The way that I found J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series came to me by happenstance. I was in the bookstore (yes, when I actually bought books in an actual store), trying to find a new Feehan or Kenyon vampire series. This lady was in the same isle and told me if I liked those authors, then I would love BDB Series. I thought, what the heck and bought it. I’ve been enthralled since.
When you think of vampires, the first thing that comes to mind are stories of the “undead” or those that are rampantly turning humans into their undead slaves who mumble, “Master.” While those series have their places, J.R. Ward’s world seems much more logical and less “Mystical” than others. I believe that Ward’s medical history greatly enhances this series realistic take on what it would be like to have vampires.
The basic world
I do not want to give away the series, but the basic idea is that the vampire world lives separately, yet hidden in plain sight. At least in the US they have only small pockets of populations, one in the east where this book is set and one on the west coast. There is also a penal colony in Canada for those worst of criminals. This world is very hierarchical, there is a feeling of the ton from English aristocracy (princeps), and these folks don’t mix with the common vampire. They even look down to the BDB who fight to keep the race safe from theLessening Society.
Their King ascends and is the leader of the BDB, and his book is first and sets the tone for the next several books. Books 1 – 8 are the initial story arch, involving the first 6 Brothers and the last two we begin to see the end of the initial arch. Books 9 to me, is in the middle, it finishes some subplots from the previous book, but we begin to see the start of the next series story-arch. There is a spin off series Fallen Angels, and for whatever reason I just cannot get into it. I’ve bought the first two books but I’ve yet to finish either. It has nothing to do with quality, I’m sure; I just can’t get into the world.
The BDB then are warriors, bred to be the fighters of the race, bread from the toughest of the vampires and the handmaidens, the Chosen, of their “Goddess” (Scribe Virgin). Yes, Ward does an excellent job of intergrading their culture, including religion that plays a huge role in every book. These warriors are tough, and they are all wounded, cursed, psychologically scared, or physically damaged. And yet, they all are fierce warriors who have like any fighter, patched themselves up and manage. What we find in each of these books is how a good woman (often just as damaged), can help them find their true self and inner strength, healing their souls.
Note that these books do an excellent job of foreshadowing future heroes and heroines, often I find myself getting just as much into their plot than the main. For me, what makes this series so unique is first, the quality of writing. Ms. Ward’s writing style is equal to any genre, and instantly brings you directly into the world. And this world is so striking, she spends the time describing the environment and the culture, so that you are pulled in and begin to truly understand how these BDB warriors bonded and remained friends. Some of my favorite scenes from this series are when they sit at the table at First Meal and they just converse. Ms. Ward demonstrates ultimately, what I think this series is about: family is not simply bloodlines, but it’s about who would die for you and whom you would die for in return. Love, no matter what the form, is worth dying for, worth fighting for.
The Books: These should be read in order
- Dark Lover (2005) Main Characters: Wrath and Beth Randall.
- Lover Eternal (2006) Main Characters: Rhage AKA “Hollywood” and Mary
- Lover Awaken (2006) Main Characters: Zsadist AKA “Z” and Bella
- Lover Revealed (2007) Main Characters: Butch O’Neal AKA “cop” and Marissa
- Lover Unbound (2007) Main Characters: Vishous AKA “V” and Jane AKA “Doc”
- Lover Enshrined (2008) Main Characters: Phury and Cormia
- Lover Avenged (2009) Main Characters: Rehvenge AKA “Rehv” or “Reverend” and Ehlena
- Lover Mine (2010) Main Characters: John Matthew and Xhex
- Lover Unleashed (2011) Main Characters: Manuel Manello AKA “Manny” and Payne