Review: The Beast by J.R. Ward

beast

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Author: J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #14

Pages: 508

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Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…

For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…

And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world…and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from…

This is the fourteenth book of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. 14!! And I still have several to get up-to-date with that vampire world. I have a love/hate relationship with this saga. There are characters that I love and characters that I want to put under a bus and see how many rides it takes to merge them with the road. The stories are good, but I have the feeling the author is stuck delivering us the same dessert over and over again with different toppings. Let’s see if the second book for Rhage is covered with chocolate flakes or weirdly flavoured sticky thingies (yes, I have a trauma with toppings…).

In this second book for the greatest Brother there is (a.k.a. Rhage) we revisit his relationship with Mary and the fact that they can’t have children by natural means. They seemed OK with it, but lately the vampire is having second thoughts and a massive jelousy case when he sees Wrath and Zsadist with their young ones. Fate is gentler with this couple, because Bitty has just become an orphan. Will the child accept the craziness of the Brotherhood as her new home? Meanwhile, other plots are brewing in the always lively mansion of the Brotherhood…

As in previous books, this one is also a collection of stories with Mary’s and Rhage’s plot being the main one. The biggest issue I had with The Shadows (the one before this book) was that that main story was totally eclipsed by the others and lacking interest and ejoyment. Thanfully, this time Rhage’s and Mary’s story has much more dedication and it is a hell of a page-turner. No, there is not crazy action. Not big revelations or unexpected twists. It is actually pretty obvious what was going to happen, but the road to there is not less remarkable due to that. It is actually very emotional, with a heavy dosis of soulwrenching moments that only a kid who has just lost the only person she loves can deliver. I even ended in tears during the last chapters, while reading some of the warmest and sweetest situations we have faced in this saga.

I won’t deny that the beginning of the book didn’t make me very hopeful for the rest. It looked just like the previous one: a waaaaaay too long prologue for absolutely nothing. Yes, it starts with a big battle; but the action dies quickly and there are several chapters were almost nothing was going forward. Too much nods for future stories and little steps for the current one. But, as I mentioned before, that also changes rather quickly. Don’t get me wrong, the side stories have been very enjoyable and surprising this time. Assail and his cousins are full of unexpected corners and I can’t wait to get to know them better. We get to know Jo Early, who will be very important in the future and stars in one of the several bombs drop in this book. I hope they explore further the “humans investigating vampire activity” plot, but it doesn’t seem likely. Xcor’s and Layla’s story continues a little bit, just in time for their main book. And that tidbit about the Scribe Virgin… I didn’t see that coming.

That is plenty, but there is even more that I won’t mention. The author is playing a chess match with his characters, moving them through the board little by little. That is great, but it could also be very bad. I mean, if I’m not mistaken the next book will be Xcor’s and Layla’s story. That plot has been cooking since I can’t remember how many books. I have a feeling I have already been told like 75% of their story. Yes, there is still a margin for surprises and action; but I can’t shake the thought that Ward won’t be able to deliver and will lean too heavily in the side stories. I would love being wtong, though! I’m afraid The Shadows‘ shadow is too long and it is clouding my judgement.

What I can say with a clear mind (if you ignore the overdose of hormones) is that Rhage is by far the best Brother of the Brotherhood. I was a bit down with those characters, being tired of their behaviour and renaming them as the Black Dagger Bullyhood. Because, sadly, they are sometimes plain bullies who meassure respect by the size of their biceps. So I needed a big dose of Rhage’s cuteness to cure my issues with this saga. It is not a panacea, but it has helped a lot. On the other hand, the Brother who is little by little enhancing my hatred towards him is not other than Vishous. And yes, one of the main reasons is because he is a smoker with a lack of respect that is very annoying. I have aready complaint in this blog about his rudeness smoking in places where he should not (and ask not to). It seems the foul smelling vampire draws the line in his Brother’s cars. So, smoking in a hospital putting the health of the patients in danger is OK. Smoking in a friend’s pub where is totally forbidden and could translate into a fat fine is OK. But smoking in a car of one of his buddies is SO wrong that he can’t even start to contemplate it… It is truly unnerving when the Brotherhood members are depicted as a bunch of close knitted bullies who only know respect among themselves and fuck the rest… Do I read too much between the lines? Maybe. But I won’t apologize for wanting to erradicate the use of smoking from books.

Sorry for the ranting, but it is a huge trigger for me and it truly can make me enjoy a book a lot less than it should. I’m actually afraid that the author is planning another book with Vishous, because I’m not sure I could handle it unless it is treated as Assail’s addiction to coke in this story.

I know I got derailed a little bit over there (OK. OK. A lot) so I will emphasise that The Beast is a truly enjoyable and emotioanl book, with a great Brother as the main character annd several surprising side stories that will stoke the flames of hope in every reader of this saga who was starting to feel a bit of a burnout.

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