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August 1, 2011

Writer Stand-Off: Kenyon v Ward Part 1 of 3

Dark-Hunters v Black Dagger Brotherhood
A Comparative Brief (1 of 3)

As a follower of the romanticized paranormal genre, I can't sometimes help but get sucked in to these stories. When the writer is a storyteller with a sharp tongue and a fanciful mind, I tell you, that spells a perfect afternoon for me, curled up in my favorite chair sipping my drink of choice. But since there's only so much that stories can be based on without taking the sci-fi route, it can at times get similar and as an avid reader I can't help but compare one series to another.

This is my first attempt on doing this so bear with me. As a DISCLAIMER let me say that I am a fan of both authors and I have no wish to do them disservice. On the other hand my goal is to highlight their work and style as I've come to love both the Dark-Hunter (DH) and Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series. As a reader, I am offering my honest opinion and mine alone based on my own observations from reading the above mentioned series. So bear with me as I forge ahead and hope that I can do this comparison justice.


Mythology
Both the DH and BDB series are based  on the classic vampire myth and Kenyon and Ward both picked the most alluring qualities that surround these preternatural creatures, making it their own to suit their stories. The result is a never ending seduction to these night crawlers, their ripped bodies and fierce temperaments that will make the reader want to be the damsel they will save for the day... or better yet the one they choose to mate with, permanently or even for just a night.


Kenyon's red haired Artemis
Vampires are not usually associated with Olympian Gods and Kenyon's use of Greek myth and the lost city of Atlantis to anchor her Hunter stories is risky but safe at the same time. These deities and the tales associated with them have a certain degree of familiarity that influenced much of pop culture. The Maiden of the Hunt, Artemis, is to be our beloved Hunters' mistress but Kenyon took certain liberties with her character jilting her virginal qualities, turning her into an obsessed lover and a petty and selfish liege for the Hunters and making her and Apollo vampires. The Atlantean Acheron as the first DH and leader of the cavalry is another interesting twist, he is the glue that holds everything together and at the same time the Hunters' greatest protection against the capricious behavior of Artemis. Artemis lends the DH her magic and Acheron turns them into these killing machines.
The Apollites and Daimon myth is fascinating and well crafted, their plight is so tragic the readers will be torn between love and hate for their race. Clearly inspired by Homer and other Greek writers, if one doesn't know any better you'd almost believe that Kenyon's mythology is a story written on the same age as The Labors of Hercules, Perseus and Jason and the Argonauts. These two rival factions are so complicated they deviate from the usual good vs. evil theme, making it hard for us to take sides. It will keep on asking the questions:

"Who is the victim?"

"Are the Hunters mere pawns for an even bigger game?"

"Why is Acheron letting Artemis and the gods get away from the injustice done to his beloved Hunters?"



the Scribe Virgin

Now if Kenyon turned to the Greeks for inspiration, Ward based her Brothers on the Arthurian legends. There are a lot of similarities between the BDB and the Arthurian tales: daggers (swords), a mentor with magical if not divine powers, knights and noble quests that requires unselfish acts and sacrifices, they even have their own version of Camelot! Ward's Vampires are a different race altogether made by the Scribe Virgin, they are a race superior to humans and though they have similar functions they don't prey on the weaker race; they can procreate and their mating ritual is very primal, very masculine, very potent. Although they are stronger and immune to a lot of diseases, theirs is a race close to extinction due mostly to the efforts of the Lessening Society and the high mortal rate of childbirth. The Scribe Virgin is like any other deity, her word is law but like a mother to her children, she is stern but can be reasoned with.

Even The Lessening Society trace its origins from a higher power, though nefarious, and the means to which these soldiers of The Omega are created is so simple yet profound. They are literally heartless but their emptied cavity is filled with hate and purpose to rid the world of Vampires. And though they've lost their appreciation for food and sex, they hunger for something else entirely, fueled by The Omega's hatred for his sister's creation, they want the Vampires eradicated from the face of the Earth.


Both Kenyon and Ward successfully created these interesting worlds, carefully crafted and written deliberately. Though Kenyon's is very mystical with the involvement of the Olympian Gods and the deities of Atlantis, Ward's world is as intricate nonetheless. Ward may not have the munitions of classical myth but instead she created her own stand alone back story to supplement her beloved race.

In every DH book there is another layer added to their world although sometimes it doesn't translate well (Dream-Hunters). As we move forward we meet additional factions from both the DH and Apollite/Daimon camps, making their world complicated and at times a challenge to follow. In my opinion, this is a double edged sword, it can be wiki worthy but it can also go bad because too many characters and divisions can be confusing. One is torn about the Apollites as it is without adding sub characters that can or cannot work together (i.e. Arcadians and Katagaria), talk about keeping track! If you're taking breaks between books like I do, you might need a flowchart or bulleted notes just to keep track.

As for the BDB Series, Ward is focused on the benevolence of her warriors, she takes the concept of Bromance to another level. The Brotherhood's unwavering loyalty and undivided fealty towards one another runs deep within the hearts of these males and the world that she created is nothing short of aristocratic with a touch of modern. Although not as complicated as Kenyon's in terms of characters, Ward made up for hers by really standing by her vampire race, making her own myths and terminologies to drive it's authenticity home. Although at times it feels like Ward's world is too idealized, lacking the grit of reality, even when the Brothers are getting messed up it still appears romanticized, refusing the reader to feel remorse towards her heroes.

Overall both authors achieved their goals and that is to create a world solely their own and recruit Squires and Cellies to cheer their heroes on.





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