Audio Review: The King by J. R. Ward

Posted April 24, 2014 by Jonetta in Book Review | | 17 Comments

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audio Review: The King by J. R. WardThe King by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #12
Narrator: Jim Frangione
Published by Penguin Audio on April 1, 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Length: 22 hours, 4 minutes
Audio | Goodreads

Long live the King…

After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father’s mantle--with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sets heavily on his head. As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything--and everyone--at risk.

Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it. But when she decides she wants a child, she’s unprepared for Wrath’s response--or the distance it creates between them.

The question is, will true love win out... or tortured legacy take over?


Last year, I read Lupdilup’s (from Hot Listens) interview with Jim Frangione, the narrator of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and was extremely impressed with his approach to recording. I made a mental note to consider listening to one of the books, even though I’d read the first 11 and the novella. So, when I was offered the opportunity to preview the audiobook version of this book, I seized the moment.


Let’s just deal with the audiobook experience upfront. First, it was a revelation to hear the true pronunciation of some of the character names. Who knew Xcor was pronounced “Score”? I’d thought it “Ex-Cor”or “Z-Cor.” Plus, I now have clarity around all that odd terminology so common to the series. I loved listening to this story. Frangione actually changes pitch and cadence throughout the book, providing distinctions for all those storylines. It’s still incredible to me that he’s the sole voice recorded as, at times, he just sounded like three or four different people. I’m now a convert to this format for the series. He’s a pro.


The story
I’m not going to rehash the story, as with most of the books in the series, there are multiple storylines with some resolved by the end and others continuing. Here are my impressions of the primary ones.

What I loved the most was the parallel stories of modern day Wrath and Beth and Wrath and Ana (his parents). I gained so much insight about how Wrath’s points of view were shaped and the legacy he inherited. It was fascinating to contrast the two relationships and the politics both faced. Well done.

The Assail/Sola story was intense and had me riveted. It was sometimes harsh but awfully exciting. I want more of these two.

The Trez/iAm/Selena situation was explored significantly. I learned so much more about these two and their back stories as well as Selena. There’s still so much more to figure out but at least they are all multidimensional now.

I was not a fan of Xcor, nor his “relationship” with Layla and still am not. However, the dynamics of their friendship are complex and fascinating (like watching a car wreck…you just can’t avert your eyes).

Saxton’s story really caught me by surprise. I’ve always liked him and now I’m an even bigger fan.

The political wrangling between Wrath, the Glymera and the Band of Bastards is the core of the book from where all the other stories circle. In my opinion, it created and maintained the tension throughout.


Speaking of the multiple storylines…
Some may not like the many stories Ward has in play and, honestly, there was a lot going on in this book. It works really well for me as that’s how my brain is wired…keeps me in the story and I’m never distracted. But you may find yourself struggling to keep up with all of the transitions if you’re not a fan.


The bottom line
I enjoyed this book a LOT! The audio experience certainly helped but I also felt Ward carried me deftly to all of the stories’ conclusions. There’s certainly a pivot in the direction of the series and I’m a bit excited about what may come next. I devoted 22 hours of my life listening to the book and it felt about half that. That’s a measure of success when a reader can get this immersed in a story.




About Jim Frangione

Jim Frangione was born on January 26, 1958 in Hyannis, Massachusetts, USA. He is an actor, known for Transamerica (2005), Heist (2001) and The Spanish Prisoner (1997).

Jim has recorded over 100 audiobooks. He loves being part of the Recorded Books family. In addition to Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie Mysteries and his new young adult series, the Bowser and Birdie stories, he is also the narrator for J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series and many others. Jim is a NYC-based actor and co-artistic director of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab, a new play development forum in Great Barrington, MA. He’s performed on TV, in many of the plays and films of David Mamet, with NY’s Atlantic Theater Company, On and Off Broadway, and at many theaters across the country.

About J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times and USAToday Best Selling author of erotic paranormal romance. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. After graduating from law school, she began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.

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17 responses to “Audio Review: The King by J. R. Ward

  1. I just now getting around doing all my rounds (I was on a spring break trip). First thank for the nice mention 🙂 and second YAY! I”M THRILLED that you enjoyed the narration!! He’s a hit or miss, but mostly a hit…LOL. I did too, enjoy this a lot more than other peeps did.
    Great review!

    • Glad to hear from you and hope you had a good time. I think you’re either going to accept Ward’s directional choices and roll with it…or not. As long as she can can get me there, I’m in.

  2. We received a tweet saying the narrator mispronounced Xcor’s name. I posed the question to Ward on her Facebook page and she says the correct pronunciation is “Cor.”

  3. No only is BDB one of my all-time favorite series, it’s also one of my face series on audio. Jim does such a fantastic job with these books and I could not imagine anyone else narrating these books. That voice of his is just so deep and demands your attention to listen.

    As far as the story for The King…..I LOVED IT. Wrath was the first BDB I fell for, so he hols a special place in my heart. Also, Beth is one of my favorite shellans (Bella being the other) and I love the dynamics between her and Wrath. Ward adding Wrath and Ana’s story was a great touch and I loved seeing how Wrath’s father had hard struggles as much as he’s having because up intil now, I believed that ruling just came so easily for the older Wrath. I thought the ending of the book was perfect and I actually cried while reading and I think the last time I cried in a BDB book was JM’s book.

    Great Review!

  4. I am so glad you felt this way about the book! I have seen many different reviews for this book, ranging from long time fans who don’t like the way Ward has multiple story lines (old news in my opinion) to long time fans who simply enjoy the characters and story. I completely agree with your review, and honestly felt like there were less story lines going on with this one than several books prior. I might have to consider listening when I do my reread next year. Thanks!!

      • It’s when the books started being 500+ pages, which was book #5, Lover Unbound, that fans started complaining that the main characters’ story was eclipsed by the multiple storylines. They’ve been a staple since.

        Lenore, I hope you give the audiobook format a shot to see if it fits. Thanks for commenting!

  5. TheBookNympho

    I have yet to listen to Frangione. I still have Lover at Last to read. I saw once that my local library had it on audio in CD format. Maybe I’ll check it out and if I can’t hang with the narration I’ll switch to the ebook.

  6. I love Jim Frangione. I think he is the perfect narrator for this series. I’ve seen many people who don’t like him. It seems to be a love him or hate him type of thing, which is fine. I know some other narrators that others love that I just don’t like. Everyone has their preferences.

    I loved the Wrath and Beth story, and I don’t mind side stories thrown in, but there were too many to me in this book. It seemed a little ADD to me, especially in the first half. I felt the book flowed much better in the second half when there was more time devoted to Beth and Wrath. I can’t wait to see where she goes with The Shadows and see more about S’Ex.

    By the way, since this is your first audio for this series, how did you like having to try to write an audio review and figure out all the spellings from this series. I don’t normally have issues writing audio reviews, but trying to look up all the name spellings (or for me the location of the Shadows which I never found) made things much more time consuming than a normal audio review.

    • Hold it Melanie! A few people don’t like him…LOL Not for nothing but he’s ratings on audible are off the roof 😉 just saying..Lol I’m a crazy fan.