Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin, #3)
Published November 4, 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers, 444 pp.
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has…
How goes it?
Oh my god! I’ve finished a series you guys! This is an accomplishment, I can’t believe it. So, seeing as this is the end of the road for this series, this will be part-review, part-series wrap-up!
Mortal Heart is the 3rd and final book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy, and is about Annith, who has been itching to go out and do Mortain’s bidding ever since Ismae and Sybella have received their missions. But when she finds out that the abbess is grooming her to be a seeress instead, she decides to take things into her own hands, and makes some discoveries of her own.
First off, this is a pretty long book. 440 pages does manage to wrap things up neatly, but the pacing in this is kind of off. There is a lot of self-reflection in this book, understandably so, because Annith wonders what she’s supposed to do once she’s outside of the convent, after confronting the abbess about her plans. Clearly, girl did not think this through, but she does manage to get to court, after her encounter with the hellequins, and her short stay with the Arduinnites.
I say the pacing is off because these events, meeting and spending time with the hellequins and Arduinnites, took a good chunk of the book to unfold, and these didn’t feel rushed. In fact, I do think an appropriate amount of pages was dedicated to these. However, after she did get to court, everything happened at a much faster pace. The discovery of her parentage, the sudden intense feelings she has for Balthazaar, the concoction of plans with the Duchess, are all suddenly in the last half. Granted, these events have been brewing since the last 2 books, but compared with the leisurely pace earlier in the book, things are happening relatively rapidly and I’m just kind of sitting there, reeling after each revelation. Sybella’s book had its own bombs as well, but there it felt like they were ticking time bombs – small clues here and there hinting towards something, building up to the Big Reveal, while here, they’re dropped in your lap and you’re left to deal with it with no preparation whatsoever. It was kind of jarring, since I felt the confessions came from the left field, like it was placed there because it seemed time to do so (or it seemed time was running out).
I do think this book was a good and fitting conclusion to the series. There’s not so much killing going around. This is more of Annith discovering her place in the world, and discovering who she is when the convent is factored out of her life, especially when she finds out that all the she’s so far held to be true turns out to be a lie, and she’s lost. So here we spend a lot of time in Annith’s head, reading her thoughts regarding Sybella’s and Ismae’s newfound lives outside of their small circle, and if there really is something she should be doing. Sybella’s book managed to balance this self-discovery with a healthy dose of action, but here the self-reflection takes centre stage.
Surprisingly enough, I like Ismae best out of her own book. In Mortal Heart and Dark Triumph she’s in her element in the court, and seeing her interact with Duval in the books lets me look at her story more fondly.
Speaking of Duval, while Balthazaar and Annith are a perfectly ok couple, I felt that their development was a bit rushed. Like the journey to their coupledom was abbreviated somewhat, because I felt like their interactions were too sparse and few in between everything else that was happening. After Annith’s short stay with the hellequins the only significant interaction they had was when Balthazaar escorted her to Guerande and back, and the rest were the short moonlit encounters (did I really just write moonlit encounters).
Another thing about this, I guess, is that you do have to suspend your beliefs in reality for a moment, especially towards the end when things get fantastical. I mean I’m all for love triumphing over everything, but when you get 3 books filled with blood, politics, and war you expect it to end in the high of Anne and her duchy triumphing over the French. But no, not all. When it ends it’s because the king of France has been pierced with Arduinna’s arrow (courtesy of Annith) and would rather settle this conflict through marriage because they tire of this “conflict” (conflict is a huge understatement) kind of kills the mood.
But fine, it’s what the entire book’s been building up to anyway. I mean if Mortain can become human, why not, eh?
Despite these though, I still feel like this is a nice conclusion to the series; it ties a neat bow over everyone’s stories. Now that Mortain is conveniently mortal, there is no more reason for the convent to exist, other than to provide shelter for girls who seek it, and Ismae and Annith have found their own slice of happily ever after along the way, so I can’t complain too much.
As a book, I’d say 3 stars, close to 4, maybe. It’s good, but like Grave Mercy, Ismae’s book, much talk, and a bit lacking in action for me. Sybella really is my kind of heroine, since I loved hers.
As a series, a solid 4. I think these books build on each other nicely, and to fully appreciate the three ladies and their stories you should read all 3. They can all certainly be read as standalones, but if you can (and you want to, lol), do read them!