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Thursday, April 17, 2014

'The King' Black Dagger Brotherhood #12 by J.R. Ward

From the BLURB

Long live the King . . .

After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father's mantle - with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sets heavily on his head. As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything - and everyone - at risk.

Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it. But when she decides she wants a child, she's unprepared for Wrath's response - or the distance it creates between them. The question is, will true love win out . . . or tortured legacy take over?

 ‘The King’ is the 12th instalment J.R. Ward’s ‘Black Dagger Brotherhood’ series.

This book goes back to Wrath and Beth, and is concentrated on them because Xcor and the Band of Bastards have got plans in motion to de-throne Wrath, while his hellren is pleading for a baby when that’s the last thing in the world he wants.

Trez and iAm are tangled up in their past, while the beautiful chosen Selena is making Trez wish for a different future.

Assail and Sola … I dunno who these two even are. I skipped over all their parts (all the parts … so many parts – why?)

Layla has a young on the way, but is continually pulled back to Xcor and their secret rendezvous, even while he’s working hard to pull her family apart.

Wh-what did I just read?

I swear – I spent about 89% of this book in a state of “WTF?” and the other 11% wondering “is this nearly over?” I think this book actually marks the end of my time with the ‘Black Dagger Brotherhood’, and I honestly can’t tell if we’ve drifted apart or they changed.

First of all, the Warden’s writing felt so bloated with pop-culture references it reads dated (even though some of these references are only 8 months old … so imagine how they’ll read years from now?)

The growl that came out of that massive chest was a reminder that her man was not, in fact, a man. He was the last purebred vampire left on the planet – and when it came to her and sex, he was fully capable of going wrecking-ball to get at her. 
And not in that stupid-ass Miley Cyrus poser-sex way – and provided Beth was willing, of course.

This never used to bug me before, but I really seemed hyper-aware of it in this book and for some reason it sounded like someone imitating J.R. Ward and forcing that prose.
 Yet here she was, head over heels with a straight-up killer who had a trucker’s vocabulary, a royal bloodline as long as his arm, and enough attitude to make Kanye West look like a self-esteem reject.

Secondly, I also seemed hyper-aware of the misogyny in this book. Granted, the parts that bugged me were mentioned when Trez was confessing his sordid (trafficking) past to Selena and he was equally disturbed by his exploits … still, my discomfort also came from the female human-hating that the Warden has been writing for the last few books now. I’ve said in the past that I miss the time when humans could be hellrens – Mary is still my favourite heroine of the series – but lately the pool of female love interests have been taken exclusively from the Chosen (those hairless specimens of perfection. Urgh. Who can relate to that?) or vampire race – these are amongst my most hated heroines (Layla and Cormia verily get on my ever last loving nerve. Truly.) In this book it’s mentioned that Trez and iAm’s culture look down on humans, and the fact that Trez has slept with so many of them (we’re talking thousands here, people!) makes him unclean – makes his very soul unclean.

… hundreds of dirty human women who hadn’t brought up safe sex or STD tests or whether or not they’d already contracted AIDS from letting sluts like him into their panties. 
Well, gee. Thanks.

I admit to liking the Trez and Selena romance and the Xcor/Layla scenes. Those worked for me, and mostly because these are two couples that have a lot to overcome and the battle ahead is fraught with obstacles that should keep things interesting. I also liked mention of iAm’s romantic background. But so much of this book was fat that needed cutting – I haven’t actually read a review yet that admits to liking Assail/Sola (or even reading all of their chapters) – why are they even in this series? When fans are clamouring for a revisit to Mary and Rhage, or Zsadist and Bella (for what it’s worth, I’d also appreciate a Rehvenge/Ehlena scene) why is the Warden focusing so much on this new pairing that it seems nobody is rooting for?

Part of the appeal of the ‘Black Dagger Brotherhood’ is in the feeling of family – something Beth mentions multiple times in this book – that we could revisit these characters and monitor the progression of their relationships. But we barely get a glimpse into even the more recent pairings; John Matthew and Xhex, Blay and Qhuinn or Tohr and Autumn. Why? It makes this series read disconnected from even its most recent past.

*Sigh*. I used to really enjoy these books, but now I’m feeling myself cringe while reading. This is not a good sign – I might try the 13th instalment, but it’s seeming more and more likely that I’ll just cash in my good reading memories now and leave while the going is still somewhat good.



  1. I haven't read a lot of positive reviews of this book, to tell the truth. It's weird to think about, but this series is nine years old now- nine! I've been disconnected from this series for awhile now (Rehvenge's book was the last one I read if memory serves) but I wonder if the books haven't really changed, but as readers, we have. I reread Lover Awakened the other day and it was still a really powerful read, but now I think it might have been because I enjoyed it so much the first time. I read the earlier books at a different point in my life which may explain why the recent offerings don't really appeal to me. Either way, I enjoyed your review! :D

    1. Yeah ... and I guess when this series started, it was quite unique because the paranormal romance/urban fantasy thing was just getting started. Now, there are a lot of quality series out there and I'm not sure the Warden is stacking up anymore, much as it pains me to admit

  2. pretty nice blog, following :)

  3. Excellent! I loved this book. It brought me through a whole range of emotions...I cried, I laughed. I love that it was several stories in one. I love the humor and the hot sex!. Keep it up J.R.! I want more!

  4. Hey Danielle, I enjoyed your review! As a big and loyal BDB fan, I too thought this addition to the installment was a disappointment. You're so right about the outdated pop culture references -- they used to be minimal but apt in the previous books, but in this, they just come off as corny and evidence of the lack of a better thing to say. Also, I was a bit disturbed by the change in the Wrath/Beth narrative voice, although the characters showed some development. Their interactions seemed superficial, I thought, especially from Beth, who was always portrayed as a sensible woman. Also really missed the BDB interaction! The multiple storylines are a bit irritating, but I'm rather hooked on Xcor, Throe and Layla. I'll probably keep reading this series, but I'm hoping the next installment is able to re-capture the initial flavour of the series.

    1. Glad it's not just me, but also quite sad that so many loyal fans have been disappointed. I'm happy with the Wrath & Beth development, but I could have probably just read it as a secondary storyline, not worthy of its own book. And, yes, the pop culture references are over-kill at this point. I'd love to keep reading, but I'm just not caring about any of the characters right now.


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