The Shadows: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood (Anglais) Poche – 6 octobre 2015
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TERRITORY OF THE S’HISBE, GRAND PALACE
The footprints he left on the white marble were red. Red as a Burmese ruby. Red as the core of a fire. Red as the anger in his marrow.
The blood was TrezLath’s own, but he felt no pain.
The murder weapon he’d just used, a sterling silver paring knife about as long as his hand and as narrow as his forefinger, was still in his palm. It was dripping, but that was not the source of the stain he was leaving behind. He had been injured in the fight. His hip. His thigh. Maybe his shoulder, he wasn’t sure.
The corridor was a mile long and sky-high, and he did not know what awaited him at its termination. A door, he prayed. There had to be a door of some kind—this was the way out of the palace, so there had to be . . . an exit. And when he came unto it? He had no idea how he was going to break out. But he’d also had no clue how to kill another living male, and he’d done that minutes ago.
Further, he had no plan for what was on the far side of the palace enclosure or how he was going to get over the Territory’s retaining walls. No clue where to go, what to do. All he knew was that he couldn’t be in that cell anymore. It was luxurious enough, with silken sheets on a feather bed, and a bath that had its own pool, and a private chef to feed him. He had books written by the Shadow Masters at his disposal, and a full team of care specialists, from healers, to bathers, to exercise commandants. As for his clothes? His now-torn vestments were studded with gems from the treasury, diamonds and emeralds and sapphires cascading down his robes.
And yet his body was regarded as far more valuable than the largesse it bore.
Trez was the sacred fatted calf, the prized breeding stallion, the male whose birth chart had proclaimed he was to sire the next generation of queens.
He had not yet been called into sexual service. That would come in time, when the Princess he was to mate had reached her astrological maturity.
Trez looked over his shoulder. No one was coming after him, but that would change as soon as the crumpled body of that guard he’d overpowered was found—and that wasn’t going to be long. There was always someone watching.
If only he could—
Up in front of him, a door that was flush with the wall slid back, and a massive figure draped in black stepped directly into his path.
s’Ex, the Queen’s executioner, had his chain-mail hooding in place, his features covered by the metal weave. But the sight of his face was unnecessary.
His voice, deep and evil, was pure menace. “You killed one of my males.”
Trez shuffled to a halt, his dragging robes stilling on the floor. Glancing down at the knife in his hand, he knew that the flimsy “weapon” was going to get him nowhere against the Shadow he now faced. The silver blade had been designed to cut pears and apples, not even tenderloin meats.
And the executioner was not like that guard.
“You are trying to leave.” s’Ex didn’t take a step forward, but seemed closer anyway. “Which is not only unacceptable from my point of view, but against the law.”
“Then kill me in punishment,” Trez said in a tired voice. “Rip my body asunder and bury me in pieces outside of the Territory like the traitor I am.”
“I would do just that. In retribution for your taking the life of my guard.” s’Ex crossed his heavy arms over his thick chest. “But the very beating of your heart and breath within your lungs is divine. So that avenue is not open to me—or you.”
Trez closed his eyes briefly. His parents had been thrilled with the news that one of their two fraternal sons had been born upon the perfect moment in time, a preordained, stars-aligned split second that would transform the family—a blessing for them, with attendant riches and social position; a curse for him that had robbed him of his life whilst ever still he lived.
“Do not even think about it,” the executioner said.
As Trez lifted his lids, he found that he had put the knife to his own throat. His hand was trembling badly, but he was pushing the blade in enough to nick the skin over his artery.
His blood, warm and smooth, caressed over his clenched fist.
Trez’s laughter sounded crazy to his own ears. “I’ve nothing to lose except a life sentence for the crime of being born.”
“Oh, I think you do. No, don’t look away—you’re going to want to see this.”
The executioner nodded at the open doorway and something was pushed out. . . .
“No!” Trez yelled, his voice echoing up and down the corridor. “No!”
“So you recognize him.” s’Ex uncoiled his arms and pulled up his sleeves, deliberately flashing bloody knuckles. “In spite of my work. Then again, the pair of you have been together for how long?”
Trez’s vision went in and out of focus as he sought his brother’s eyes. There was no gaze to hold. iAm was not conscious, his head lolling to one side, his face beaten until it was so swollen the features were distorted. His body was bound in a worn leather sleeve that ran from below his knees all the way up to his shoulders and was secured by a brass buckle system. Stains, new and old, darkened the brown of the straps and dulled the glow of the metal pieces.
“Give him to me,” s’Ex commanded.
As the executioner grabbed onto the back of the hold, he lifted iAm’s limp body from the floor with no more effort than he might put into raising a flask of wine.
“Please . . .” Trez begged. “He is not of this . . . let him go. . . .”
For some reason, his brother’s dangling lower legs registered with nauseating clarity. Only one of iAm’s shoes was on still, the other having been lost in whatever abduction and torture had occurred. And both feet were pointing inward, the big toes touching, one tilted in unnaturally from a broken ankle.
“Now, Trez,” s’Ex said, “did you think your decision wasn’t going to affect him? I’m telling you to put the knife down. If you do not, I’m going to take this”—the executioner jogged iAm’s limp body up and down—“and I’m going to wake it up. Do you know how I’m going to do that? I’m going to take this”—in his free hand he flashed a serrated knife—“and put it into its shoulder. Then I’m going to twist until it starts to scream.”
Trez began to blink away tears. “Let him go. This has nothing to do with him.”
“Put the knife down.”
“Shall I demonstrate?”
“No! Let him—”
s’Ex stabbed iAm’s shoulder so hard, the blade cut through the leather and went into the flesh.
“Twist?” s’Ex barked over the scream. “Yes? Or are you dropping that butter knife?”
The clatter of the silver hitting the marble floor was overpowered by iAm’s harsh, dragging breaths.
“That’s what I thought.” s’Ex jerked the knife out and iAm started to moan and cough, blood speckling the floor. “We’re going back to your quarters.”
“Let him go first.”
“You are not in a position to make demands.”
Guards came out of that hidden door in a swarm, all black-robed figures with chain-mail masks. They didn’t touch him. They weren’t allowed to. They surrounded him and began to walk, pushing him along with their bodies. Forcing him back to the place he had escaped.
Trez fought the tide, rising up on the balls of his feet, trying to see his brother.
“Don’t kill him!” he shouted. “I’ll go! I’ll go—just don’t hurt him!”
s’Ex stood where he was, that notched, bloodied blade catching the light as he held it aloft. As if he were considering major organs for the next stab.
“It’s up to you, Trez. It’s all up to—”
Later, when the white light had faded from Trez’s vision and the cresting wave receded, when the roar was silenced and a strange pain in his hands began to ride up his forearms, when he was no longer standing but on his knees, he would realize that the first guard he had killed that night was far from his last.
He would realize that he somehow murdered with his bare hands all who had surrounded him . . .
...and s’Ex was still standing there with his brother.
More than the deaths he caused, and the horror at iAm’s imprisonment with him, more than the copper-scented blood that was so red and now not just marking his footprints, he would remember the soft laugh that percolated through the mesh links covering the executioner’s face.
A soft laugh.
As if the executioner approved of the carnage.
Trez did not laugh. He began to sob, lifting bloody, torn hands to his face.
“The astrological charts did not lie,” s’Ex said. “You are a force in this world, well suited for procreation.”
Trez slumped to the side, landing in the blood, the jewels embedded in his robes digging into his flesh. “Please . . . let him go. . . .”
“Return to your quarters. Voluntarily and without hurting anyone else.”
“And you’ll let him go?”
“You’re not the only one who can kill. And unlike yourself, I have been trained in the art of making living things suffer. Go back to your quarters and I will not make your brother wish, as you do, that he had never been born.”
Trez looked at his hands. “I didn’t ask for this.”
“No one asks for life.” The executioner hiked iAm’s body up higher. “And sometimes they do not ask for death. You, however, are in the position to control the latter when it comes to this male. So what are you going to do. Fight against a destiny you can’t change and sentence this innocent to a wretched, prolonged suffering? Or fulfill a sacred duty many before you have found great honor in providing our people?”
“Let us go. Let us both go.”
“It is not up to me. Your chart is what your chart is. Your lot was determined by the contractions of your mother. You can no more fight this than you could fight them.”
When Trez finally tried to stand up, he found the floor slippery. The blood. The blood he had spilled. And when he was on his feet, he had to scramble through the gruesome tangle of bodies, stepping over lives that he knew had not been his to take.
The footsteps he left on the marble were red. Red as a Burmese ruby. Red as the core of a fire.
And the ones he left now were parallel to his first set of tracks, heading away from the escape he had so desperately sought.
It would have heartened him to know that in some twenty years, three months, one week, and six days from this moment, he would get free and make it stick for quite some time.
And it would have shocked him to the numb core of his soul that he would, sometime after that, voluntarily return to the palace.
The executioner spoke the truth that night.
Destiny was as uncaring and influential as the wind to a flag, carrying the fabric of an individual’s existence this way and that, subjecting that which it rocked to its whims without an inquiry as to what the banner may have desired.
Or may have prayed for.
SHADOWS NIGHTCLUB, CALDWELL, NEW YORK
There was no knock. The door to the office just flew open like someone had hit it with C4. Or a Chevy. Or a—
Trez “Latimer” looked from the paperwork on his desk. “Big Rob?”
As his security second in command stuttered and went into all kinds of hand flapping, Trez glanced over his shoulder at the twenty-by-ten-foot one-way mirror behind all his Captain Kirk, command central. Down below, his new club was poppin’, humans milling around the converted warehouse’s open floor space, each one of the poor sick bastards representing a couple hundred dollars of profit, depending on what their vice was and how much of it they needed to juice up.
It was opening night at shAdoWs, and he’d expected trouble.
Just not the kind that would make a veteran bouncer go twelve-year-old girl on him.
“What the fuck is going on?” he demanded as he got up and came around.
“I—you—I . . . the guy . . . he . . .”
Find your vocab fast, Trez thought. Or I’ma have to bitch-slap some words into you, my man.
Finally, the bouncer choked out, “Need to see this for yourself.”
Trez followed Big Rob out and jogged down the stairs. His office was self-locking, not that he had any secrets shut in there. He did, however, have a couple of nice leather sofas, and some video-monitoring equip that could go the eBay route—plus he didn’t like people in his spaces on principle.
“Silent Tom is containing the issue,” Big Rob called out over the noise as they hit the ground floor.
“Like it’s a chemical spill?”
“I don’t know what it is.”
T.I.’s “About the Money” was so pumped it formed a physical presence in the air, becoming something that Trez had to fight through as they made their way past the security guy guarding the entrance to the private lounges hallway.
As with his other club, The Iron Mask, there had to be little slices of Nobody Can See for his customers. It was tricky enough running a prostitution ring in Caldwell, New York, without having people flash their slappin’ body parts out in the open.
“Back here,” Big Rob said.
Silent Tom was a wall of human in front of the closed door of the third private room down. But Trez didn’t need to have any reveal for him to put two and two together: His nose added that math up just fine.
The sickly sweet stench of a lesser permeated the hall, prevailing over the sweat and sex of the humans that were all around.
“Lemme have a look,” he said grimly.
Silent Tom stepped aside. “Still moving. Whatever the hell it is.”
Revue de presse
“J. R. Ward’s unique band of brothers is to die for. I love this series!” —Suzanne Brockmann, New York Times Bestselling Author of Do or Die
“Utterly absorbing and deliciously erotic.…The Brotherhood is the hottest collection of studs in romance. I can’t wait for the next one!” —Angela Knight, New York Times Bestselling Author of Love Bites
“J. R. Ward’s urban fantasy romance series is so popular, I don’t think there’s a reader today who hasn’t at least heard of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.”—USA Today
“Tautly written, wickedly sexy, and just plain fun.”—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Fear Nothing
“A raw, gritty tour de force.”—Booklist (starred review)
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Quel roman fantastique !!! Et ces deux frères que l'on a découvert au fil des tomes précédents s'avèrent être deux personnages vraiment très attachants et extrêmement touchants.
Ce n'est peut-être pas le plus palpitant de la série mais c'est celui qui m'a le plus touchée.
Alors oui, je recommande ce livre.
Histoire mêlée des 2 frères Iam et Trez.
Comme toujours, je recommande.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
It was a good story in that a lot of the background stories moved further along and some new storylines began. The Layla and Xcor business is starting to drag, but even their relationship progression was interesting. It was delightful to see more of Rhage and Mary - that's something that has definitely been missed and maybe there was some indication that these two are going to have more of a story-arc in the future? That would be fabulous!
But mostly, my thoughts on this book are: HEAs are under-rated. It was a seriously, completely freaking depressing read. Any happiness I would feel for iAm and Maichan is totally obliterated - I genuinely don't even care about them - and that's part of what really sucks. Their storyline was great, but it all happened in less than half of a book and all in the background of this epic tragedy. Literally the fastest relationship of any of the couples in the book even thought it had such great elements - political intrigue, mistaken identities, entwined destinies. Like - damn - that would have been a great book.
I disagree that it was necessary for Selena to die. Totally disagree. Vehemently disagree. But even saying that she did have to - why in hell does Trez now have to continue living? He had a crap life before Selena, a short shining respite with Selena, and now just .... what exactly? A lifetime of being a third wheel to his twin brother and his mate? There was talk of how the brothers are able to be together forever now and all I could think is: "WTH iAm? You spend your entire life taking care of your brother and now when he really needs it you're being all selfish with the 'live for me' junk?" You know what would have been a great scene? iAm whispering to Trez - "Brother? Is it time? Are you ready to be free?" I wish - honestly - that Trez had died also and he and Selena ended up together in The Fade. iAm and Maichan still could have gotten together - that would have been part of iAm's progression from perma- baby-sitter to a free life with his lady love. But instead, Trez gets to live without his mate while watching his twin and his mate live HEA. Seriously, WTH? It makes me bitterly regret the wasted 9 months between the previous book and this one for Trez and Selena. Which is another sucky, sucky thing - now The King is mostly ruined for me because that's where Trez and Selena really get their beginning.
And good grief - poor freaking Tohr. After everything he went through, he's now having to be supportive while another hellren/shellan have a son and Trez loses his mate. I'm sure that's giving him nightmares and August is having to support him through all of this - and oh yeah, they're still newlyweds.
I guess I should have known when it started with the infant dying at the very beginning. I kept hoping that the baby had been rescued and would re-appear at some point just like I kept hoping a miracle would happen or a cure would be found and save Selena. I'm just planning on doing a massive re-write in my head. I might be done with the BDB after this - I will definitely be reading any damn spoiler alerts she posts before buying any books in the future. Life is too busy and too sad on its own to not get a HEA when you want one.
But The Shadows? I cared. A LOT. It was such an amazingly romantic book. Full of love and living and being all about the moment and carpe noctem. It was all about living before dying so there would be no regrets. About growing and enduring...and then the ending came. And I wanted to send the ashes back to Ward in a pretty pink box. You see, this is the issue with novels like these. I don't mind at all if the heroine or hero of the book dies, I really don't. Read plenty in my time and still enjoy reading those books over again. As long as there's closure and understanding, I get it and I accept it.
But Selena and Trez's book? It was NOT one of those books that made sense to go that route. Killing the heroine? Crippling her bonded mate for life? THIS IS NO HEA. If you're looking for a romance novel, THIS BOOK IS NOT IT. How are you going to be that author who sized up these two amazing characters from books ago, and when we finally get to their conclusion, we realize THEY DON'T GET ONE. There is no closure. Just a gaping wound that won't heal in my chest.
With this novel, Ward has seriously punked and insulted me. I've been a loyal fan and reader since the beginning. Since before the BDB was born and she was just Jessica Bird. I've dealt with so much unresolved situations and holes in the BDB series and despite feeling some sort of way about some of the novels, I always grew to love it for its entirety. But The Shadows? The Ends DO NOT justify the Means. And there are reasons surrounding the novel that explain why.
In the beginning, when Selena has her attack and nearly dies from it, Trez somehow does this cloaking magical thing that manages to save her life. That right there already told me, HE WAS HER SAVIOR. He was the solution to her disease. The CURE for it. It was THAT obvious. This is a vampire/fantasy novel. I expect things like this to go down. And I was all for it.
But all of a sudden, it was like I felt the author's personal pains and writers block syndrome. and instead of being creative, instead of taking a life experience and molding it to fit her characters accurately, she straight out KILLS the heroine because she's reminded of the death of her dog. She all but explains it in a spoiled blog on The Shadows opening release day. Don't believe me? Go to her facebook or account on Goodreads. She basically wrote the death of her dog in the book. And before anyone comes at me, realize that honesty is sincerity. And right now, I'm a pretty ticked off reader who saw and smelled the BS in the binding of this novel. I've dealt with sh*t in my life too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to put all my pain on the world and make people feel sorry for me, and end up loving my book for all the wrong reasons.
Harsh much? Of course. But I'll say it if no one else wants to. She killed Selena the same way the vets or pound would euthanize an animal or in this case, Ward's dog. She basically said it. She saw her pet Jonah in this darn scene and rewrote HIS death in place of Selena's and POOF. End of their romantic ride. Just like that.
Despite having soooo many things at their disposal. So many people and loopholes that could have saved Selena. *AHEM* Trez's magical misting blanket*. Despite having even the Scribe Virgin present and bringing Trez to Selena in the first place, or having Payne's magical healing glow, or all these chances to cure Selena, Ward brought the Vampire down to Human. Too human. To the point I had to turn the book around and make sure I was reading a BDB book and not one of Nicolas Spark's.
And before anyone comes at me and says I don't have a heart, how could I say that, blah blah blah. SHUT IT. It's because I care WAY too much that I am saying all this. I'm tough love when it matters, and this book mattered. It meant so much because there was so much life in this novel alone. None of the other ones had that. Not even Mary's. This book mattered. I cared. I loved it. Still do. But that ending? IT WAS WRONG. It was so undeserved of a long time couple and their strides to be with one another. For people who are defending Ward, you seriously need to stop making a fool of yourself and start being honest with you as well as J.R. Ward. Start asking questions. It really is an eye opener.
Did Trez get his HEA? Did Selena? NOPE.
Was the ending satisfying? Did it answer all the gaping expanse of questions we had? HECK NO.
If there was one thing I can take from this book, what would it be? THAT SELENA IS DEAD AND TREZ IS NOW A WALKING ZOMBIE GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS AND ONLY ALIVE BECAUSE IT WAS SELENA'S FINAL WILL TO HIM, NOT BECAUSE HE WANTS TO.
How would I rate this novel? WELL, IT NEEDS TO BE MOVED FROM THE ROMANCE SECTION AND INTO THE BONFIRE.
Any final thoughts? HAPPY APRIL FOOL'S DAY?....OR NOT.
Keep in mind, despite the bitter hatred for the outcome, it is because I care immensely that I am ranting this hard. Love is hate as hate is love. The one thing I can't deal with, that I am selfish for, is Trez. Selena is dead. That's it. He is forced to live a half existence without his HEA. Every time he is mentioned in the future, I'm going to wince. Because I know he's not going to be all right. I know he deserved better and he didn't get what we all selfishly wanted for him. That was the whole point of reading The Shadows to begin with. For Trez and Selena. Each time he sees the brothers with their Shellans, I'Am with his female, it is going to kill him each time and render him nearly unconscious from the basking pain of his dead lover.
What happened in this novel, as it does with all the other novels, affects the future of this series. How is she going to present Trez without contradicting the mate bond? Without flip flopping from Vampire/fantasy to Human/her reality? Without sugar coating the pain and grief? I hope J.R. Ward is happy with herself for killing off a favored heroine and crippling a male of worth. And if she dares tries to make him into a Tohr 2.0, she needs to stop while she's ahead because that's only going to add salt to the bleeding wound.
Man, Trez and Selena deserved so much more than this. So much more.