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August 4, 2011

Writer Stand-Off: Kenyon v Ward Part 2 of 3

Dark-Hunters v Black Dagger Brotherhood
A Comparative Brief (2 of 3)

Let's take a look at the characters of both series. Kenyon and Ward made interesting heroes and villains. Each one is enigmatic and they gnaw at you slowly until the next thing you know, you're hooked and can't let the pages leave your hands and sight. That's why I love reading their books before bedtime, it makes that 8 hour trip to fantasy land restful and satiating.


Protagonists
The Hunters are borne from unimaginable grief, their cries of agony reached Artemis that they barter their souls with the Goddess in return for a lifetime of service to her cause saving human souls from being devoured by Daimons, her twin's cursed children. What makes these nomad warriors endearing is their shared tragedies hidden under the mask of sarcasm and valor. They are passionate and live carpe diem, death always knocking on their door. They don't do anything halfway but do it with much gusto and should they fall in battle, they know that they died valiantly. But they are more like a fraternity than a brotherhood, each one having their own "territory" and mission, if not for their leader Acheron, most of them would've been locked in stand-offs or worse, killed each other. Though they share the same goal they do not have much love for their fellow Hunter, they can't be around each other lest their powers get drained and any physical harm done to another will be felt by the one who delivered the blow.


As for the BDB they are bonded by blood making them this seemingly invincible tight knit group. They are marked and their bloodlines dictate their warrior status. Even amongst their kind, they are considered superior and physically intimidating. They each have a gift or a curse and in some way this is one of the things that holds them together, they are protected and watched over by their maker, the Scribe Virgin, and though they already moved with the times, they stand by their rituals and traditions. Each one of them has their own demons to contend with and each has their own device to fight it off. But unlike the Hunters, the Brothers stand by each other through thick and thin. Their loyalty is so touching that it transcends the meaning of being brothers so much so that they will sacrifice themselves, their futures and freedom for each other. Their blood bond so great that they "feel" each other's life forces, when one dies they will know it, if one is missing, they can vaguely point the direction where they've gone to.


BDB New Rocks Shitkickers
Both Hunters and the Brothers are not very keen on meeting with the sun and all of them are leather-clad sex gods, pumped up with growth hormones, oozing with testosterone their pheromones like a Siren's song to those whom they cross paths with. Both have noble endeavors to serve the greater good, their own lives secondary to those they love and protect. Despite these admirable qualities, these men are tormented by their own ghosts that haunts them to no end, fueling their passion for retribution and a deep yearning to be released from centuries of death, abuse and rejection.

I find the DH hot and sexy but the Brothers are just so fascinating to me. Sure both teams have shared tragedies but to me the Brothers have more layers. Unlike the Hunters who deal with their boo-hoo stories by being alone, pouring their angst on hunting and hiding their pain behind sarcastic remarks, the Brothers have this humane quality about them. Sure they do what the Hunters are doing and then some to stave off their ghosts: drugs, alcohol, meaningless sex, and self mutilation which makes it more gritty, real and human. The Brothers makes the readers FEEL and they tug and grip your heart until you're close to what they're feeling. Aside from Acheron and Nick Gaultier, The Brothers will make you cry with them when their hearts break, cheer them on as they find themselves healed by love and you will laugh at their banters and end up emulating their catchphrases. Ward really captured the essence of masculinity in the Brothers, they are the perfect balance of power and accessibility.

Antagonists
Dark-Hunter mark
The Apollites and the Daimons are a very interesting race, cursed by Apollo they are not given much of a choice between fighting for survival or embracing one's destiny. Apollites are already maligned as it is even before they decide to turn Daimon. I love the controversy surrounding them, their story is a stroke of genius in Kenyon's part. At times it makes the Hunters appear as the bad guy, hunting a race that doesn't have much of a choice. In any case they are a formidable foe to the brave DH and they certainly are not the weaker of two.

I like the fact that they don't operate like a gang but rather like terrorists or the mafia with hierarchies and complex ploys. They always have surprises up their sleeves that keep the Hunters on their toes and more often than not they find that they don't really know much about the enemy. The readers bear witness to these intricate schemes and motives and for that I found myself loving Kenyon more.

The Lessening Society's induction is very interesting. Their hearts get taken out and put in a ceramic jar, hidden from view, they are reborn by The Omega by giving them his essence through his blood the color of tar. In time they lose their coloring, turning albino-like. There is a lot of mystery surrounding these guys, literally. However you'd almost always find a different Fore-lesser (leader) in every book not knowing what happened to the previous one. Aside from Lash who officially became The Omega's spawn mid-series, The Lessening Society is not as threatening as I would want them to be. I don't like the revolving-door style that Ward employs and most of the time we're kept in the dark as to what happened to them. One day Mr. X is their leader and he got zapped for no reason and got replaced by Mr. O who disappeared, reinstating Mr. X but is now replaced by Mr. D. It feels like Ward is just going through the alphabet with this one. I'm glad that we have someone permanent now in the person of Lash, at least our villains are no longer this bumbling gang just busting civilians.
 

symbol associated to Acheron
 
I believe that the heroes are only as good as the villains make them. The bad guys have the power to make the heroes extraordinary, force them to test their values and discover certain truths about themselves that will help them realize their destinies. Villains should be as strong as the heroes, they should be cunning to be a worthy opponent, they should provide mind boggling schemes to keep the readers glued, making the heroes shine brighter than the sun. Their malicious natures helps shape the protagonist's character, making them valiant  in the face of adversity. Without these libertine characters our stories will be bland and it is through them that the great classics are made out of. Perfect example of this is Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, his deviousness and tenacity in going after Harry was very instrumental in molding Mr. Potter to become the fearless hero that he is.

Kenyon did well with her Apollites and Daimons, it's not just black and white with them but they are victims themselves. I applaud you for this Sherrilyn Kenyon and I hope that our Apollites eventually receive redemption at some point.





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