Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) Featured
Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?
This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.
Sybella, the blood thirsty nun.
Admittedly, I was underwhelmed by Grave Mercy. I loved the premise of assassin nuns trained in the deadly arts, but was turned off by the breadth of the political intrigue and Ismae's accursed conscience. In the wings, however, waited Sybella. She was such a mysterious and interesting character that it made me long for the release date of Dark Triumph. I am happy to say, Sybella does not disappoint. She is certainly bloodthirsty, (and one point she even mutters "I am in desperate need of killing something.") and she does not often worry about the moral implications as Ismae did. While Ismae faded a little when the love interest was introduced, Sybella railed against him, taking every opportunity to comment on how ugly he was.
The romantic angle in Dark Triumph was much more palatable for me than it was in Grave Mercy. Beast and Sybella seem equally well matched and neither comes to love the other easily. There was a point at which Beast seemed to have developed an unhealthy desire to rescue Sybella, but that passed and they were placed on equal footing once again. For his part, Beast opened Sybella to a world of compassion that her upbringing had denied her and I really enjoyed how she developed in his presence.
This book featured much less political maneuvering than its predecessor and this makes for a much faster paced plot. Beast and Sybella's lives have been closely intertwined for many years and the revelation of her secrets adds an air of mystery to the story. There are also a number of exciting battles and the introduction of an interesting new cast of characters. While this book moves the overall plot along and sets up for the series to continue, it also provides a satisfying ending to Sybella's personal story.
I will definitely be waiting with baited breath for the next installment in the His Dark Assassin series for more of Sybella but, as I remember very little of Annith, I am also excited for a story that follows her and one that finally reveals the secrets of the convent.
What I loved: Grave Mercy was one of my favorite reads from 2012 and I have been excited to get my hands on Dark Triumph for months. Sybella's story is much darker than even I had expected it to be. She had a painful childhood that has left her emotionally scarred and very untrusting. Sybella's hatred for d'Albret guides the plot and the cast of supporting characters is strong all around.
I also need to give a huge fan-girl shout out to Beast. I think he is one of my favorite historical men I have ever read. He may not fit the bill of everyone's favorite type of male lead but he is up at the top of my list. His brute strength alone makes him fascinating to read but once you uncover his personality you will find a loving, loyal, amazing man. I was surprised how much I ended up rooting for him.
Final Verdict: Dark Triumph is one of the most engrossing stories I have ever read. I was captivated and intrigued from the very beginning and I felt satisfied at the end, although I could have used a little more Beast. I think readers will root for Sybella despite the harshness of her personality and cheer for the successes in life and love that she finds.
Fans of Grave Mercy should not hesitate to pick this second book up. You will not be disappointed. Readers and lovers of historical fiction in the adult or young adult markets should look for this series as well, it is a gem! I am anxiously awaiting the next installment.
A Much Darker, More Emotional Read Than Grave Mercy
What I Loved:
I have made no secret of my immense love of Grave Mercy, and have been recommending it to everyone I know who enjoys historical fiction, fantasy, and powerful heroines. As with every sequel to a book I loved, trepidation filled me as I approached Dark Triumph. There's always that chance that the sequel will not live up to its predecessor and will color your enjoyment even of that first book. Robin LaFevers, though, hits her sequel out of the park. Dark Triumph does not fall victim to middle book syndrome and even surpasses Grave Mercy.
Grave Mercy was fairly dark, but still a nice read-a-like for Maria V. Snyder or Kristin Cashore. Dark Triumph is even darker, not a novel I would recommend to those who do not like unhappy tales. Sybella's dark past makes what Ismae went through look like a healthy childhood, and, those who read Grave Mercy know that Ismae's youth was no picnic. Ismae and Duval do make a couple of appearances in Dark Triumph, and it's startling how much more optimistic and friendly Ismae is in comparison to Sybella.
My attachment to Ismae formed immediately in Grave Mercy, but Sybella took me some time to adjust to. She's darker, moodier, more pained, and sometimes verges on crazy, though one can't blame her. However, as I got used to her and came to know more about why she is the way she is, I became even more bonded to Sybella, and even more desirous for her to overcome the horrors of her life.
Sybella's childhood, I will reiterate yet again, was...there aren't really words for it. Her father, d'Albret, used her as a pawn, and she had to watch him kill off wife after wife. Two of her brothers sexually harassed her, one for the fun of it and one from a misguided sense of love. Her past is without brightness, and I'm warning you now of triggers for rape and incest. On top of that, there is a whole lot of violence.
One of the main criticisms I've seen of Grave Mercy, even from those that liked it, had to do with the circumstances of the consummation of Ismae's romance. It was seen as a bit of a cop-out, as though Ismae needed an excuse to have sex. In Dark Triumph, the same could not be said. Sybella has had more than one sexual partner, some willed and some not, and does not have any hesitancy about having sex when she desires it. Sybella seems a bit more empowered than Ismae, and will likely be a big hit with those disappointed by that part of Grave Mercy.
The romance in Dark Triumph makes me even happier than that in Grave Mercy. Though I do think this series could just as easily have been marketed to an adult audience, I love that this book will be going to a young adult audience. LaFevers tosses aside convention and delivers a hero utterly unlike those to be found in the bulk of YA romances. He is not handsome; in fact, he is described as ugly more than once. That does not make him unlovable to Sybella or to me. This message is so important for teens, the importance of personality and common interests over physical appearance.
The Final Verdict:
If you loved Grave Mercy, get excited, because you will surely love Dark Triumph too. If you were in the camp of readers who thought LaFevers pulled some punches in the first book, then I urge you to give this installment a try, because it is much darker and more unique. My love for Robin LaFevers' writing has been firmly cemented, and I shall proceed to wait impatiently for the third His Fair Assassin novel.
I FREAKING HATE COUNT D'ALBRET!
I FREAKING HATE COUNT D'ALBRET!
YES, I HAD TO SAY IT TWICE! HE IS BEYOND EVIL!!!!!!!!!
So, Sybella is sent back to her evil father, d'Albret after spending 4 years at the convent of St. Mortain. The lovely and evil abbess thought it would be ideal to send her back to this hell and try to take him out if he bore the marque and some other stuff.
Gotta be watchin them nuns!
Sybella is trying to play her part the best she can, but she just wants to kill her father and be out of there. She worries every day about all of the innocent people being killed and when is the marque going to show up on him!
After reading so much evil this man does, I want him dead, brought back to life and killed again. Rinse and repeat!
Here is a little glimpse of the evil bastard!
Once, when I was ten years old, d'Albret became so enraged at his favorite hunting hound for not bringing down a twelve-point stag that he shot the creature with his hunting bow. After a brief yelp of pain, the loyal beast began dragging himself toward d'Albret, the arrow embedded in his hindquarters, whining softly in his throat and begging forgiveness. D'Albret finally relented and delivered a second shot that put him out of his misery
Sorry son of a bitch..sohoihgiaodhgisoghsiodhfiosdhfsiodhgsiohgaiosdghsaogh!!!!!!
THAT MAN NEEDS TO SUFFER!
Sybella decides she wants to free one of the prisoners that she feels is in the towers somewhere. He is a beast of a man, he is actually called Beast of Waroch. He's huge and fierce and took on a whole ton of men on his own. He is really cool and I just love him. They escape, Sybella goes with them to be reunited with Ismae and all of of the other good peeps. They meet some really cool people on the way. They were called charbonneries, I think I got that right, they were pretty fierce and living wild.
It's really sweet because Sybella and Beast find love together in this horrific place.
Sybella starts to remember something really, really terrible that happened to her at the hands of her father and she shares it with Beast. See if you don't want to tear him into little piece some more after reading this!
"In that moment, I saw what he meant to do. I struggled to get out of bed. 'Stop him!' I cried, but of course, none of the servants would dare cross him ." I look up into Beast's stricken face. "Only Alyse. She was the only one who moved to save my baby. She threw herself at him, trying to grab the baby from his hands, but he struck her, knocking her to the ground, where she hit her head on the leg of the heavy wooden chair. I did not know until days later that she had died from the blow. "Then he put his thick fingers around my baby's frail neck and broke it. When he was done, he tossed the baby to the floor, and left the room."
Want some dismemberment of this jerk now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Alyse was Beast's sister btw.
That someday would have come sooner than later!
So the ending seemed good, but I'm not sure.. I was oh yes.. then hmmmm.. I don't think so..
And I'm really hoping I'm wrong, BUT.. I would rather have a more horrific ending than what I am thinking happened. Read it and see what I mean! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
For Those That Love Game of Thrones - Historical Intrigue in Old Brittany
Grave Mercy was one of the most original books I had read last year and I was so eager to read R.L. LaFever's ongoing adventures of assassin nuns in 15th century Brittany. I am happy to say that Dark Triumph is just that - a triumph of the dark arts, political intrigue and even darker family secrets. Lady Sybella, assassin extraordinaire, is back within her father's castle walls fighting for her life, helping her Duchess escape her father's claws and fighting off the affection of her brother, Julian. She is waiting for her opportunity to finally kill her father when an unexpected escape means a new set of plans. Sybella meets a kindly knight and a mute dwarf who show her the meaning of love and kindness that she was only known in the convent. This is a must for any lover of historical fiction. The surprise is that it is in young adult.