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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood #13) [Trez & Selena, iAm & Maichen] by J.R. Ward

I'm quite reluctant to write a review about this book. Firstly because as usual with Ward there are a lot of plots to cover and also because this books is / going to be VERY controversial. There is something that happens in this book that made a lot of fans angry or even feel betrayed. I"m not going to say what it was, but if you are interested I"m sure you can find reviews with spoilers and even the author's explanation for "the did". I personally wasn't impressed with her explanation, yet she is the author and she can do whatever it is she wants! I'll get to that later. 

This book has taken me quite a while to read. I'll admit that I haven't been reading a lot of PNR lately, and furthermore Ward has a very unique way of writing her male character and while I really enjoyed the series in the beginning (and some of the later books in the series) I'm starting to feel a bit saturated with the Brotherhood and their conflicts. So much happens in each book with so many POVs yet the general feeling is nothing actually happens when you look at the bigger picture or even if you look at the side characters (which take quite a lot of page space). So while I'll probably read the next one, I"m kinda glad it's going to be a whole year from now and not right away. 

We me Trez (TrezLath) and iAm a while back, I can't even remember when, but as they are good friends with Rehvenge and are his Shadows (with a double meaning) I guess we probably met they round book 3 (of Bella and Z). As the series progressed we learned a bit about them but here it's finally time to understand the difficult connection between the brothers. iAm being Trez's guardian for all those years trying to defend his brother and be there for him and make sure he doesn't end up marrying the Shadow princes. 

When the twins were born Trez, even though the second to be born, was nominated the "Anointed One" the one to mate the next queen and serve her sexually for producing the next line of queens. Trez has no interest in this aspect what so ever and a part of him "whoring around" is making himself as soiled as possible in the eyes of the s'Hisbe (the Shadow world). 

Trez's time is almost up. Soon the Queen's Executioner - s'Ex - would come to collect him and there is little he can do (besides run for the rest of his life..) Trez isn't ready, more now that before as he is bonded to Selena. After one of her seizures is witnessed, Selena has no other option but to come clean and talk about the illness she is suffering from called the Arrest which no one has recovered from before. So now, Trez is even more determined to be with Selena up until her last moment. After that, he might not be alive enough to care if he goes to service the future queen. But as they are dealing with Selena's illness it's obvious they are both determined to use the time they have and enjoy it as much as possible. It was quite heart clenching seeing them together on borrowed time and how they deal with it together and alone. 

Everyone is trying to help Selena find a cure. Rehvenge goes into the colony to see if the Symphaths know something the vampires don't, Manny and Jane are trying their best to see if the human world has anything to offer and iAm strikes a deal with s'Ex to venture into the library of the Shadows to see if anything is written there. While there he is captured and held for a while where he meets Maichen. From the first second she comes into his cell her smell steers something in him he doesn't recognize, yet it's there. As she helps him out the connection between them grows and then both of them are reluctant to let each other go and they plan on meeting in the human world. 

This is a very minor spoiler but it's a VERY obvious one and is revealed to us straight away (though not to iAm) that Maichen (which means maid in their tongue) is actually the Princess Catra vin SuLaneh etl MuLanen deh FonLerahn dressed as a maid so she could roam the palace with ease.  The same princess who is destined to marry Trez though she couldn't care less about the notion.. 

The romance between iAm and Maichen / Catra was sweet but in my opinion wasn't developed enough. iAm deserved much more page space as well as Maichen / Catra. I also would like to know more about s'Ex which has a very strange connection to the twins (he helped them quite a lot in the past even if it looked like they were just bargaining). 

I would have loved for this book to me mostly about Trez & Selena as well as iAm & Maichen / Catra yet as with the last few BDB installments there were WAY too many other POVs. I wouldn't mind that many if something actually HAPPENED with them, but they were just space fillers in my opinion and not very good ones.. 

The first is Rhage which was unclear. He looks like he is losing his mind. He over reacts to life in general and has emotional fits that might seem logical to an over emotional WOMAN but not a man, or a male and especially not a warrior like him. It was PATHETIC! While I loved both him and Mary in the second installment I didn't get why he got so much page space with nothing really happening there except for him having an emotional break down. Then after finishing the book I went to the BDB GoodReads forum and I found out the next installment in the series is going to be about him and Mary and will be called "The Beast" so I guess the Ward was giving us a certain tease to what we are going to deal with (possible something to do with a young as Ward talked about it in the past). 

What I think about it? I don't really like it. The King (the 12 installment) was a re-visit to Wrath and Beth and it made sense with what was happening with the Band of Bastards and the Glymera but if Ward is going from the start so we're going to re-visit all the brothers while they are having their family expended I'm OUT OF HERE. The last books started being more on the Urban Fantasy side then true Paranormal Romance yet regardless I don't think that the Brotherhood having families is what people signed for when they started reading this series. Also I think that too little is happening in the world around the Brotherhood which means that Ward has to fill the story line with SOMETHING while trying to figure out what to do with the lessening society and the other "villains".

Another story line we started I think in Blay and Qhuinn's book is the one of Assail and Sola. It was interesting, there was somewhere this thing was going and then it continued in the previous installment only to drop entirely when it comes to the romance. Sola isn't here except for being mentioned maybe twice by Assail. He and his twin cousins Ehric and Evale is continuing to sell drugs to the lessers, which in turn buy weapons with the money they are making so naturally now Wrath is pissed off at him and so Assail has to somehow suck up to him if he wants to live which was totally "say what?" situation. Also when you think about it, it was totally unnecessary to the story, except for making a few fighting scenes with injuries to the brothers and the Band of Bastards. It's no secret I don't get the Lessening Society and it's whole purpose but here it shows us how redundant it is. 

Mentioning the Band of Bastards, as usual they are there but there is no real need for them, only for Xcor and his relationship with Layla which was developing until it just dropped.. which again made no sense to me. Xcor is headed into becoming a "good guy" while Throe is headed in the opposite direction all together which again, doesn't make any sense! What next? Xcor becoming BFF with the Brotherhood? Mark my words that is exactly where we are headed in the next books and I say books because again, this is another side plot which moves slower than a snail! 

The whole Layla-Xcor-Qhuinn-Blay thing was totally overused in my opinion, SOMETHING should have happened there already.. The only thing that DOES happen is Lucas - Qhuinn's brother - having issues with his disabilities (due to the time he was captured by the Lessening Society). THAT could have been interesting to read yet there was too little of it. 

There is another side plot I actually found interesting with Paradise (the daughter of Wrath's first adviser - Abalone). Paradise is going to be the MC in "Blood Kiss" the first installment in a new spin off series by Ward to be published in December 2015. It's called "Black Dagger Legacy" and is going to be surrounded by the new recruits to the Brotherhood with each book also centering around one of the original brothers. Paradise also meets Craeg for a brief moment which is going to be her love interest in "Blood Kiss". While I liked her and I'm generally interested in reading more about her I'm not sure I'm going to read this series, with all the changes that this series went through another spin off is NOT what I want, I want the BDB to return to what it used to be and not a spin off series trying to do that while introducing us to more characters (probably to be used in the next installment in the BDB series). 

One last thing before I finish this review. I promised not to give away the BIG spoiler everyone is talking about yet I have to mention something about it. The day the book was published Ward published a GoodReads post talking about why she did it. Basically she said that the story happens in her head and that's it, she can't change it and also she talked about losing her dog and the impact it had on her and yeah, all EXCUSES (bad ones if you consider the others she also made, cringe!). I read one review saying that she broke some sort of unwritten law in this book which can be considered as a betrayal to her readers. I don't really agree with the 'betrayal" thing, I feel it's too "harsh" saying that. An author writes what he feels like writing, this is HIS/HER work even though we make it our own by reading it and cherishing it (or hating on it :P), yet I DO think that this book and the way it was built MADE NO SENSE. It was an okay read, but it was NOT a Black Dagger Brotherhood novel as was the previous installments (even if The King WAS different). I feel betrayed not by a certain act but with the whole FEEL of the book which was SO different than how she started. The "evolvement" of the series was NOT something I liked and I know many others agree with me on the subject. 

So that's it for my review. For me, it's the beginning of the end of this series. I'll read the next one, and if she continued with Z (as he was the third installment in the series) I'll also read it since I don't think I could POSSIBLY deny myself more of my beloved Zsadist yet I know it's not going to be the same and I know I'm not going to keep my loyalties to the series or Ward in general.  

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 592 pages, 10-14 April 2015 / On GoodReads

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