Author: JR Ward
Reviewer: Jen Twimom
JR Ward’s twelfth endeavor in her extremely popular Black Dagger Brotherhood, The King, is the ambitious tale covering the lives of several key characters: most notably Vampire King Wrath and his lovely Queen, Beth. The pair was the focus of the first book, Dark Lover, and they have played central rolls in a number of the subsequent stories. However, this time around we get up close with Wrath and Beth as they deal with the pressures placed on the monarchy, Beth’s desire to have a child, the snobby glymera, and rival vampire, Xcor along with his Band of Bastards. Wrath and Beth’s current predicaments started back about three or four books ago, so I highly suggest making sure you are current with the series prior to starting The King.
The book is another long one – close to 600 pages – so it is should be no surprise that there is too much happening for me to give an adequate summary of events or to touch upon all I would like. The story is primarily that of Wrath and Beth, told from their alternating point-of-views. In addition, we are treated to wonderful flashbacks that share the story of Wrath’s parents: Wrath and Anha. Readers of the series know very little of Wrath’s heritage, and I enjoyed reading these sections. Not only did we learn more about what makes Wrath tick, but the story is eerily parallel to Wrath and Beth’s current day lives.
In addition, the book continues forward the storylines of Xcor, his Band of Bastards, and the Chosen Layla. Xcor craves the power of Wrath’s kingship and is willing to sacrifice most anything – play any dirty game – to get rid of Wrath. The wrinkle comes from “sweet, naive” Layla, who continues to secretly pine for the dangerous warrior. I have to say, I felt this was the weakest part of the entire book. I find that the more I get to know Xcor and see Xcor and Layla together- the more I can do without. Although Layla does step it up in some respects, I still have little empathy for the pair and see no reason why she would be attracted to Xcor.
Another continuing story from the previous book(s) is that of Vampire drug dealer Assail and human thief Sola. The pair shared some intense chemistry in the previous book, and it is put to the test after Sola is kidnapped by Assail’s rival. I found this story pretty satisfying. Sola is a strong woman, and I the risks she is willing to take to save herself and grandmother are both gripping and exciting. I enjoyed her internal fight over what to do when she is captured, but even better is her psychological struggle to come to terms with the extreme measures she takes to survive. The pair share some intense sex scenes, yet during one, they started deconstructing the kidnapping, which completely ruined it for me. The story remains unfinished, and I look forward to seeing how Ward will make it all work.
Shadow brothers iAm and Trez play significant rolls in The King as well. I liked their story a lot, and I am happy to hear they will be the feature characters in the BDB next book. We learn more than ever before about their lives, the s’Hisbe Territory, their parents, and what drives the brothers. By far my favorite “new” character is Selena, who captured Trez’s attention in the previous book. Expecting another frail Chosen, Selena knocked it out of the park with her upfront and direct approach to communicating with Trez. She’s not shy stating how she feels or asking potentially awkward questions. I adore her interactions with Trez, and even how she gets the two brothers to reconnect through the fog of intense disagreements. Her honesty about her feelings and sex is refreshing and her boldness entertaining. I adore that she holds Trez to a self-respect he hasn’t had in a long time.
But back to the main event: Wrath and Beth. I just LOVED their story. The stress of life as a ruling family has gotten to both, and they are suffering. I found my heartstrings yanked around during some of their more intense arguments. We’ve always known that Wrath does not want a child, but oh how my heart did break when he told Beth point blank that he would never service her during her needing. Ward writes some of her best work in the shared moments between Wrath and Beth – both the arguments, as well as the reconciliations. Also, it goes beyond their direct interactions and into the actions they take and what they do for each other. I found their continuing story so full of passion and romance, it felt genuine and sincere. I am so glad Ward gave this pair the page time to develop and grow beyond their initial characters.
As for the negatives… I still find Ward’s continual use of pop culture references and tries-too-hard slang annoying, but I’ve learned to accept that this is how she writes, and I find that I just don’t see it after about the 20-25% mark. Same goes for “mayhap” and the old world lingo. On the positive side, I did find that like the previous book, Lover at Last, Ward’s writing is tighter, and there is less fat that should have been cut than usual. I honestly would have only edited out a few scenes. However, one thing that continues to bother me is John Matthew’s seizures when around Beth. Readers of the series know that JM is the reincarnated soul of Beth’s father, Darius. We also know that Ward has stated time and time again that the gang will never find out this fact. So WHY does she continue to write these bits and pieces of dangling fruit and such? I find it extremely annoying.
Overall, I thoroughly relished in The King and all of its offerings. Even though it is definitely Wrath and Beth’s story, I enjoyed the other three subplots, each to varying degrees. Although a lot occurs, it is not so much that I felt the book was overreaching. I adore the King and Queen and appreciate that Wrath and Beth get closure on their issues: things that have been brewing for at least the past two books. Generally, the storytelling is solid and entertaining. I find The King to be another great addition to and one of my favorites of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
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?
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #12
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): Hardcover (598 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source:Purchased with my own funds
The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood #12)
Reviews in the Series:
Lover Mine by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #8)
Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #9)
Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)
Lover at Last by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11)