Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin #2)
Published April 2, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 385 pp.
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.
But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for…
How goes it?
So. Intense. Feelings were felt in this sequel to Grave Mercy and I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s always awesome when the sequel in a series is better than the first book, and Dark Triumph is one of those books! Surprisingly, I finished this within a day, unlike the first (I mean Ismae was cool but her story was more tame compared to Sybella’s) which took me a couple of days.
Sybella’s first impressions in the first book are memorable, because she’s there when Ismae first awakes and she’s basically a madwoman. Here her story is fleshed out, and.. wow. The girl has certainly been through enough in her 17 years. And because of that, the best part of this is the arc her character goes through: by the end of the book, she’s no longer lost, she knows where she’s supposed to be, and what her purpose is.
Fine ok, I love Sybella. Beast was right when he told her that she sees herself in the worst light. It was thanks to him she realizes that she is more than her parentage, and all the things she’s done so far is out of survival, and out of loyalty to those she holds dearest. She also had no qualms about killing, which at first scared her, but like I said, by the end she knows it isn’t just about wanting to kill for the heck of it.
I, on the other hand, was cheering her on because if “assassin nun” doesn’t get you license to slash your way through your missions, I don’t know what will.
Ismae was in this book, as one of Sybella’s few friends, and I find that the bits of her with Sybella gave me a more favorable view of her as compared to when I was reading Grave Mercy. Ismae in Dark Triumph feels like the Ismae hiding under the guise of the Ismae we knew in Grave Mercy, so that’s why I liked her better here. Ismae was okay as a heroine, but her story felt.. glossed over, like it was prettified. She was in court most of the time, basically already had her guy in her corner, and hardly had to prove anything to anyone. Sybella, though, felt raw, which made her feel more real, in a way.
The romance here is sweet, but minimal, and it serves as a complement to Sybella’s development throughout the book. Beast may not be the typical handsome, perfect hero, but he understands Sybella, accepts her, and just what she needs to heal from the pain and grief before they met.
There is also less of the politics and court intrigue here, which I like, because while I appreciate a bit of history and politics in my historical fiction, if it isn’t Asia, I can’t fully appreciate it. This book is really about Sybella.
Lastly, because if this book didn’t get the message clear across: the abbess is a tool. A right fucking tool. I think I dislike her more than d’Albret, which is saying a lot. But at least d’Albret didn’t hide under the guise of service in the name of a saint and pretend to do you favors, only to shove you back into the company of wolves.
5 paper planes for Sybella and her journey, in which we meet a hero that proves looks aren’t everything, bad guys lurking in plain sight, and the realization that maybe love is the answer! To everything!