My Love/Hate Relationship with the Black Dagger Brotherhood – Part 1

Posted August 14, 2014 by Lucy D in Book Reviews / 6 Comments

WARNING:  If you have not read any of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, turn away now.  We are going to have an in depth discussion of characters and plot points.

Why is this only Part I?  I am a late comer to the BDB series and so far have only made it through to Book 8, Lover Mine.  I have downloaded copies of the next three, but haven’t yet listened to them.  So if you know something that I don’t, snark back.  Do keep in mind that I listen to the BDB series so I might mistype a name, etc.

I know that ripping apart BDB is not going to make me very popular around the paranormal romance/urban fantasy circles, but there are several issues that I feel need to be discussed about this series.

Let’s start with World Building Issues:

The Brothers.   The Black Dagger Brotherhood are fighters trained to protect the general vampire citizens who are living unassuming lives among the regular old humans from the dangers of the Lessening Society.   It’s crazy that as the fighters to protect the entire vampire lifestyle there are only four of them (Rhage, Zsadist, Vishous, Tohrment).  Wrath is now blind and King and doesn’t fight.  Phury is now primale and doesn’t fight,  and technically three (John Matthew, Qhuinn and Blay) aren’t officially Brothers.
For being vampires, these guys have a bit of frailty to them.  In other series, healing begins immediately.  But here there is always someone undergoing surgery, getting a CAT scan, or taking medication.  They are always going to Havers, going to the clinic, finding Doc Jane.   Nalini Singh’s Archangels can be decapitated and have their internal organs ripped out and they go, “Just give him a few days and he’ll be fine.”

The Lessening Society.  Vampires are the good guys, so you have to have bad guys.  Enter the Lessening Society.   They are created by the Omega (the vampire’s version of the devil)  and they smell like baby powder.  Baby powder?  They are the series’s undead creatures, who have had their hearts and souls torn from their body, their blood replaced with black sludge and they smell like baby powder not say…rotten garbage.  Good call.  How the hell did she come up with that?   They also loose pigment over time so their hair turns pure white and their eyes get pale.  Yeah, that wouldn’t stand out to have a dozen strong, muscular guys roaming town all with white, white hair.  That look worked so well in Village of the Damned.

The Glimera.  I don’t know if it is more believable or less believable that the vampires still have a separate class society of aristocracy and common people.  That they still wear ballgowns, big hair and have rules for levels of perfection they subject each other to and shun those who don’t live up to it.  In this day and age and for a people who are nearly immortal, it seems odd that they haven’t gotten with the time, but then again, if you have lived centuries, maybe it’s not too far off to believe that the elite would hold strongly to those Golden Times where they were so elevated among society. I am still up in the air whether it is smart or stupid.

The Primale and The Chosen. I have plenty of issues with the Chosen, so let’s just stick with the fact that the Chosen are supposed to mothers of the future Brothers and the future Chosen.  In fact, in Lover Eternal, Layla was hoping the Rhage had called her not just for feeding but to use her body since she was close to her needing.  Meaning she was hoping to get knocked up by him.  It isn’t until Lover Enshrined, that it was discussed that the Chosen are all to be serviced by the Primale. Ewww.   Does anyone realize that none of our current Brothers have a Chosen mother or a Primale father?   How many decades have they been without a Primale until Phury took the job…oh yeah, he didn’t did he.  So we have no future Brothers being born and it would still take 25 years to see if they survived their transition to train.  See above “only four Brothers issue.”

Blood Drinking.  In BDB, vampires don’t drink from humans.  Male vampires must drink from female vampires and female vampires must drink from male vampires.  One mated, they will only drink from their mates.   Now this becomes a problem for me for many reasons.   First of all, if one of the mated Brothers is hurt, he will drink from his mate.  Now she is suffering from blood loss, what’s she supposed to do, take the blood back from him.  In fact, even without blood loss you have a couple only getting sustenance from passing blood back and forth between them.  They do eat food, but I have an issue when we’re not bringing fresh blood into the mix.

We also have several unmated characters like Ehlena in Lover Avenged who is lonely and has been taking care of her father with vampire-type Alzheimers.  She just goes to work and comes home to take care of him.  Part of her falling for drug-dealing, pimp, club owner Rehvenge  is the fact that they are both lonely souls.   Ummm…where’s Ehlena been getting her blood from to survive? Certainly not her Dad.  Not a boyfriend.  And we learn in the first book that Dr. Havers has been unsuccessful in creating a bagged blood for vampires to survive on.    We also had the same problem with Marissa.  She was taking blood from Rehvenge after Wrath divorced her (we’ll get to all that) but Rehvenge is different from the other vampire boys but he makes a mental comment that Marissa wouldn’t catch on to the fact that he tastes different from other males since she doesn’t know differently. Marissa was shellan (wife) to Wrath for centuries and he fed from her.  If she wasn’t taking blood from Wrath, why wasn’t she dead centuries ago from starvation?   Bella is another one who didn’t have a friend with snack benefits.  Who were all these women snacking on before they mated?

I am sure the idea of only drinking blood from your lover might have sounded hot and sexy, but leaves a great big “what about the others?”

Carving your shellan’s name in your back.   Wrath had Beth’s name carved into his back when she became his shellan.  Is that below Marissa’s name?  Is her name crossed out?  How does that work with a second wife?  Do they discuss that in Tohrment’s book?

Characters I like:

Rhage and Mary.   Rhage is nicknamed Hollywood by his brothers since he is so good looking and he constantly has sex with strange women to keep the beast he is cursed with in check.   Although some of his hot, gorgeous brothers are jealous of all the women Rhage has sex with, Rhage has come to hate the faceless women he uses.   When he meets the plain-jane Mary, he is suffering from the pain after he changed into his beast the night before.  His vision is impaired, but just the sound of her voice and her scent is enough to sooth Rhage and he desperately wants to spend more time with her.   I really enjoyed their storyline.

Butch and Marissa.   Butch is everyone’s favorite Boston-accented cop.  Butch conveniently has some dormant vampire DNA which the Brotherhood kickstarts and turns Butch from human to vampire. Thankfully this is the only character that Ward has felt the need to cheat on.  You can’t help liking the tough as nails former cop and the fact that he is drop-to-his-knees-worshiping of Marissa, who was mistreated by Wrath, her brother and the entire glymera makes him special.

John Matthew.  John Matthew is the reincarnated Darius, who is killed by a car bomb in the first chapter of book 1.  (He couldn’t teleport out?  He didn’t even try.)  So far only the readers know about the John Matthew/Darius connection.   The Brother believe the John is the son of Darius.  John is a mute so this adds to his character’s dimension in dealing with is handicap and finding out so late in his teens that he was half-vampire.   Before he transitioned into a seven foot, muscle bound vampire, John was a scrawny weakling teen who was raped at gunpoint in a stairway leaving John with issues of his own value as a male in the Brotherhood.    I felt my temperature rise every time John stared at his love interest Xhex.  You could feel his stare like a caress.    I still waffle on whether or not I like Xhex for John.

Welsey and Dr. Jane.  Lovable women, but you all know how that turns out.

Characters I dislike:

The Scribe Virgin.  The Scribe Virgin is a bitch!  I’m having t-shirts made up so everyone knows.   She is  the vampire’s goddess and she rules them with an iron fist.   You can’t ask her anything without punishment and if she deigns to offer you a benevolence, she will make you pay for it with blood.

Wrath and Beth.   Wrath only sits on the throne because of a deal he made with the Scribe Virgin so he can divorce Marissa and marry Beth.  He never wanted to take up his role as King, a role he claims as the only pureblooded vampire left.   He only stepped up as a way to get out of his marriage to Marissa and take Beth as his shellan.   I’ve always been meh about Beth.   He might be blind, but he also a little stupid. In Wrath’s story, he goes to save Beth who is kidnapped by the Lessors.  Instead of sneaking up to the building, peeking in the window and teleporting in and killing one of the two guys who are watching her, and then teleporting over to kill the other guy.  He comes screaming into the building from 1/2 mile away giving them enough time to grab knives and guns and verify that they have ammo and they sit and wait until he shows up so they can fill him full of bullets before he can kill them.  Wrath almost dies from bullet wounds.  See above “fragile vampires.”

Phury and Cormia.  The biggest draw with this series is that only about half of the novel revolves around the couple being focused.  Everyone’s substory is being played out every other chapter.   Personally, I hated Phury and his drug addiction and his obsession with his brother’s wife. Cormia lived a very secluded life was a very wishy-washy character.  I would have skipped this book, but I would have lost the subplots and this is a series you have to read in order.

Bella and Zsadist.  I don’t exactly hate Bella and Zsadist, but after hearing so many fans rave about the love story between Bella and Zsadist, I expected so much more.  I love a damaged hero, but Zsadist is another level of Fucked up.  Chained, drugged and raped for a century could do that to a guy.  He had sexual issues far beyond the norm.   A century after being free and Zsadist is still messed up in the head.  Bella truly brought him back from the edge but I can’t say that I adored this story.

I think I’ve gotten it all off my chest, but we’ll see what happens when we come back for Part 2.

If you think I’ve gotten anything wrong, snark back. 🙂




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6 responses to “My Love/Hate Relationship with the Black Dagger Brotherhood – Part 1

  1. stephfangswands

    You put a ton of thought into this! I breezed through the first 6 or so books in the BDB series, without really giving them super speculative though. Mainly, because well it was PNR – and sometimes you can’t overthink PNR without getting a brain hurt. But, half the time it does not make sense, but people rave. I don’t like the baby powder thing either – and Phury’s story – well it was the reason I stopped reading the books. I did skip around and I’ve read Rhevenge’s story and John Matthews – which were both a little disturbing because of their proclivities. I just don’t know if I want to continue. Mostly because of the fact that you have wade through so many POVs it gets confusing. Especially now with The Lessening’s POV also taking momentum.

    • I have been planning this rant for some time. My friend who highly recommended this series is usually burdened with my pointing out the faults. They now jump out at me while I read. 🙂

  2. Wow! I love your thoughts on this. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with BDB as well. I kept reading all the books up until number 11. After reading that one I stopped. And I must say I don’t remember too much about any of them. I never could really say I really liked that series. It was just something to pass the time with. I hated a lot of the characters, and how they acted. And I agree with you completely about them being fragile. That was so annoying after awhile. And I seriously hated The Glymera. That was just stupid to me. And I didn’t care for Zsadist or Phury all that much. They just got on my nerves for the most part!

    This was a great topic. 😉

    Snark Week: My Snark Week Post
    Whitney@Shooting Stars Reviews

  3. Kim

    Thank you!! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I totally agree with just about everything you said.

    I cannot stand how wimpy the vampires in the BDB are. It’s annoying!! They’re freakin’ vampires for crying out loud.

    My other major gripe is the Lessening Society POV. I loathe reading about the lessers. It’s the same crap over and over. Kill a forelesser, appoint a new forelesser, plot against the Brotherhood, rinse and repeat. They are the bad guys and out to kill vampires…nuff said. I don’t like to have the story I am interested in constantly interrupted with lesser crap.

    I’m on book 6 right now and trying so hard to finish it but it’s difficult. Phury and his wizard and his addiction and his constant self loathing are driving me nuts.
    Man, I miss Cat and Bones :-(((

    • Ha! I was just talking this afternoon with our new receptionist. She is a big BDB fan. We all agree that reading Phury’s book was torture! She admitted she skipped a lot of the Phury scenes, but I listened on audiobook so I was stuck listening to every word. Bah!

      And yes I agree that most of the lessening society flashes are annoying. I started writing some good stuff, but you haven’t gotten there yet. Come back after you finish John Matthew’s book and we’ll complain about what happens with the Omega’s kid. 🙂