Lover Unbound by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5) - US edition

Lover Unbound by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5) - Australian/UK editionLast 1/4/2016 — new information in italics

These cheat sheets summarise what we know so far about the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Click here for a round-up of BDB-related posts on Book Thingo.

This section contains information on:

  • Vishous (hero of Lover Unbound)
  • The Bloodletter, Vishous’s father

Note that the cheat sheets have not been updated to include information from The King to avoid accidentally spoiling readers who have not yet had a chance to read the book.

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Vishous

(Son of the Bloodletter)

V. My personal fave. I could just rave about how beautiful he is, with his diamond hard heart, absolutely incredible intelligence (not to mention smart mouth), dominant sexuality and uncompromising masculinity, but that wouldn’t get us anywhere except teaching me yet again that my keyboard is not drool-proof (picture Homer Simpson around any non-vegetable based food). So to avoid another costly lesson, I’ll try to just stick to the facts.

Vishous is the direct, biological son of the Scribe Virgin, which has been more of a curse than a blessing. The gift she was given allowed for only one single act of creation, which she used in creating the vampires. Her taking on vampire form and reproducing disrupted the balance and has cursed everyone involved.

When the Scribe Virgin was shopping for a baby daddy, she decided to pick the most cunning and aggressive male she could find, a warrior known as the Bloodletter. She doesn’t know how, but the Bloodletter knew who she was and what she wanted and cut a deal with her: their son would spend the first 3 years of his life on the Other Side, the next 300 with his father, and the following 300 with his mother.

The years before V’s transition sucked. He grew up in a warrior camp under pretty Spartan conditions and often didn’t get enough to eat, unless he was fast and crafty enough to steal from a warrior or got to the leftovers before the other pretrans. His bastard of a father seemed to single him out in front of everyone, which also kept him separate from the others. V was frequently beaten, usually as the result of being set up in damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situations.

He had two comforts: a diary written by Darius, who had lived in the camp before him, and the ideal of a mother who valued and protected him.

Another pretrans busted him reading instead of working and threatened to dob him in to his father. During the fight, V had a vision of the pretrans’s death and warned him. His father saw and made V hand over his books (he managed to salvage the diary) to be burned. V decided to stop feeling, because it changed nothing.

About a week later, the pretrans died as predicted and others on the scene banded against V.

A few weeks after that, V went through his transition and was only given a female to feed from after he confessed to killing the pretrans. To neutralise V as a threat to his authority, the Bloodletter immediately sent V into the ring to fight (typically a newly transitioned male would have a day to recover), with only a broom as a weapon against a spiky ball on a chain. V won the fight and the Bloodletter tried to discredit him when he made to leave without raping the loser. All the anger V had been suppressing rose up and V had sex for the first time in front of the camp to cement his prowess over the other warrior, but the Bloodletter was able to construe V’s immediate retreat as cowardice after all.

V threw himself at his father, leading with his glowing hand. As he watched his father start to die, he predicted, ‘You shall see your end in a wall of fire caused by a pain you know. You will burn until you are nothing but smoke, and be cast upon the wind.’

Another soldier pulled V off the Bloodletter before the bastard could be killed. Instead of killing V, the Bloodletter exiled him from the camp, then had the warnings tattooed on his face, hand, groin and thighs. Then the final punishment (possible to the Scribe Virgin as well?) was castration by blunt pliers. V’s whole body glowed and everyone making contact with him turned to dust before the torture could be completed.

V travelled Europe and was eventually taken in by a vampire merchant in Italy. One night in Rome, he noticed a young pretrans male whose mother was being attacked by a lesser. He killed the lesser, but not before the mother died. The mother was a fallen Chosen, and V having saved a young with warrior blood brought him to Darius’s attention. Darius introduced V to Wrath and they clicked, since neither of them was interested in having ties to others. Eventually V was inducted into the Brotherhood.

He likes his distance from others because he is constantly bombarded with people’s thoughts and uses rap to drown them out. He still has visions, specialising in deaths, only without such useful info as when and where, so he can’t save anyone. His tattooed hand is always gloved and he has to be careful not to allow anyone to come into contact with it. He became famous within the race for his hardcore sexual preferences; some consider it to be a rite of passage to be bound to his table and dominated.

Although I would have expected a reasonable degree of intimacy to be involved when you have such total control over what another person sees, hears, feels and does, V keeps his distance from his regulars. The domination is how he releases tension and wears himself down. It has all the intimacy of a workout at the gym. But that’s not to say he isn’t aware of how his brand of sex is experienced by the sub and he definitely doesn’t cross the line. He isn’t cruel or abusive, but he is cold towards them. But then they know the score going in anyway and are free to leave whenever they want.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, based on his lack of feeling for his subs and how Cormia’s presentation to him left him cold on one hand and the spark of interest he felt at the prospect of fighting Xhex and possibly conquering Jane on the other, V finds submission expedient, but really enjoys the struggle. I think he doesn’t do that with his subs because then he’d have to engage with them more than he is willing to.

But V does care for others in his own way. Instead of buying a sports car, he drives an Escalade so that he can drive Rhage home after the beast has been. He sets up security systems for the females his Brothers come into contact with. He makes the black daggers, customised for each Brother. He’s a trained medic. And then there’s this rhythmic rubbing thing he does to calm people down (get your minds out of the gutter, it’s legit).

When Butch arrived with a transitioning Beth and was caught getting too close to Marissa, V wanted to kill him, but instead they bonded over their love of the Boston Red Sox and got drunk together. V dreamed of him and told Wrath the human was supposed to stay with them and assumed responsibility for him. They moved into the mansion’s gatehouse and even started finishing each other’s sentences.

V respected Butch for not backing down to the Brothers that night, despite or maybe even because Butch would have had his arse handed to him, and became attached to someone for the first time. V thought it was because Butch’s rough edges made everything else in life smoother. There was also a competitive and banter-ish edge to their friendship (again with the struggle). He let his guard down with Butch more than he had with anyone else and this openness started to become a sexual attraction, which Butch seemed to return to a point, but his number one love was for Marissa.

But it was through Butch and his relationship with Marissa that V was able to see what real love and intimacy looked like and hated himself for his ‘shameful depravity’.

Also around this time, V’s visions and mindreading dried up beyond a single imperative to feed Butch (this was how V found him after he’d been tortured and infected by the Omega) and he was plagued by a nightmare of being shot in the chest.

So the stress of flying blind for the first time in almost 300 years, lack of sleep, almost losing Butch completely, and finally losing Butch to Marissa brought V undone. Out of self-loathing and disgust, he jumped off his penthouse balcony in front of Butch, but materialised back before he would have hit the ground. When he decided not to commit suicide after all, he broke down in Butch’s arms and their roles were reversed. Butch told V that until he was able to look after himself again, Butch had his back.

The Scribe Virgin appears to V and tells him that she is his mother and that he will be the Primale (in an interview Ward pronounced this word as Pruh-MAH-lee after I was used to Prime male), sperm donor to the forty Chosen on the Other Side. Despite being pissed at his mother’s neglect when he needed her and his unwillingness to beget young and spend the rest of his existence having vanilla sex with so many strangers, he agrees because the Brotherhood needs members (no pun intended) and the only other eligible male is Phury who is heartbroken over Bella.

That night Vishous was shot in the chest after killing a lesser and was taken to a human hospital, where he was operated on by Jane Whitcomb, MD. She was fascinated by his 6-chambered heart and took lots of photos, hoping to get her patient’s permission to study him.

Jane’s boss, Manuel Manello, MD, was pissed to find out that she had an interview for Chief of Staff at another hospital. He wanted her to stay because she was the best trauma surgeon and because he was attracted to her.

The patient had other ideas. When his friends came to break him out, he told them that Jane was meant to go with him.

Jane was already unwillingly attracted to V and even though she resented being abducted, she put the Hippocratic Oath first and monitored his condition. The speed of healing, unusual heart and hypnosis convinced Jane that V was not human. She tried to learn more about him and he decided to tell her. After all, she was only there for the weekend and her memory will be scrubbed, so it wasn’t like some stranger would get to keep his private info. Not to mention he was drawn to her. So he’d be free to let his guard down around her emotionally, too.

In a lot of ways, Jane is like a female Butch. She’s a fighter who helps people and is a sarcastic smart-arse who V banters with, not to mention highly intelligent. She even orders V around for his own good and doesn’t take any crap. Jane can be very warm and compassionate, which is what V needs to help him deal with everything that’s been done to him, but isn’t sappy and doesn’t insult him with pity. They both know how your life can be affected by crappy parents.

V realised that his mating instincts had come to the fore and they weren’t for Butch. Then Jane did the one thing guaranteed to go straight to a Brother’s heart: when Phury was hurt in a fight, she repaired the damage and with much more finesse and skill than even V could have managed.

Inevitably the time came for V to let Jane go, but because she was his only shot at love, he took her to his penthouse at the Commodore and offered his submission, giving himself to her in a way he hadn’t done with anyone before and never would as the Primale. Then he scrubbed her memory.

In preparation for the Primale’s mating to a representative of the Chosen, V was introduced to Cormia, who was bound to a platform and wheeled in. V was immediately and ironically put off by her submission, probably because he never realised his mate would be as reluctant as he was to complete the ceremony.

In a last ditch effort to exorcise his feelings for Bella, Phury offered to take V’s place as the Primale so V could be with Jane.

Unfortunately they didn’t have much time together before a lesser killed Jane. Insane with grief, V staged a car accident to explain Jane’s human death and took her body to the Brotherhood’s tombs to reanimate her, Omega-style.

The Scribe Virgin interrupted him and said that Jane would be evil—besides which, there would be no balance. V demanded to know what his sacrifice would be and decided to give up his normal, non-glowing, un-inked hand, but was again interrupted by the Scribe Virgin.

When the Brothers found Vishous, he still had both hands and a Jane-shaped pile of ash.

He was like the living dead until the Scribe Virgin visited him and reunited him with Jane. His cursed glow that was used to heal Butch was also used to give Jane form, so the two people he is closest to don’t need to be protected from his hand. Jane can never be hurt again and, when V dies, she will be able to follow him into the Fade. It’s actually the best solution for them as V would have had to watch Jane age and die otherwise.

Jane had set up the interview with the other hospital because she wanted to be in charge and now she is the Brotherhood’s personal physician with enough of the unknown to keep the geneticist in her happy. This ending has come under fire, but there wouldn’t be a HEA if Jane had lived. I personally have made peace with the mixed feelings I had about it because V wouldn’t be happy if Jane could be taken from him.

Once V learned that his mother had sacrificed her birds to give him back Jane, he started bringing birds over to fill her trees again. He later contacted his mother to get her to force Wrath to stop fighting the lessers and be the king his people needed.

Since Xhex and Butch had sex, while V had to keep his feelings for his roomie to himself, he was jealous and resentful of her, so not surprisingly, they don’t get along. After the Brothers, JM and Xhex ambush newly inducted lessers, he heals Butch. Seeing why V has it in for her, Xhex sent him the thought that it was only once and it would never happen again. He nodded acknowledgement.

Jane was called to heal Wrath’s sparring partner and was stunned to see she looked just like V. She told Payne that V was alive and her mate.

V was shocked to learn that he had a sister who thought he was dead while he never knew she’d ever existed. It was even worse that they met when she was in such a bad way. He was even willing to have his former rival Manny Manello brought in to treat her.

He was unhappy at Jane’s eagerness to find Manny and his instincts rebel at having this male around his sister, whom he might lose before ever really knowing her. Then she asked the impossible of him: if she is to be permanently paralysed, she needs him to kill her. He agreed, even though destroying her would destroy him.

He is trying to do his best by Payne, but his headspace is completely fucked by these events. He is at his cold, dictatorial, distant worse, which threatens his relationship with Jane. He goes to the Commodore, where he thinks about how he used to get his release. He believed he was past all that, but realised that he hasn’t learned any coping mechanisms. He got himself off with hot wax and left, running into a group of lessers. He let them beat him with chains until Butch found him and they ended the fight.

He and Butch talked at the Pit. He thinks back to his Dom days because he needs that kind of release, but has no desire to be with anyone but Jane. Besides, he needs to be topped, rather than have someone to top.

Jane agrees to help Payne die to spare V the burden of killing his sister, but V walks in before it can happen. He dismisses Jane and demands Payne give him two hours to change her mind. She reluctantly agrees and, against his wishes, he restores Manny’s memories and brings him back to Payne. He sees the surgeon trying to show Payne there is more to her life than mobility and is angry that neither he nor Jane thought to do this.

Butch tells him that Jane is packing a bag, but V can’t deal with her just yet, so Butch offers to take him to the Commodore.

Jane waits for V and they argue over his soiled leathers, even though he swore again that he wasn’t with anyone else. She told him she could handle him having been topped by Butch, but he’s still so angry about almost losing Payne that he tossed her a gym bag to pack and walked away.

V went to the Commodore alone to clear his head, but nearby he discovered the bodies of lessers, cut in half the way Xcor used to do it in the Old Country. He calls the Brotherhood, who arrive in time to fight backup lessers who arrived on the scene.

Most of them are wounded and since V won’t force Jane to operate on her own mate, he had to let Manny reset his dislocated hip and broken knee. While he was conscious, he noted Jane’s dedication to her patients and realised she would not have helped Payne die if there was any other option. He still loves her.

He went to check on Payne and caught her in the shower with Manny. V blew his top, calling Manny a lesser waiting to happen and pointing out how dangerous it is for Payne in this world and how weak humans like Manny are.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He called Butch and went to the Commodore.

The cop restrained him and took him back to his memories of castration, which broke him apart as he needed.

When he woke up, Jane was there to comfort him and he told her he wanted to get mated properly with the ceremony and carving. He realised that although he loved her, part of him was still holding her at arm’s length, it wasn’t fair to her and he didn’t want to do that anymore. She promised him he would always be safe with her.

He finds Payne outside Manello’s window and asks her if she is in love with him. He offers to make arrangements with Wrath so they can be together because he finally understands that Payne needs to be free to make her own choices. Wrath reluctantly agrees to let her see him, but tells V she’ll want to join the war and is a very capable fighter.

V was in his forge working on a black dagger when Tohr came to collect the silver urn wrapped in a velvet bag and tied with a bow that contained Wellsie’s ashes. I thought the dagger might be for Qhuinn, but he gave Tohr a set for the Fade ceremony.

He took the two cases Xhex found under Xcor’s bed and found a rifle in each. He’ll do the ballistics testing to confirm a Bastard shot Wrath.

He confirmed that the bullet recovered from Wrath matches the rifle under Xcor’s bed and is pissed that only Tohr is allowed to kill Xcor until Wrath reminded him that Tohr was the one who saved him. At least he was promised a chance at Xcor before Tohr kills him.

When Payne is almost killed during a sparring session with Wrath, Jane wants to tell her mate, because she doesn’t want to be put in the position of hiding things from her mate about his sister, but was argued down by both of them. Payne feels that what happens between her and Wrath is the same as any other injury between warriors and shouldn’t be treated any differently just because she is female. Wrath gave the royal veto to her telling V because he feels it is something that he should do out of respect for his brother.

Ultimately, nothing seems to have been said to V possibly because too much happened between the session and Wrath’s realisation that he does treat fighting with Payne differently because she is female.

At Jane’s request, V got a tongue piercing, much to Rhage’s disgust.

He had to act quickly to pull Trez off Rhage before the Beast was released. Hell of a way to find out a male had bonded with someone you feed from.

He told Trez he was running out of time with two females, the statue would waltz for him and that he needed to be present, even when he thinks it will kill him to do it. Like all his visions, V doesn’t tend to get a lot of specific info and sees in metaphors.

Trez did understand and didn’t want to know. Of course, it all made sense when they learned that Selena had the Arrest.

Jane struggled to find answers but in the end, all she could do was allow Selena to live out the rest of her life in as much comfort as the situation allowed.

When Luchas’s life was in jeopardy, she obtained Qhuinn’s permission to amputate his infected leg. She saved him, but as Luchas wanted to die and now finds himself worse off, he yelled his hate and rage at her, which she was definitely affected by but maintained her professional façade.

He took part in the funeral ceremony by bringing the torch from the Tomb for Tohr to light for the pyre. We can see Rhage starting to fall apart, an a male like Tohr who lost his shellan would undoubtedly be experiencing some PTSD while watching Trez lose Selena, but we never saw V’s reaction to the tragedy and how he handled it. Hopefully, he’s coping better now that he’s opened up more to Jane.

On the night of the raid on the lessers at the Brownswick School for Girls, V told Rhage to go home, because he recognised that this is the time and place where he’d seen Rhage die. Rhage disregarded his advice and got a premature start on the raid, forcing everyone to catch up with him.

He’d only made the connection between his vision and where they were once they got there, and he couldn’t not say anything, but as he watched Rhage running towards his death, it was clear that the warning hadn’t helped. He covered Rhage’s back until he was forced to break off to tail 3 deserters, who turned out to be humans, one of which was filming the whole damn thing on his phone. He stole the human’s phone and wiped them all, telling them they are having a bad trip.

He tried to catch back up to Rhage and was shot in the hip. He saw a lesser left for dead fire a round into Rhage’s chest. V tried to jump over to save him, but the bullet hit home. V had to dispatch the lesser before he could help his Brother. His brain was mush, Rhage’s wound was fatal. V did this to him by telling him what he’d seen.

The beast started to emerge and V was sure the change would kill Rhage as much as the enemy’s bullet.

V went to the Other Side to get the Scribe Virgin to intervene, but she is weak and believes that saving Rhage only delays the inevitable. V doesn’t think she looks strong enough to get Mary to the Fade with Rhage. He thought back on everyone’s recent suffering and how she did nothing to prevent it or help in the aftermath. He’s happy to see his mother now isolated from those who once worshipped her and wants her to die.

Mary asked the beast to save Rhage, and it did. V probably couldn’t have done that, even if he’d thought of it, because he and the beast don’t have a relationship, at least not the one it has with Mary.

After the battle, Xcor followed a few dealing lessers back to the school, unaware that there were still some Brothers on the scene. V hit him over the back of his head. Tohr wants to kill him, as is his right, but the others see an unmissable interrogation opportunity.

The Omega came to collect his essence from the fallen lessers and thankfully V’s mhis holds up so well, he has no idea anyone else is there as long as they stay still and quiet. It occurred to V that the evil was in fact his uncle.

He and Tohr look for lesser jars, but come up empty. They are forced to leave by the arrival of Jo Early and Bill Elliot.

V and Rhage find it harder to hate Lassiter because of how conscientiously he guards Xcor. He checks in their prisoner and finds no change. He has had at least one stroke and remains in a coma. Nothing to do but wait.

When Wrath enlists Assail’s help in infiltrating his enemies, V acts as his handler and when Assail goes for a career change, he places a small order for guns.

V loves Jane for her focus on her job (even though she insists on handwritten files as she was trained, instead of the massive computer system he would love to set up for her) and the way her mind constantly works and challenges him. He feels like he’s trying to keep up and the predator in him enjoys the chase.

V looked for Bitty’s uncle, but couldn’t find any sign of his existence. He also gave Rhage advice on adopting Bitty, suggesting that he talk to Saxton about what laws are involved.

V and Rhage are downtown on patrol when they find Throe, who claims he was looking for them to ask whether they sent Assail to seduce him, or if the male is doing it of his own volition. Oh, and Throe is straight. He just wants to make that clear. Because he completely is.

Naasha was one of V’s conquests way back in the day, but I seriously doubt he remembers her at all.

V told Rhage he got the adoption papers from Saxton for him, but didn’t look him in the eye, as though he had opened himself up to an uncomfortable degree by making the gesture. Like he was risking too much closeness or something. Rhage recognised that V is always there for the people he cares about, even if he has to throw in a load of distance.

V meets Assail to collect their guns and gives him a medical checkup, because the signs of his addiction are growing worse and more obvious. He tells him he doesn’t have much time to get his addiction under control before he’s beyond the point of recovery.

While Layla is in labour, the young male is born healthy, but the female is grey. He demands Payne come in and help. Together Payne and Qhuinn save the female, but they both pass out.

He goes back to the Other Side, but there is no sign of the Scribe Virgin. She left a note saying that her time is done. She is sad about the relationships she has with her offspring, but that is the strength of destiny, and it is more powerful than she is. The Creator will let her appoint her successor, but it won’t be V or Payne, as they have clearly chosen other lives for themselves. This is not how she saw things going for her race, but some things are out of her hands. She ends the note with her love for V and Payne.

He feels strangely adrift even though he never thought of himself as having had parents and fully believes that his mother’s final act was saving baby Lyric, who wouldn’t have survived, even with Payne’s help, because Payne was already weak.

He tried to help Butch and Marissa by reassuring her of her hellren’s love and affection, even telling her that Butch could have had something going with Xhex, but that was just sex. That was how he found out his Brother hadn’t told his mate about his past.

He ran to warn Butch about what he’d inadvertently done, feeling as though he’d fucked Butch in the arse, which despite having been something he’d wanted to do once upon a time, isn’t the way he wanted it to happen.

He offered a rythe, but was instantly forgiven. He told Butch he had to stop keeping her on a pedestal as a pure Madonna and allow her to be, for lack of a better term on my part, human.

The Bloodletter

The Bloodletter (may not be the name given to him at birth) runs a warrior camp with an iron fist. He is in charge because he seems to be almost unbeatable in battle (I’m saying almost because he lost to Darius and chose to gracefully accept defeat by not forcing Darius to punish his opponents) and has a way of zeroing in on someone’s Achilles heel and knows what buttons to push. For his strength and intelligence, the Scribe Virgin selected him as the father of her young.

Even though she had taken vampire form, he knew who she was and withheld his seed until she agreed to give him a son who he would raise from the age of 3. After 300 years, the son would be given back to the Scribe Virgin.

He treats sex like a battle and shows no mercy. Instead of treating the mother of the race and of his young with respect and reverence, he was brutal.

His son Vishous didn’t fare any better, being singled out frequently. It became clear that V had unusual powers, so once he went through his transition, the Bloodletter forced V into a fight with a trained warrior, armed only with a broom. When V did not lose as expected and avoided public rape, the Bloodletter tried to negate his victory.

He feared his son would become a threat to him, especially after predicting his death ‘by a pain you know’, so he tattooed warnings on his face and glowing hand then tried to have him castrated with blunt pliers, only for the males to die before the job was complete. Then he banished Vishous from the camp.

At one point he was a Brother, but it is unclear why he left. He formed a band of bastards, led by a ruthless, but deformed fighter Xcor, who he falsely claimed as his son. Xcor ran the group, leading everyone except the Bloodletter, who as nominal leader, was free to do as he chose but did not have the responsibility of leadership. This group roamed from one end of Europe to another and back again killing lessers for the pleasure of killing, not for the glory or defense of their race.

In 1761, his daughter Payne burned him to death in front of his adopted son Xcor and their band of bastards.

There is a 4-book series on him in the Temple of Books on the Other Side, however his paternal line was not listed. Cormia hadn’t thought about his maternal line, so we don’t know what it is either. While V’s book was titled ‘VISHOUS, SON OF THE BLOODLETTER 428’, his was simply ‘THE BLOODLETTER 356’.

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