Black Dagger Brotherhood Cheat Sheet (Part 1)
(Note: The information below was last updated on 27/3/2012.)
The Scribe Virgin and her single act of creation
We’re not sure exactly who the Scribe Virgin is, other than the mother of the vampire race. Her father (don’t know who he is either) gifted her with a single act of creation, which she used to create a race of beings who:
- cannot walk in the sun
- must drink the blood of a member of the opposite sex within the race (to supplement a standard human food and drink diet)
- live for almost 1000 years
- dematerialise to different locations (but are trapped by heavy metals like steel or lead and cannot carry large or heavy objects)
- are stronger and faster than humans and are often quite beautiful and may have unusually coloured eyes and hair. They have no body hair below the neck (how many of us wish we could be vampires?)
When males fall in love, they bond with their female, making them feel possessive and extremely protective of her. They love watching her eat and well… *ahem* climax. Their eyes glow in her presence and their bodies also emit a dark, spicy, sensual fragrance used to mark the female during mating as a warning to other males that she is off limits. Mating ceremonies for bonded males include the female’s name being carved into the male’s back and sealed with salty water to show her ownership of him. She becomes the primary focus of his existence.
Vampires can breed with humans and half-breed offspring will inherit any or all of the above characteristics, depending on the strength of the lineage of the vampire parent. Humans cannot be made into vampires, you either have vampire blood or you don’t.
The biggest issue facing the vampires in JR Ward’s world is extinction. The vampire population is under threat from the Lessening Society, created with the express purpose of wiping out the race, and also faces difficulties with procreation due to infrequent fertility cycles and high mortality rates.
The Scribe Virgin likes to play a meaningful role in the race’s traditions and there is a very definite code of conduct when in the Scribe Virgin’s presence. First and foremost, no questions. Be extremely polite and respectful. If you want something, make sure you include the phrase, “If it would not offend…” She has been known to melt vampires who offend her. She also believes in balance, so a request granted often requires a sacrifice, so far the only exception was the gift of creation given to her.
Wrath’s father had a good relationship with her and was even allowed to call her by her name, Analisse.
She is small and beautiful in appearance and usually wears black robes with a white glow spread out on the floor around her. But lately, the glow is dimmer and the force of her personality has diminished. The Scribe Virgin is at a loss and feels as though she has no purpose while her race is in trouble, partly due to her traditions. In a last ditch attempt at survival, some of those traditions have changed, leaving her feeling more superfluous to her race.
In addition to creating the vampire race, the Scribe Virgin wanted children of her own bloodline. She took vampire form and made a deal with the strongest, most cunning male she could find. She would bear him a son who would be given to his father at the age of 3 for the next 300 years. Her son would be hers again at 303. She also had a daughter who would be raised as a Chosen.
Because she had broken the rules by creating life outside of the initial gift she had been given, her children would suffer and so would she in watching their pain.
Her son Vishous grew up in the harsh environment of a warrior camp, where he fought for and stole everything he ever ate. When his father deemed him a threat after his transition, he had V tattooed and partially castrated before banishing him from the camp with nothing. V eventually became a member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
Out of honour for the deal she’d made with the Bloodletter, or maybe because she didn’t want to risk inflicting more pain on her son, the Scribe Virgin had no direct contact with Vishous as his mother until his 303rd birthday approached. She had decided he would live a life of comfort as the Chosen’s Primale. He reluctantly agreed, but then fell in love with a human doctor who was later murdered.
The Scribe Virgin sacrificed the birds who made her happy to restore the life of her son’s mate.
Her daughter Payne was too wild and aggressive to truly embrace the Chosen’s traditions. In 1761, she left the Other Side and killed her father, whom she believed killed her twin brother.
Afterwards, she placed Payne in stasis for centuries until she restored Jane’s life for Vishous, but Payne is not allowed to leave the Other Side. Could it be because she believes more pain will result from her children being reunited, or does she fear losing her son as a result of having withheld all knowledge of his sister?
She held fast to her decision not to release her daughter Payne, despite the damage it does to their relationship until Payne is injured while sparring with Wrath. Her daughter refuses to allow her to repair the injury, so Wrath demands she release her daughter to be cared for on his side. It is a sign of her emotional state that she doesn’t even bat an eye at Wrath’s demand when before she was offended by the slightest question.
She was also absent from JM and Xhex’s mating, when tradition states that couples from within the Brotherhood or the Chosen intending to mate must be presented to her for approval.
Who is the Black Dagger Brotherhood?
Under threat from the Lessening Society, the vampires as a race began to breed their strongest warriors with their strongest bloodlines to the point that they evolved into a subspecies of vampire warrior, with more physical strength and extra mind powers than the average civilian. This subspecies formed the Black Dagger Brotherhood, named for the daggers Vishous calibrates specially for each Brother to stab lessers through the heart and send them back to the Omega.
A notable exception is the Dhestroyer, who can absorb a lesser’s essence, preventing his return to the Omega. He has the potential to absorb all of the Omega’s power, which makes him a huge threat to the evil.
All the Brothers have a star-shaped scar over their left pectoral caused by being punched in the chest with a spiky glove by the rest of the Brotherhood during initiation.
There used to be twenty to thirty Brothers at a time, but as of the end of Lover Enshrined, there were only four fighting Brothers. Due to decreased numbers in the Brotherhood, for the first time in history, the Primale has joined the fight against the lessers, bringing the total to five. Although they are not actually Brothers, John Matthew, his ahstrux notrum (bodyguard) Qhuinn, Blaylock and Xhex have joined the war.
Even though the race has scattered after Lash’s raid, the Brotherhood remains based in Caldwell, NY, as the Tomb is located there.
Black Dagger Brotherhood: Wrath, son of Wrath
Born around 1664, Wrath is the last purebred vampire and for over 300 years, he was the race’s absent king. Before his transition, he lived a sheltered life until his family was betrayed by a servant to the lessers. He was hidden away while the rest of his family was slaughtered.
He then worked as a stable hand in the human world until his promised shellan (or wife) Marissa tracked him down and fed him her blood to see him through his transition. He also went through the change, which transformed him from a scrawny bag of bones into a 6’6 brick shithouse in a matter of hours. His eyesight was already poor, but worsened after his transition. He recently became completely and irreversibly blind.
Instead of stepping up to rule his people, Wrath decided to fight against the lessers, as a way of compensating for his pre-transitional weakness while his family died. He viewed his father as someone who sat on a throne and was adored while he fights for his people, but really carries around a load of survivor’s guilt.
One of his Brothers, Darius, kept trying to reach out to him because he believed Wrath was needlessly making himself into a loner, having very little contact with anyone (particularly his “fragile” arranged shellan, Marissa). When Darius discovered that he had a living daughter who would be old enough to go through her transition, he asked Wrath to help her as his blood would ensure she had the best chance of survival.
Wrath goes to Darius’ daughter, Beth Randall out of obligation to his fallen Brother but soon finds himself becoming attached to her. She warms him up and by guiding her into the vampire world, she shows him that he wouldn’t have been able to help his family and that staying safe was the best thing he could have done.
Marissa released him from their arrangement (Wrath never claimed her so they were never actually mated – there was no ceremony before the Scribe Virgin) and Wrath feels free to take Beth as his shellan (even though males are allowed to take more than one shellan, bonded males typically only have eyes for one female). He seeks permission from the Scribe Virgin who demands a favour (yet to be named) as well as for Wrath to take the throne and live up to his duty, something he wasn’t prepared to do until his love for Beth opened him up to love himself and see himself as worthy of leadership.
Beth wants to try for a young during her first needing, which is only a couple of years away, if that. Wrath has refused for two reasons: first, many females die during childbirth and second, if his young is male, he has no choice but to become king and inherit the mess Wrath has left behind. But with no heir, the race cannot afford for Wrath to die because there is no royal to step up and take his place. The next king would have to come from the next most pure bloodline.
After the lessers wiped out most of the glymera, Wrath has secretly joined his Brothers in fighting, with only Butch aware of this. With his civilians dying, Wrath feels he should be more active in keeping them safe rather than sitting on a throne and passing laws.
Wrath lied to Beth about going out to fight, but on V’s advice, he came clean and officially rejoined his Brothers in the field. Wrath’s lie put a strain on their relationship, not just because of his ongoing deception but because he risks making her a widow while refusing to start a family with her. They reconcile and Wrath tells Beth about the upcoming Council meeting that is even more vital for him to attend after Rehvenge told him of the failed assassination attempt. He must show strength. She compromised by asking him to wear a bulletproof vest.
Following a long series of headaches, Wrath loses the remainder of his sight and is now completely blind. Mary helps his rehabilitation and he has a guide dog called George, whom he spoils. Wrath must now work even closer with Beth in ruling the race.
During his visit to the Other Side to find out that The Scribe Virgin had nothing to do with his blindness, he meets Payne and they spar. Although as a male he normally would not try to hit a female, she instigated their sessions and her smaller size and relative lack of strength is balanced by Wrath’s blindness. She gives as good as she gets and their matches are good for him. He realises that the world is still there even if he can’t see it and he still has his muscles and fighting skills.
A document sent to Wrath for approval came from glymera lawyer Saxton, who asks him not to exercise his legal right in seizing traitor Montrag’s estate, but to pass it on to Montrag’s next of kin, a nurse called Ehlena and her father, who have fallen on hard times and had nothing to do with Montrag’s treason. Wrath agrees.
After the Brothers leave to rescue Rehvenge, Wrath stands outside in the cold. Beth asks him if he wants a coat, reminding him that he loves because she hadn’t asked him to go back inside, she asked how she could make it easier for him to be where he wanted to be. She told him that fighting doesn’t make him courageous, he has to live and rule from the heart. Wrath then begins to see himself as a king in his own right, not just a fighter pushed into a desk job by his blindness and inheriting his father’s obligations.
He moves in the royal desk and throne that Darius had brought across from the Old Country.
He asks Rehvenge to remain symphath king to quell any instability and despite Rehv’s protests, he points out the destiny has something in mind for people like them.
During a sparring session with Payne where she really forced him to defend himself, he broke her back. When Payne refused to allow the SV to heal her, he demanded she be allowed to go to the Other Side (our side) to see a doctor. He was shocked to hear Payne call the Scribe Virgin her mother.
When the SV released her, he got Jane, who was stunned to see the obvious physical resemblance to V.
At JM and Xhex’s mating, Wrath declared them a good match, instead of having the presentation to the Scribe Virgin.
Class Structure and Civil Unrest
In the vampire world, the king is on top (answerable only to the Scribe Virgin) and the First Family (the king’s family) is ranked directly below that. Wrath’s bloodline is in charge because their lineage is pure and should anything happen to Wrath before he can beget an heir, the kingdom is transferred to the male with the next strongest bloodline as females cannot rule in their own right.
The Brotherhood is also way up there, along with the Chosen (female offspring of the union between a Brother and a Chosen – basically their bloodline makes them the female equivalent of the Brotherhood), however they spend most of their lives on the Other Side worshipping the Scribe Virgin.
Above the average Joe or civilian vampire, there is also an aristocratic class, referred to as the glymera, which has a lot in common with the ton of Regency England in terms of wealth and snobbishness and is largely a patriarchy. The usual double standards concerning female behaviour definitely apply, especially relating to sexual behaviour and political power.
Homosexuality is OK, but only if a vampire is mated to a member of the opposite sex and keeps their lifestyle hidden. If a gay vampire is caught out, he (or she, assuming the same rule applies to females, which it may not) and their family is ostracised.
The upper echelons of the glymera are the Princeps. The Princeps Council (chaired by an elected leahdyre, which I think is pronounced “leader” but don’t quote me on that because Ward’s letter groupings can make pronunciation confusing and misleading – “Primale”, anyone?) was set up to advise the king, but their decisions or rulings were more like recommendations than actual law. Although the doors have opened to more aristos, only the six founding bloodlines can vote.
Not everyone is eager to embrace their king after he spent so long shirking his royal duty and letting vampire civilisation deteriorate. (For example, there are no longer any soldiers to act as vampire police and the race’s traditions and festivals aren’t really being observed anymore.) The glymera in particular have tried to be helpful by making recommendations to suit only themselves and Wrath has put their noses further out of joint by (quite rightly) filing them in the circular cabinet.
There was an attempt to either force Wrath’s hand into complying with the Council or undermine public confidence in him by passing a motion to protect and shelter (read: oppress) unmated females from the lesser threat. Given that Wrath outlawed the keeping of blood slaves, he would be highly unlikely to uphold a ruling to strip away females’ civil liberties, despite the argument presented by recent lesser activity. In the end, the motion was blackballed by Marissa (who had control of her family’s vote by being older than her brother Havers) before it reached Wrath’s desk.
The war against the lessers has reached a turning point where most of the ruling class was wiped out and Rehvenge was made the new leahdyre. Although Rehv has his own problems, Wrath has found him to be an asset. We haven’t seen the full effects yet, but I believe that the latest massacre may undermine confidence in Wrath.
A member of the glymera, Montrag, son of Rehm, approaches then-Princeps Council leahdyre Rehvenge about assassinating Wrath on the grounds that he has done nothing in response to the raids on glymera houses. He did not prevent them, is not investigating the property losses and has not assured the glymera that the raids will never happen again. His plan is to install a state of democracy, limited to the glymera, with all other classes being ruled by them and his ultimate goal is to rule the race himself, arguing that as the Brotherhood’s prime duty is to protect the race, they will be forced to follow where the race leads (do you really see that happening?). Best of all, he gets to keep his role in the conspiracy hidden, leaving Rehvenge to take the fall.
Rehvenge instead has Montrag killed and tells Wrath of the attempted assassination, but not before Montrag has a sworn statement from Rehvenge’s father denouncing him as his killer and a symphath.
At the next Council meeting (which the glymera refused to attend on the grounds that Montrag’s assassination is reason enough for them to remain safe at home), the statement is delivered by a glymera lawyer.
Then the symphath princess emails the Brotherhood with the old news that Rehv is a symphath and unless he is delivered to the colony, she will email the glymera telling them about Rehvenge and that the king did nothing about it.
Rehvenge defanged the princess by faking his death in the human and vampire worlds and going to the colony.
As Montrag committed treason, upon his death, his estate legally goes to the king, unless Wrath chooses not to exercise that right, which in this case, he has not.
Wrath also rules the symphaths, claiming he has the power to take away the symphath colony and that the king rules only because Wrath lets him.
Xcor and his band of bastards resurface and travel to Caldwell with the intent of overthrowing Wrath. His second in command, Throe is related to five out of the six founding families and would have been a member of his glymera until he was denounced for training under Xcor. Still, he has the contacts to stir up discontent and show the glymera how many lessers have been dispatched since their arrival.
Wrath the Fair
Unlike the Brother Hharm, Wrath the Fair King loves his son. When he brought Wrath the younger to Brotherhood meetings when he was as young as 7, he was proud of his son’s lack of fear of his warriors.
Wrath remembered his father being adored by his subjects.