THE KING, BDB 12: A Lot of Thread Does Not a Whole Cloth Make



THE KING by JR WardFatherhood IconBabies! IconFamilyVampire RomanceBlack Dagger Brotherhood 12
by J. R. Ward
Penguin/NAL April 2014
Hardcover/Ebook/Audio 519 pages

Hardcover copy sent unsolicited by publisher for review. No remuneration exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as needed.

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?


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My Take!With at least one story line that never circles back to the main thread, and an artificial detente this book’s story felt disconnected and out of control.  It’s not uncommon for a writer to spin several story lines and elegantly weave them together into an engrossing story, but I only found one of the stories compelling: the one about the King, Wrath and his wife, Beth.

At one point in the story a subject gives the King a piece of finely woven cloth.  He and Beth exclaim over how finely woven it is.  Many threads together make one piece of cloth, and depending on the skill of the weaver and the type of thread, and probably a million other variables, it will feel fine or coarse, loosely woven or tight.   But you can’t have a thread that is not at all connected and call it part of the cloth, right? Unfortunately there’s an arc here which inception of I seem to remember from a few books back (and I did skip one), that just goes off and ends on it’s own: Assail and Mercedes. It’s bloody, gory and violent and I kept waiting for it to relate to the main plot but it never does.

Trez and iAm, two sibling “shadows” also have a storyline that only marginally relates to this one and which is totally unconnected to either  Assail’s or the King’s.  And it seems ridiculously based in what may be a spin off of a semi connected society of “Shadows,” black vampires with a separate culture. Trez, at least, works at a club specializing in prostitution and drugs (I think it was, or is, Rehvenge’s club). iAm seems to cook and act as a member of the guard but not as a BDB member. Trez is supposed to become a palace stud back in his matriarchal society. I didn’t quite get the whole thing.

The story that does come around is the story of Wrath’s parents. It’s nicely done in that historical flashback way that Ward has used a few times before.

I don’t know maybe as we read we’re supposed to try to guess which story line will be  important and come back around to the plot; like a red herring device.

Speaking of plots.

The same families who were jerks in the past, are being jerks here. These vampires have long memories but I don’t get a real sense of why the last generation of jerks wanted to overthrow the monarchy under which they were all prospering. And this generation wants to mess with the group to which their deity’s son belongs and a union which would create an heir of 3/4 Vampire stock. Since Wrath is the last pure blood vampire, or I thought he was, their anger over him being with someone mixed race seems spurious. And, Wrath’s mate Beth’s brother has some kind of seizure problem related to his constantly suggested carrying around Darius’ personality.  How long has that story been going?

I also felt she got a little lost in the main, important Beth and Wrath storyline. Beth wants a BABY, questions herself and her wishes, but then Ward pulls the old Fetus Ex Machina on me. And this is confused in the plot against Wrath. It doesn’t work; I kept finding things tat felt like poor continuity for the plot and temporary solution.

I do have to say, I had the thought that this is a culture committing suicide and which does not deserve my sympathy. The nobility is engaged in all kinds of illegal activity or is just plain ignoble.  Even the brotherhood use their wealth to live essentially hedonistic lives. And they all treat the females of their species as property or lower beings.  Most of the issues with Wrath stem from him trying to advance the species culturally and because he really didn’t want to be King to a society that saw his parents murdered. And, he hasn’t been able to stop the Lessening Society. He does get the right idea, at least in this book.

Here’s my theory. Writer’s have a deadline but there’s no guarantee they will have a cohesive story line to string into a book of the appropriate size.  They may have several ideas they have been working on. As the deadline looms it must  become harder for the writer to make the thing gel, but he or she needs to send the publisher something to put into the big, expensive hardcover volume. Together they create a pastiche of the stories they have and try to edit them into something cohesive.  That is what I think happened here in this twelfth book in the series (I think).

This would have been a decent book of, perhaps, 350 pages without the extraneous stories. Not the best in the series but not the worst.  I know there are many fans who will probably think I should be hamstrung for this review but I cannot say this was what I expect from JR Ward.

On the plus side, she continues to curtail the brand name dropping, and the cast of characters herein was not so large I couldn’t remember who they were from one chapter to the next.

If you are a big series fan you will want to read this, but you may be disappointed. And, you cannot start the series here — you just can’t.