was very little “romance,” but a whole lot of side plots and soul searching instead.
Lover Avenged – Okay, so after two not quite romance books, I resigned myself to the fact that I was reading this series because the world was so rich and there were a whole lot of side plots going on that I wanted to keep up on. So I read this without expecting too much. This is Rehvenge and Ehlena’s story. I have to say that the romance element was brought back in this book even though there still was quite a lot of side plot still present. Technically, Rehvenge has been a side plot for quite some time and little was known about him. Everything is revealed in this book regarding this character. Ehlena is just sort of along for the ride.
Lover Mine – (To be released next week 4/27) This is John Matthew and Xhex’s story. John’s side plot to this point has been completely heart wrenching and it’s about time for something to get resolved here. This book is set up in the previous book much like Zsadist and Bella’s story was set up. I’m anxious to read this one because of all the other ongoing plots, this one has been lingering the longest and has captivated many fan’s hearts.
Future books – Although the author is also working on another series (Covet), there are plans for more books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Specifically books about Torhment (one of the original brothers), Lassiter (an angel sent to help them) and Pain (a potential female “brother” ), all three have been ongoing plots for awhile now, Torhment having been there from the beginning.
Conclusion: I love this series, even the books that were questionable. I picked it up for the romances, but stayed because of the world. Towards the end of the series, it does get involved and the plots do focus more on events and character growth rather than romance. The romance never disappears, but it is much more downplayed in later books.
Please note that there is sex, violence, blood, torture, more blood, rape, and some very dark elements. If any of those elements offend you (or just the slang and silly names) then don’t pick up this series.
If you can look past the dark elements, the gangsta speak, and the ridiculous names, this is a series that is a must read.