Robin LaFevers – Dark Triumph
Read my review of book:
1. Grave Mercy
Read By: Angela Goethals
Length: 13h 42m (400 pages)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 20 Aug 2014
Finished: 28 Aug 2014
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I really enjoyed Grave Mercy and wanted more.
Sybella’s got a
mission, and she’s hoping Death
will mark her father.
Summary: Sybella has always been silent about her past, even among her friends at the convent of Saint Mortain, where they train in the arts of Death. But she has good reason to be secretive, since her father is the traitorous D’Albret, who is attempting to take Brittany from its young duchess – by marriage if possible, and by force if not. Sybella knows only too well how cruel and cunning D’Albret can be, which is why when the abbess of Saint Mortain ordered her to return home, she went with the expectation that her father would bear Mortain’s mark, and she could end his life. But after she receives new orders – to free one of her father’s prisoners – all of her carefully laid plans start going awry. For the prisoner is the Beast of Waroch, one of the duchess’s fiercest warriors, but gravely wounded, and with more cause to distrust Sybella than he knows.
Review: This book starts off close to the end of Grave Mercy – when Ismae sees Sybella on the tower, warning her of the impending trap – but follows the action from Sybella’s point of view, rather than Ismae. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, maybe more than I was expecting to. Even though they’re both about death and assassins, this book is substantially darker than the first. Even though Ismae’s pre-convent life was not a picnic, it’s nothing compared to the damage that Sybella has had done to her, and the scars that she bears – literal and metaphorical – make her a much more complicated, but also much darker, character. She’s flawed and hungry for revenge and bitter and only barely managing to hold her broken pieces together, let alone try to claim any kind of future beyond killing her father. It reminded me a lot of the relationship in tone between Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Fire – both protagonists are strong in their own ways, but in both that series and this, the heroine of the second book is more complex, with a darker past and deeper wounds, and it ultimately makes their story more compelling and more heartbreaking.
It also means that the romance angle (because of course there’s a romance angle) fits into the story somewhat differently. In this case, I initially didn’t believe that Sybella fell for Beast as quickly as she seemed to (especially since he was unconscious from pain most of the time they were together), but by the end of the book, their gradual building of trust felt earned, and matched by an equal development of character for Sybella in and of herself, so I was completely won over. This book did again make me lament the fact that Grave Mercy skipped over so much of the girls’ time in training at the convent; there are frequent references to how good of friends Ismae and Sybella are, which was not a feeling I got from their limited scenes together in the first book. But, on the positive side, I liked the historical angles of this story just as much as I did in the first one – it felt like this one had some more texture that placed it firmly in its time period – and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that some of the major characters in this story (including D’Albret!) are real historical people. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Not a standalone. But for fans of the first book, or even people who liked this first book well enough but were hoping for something darker and grittier: this book’s for you.
First Line: I did not arrive at the convent of Saint Mortain some green stripling.
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