This week I thought I would compare two types of villains that are lacking a little in the scary stakes. J R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series features lessers who are part of the Lessening Society and they are going up against the Dark Knights in Claire Ashgrove’s Curse of the Templar series.
The lessers are vampire slayers who have lost their souls. They are ageless and over time become albino (as their skin and hair loses pigmentation). They don’t need to eat or drink which is always a plus. In Ward’s series, the Black Dagger Brotherhood vampires are the good guys and they are protecting the womenfolk and weaker vampires from the predatory lessers. Once the lessers join the Lessening Order, their heart is placed in a ceramic jar which they tote around with them. Unfortunately these guys are impotent and smell like baby powder. Nope, you didn’t misread that. The scariest, bad-ass and most angst ridden vampires in the world are intimidated by bad guys that smell like babies and have a security blanket in the form of a jar. Wow, no wonder the BDB guys are quaking in their boots. The lessers are also fairly weak so they need to hunt in packs while the BDB can fight alone. Their leaders are fairly ineffectual so it is no wonder that the Omega isn’t able to achieve his objective and eradicate all vampires. Killing the lessers doesn’t completely annihilate them; they just get re-absorbed into the Omega. If you judge the strength of the BDB by their ability to destroy lessers, then they aren’t very strong despite all the posturing. Giving the BDB a more worthy foe, would make their ultimate success that much sweeter.
Claire Ashgrove has also set up an epic battle between the good, Knights Templar, and the dark knights, the Knights of Azazel. I know that the dark knights are the harbingers of doom but whenever they are mentioned, I automatically think of Batman and then my mind wanders to the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I’m just waiting for them to let loose with a “na na na na Batman” or “it’s just a flesh wound” and for the Templar to respond “what are you going to do, bleed on me?” Seriously though, the dark knights were originally Knights Templar that had been corrupted. Azazel seeks eight holy artefacts to claim the Almighty’s throne and the dark knights are a handy weapon to have at his disposal. All of the Templars can feel the weight of darkness on their soul from centuries of fighting and are just waiting for Azazel to claim them. They know their time is coming up when it takes a long time to heal from their wounds. The only possible salvation comes from the love of a good woman – a seraph to be precise – who is their fated match. If she accidentally dies before the Templar can find her, then he is doomed. The whole system seems a bit dodgy to me especially given the prevalence of wars and lack of hygiene in earlier eras. The Templars find the dark knights a formidable force because their shared history means they can anticipate each other’s moves.
Of the two, I think the lessers are the least scary. It is a bit hard to get past the smell and the fact that they never succeed except in the very short term. The dark knights on the other hand move with deliberation and are obviously evenly matched with our heroes.
Lessers are clearly lesser.