Sunday, May 19, 2013

Guest Review: Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph
by Robin LaFevers
385 pages
Historical Fiction
Sequel: 2nd book of the His Fair Assassin series

Reading Level:
High School
Reviewed by:
Kelcey S., library page

S U M M A R Y :
Rumored to have been fathered by the god of Death himself, handmaidens are trained at the convent of Mortain to be instruments of justice for the god. Already twice rejected by death, Sybella arrives at the convent of Mortain weary of life and tortured by despair. Only the promise of vengeance against those who wronged her steels her resolve as she enhances her natural gifts in the arts of seduction, intrigue, and assassination through the convent’s training.

However, as she begins to find healing and friendships among her sisters in Mortain, the convent requires her to return to the life that nearly drove her insane. In her own household, she must constantly walk the edge of a knife as she undermines the brutal plans of her father and avoids the monstrosities of her own brothers. As she begins to once again lose her slippery hold on her sanity, will an unexpected ally turn up in the dungeons? Will a handmaiden to Death find a reason to truly live?

R E V I E W :
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, and found myself even more enthralled by the second. Sybella’s story is so personal and raw. She is an engaging narrator; her jaded voice accurately reflects her life and persona, which developed in response to her difficult upbringing. The reader sees Sybella’s inner turmoil seething, but other characters see nothing, because she never reveals anything that could compromise her. You also celebrate with Sybella the small victories that bring a feeling of joy despite knowing that things will only grow darker immediately after.

There were fewer of the historical events and details that seemed to slow the reader in Grave Mercy. The plot focuses on Sybella and the untangling of the events within one household rather than the fate of a country. I found this to be an extremely compelling read, full of intrigue and danger; this is for anyone with a passion for excellent historical fiction.

Editor's note: Just to give a little context for this review (since it's a sequel), here is a summary (from Goodreads) of Grave Mercy, the first book in this series:

"Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?"

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully underprepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

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