BOOK REVIEW: The King by J R Ward

The KingTHE KING (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series #12)
By J R Ward
Publisher: Piatkus (UK) / Penguin (USA)
Publication Date: 1st April 2014
Format: Hardback (573 pages)
Source: Review Copy

SUMMARY

In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. The city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood .

Wrath and the Brotherhood are locked in an epic battle over his throne and the very future of the vampire race (Goodreads)

DividerHaving been slightly underwhelmed with Lover At Last, my expectations for The King were significantly lower from the other books in the series. I’m not sure if this meant that I ended up enjoying The King more, but over all I did like it better than the previous book. However saying that, upon discussing The King with someone on Goodreads, I’m really not sure why. Hopefully writing this review should help me understanding my thoughts and feelings on The King.

As has been the norm for the last few books in the series, the book is not exclusively about the billed “Title characters” Ward has stated it would concentrate on. In this case it was billed as Beth and Wrath’s book, but we also had the continuing star-crossed lovers, Xcor, the Band of Bastards Leader, and Layla, the Baby Mama of Quinns child, as well Assail, the new Drug-king of Caldwell and the Cat-burglar, Solange. As you can already tell, this could be a pretty packed book, but Ward takes it onto herself to also go deeper into the Shadows iAm (who I am convinced is some sort of second cousin twice removed from the musician Will I Am) and Trez, in preparation for their book.

I see you all sitting there going “How in the blazes does she juggle all these storylines, AND the Glymera rebellion AND the reappearance of the Lessers from the previous book?” I wish I could say that everything I have listed above is dealt in a satisfactory manner, but because there is so much to cover in the book, I felt that both couples and certain plot lines end up being short changed. The one plot line that had been building since the Band of Bastards appeared on the scene (Xcor was planning to take on Wrath and the Brother for the Throne) ended up spluttering out in a way that had me shaking my head. It was a shame because Ward really did throw a few curve balls that had the potential to really change the world she had built. Yet, in the very last chapter of the book, all this was pushed aside and tied up in a nice bow so the status quo wasn’t disturbed.

To be honest, Wrath and his conflict with the Glymera and the Bastards was the main driving force behind the book. It is true that I do miss the conflicts between the Brothers and the Lessers, along with the cat and mouse game with Bastards, I did like the coup the Glymera had attempted. I didn’t think it would work completely as I did see Xcor and his men grabbing the power from the main instigator, but it was a nice change to see how those who do not fight try and gain power by legal means. It did surprise me who chose to side with the Glymera and I wonder how it will affect their relationship with the Brothers and their families.

My least favourite part of the book has to be the storyline involving iAm and Trez. For me there is still plenty of traction in the other plots and the addition of this just meant that it felt over bloated. Saying that, on character who I am interested in is s’Ex, the Shadow Queen’s assassin. He is very much an enigma at this point, but the little I did see of him was compelling enough that I may just read their book.

What I found I missed a great deal was the Band of Bastards, or specifically Xcor and Layla. The little that these star-crossed lovers were in, ended up leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth. Not to go into too much detail or give away too many spoilers, but Layla decides to take it upon herself to try and put an end to Xcor’s ambition for the thrown. This in itself is very commendable, and did get why Layla decided to do what she did, but it felt slightly out of character for her and I just couldn’t buy into it. Xcor, on the other hand has begun to grow on me. He is making an effort to change and be a Male of Worth for Layla. Yes, the fact he has staged a coupe and is currently a thorn in the Brothers side are still stumbling blocks, but I like how complicated he is. I get the feeling that he did agree to Layla’s terms, but he will want to win her over rather than force her. I think this is going to lead to the Bastards fracturing in allegiance.

The last thing I want to touch on is Assail and Sola’s storyline. This continues almost immediately on from Lover at Last and had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning to the end of its conclusion. I kept trying to guess who was behind Sola’s kidnapping. There were so many red herrings that I initially discounted the original Perpetrator. I hope we haven’t seen the last of Sola as I liked both her and her grandmother in it

VERDICT:
Overall, I did enjoy the book, but it seems that Ward is trying to set up the next books in the series, rather than giving the existing characters the story’s and plotlines they deserve. There is a real danger of just adding characters for the sake of it and with no clear big bad or end game, it could end up feeling that we are seeing old ground being re-tread with new characters. I still like these books, but they are beginning to slip from my “must read” to “wait till it comes out in paperback”

RATING
3 star
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J R WARD ONLINE
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BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
1 Dark Lover
2 Lover Eternal
3 Lover Awakened
4 Lover Revealed
5 Lover Unbound
6 Lover Enshrined
7 Lover Avenged
8 Lover Mine
9 Lover Unleashed
10 Lover Reborn
11 Lover At Last
12 The King

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