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    The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide by J.R. Ward
  • Author:
  • Published: Sep 30th, 2008

ward_guidereview.jpgReviewed by Kati Dancy
4.75 stars

I think that JR Ward must be a genius. I say that with a mixture of dismay and total admiration. You see, with her last book, Lover Enshrined, I’d given up on the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. For a variety of reasons that really aren’t important, except to say that I felt that she’d moved away from romance and into a confusing urban fantasy series that wasn’t much to my taste. All of that has changed with the publication of this book, which Ward refers to as the “Compendium”, as will I.

The Compendium includes a variety of impressive tidbits about not just about the Brotherhood, but also about Ward’s writing process. Ward herself has a very strong voice, which anyone who has read her books knows. She writes very much like she talks, I think. And this book is almost anecdotal in its nature. But it kicks off with what I can only describe as a heart wrenching short story about Z and Bella, set just after the birth of their daughter, Nalla. Everything about the story exemplifies Ward’s excellence at crafting romance. Her complete handle on how to build emotion between characters and her ability to reintroduce us to two beloved characters and make their struggles seem so real and painful. The polish and style of this story is why I started reading Ward. The emotion she wrenches from the reader is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. For those who love Zsadist best among the brothers, this story is an absolute gift. And it makes you fall even more deeply for him.

The Compendium also boasts wonderful tidbits about the Brotherhood, catching us up with each of the brothers in “current time.” It shows them happy and adjusted and in many cases addresses many of the questions or concerns that I as a reader had. It has interesting and fun “interviews” with each of the brothers, which really expand upon their personalities and shows us how they’re doing. The book closes with an absolutely heartbreaking last interview with Tohr and Wellsie. The book is amazingly well constructed and designed to satisfy readers both new to the series and those of us who are veterans. I would call it a must read for fans of the series and those who wish to know more about Ward’s writing and marketing process. For me, it served to draw me back into a series that I’d given up on. I now join the throngs anxiously awaiting Rhevenge’s book, Lover Avenged.

21 Responses to “The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide by J.R. Ward”

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  1. Maria Lokken
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 11:45 am

    Y’all know I am total J.R. Ward fan girl. For real. Marisa had the advance copy in her hands and I didn’t get a chance to snatch it away fast enough. We were supposed to working, but she was reading the Compendium. Every other second a gasp, a sigh, a Holy Shit, was coming out of her mouth. For real. She loved it. And couldn’t stop raving about J.R.’s genius. Now I’m anxiously awaiting the release and I’m going be first in line behind about a million other J.R. Ward Fans. Thanks for writing this MK cause now the fire has been re-ignited to get my hands on the brotherhood.

  2. SallyR.
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 11:50 am

    OH! I’m so looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the review Kati; and Z happens to be my favorite! Can’t wait to read the novella.

    Question: how is the book divided?

  3. MK/Kati
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 12:52 pm

    Sally – The novel is divided by Brother. The novella is first, then you go straight to Wrath. And then she does (IIRC — it’s been a month or so since I read it), an interview with Wrath, facts about Wrath (along with blurbs from his story and others), essay about her writing process with Wrath. It’s the same for each Brother. Then there’s an interview with Wellsie and Tohr, and then the last section would have been an excerpt from Rhev’s book, but it wasn’t included in my review copy.

    What I liked best is that she addressed alot of the concerns that I’ve had about the series for a while now. ESPECIALLY the Butch/V issue. Which I really appreciated. Because I was pretty fired up about how she handled it. I’m still not 100% sure that I agree with her justification, but I understand her thinking.

  4. katiebabs
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 12:58 pm

    Sorry, Rehv is all mine. Glad to know you are a Ward addict again, Kati 😀

  5. SallyR.
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 1:19 pm

    Thanks for the explanation Kati. Sounds like I’m really going to enjoy this one. Of course I’m a huge Ward fan. I’m looking forward to reading her thoughts on the Butch/V issue myself.

  6. Gannon
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 3:12 pm

    Yay! I cannot wait to get my hands on this book. Zsadist has always been my favorite Brother, and I know I will read his and Bella’s story with box of tissue at hand.

  7. Angie
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 4:17 pm

    I’ve got to say I “might” buy this but it will take some really indepth reviews. Don’t get me wrong I loved what you wrote but you see Im done with Z taking up space of other stories and I felt like I was short changed on both V’s and Phurys stories because of the focus still being on him. Also the thought of the Insider’s guide ending on Tohr and Wellsies is heartbreaking for me because the one “normal” healthy and happy couple were split apart 3 books ago with Wellsie killed. I don’t want to read any further about them as a couple as it just makes me sad.

  8. MK/Kati
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 4:32 pm

    Angie – I totally get where you’re coming from. My favorite brothers are Tohr and Rhage. I always feel like Rhage gets a bit of a short shrift because he’s well adjusted. He’s got his HEA, so we don’t get to see many moments with he and Mary.

    Z is so damaged and so far from evolved. So he’s socially challenged, and that makes his tension interesting, I think. And that’s why Ward writes so much about him. Plus, well, you can’t have Phury without Z, so it makes sense that he was featured strongly in Phury’s book. But I can imagine that you’d be frustrated with how much “air” time he gets.

    Yeah, the interview with Tohr and Wellsie is a killer. Because they are happy in it. I hope that the reminder will make Tohr’s HEA, once he gets it, all the sweeter.

    I hope you do give the Compendium a try. I promise you that I wrote long and rambly whiney posts about how I was done with this series, and it totally drew me back in. It’s really worth reading, I can guarantee you that.

  9. Marisa
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 5:50 pm

    Hey Kati, thanks so much for the terrific review! You know how I feel about the Brotherhood and I’m glad the Insider’s Guide is bringing you back for more.

    I agree with all that you said to Angie; and I too hope that Thor’s HEA is all the sweeter once he finally gets it. I have a feeling he’s still got rough times ahead.

  10. orannia
    on Sep 30th, 2008
    @ 9:47 pm

    Thanks Kati. I am so hanging out for this. My library can’t get it fast enough! And before you ask….yes I normally purchase JR Ward’s books but the Compendium isn’t being released as a mass market paperback and since all the other books were….I just can’t handle the size difference 🙂

    Hmmm, katiebabs, I might just have to fight you for Rhev…. *grin*

  11. Chicki Brown
    on Oct 1st, 2008
    @ 8:08 am

    I’ve already pre-ordered this one, and I’m itching to get my hands on it. Recently I just started re-reading the entire series. Ward is amazing!

  12. Stacy ~
    on Oct 1st, 2008
    @ 8:39 am

    I can’t wait to get this one. I haven’t given up on Ward & the BDB yet, so until I do, I want everything she writes on them.

    on Oct 6th, 2008
    @ 3:10 pm

    Hi, I’m pretty new to the series, I’ve only started reading it this year but, I am up to date and can’t wait to get the new book. Zsadist is my favorite along with rhage, so natrally I can’t wait to read about he and bella. I must say I was not happy with Phurys’ story and I do have questions about the Butch/V relationship. All in all I think Ward is a great writer and I fell in love with this series from the first book.

  14. Christine
    on Oct 7th, 2008
    @ 8:28 pm

    Great review, Kati! I’m still a BDB addict and will be buying this book this week! I’m excited for a little fix. 😉

  15. MK/Kati
    on Oct 7th, 2008
    @ 8:33 pm

    Thanks Christine! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I know you and I both had some issues with past BDB books, so hopefully you’ll feel like I did, that she addressed some of the issues which bugged me.

  16. Jennifer Roland
    on Oct 9th, 2008
    @ 7:58 pm

    Great review. I was not interested in reading this book until now. I’ve powered through the series (I’m partway through Phury’s book right now) in about two weeks. Ward is a great writer who keeps me turning the pages even when I don’t agree with the choices she is making.

    I will be particularly interested in reading about her process.

  17. MK/Kati
    on Oct 13th, 2008
    @ 1:26 pm

    Jennifer – I hope you like the Compendium. Personally, I found that she drew me back to a series that I had honestly given up on. And part of that was because she addressed head on a lot of the concerns that I think readers have had with the series.

  18. Thompson
    on Oct 15th, 2008
    @ 4:21 pm

    I think that it should all be made into a movie…. the guys on the covers as the actors….. yeah it’d be amazing and the next book should be all about Payne and John…. not together or anything, but they should be in the main focus…. it’d be so great if Rehvenge could find a real girl too…. He’s my favorite… :3

  19. Dawn
    on Oct 28th, 2008
    @ 1:11 am

    I have been kinda hesitant to read the new book. I am really not sure why I felt that way but now I know that I will go and buy it asap. Rhage is my favorite out of all the brothers and eventhough he doesnt get much “air time” I snatch whatever I can get of him. My daughter is in love with Zsadist and I know she will enjoy reading about him and Bella. Thanks for the review…………

  20. lameez
    on Oct 6th, 2009
    @ 5:18 am

    i am so in love with books and with all the bdb but v is my number 1 then rhage and for some reason i cant wait for qhuinns book

  21. lynette
    on Nov 9th, 2009
    @ 10:24 pm

    since i’ve first read dark lover i wasn’t able to get enough of
    BDB. my fave character is Z and V. i have read revh story
    and it was great! i can’t seem to get enough of payne though,
    her character makes me so curios…wish she have more
    exposure in the next book

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