Robin LaFevers has said that she was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch's mythology, and nineteenth century romantic poetry. With that formative education, it should not surprise us that her Fair Assassin series carries the atmosphere of a pedigree fantasy. Set in fifteenth century France, this standalone sequel to Grave Mercy brings sympathetic assassin Sybella to a convent and a moment of great personal crisis.
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin Series #2)by Robin LaFevers
Sybella's duty as Death's assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave
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New York Times BestsellerSpring 2013 Kids' Indie Next List
Sybella's duty as Death's assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy. 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. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, 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. 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?
* "LaFevers is that wonderful sort of storyteller who so completely meshes events, descriptions, and characters that readers get lost in the world she's concocted. It's a place where history mingles with mystery and love is never expected."
—Booklist, starred review
* "The prose's beauty inspires immediate re-reads of many a sentence, but its forward momentum is irresistible. An intricate, masterful page-turner about politics, treachery, religion, love and healing."
—Kirkus, starred review
* "Brimming with powerful emotions, thrilling sword fights, and accurate period detail, this tightly plotted tale will enthrall readers of romantic historical fantasy."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Personal where Grave Mercy was political and comprehensive, this story focuses tightly on Sybella as she seeks vengeance upon the many men who have wronged her. . . . Her romantic relationship with the imprisoned warrior unfolds with a sweet tenderness that romance fans will relish."
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Romantic fantasy with a vengence. . . LaFevers offers a pungent mix of inner torment, costume drama, and dagger-, sword-, poison-, and garrote-play."
"An expertly crafted novel, with deep characters and an interesting plot that is, at the same time, fantastic, yet realistic. LaFevers has agazin used great artistry to create an excellent tale for both young adult and adult audiences."
—VOYA, 4Q 4P S
* "As with the first book, LaFevers has filled the pages of her novel with adventure, and the pace is electrifyingly fast. The characters are well drawn, and even the secondary figures have dimension. Sybella's quick-thinking and fearless approach to terrifying personal and political situations renders her an incredibly strong protagonist with whom readers will identify."
—School Library Journal, starred review
Read an Excerpt
Nantes, Brittany 1489
I did not arrive at the convent of Saint Mortain some green stripling. By the time I was sent there, my death count numbered three, and I had had two lovers besides. Even so, there were some things they were able to teach me: Sister Serafina the art of poison, Sister Thomine how to wield a blade, and Sister Arnette where best to strike with it, laying out all the vulnerable points on a mans body like an astronomer charting the stars.
If only they had taught me how to watch innocents die as well as they taught me how to kill, I would be far better prepared for this nightmare into which Ive been thrust.
I pause at the foot of the winding steps to see if I am being watched. The scullery woman scrubbing the marble hall, the sleepy page dozing against the doorwayeither one of them could be a spy. Even if neither has been assigned to watch me, someone is always willing to tattle in the hopes of earning a few crumbs of favor.
Caution prevails and I decide to use the south stairs and then double back through the lower hall to approach the north tower from that side. I am very careful to step precisely where the maid has just washed, and I hear her mutter a curse under her breath. Good. Now I can be certain she has seen me and will not forget if she is questioned.
In the lower hall, there are few servants about. Those who have not been driven out are busy with their duties or have gone to ground like clever, prudent rats.
When at last I reach the north wing of the palace, it is empty. Quickening my pace, I hurry toward the north tower, but I am so busy looking behind me that I nearly stumble over a small figure sitting at the base of the stairs.
I bite back an oath of annoyance and glare down to see it is a child. A young girl. What are you doing here? I snap. My nerves are already tightly strung, and this new worry does them little good. Where is your mother?
The girl looks up at me with eyes like damp violets, and true fear clutches at my gut. Has no one thought to warn her how dangerous it is for a pretty child to wander these halls alone? I want to reach down and shake hershake her motherand shout at her that she is not safe here, not on these steps, not in this castle. I force myself to take a deep breath instead.
Mama is dead, the child says, her voice high and quivery.
I glance to the stairs, where my first duty lies, but I cannot leave this child here. What is your name?
Odette, she says, uncertain whether to be frightened of me or not.
Well, Odette, this is no place to play. I nearly stepped on you. Have you no one to look after you?
My sister. But when she is working, I am to hide like a little mouse.
At least her sister is no fool. But this is not a good place to hide, is it? Look how easily I found you!
For the first time, the girl gives me a shy smile, and in that moment, she reminds me so much of my youngest sister, Louise, that I cannot breathe. Thinking quickly, I take her hand and lead her back to the main hallway.
Hurry, hurry, hurry nips at my heels like a braying hound.
See that door? She nods, watching me uncertainly. Go through that door, then down the stairs. The chapel is there, and it is a most excellent hiding place. And since dAlbret and his men never visit the chapel, she will be safe enough. Who is your sister?
Very well. I will tell Tilde where you are so she may come and get you when her work is done.
Thank you, Odette says, then skips off down the hall. I long to escort her there myself, but I already risk being too late for what I must do.
I turn back around and take the stairs two at a time. The thick wooden door on the landing has a new latch, stiff with disuse. I lift it slowly to be certain it will not creak out an alarm.
As I step into the cold winter sunshine, a bitter wind whips at my hair, tearing it from the net that holds it in place. All my caution has cost me precious time, and I pray that I have not been brought up here only to see those I love slaughtered.
I hurry to the crenellated wall and look down into the field below. A small party of mounted knights waits patiently while an even smaller party confers with that braying ass Marshal Rieux. I recognize the duchess immediately, her dainty figure poised on her gray palfrey. She looks impossibly small, far too small to carry the fate of our kingdom on her slender shoulders. That she has managed to hold off a French invasion for this long is impressive; that she has done so in spite of being betrayed by a full half of her councilors is close to a miracle.
Behind her and to the right is Ismae, sister of my heart and, possibly, my blood, if what the nuns at the convent told us is true. My pulse begins to race, but whether in joy that I am not too late or in panic at what I know is coming, I cannot tell.
Keeping my gaze fixed on Ismae, I gather up all my fear and dread and hurl them at her, like stones in a catapult.
She does not so much as glance in my direction.
From deep in the bowels of the castle, off toward the east, comes a faint rumble as the portcullis is raised. This time when I cast my warning, I fling my arms out as well, as if I am shooing away a flock of ducks. I hopepraythat some bond still exists between us that will allow her to sense me.
But her eyes remain fixed on the duchess in front of her, and I nearly scream in frustration. Flee, my mind cries. It is a trap. Then, just as I fear I must throw myself from the battlements to gain her attention, Ismae looks up. Flee, I beg, then sweep my arms out once more.
It works. She looks away from me to the eastern gate, then turns to shout something to the soldier next to her, and I grow limp with relief.
The small party on the field springs to life, shouting orders and calling to one another. Ismae points again, this time to the west. Good. She has seen the second arm of the trap. Now I must only hope that my warning has not come too late.
Once Marshal Rieux and his men realize what is happening, they wheel their mounts around and gallop back to the city. The duchess and her party move to fall into a new formation but have not yet left the field.
Flee! The word beats frantically against my breast, but I dare not utter it, afraid that even though I stand on this isolated tower someone from the castle might hear. I lean forward, gripping the cold, rough stone of the battlements so hard that it bites into my gloveless fingers.
The first line of dAlbrets troops rides into my sight, my half brother ierre in the vanguard. Then, just when I am certain it is too late, the duchesss party splits in two, and a paltry dozen of the duchesss men turn their mounts to meet the coming onslaught. Twelve against two hundred. Hollow laughter at the futility of their actions escapes my throat but is snatched up by the wind before anyone can hear it.
As the duchess and two others gallop away, Ismae hesitates. I bite my lip to keep from shouting. She cannot think she can help the doomed knights? Their cause is hopeless, and not even our skills can help the twelve who so valiantly ride to their deaths.
Flee. This time I do utter the word aloud, but just like my laughter, it is caught up by the cold, bitter wind and carried high above, where no one can hear it. Not the one it is meant to warn, nor those who would punish me for the betrayal.
But perhaps something has carried my warning to Ismae all the same, for she finally wheels her mount around and gallops after the duchess. The iron band squeezing my lungs eases somewhat, for while it is hard enough to watch these men meet their deaths, I could not bear to watch Ismae die.
Or worse, be captured.
If that happened, I would kill her myself rather than leave her to dAlbret, for he will grant her no mercy. Not after she ruined his plans in Gurande and nearly gutted him like a fish. He has had many days to hone his vengeance to a razor-sharp edge.
It is folly for me to linger. I should leave now while there is no chance of being discovered, but I cannot turn away. Like the rushing water of a swollen river, dAlbrets forces swarm the duchesss guard. The resounding clash is like thunder as armor crashes into armor, pikes break through shields, and swords meet.
I am astounded at the ferocity of the duchesss men. They all fight as if they are all possessed by the spirit of Saint Camulos himself, slashing through their attackers much as farmers scythe through stalks of grain. By some miracle, they hold the oncoming line, and their efforts delay dAlbrets forces long enough for the duchesss party to reach the safety of the trees. DAlbrets greater number of men will be less of an advantage if they all must duck and dodge branches and bracken.
From the east, a trumpet sounds. I frown and look that way, fearing dAlbret has thought to arrange for a third mounted force. But no, the black and white banner of the Rennes garrison stands in stark relief against the crisp blue sky as an additional dozen men ride into the melee. When the duchess and the others finally disappear over the horizon, I allow myself to draw my first full breath.
But even with the infusion of new troops, it is a crushing defeat. The duchesss guards have no chance, not against so many. My hand itches for a weapon, but the knives I carry will do no good from this distance. A crossbow would work, but they are nigh unto impossible to conceal, and so I watch helplessly.
DAlbret had only ever planned for a trapa quick in-and-out, thrust and parry, and then return with the prize. Once he realizes the quarry has escaped and he no longer has the element of surprise, he gives the signal for his soldiers to fall back behind the castle walls. Better to cut his losses than waste any more men in this failed gambit.
The battle below is nearly over. Only one soldier continues to fight, a great big ox of a man who doesnt have the sense to die quickly like the others. His helm has been knocked from his head, and three arrows pierce his armor, which is dented in a dozen places. His chain mail is torn, and the cuts beneath it bleed profusely, but still he fights with a nearly inhuman strength, stumbling ever forward into the mass of his enemies. It is all right, I long to tell him. Your young duchess is safe. You may die in peace, and then you will be safe as well.
His head jerks up from the blow he has just taken, and across the distance our eyes meet. I wonder what color they are and how quickly they will film over once Death claims him.
Then one of dAlbrets men lunges forward and cuts the knights horse out from under him. A long, despairing bellow escapes him as he goes down, and like ants swarming a scrap of meat, his enemies are upon him. The mans death cry reaches all the way up to the tower and wraps itself around my heart, calling for me to join it.
A fierce wave of longing surges through me, and I am jealous of that knight and the oblivion that claims him. He is free now, just like the gathering vultures who circle overhead. How easily they come and go, how far above danger they fly. I am not sure I can return to my own cage, a cage built of lies and suspicions and fear. A cage so full of darkness and shadow it may as well be death.
I lean forward, pushing my body out past the battlements. The wind plucks at my cloak, buffets me, as if it would carry me off in flight, just like the birds or the knights soul. Let go, it cries. I will take you far, far away. I want to laugh at the exhilarating feeling. I will catch you, it whistles seductively.
Would it hurt? I wonder, staring down at the jagged rocks below. Would I feel the moment of my landing? I close my eyes and imagine hurtling through space, rushing down, down, down, to my death.
Would it even work? At the convent, the sisters of Mortain were as stingy with their knowledge of our deathly skills and abilities as a miser is with his coin. I do not fully understand all the powers Death has bestowed upon me. Besides, Death has already rejected me twice. What if He did so a third time and I had to spend the rest of my life broken and helpless, forever at the mercy of those around me? That thought has me shuddering violently, and I take a step away from the wall.
Fresh panic flares in my breast, and my hand reaches for the cross nestled among the folds of my skirt, for it is no ordinary crucifix but a cunningly disguised knife designed for me by the convent. Even as I turn around, I widen my eyes as if excited and curve the corners of my mouth up in a brazen smile.
Julian stands in the doorway. What are you doing out here? he asks.
I let my eyes sparkle with pleasureas if Im glad to see him rather than dismayedthen turn back around to the battlement to compose myself. I shove all my true thoughts and feelings deep inside, for while Julian is the kindest of them all, he is no fool. And he has always been skilled at reading me. Watching the rout. I am careful to make my voice purr with excitement. At least he did not find me until after I warned Ismae.
He joins me at the wall, so close that our elbows touch, and casts me a look of wry admiration. You wanted to watch?
I roll my eyes in disdain. It matters not. The bird slipped the net.
Julian tears his gaze away from me and looks out onto the field for the first time. The duchess got away?
Im afraid so.
He glances quickly back at me, but I keep the look of contempt plastered to my face like a shield. He will not be happy, Julian says.
No, he will not. And the rest of us will pay the price. I look at him as if just now noticing he is not dressed for battle. Why are you not on the field with the others?
I was ordered to stay behind.
A brief spasm of fear clutches my heart. Is dAlbret having me watched so very closely, then?
Julian offers me his arm. We need to get back to the hall before he does.
I dimple at him and cozy up to his arm, letting it almost but not quite brush against my breast. It is the one power I have over himdoling out favors just often enough that he does not need to grab for them.
As we reach the tower door, Julian glances back over his shoulder at the battlement then turns his unreadable gaze on me. I will not tell anyone that you were up here, he says.
I shrug, as if it is of no difference to me. Even so, I fear he will make me pay for this kindness of his.
Already I regret not jumping while I had the chance.
What People are saying about this
—Booklist, starred review
Meet the Author
Robin LaFevers was raised on fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and nineteenth-century poetry. It is not surprising that she grew up to be a hopeless romantic. She was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in California.www.robinlafevers.com
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I adored last year's GRAVE MERCY, and I've been so excited for the release of DARK TRIUMPH. I was lucky enough to participate in the Blog Tour for this fantastic sequel, which never let me down and was everything I wanted it to be--and more. Can readers pick up DARK TRIUMPH without having read GRAVE MERCY? Yes, absolutely. DARK TRIUMPH is a self-contained story with an arc of its own. Would I <i>recommend</i> reading DARK TRIUMPH before GRAVE MERCY? No, not really. Robin LaFevers doesn't spend a lot of time re-introducing characters from the first book who take on a more secondary role this time around, choosing to instead focus on Sybella and her story. There's also a lot more insight into the daughters of Mortain the first time around. That isn't to say readers won't still <i>enjoy</i> DARK TRIUMPH if they pick it up blind, but they won't have as much perspective as they would by reading GRAVE MERCY first. This also isn't a series with evil cliffhangers that carry from year to year, so readers should feel secure in picking up the book and reading it now without waiting for all three titles to come out. These are companion novels with interconnecting themes and plots, but the wait won't make you crazy. If your memory isn't great between books, you'll remember the important stuff as you read, because LaFevers reintroduces elements well. From the first book, I knew that <i>His Fair Assassin</i> would surely follow Ismae, Sybella, and Annith, three daughters of Mortain introduced early on in GRAVE MERCY. I didn't know what else to expect. DARK TRIUMPH is more intimate than GRAVE MERCY in many ways. Sybella has been through so much darkness and overcome it all. I never could have anticipated the multitude of horrors she's faced, and just when I think I've unwrapped the last layer, there's always an even grimmer secret lurking. I didn't expect the vast scope and depth of DARK TRIUMPH in retrospect to my reading of GRAVE MERCY. I was always curious about Sybella based on her interactions with Ismae in the first book, but I never imagined the extent of her past. Her plight is so much more harrowing than I ever thought possible.In fact, I want to go back and re-read GRAVE MERCY just to soak up every glimpse of Sybella now, because I will read those moments entirely differently than I did a year ago. It's very hard to talk about plot without giving so much away, since intrigue is a big part in what makes the <i>His Fair Assassin</i> series work so well. Like with GRAVE MERCY, DARK TRIUMPH revolves around historical elements and figures from the past, combining them with fantasy and mythological lore to create a fascinating story full of romance, heartbreak, deceit, kingdom politics, and more. In the first book, it is Isame's job to prevent D'Albret from forcing Duchess Anne into marriage. In the second, we realize that D'Albret is Sybella's father, and even crueler than we could have ever imagined when reading the first book. The convent of Saint Mortain has returned Sybella to her childhood household as a spy, but being back home rips open all the wounds that Sybella first tried to run away from. When D'Albret takes the Beast of Waroch prisoner, Sybella is assigned the task of breaking him out, which will force her to sever ties to her family in irrevocable ways. I had a feeling we'd see the Beast of Waroch make an appearance in DARK TRIUMPH and LaFevers didn't disappoint. One prediction down, and one to go: Over the past two books, there have been hints of deceit and secrecy coming from within the convent, and I fully expect MORTAL HEART to sink into this issue when it releases next year, especially since it revolves around sheltered Annith's journey. I definitely wouldn't recommend this series to younger readers because it can be very mature, but I would recommend it to anyone who wants a captivating fantasy that's easy to fall into. After I finished reading it, I had so much trouble reading anything else for a while because I was so immersed in LaFever's world, and the same thing happened last year when I read GRAVE MERCY. Sybella goes through so much more than any human being should have to and you'd think she'd be damaged for life, but through DARK TRIUMPH, she finds away to, well, triumph. Sybella is an incredibly resilient character that I fell in love with and rooted for over the course of the novel, and I think you will, too.
I have totally completely and whole-heartedly fell in love with this series! It combines everything that I love in a book: suspense, romance, strong female characters that can kill twenty ways to sundown, and a huge paranormal vibe going through the story set in a historical fiction. It is honestly the best of all genres and I am so glad that I jumped into this series head first! Okay....I will try to go through this review like a big girl, instead of a fan girl screaming like a maniac. *composes self* *takes deep breath* ILOVETHISFREAKINGBOOKSOMUCH!!!!!! Now, I am much better. Dark Triumph is very similar to Grave Mercy but in a lot of ways it is far different too. In Dark Triumph, Sybella goes through her own hell and really starts to question her belief in Death, especially her place in his world. Just as Isme went through her personal revelation in Grave Mercy, Sybella has to go through her own as well. But Dark Triumph seems much more darker than Grave Mercy. Okay, chill out.. I know what you're thinking: " Um they are daughters of Death who kill for a living and as a religion..of course it is dark!!" And you're right the overall series is dark....but Sybella's life really brought the utmost pain to me. The things this woman has went through, and continues to go through, is beyond what I think any normal woman could live through and still be somewhat sane. Our main female protagonist is one of the strongest characters I have ever read! I love that she is so dangerous and yet there is this fragility about her that really breaks your heart. Sybella always has to be on guard because her very existence stays in danger constantly. And yet even with all this darkness surrounding her, she still finds some things beautiful. Like her friendship with Isme, her adoration for her younger sisters, and the growing attraction between her and "Beast". She is one of the most complex and fulfilling character I have ever read. There is so much going on with Sybella that you will definitely have an emotional thrill ride with her. Then there is our main male protagonist and I am so glad he is the one that is in this book. I loved him so much in Grave Mercy and I am thrilled that LaFevers chose Beast as the male equivalent for Sybella. On the outside, he has these scars and isn't the most beautiful man alive. Many females run from him just for his looks, when they are perhaps missing out on the most admirable man alive. Beast was a great guy and I enjoyed reading more about his life too. As I read Dark Triumph, I kept thinking to myself what a small world it really was. There are so many tie ins for these two characters that it almost seems like fate was involved. Which could be true? Who knows? I love that LaFevers took a important event in history and twisted it slightly with a paranormal feel to it. I also love that she personifies Death, giving him this fatherly personality to him. It could really be compared to religion in this day and age. Okay please stop before you get your torches and start screaming "sacrilegious" at me. Let me explain..... You know how you have this faith but these awful things keep happening to you and sometimes your faith wavers, causing you to question your life, your creation, and your very existence. Well the handmaidens in His Fair Assassin series do this as well. Throughout the stories these ladies think he has forsaken them (sound familiar?) and in a special moment usually at our rock bottom, we find our faith and we see that our Father was there for us all along. I really just completely fell in love with the similarities that LaFevers gives us when Isme and Sybella question their lives and beliefs and they find that their father was watching all along. I guess I rambled there a lot but I really had a point and I hoped I made it. Anyways, back to the review. LaFevers also does a wonderful job of world building. She takes this amazing time in history but alternates it to fit the paranormal view of it. As she writes, I really feel like I am transported back in time with the characters in this historical fiction. Oh and is it just me but man I would love to have one of those dresses so bad! All in all, Dark Triumph is an overload for our emotions. We get so many going on: despair, love, fear, hatred, and hope. But probably most importantly, forgiveness. There are a few surprises through out the story and we find out who our real enemies are and those that we can truly trust. Also be prepared for a abrupt ending. I would have loved a little bit more but I guess I will just impatiently wait till the next book. One more thing. Raise of hands: Who really wants to punch the Reverend Mother all the way back to the convent? I don't know how much I can take of her until I have to get a punching bag with a picture of her face on it!?!?! I had to give Dark Triumph five out of five hearts!
I actually kind of waiver on this one. The idea of assassins who are nuns was just awesome. But, I felt the first book in the series was a little too much romance and not enough on the assassination front (put into those words, it sounds horrible.). I wanted to give it another shot. First off, I do not know how the hell I managed to read almost half the book before I realized the narrative was a different person than the first time around. Considering they are shockingly different, I'm not sure how I manged that. This narrative is what I was looking for. Maybe it's because the subtle art of poisoning was much less exciting that Sybella's skillful knowledge of weaponry and just how to get close enough to kill. Her background was excruciating to read about. So many people would have just crumbled after the things that she has been through. Instead they have made Sybella tough as nails. She has a hard exterior, but I really felt for her as well. The author managed to portray her fear just right. She was walking a fine line. The events inside her father's castle are fast paced. I never knew if she was going to mange to get out of there alive and how she was going to do it. When she helps the prisoner escape and accidentally ends up going with him, there is no turning back. It's a good thing to because the prisoner is by no means able to reach safety on his own. And Sybella has to much powerful information to share. I loved Sybella so much more than Ismae. And along the way I've come to really appreciate most of the rest of the characters. I still have a hard time grasping the idea that the duchess is as young as she is. I do have to say that I'm beginning to really dislike the Mother Abbess. She's up to something, and I can't quit grasp what is. I wanted to reach through the pages and really hurt her at the end of this book. Really excited for book 3 now!
This is one of those books that I’m not sure how to put into words how much I loved it. Grave Mercy was really good but Dark Triumph was to me amazing. When we were introduced to Sybella in Grave Mercy I was never very sure if I liked her or not. I thought this person is probably crazy but Ismae had seemed like she trusted her and it made me too. This sounds weird since they are book characters but that is seriously what I thought. Sybella is by no means naive even though she is really a novice assassin. Her tortured life has seen to that and we start off the books with only bits and pieces of what has happened in the past. When things are finally revealed it went beyond even my worst assumptions. She is amazingly strong and hardened and yet she wants to protect the innocent. It didn’t take me long to warm to her character. Beast was such a great match up for Sybella and I didn’t care that they kept calling him ugly it didn’t even register on my radar because he is such a great character. I love the way that he is able to banter with Sybella so easily. Plus he just ignores any of her attempts to sway him from having any interest in her. I loved him for it, how could she not too. For a girl who has been so mistreated Beast is like a lifeline, but he is not so far from her own nature that it would make the match unbelievable. They both enjoy battle lust and therefore it’s something that gives them common ground. They can fight side by side or exchange ideas on battle tactics. This is the kind of girl that Beast needs for the lifestyle he leads, rather than someone that waits at home from him. Plus with Sybella being so exposed to the ugliness that beautiful things can hide she easily sees Beast gentle eyes and demeanor even though he is scarred and “ugly”. We have a lot of great side characters. Yannic, the loyal gargoyle, had his moments of stealing the show even though he couldn’t even talk. We also have the reappearance of Ismae which at first kind of took me off guard. It was weird not being in Ismae’s head when she was interacting with Sybella. It was nice though to see the two cross paths. You are looking at things from Sybella’s eyes now so it gives it a different take. There is also Julian who for some reason I had a soft spot for, even thought that seemed wrong but I felt like he really cared about Sybella and that their twisted world is what caused the strangeness in their relationship. This story had more adventure then Grave Mercy. Where Grave Mercy is set more in the political aspects and the court intrigue this novel is more about being on the field and in the front lines. Sybella and Beast not only spend time in the Lion’s Den but also must cross the countryside to meet up with the Duchess. They also often find themselves engaged in different types of battles as they go along. My heart really went out to Sybella in this book and I cannot wait to read Annith’s tale next. Robin created such a wonderful world that it’s easy for me to get lost in. After reading the book I had to take a minute to collect myself and remember that there is no one out to kill me and I don’t live in Brittany.
I loved the first book and was unsure before starting this one but I was blown away and read it in just two sittings, I could not put it down! The story of Sybella envelops you as you learn about her past. I cannot wait for the third book, but first I will have to read this one a few more hundred times!
I think I am in love with this series. I must say that to me book 2 was even better than book 1. I think maybe because all the world building and the characters were introduced in the first one, so the second could focus more on the story. This book is from a different point of view, and I loved it. Loved it! Sybella is sent back to her home when she leaves St. Mortain's convent to be a spy in her own fathers home. Her life is absolutely horrible. My heart broke for her. her father is the D.E.V.I.L. I do not like him at all. Her brother Julian. Well, he is a piece of work. That relationship was messed up on so many levels. I got to get to know the characters even better in this book, and understand the horror of what they have had to go through. Sybella's life sucks. I don't know any other way to put it. She is abused over and over by someone who is suppose to take care of her and love her. It's just sad and wrong. Sybella is sent a message to find out if Beast is being kept prisoner there and if so, to help him escape. Sybella does so at the risk of her own life. When she finds Beast in his cell, he is beaten, bruised, and broken. They are able to escape and make their way to Ismae, Duval and the Duchess Anne. There are many obstacles along the way. This is where we get to see the true beauty of Beast. Beast is one of my favorite characters. I had to giggle every time it's mentioned about how ugly he was. I could picture it in my head, but still loved him so much. Beast is truly a great man. There are some things we learn in this book that connect the characters and I just love it. I cannot wait to see what the next book brings. I absolutely love the relationship between Beast and Sybella. Beast proves over and over that men can be kind, loving, and protective without hurting you. I do not usually talk about "sex" scenes in a book, but I am going to this time. When Beast and Sybella finally "connect" it was one of the most beautiful passages I have read in a long time. It made me feel happy. I felt so happy for Sybella. She finally got to feel what it was like to be loved, respected and cherished. Beast, finally to to feel what it was like to be loved in return for who he was and not what he looked like. He opened up his heart to another person and was greatly rewarded for it. He was loved not for his looks, not for his ability to protect, and not for his ability to fight. Just for him. It was magical. I know that might offend some, but honestly it was the most beautiful writing. I cried like a little girl. I know...silly. I love that we find out about all of d'Albrets wives, and what really happened to them. I absolutely LOVE that we find out that one of d'Albrets wives was Beast's sister. There are so many heart breaking revelations in this book, yet it has such a great story of love and overcoming the evil in their lives. I could probably go on and on, because I just loved this book so much. I am so excited to read Mortal Heart, and it's killing me that it won't be out until November. UGH. That is a long time to wait. I hope we get to see another point of view, as well as continue with Ismae and Sybella's stories. SUCH A GREAT SERIES!!!! I would recommend picking this series up. It's just so fantastic :).
I have to say, I loved Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers even more than book one, Grave Mercy! It was darker and I felt as though it were more action packed. I felt more nervous for the main character and her companions about getting busted than I did for the characters in the first book. I felt as though I was more emotionally invested and felt so much hate and repulsion for the villain, Alain d’Albret. I thought that my hate for him had peaked midway through the book, but when dark secrets are revealed, my loathing for him intensified. He truly was like evil incarnate. Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers is told in the voice of Sybella…and oh what a voice author, R.L. LavFevers has given her! We bear witness to the strength of a strong and remarkable woman who is almost broken, but finds a strength deep inside of herself to seek vengeance upon the very man who has made her regret the life she was given. Dark Triumph follows the journey of Sybella D’Albret, daughter of Alain d’Albret, a man who rules his people with an iron fist and a cold heart. After escaping the pain and deceit in her home she is allowed the opportunity to train at the Convent as one of Death’s handmaidens…one who is skilled in the art of assassination. After completing her training at the Convent, she is sent back to the very home she had escaped, with a promise from Abbess of Saint Mortain that she will be able to kill her father. Unfortunately, much time passes and the marque that appears on those that she has been granted to kill never shows up on d’Albret. She suffers through much pain and is constantly looking over her shoulder as she tries to do the missions the Convent sends to her, all to assist the Duchess. But one mission changes everything for Sybella. She is commissioned to rescue a captured knight and return him back to the Duchess. The knight in questions happens to be none other than Benebic de Waroch, also known as Beast. And all thanks to Beast, Sybella’s simple plan of breaking out this prisoner all goes to hell in a hand basket, and her plans change. Whether it’s for the greater good or for the worse depends on Sybella. OMG this book. I loved it. It was full of non-stop action, constant plot twists, characters that are both original and were addictively written, and a story that is pretty unforgettable. If you’ve read book one, Grave Mercy, then you many find that Dark Triumph is more of a darker read. It completely baffled my mind how much strength and courage that Sybella must have had deep inside her to be able to continue living under the same off as her psychotic father and unstable brothers. I can’t even imagine having to endure all the she has had to go through both before she left the first time and after the return. I have to say, I think she is my fav. Kick ass female character right now. Only is she physically capable to take down any man that gets in her way, but mentally – she has to be pretty strong to survive what she has. And holy crap the freaking crap she has had to put up with. Those crazy ass brothers of her, and her insane father! But with all this hate, there has to be some love, am I right? And enter Beast. Ohhhhh Beast… This character grows and grows on you until you just can’t get enough of him! The fact that Beast is constantly being referred to as an ugly ogre does not deter me from falling head of heels for this giant hero. For although he may be lacking in the looks department, he more than makes up for it with his patience, his kindness, and his heart. A perfect example of how looks are not everything and that what makes the love bloom is not what is on the outside, but what is inside of someone. Even though Sybella tells him time and time again that he is ugly, I feel bad for him each and every time even though it doesn’t affect him! He still smiles and cracks jokes. And because of the way in which Beast acts when he is told that he is unbelievable ugly, he is instantly hotter and sexier than most characters in books I’ve read. Although there are a whole slew of characters in this book, the way in which the author presents them makes it easy to follow, and not all difficult to figure out who is who from where. And it’s pretty epic that characters from book one make a reappearance in this installment. Not only are the characters pretty awesome, but the story that lies within these pages is unbelievable. As I’ve said before, the twists and turns in this book made it all that more addictive. The fact that I felt so nervous for our champions for fear that they would be found and captured had my heart racing, and had me on the edge of my seat. Whatever emotion that you can think of, I’m pretty sure that it can be found and felt in this book. Fans of Grave Mercy will completely devour Dark Triump by R.L. LaFevers. A story mixed with history and a bit of paranormal makes Dark Triumph an instant hit and a book that will leave readers everywhere breathless and anticipating book three, Mortal Heart. I know I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on this one and dive back into this amazing world created by an amazing author.
I love both books. They are amazing. I would recommend reading the first book, rather than just picking up the second one.
Absolutely gripping! I can not wait for MORTAL HEART to be released next year, this series is only going to get better. Great writing and I would highly recommend this series!
Another great book, fast paced, interesting, and well written. I am anxiously awaiting the third installment.
easy to read, very captivating, had a hard time putting it down. while there are "intimate momements" implied they are not inapproprite for the teen reader. I also reccommend the first book.
One of the best books I have read in years. Well developed characters and many surprises I did not predict along the way. In my opinion this book is way better than the first. Here, here Robin!
First book was a love story with magic and adventure and mystical old religions. This is a magical adventure with a love story and mystical old religions. Both excellently well written.
Read the first book and could not wait for the second. Just finished the second and couldn't put it down! Hope you injoy it just as much as I did.
Though this book is good, its is not as good as the first. Many books are like this. I would strongly suggest you read the sample before buying it. I have made that mistake many times and it is a complete waste of money. But I hope this does not worry you too much. It is good, just do not buy it first. Read the sample.
As the two girls were so different in many ways I love how the books tie into one another and each is exciting as the nice keeping you at your toes thing to figure out what is next to come.
This series is so intense. Everything is life or death, and when you have plenty of moments when death would be preferable, it definitely keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. After reading Grave Mercy, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Sybella. She came off kind of annoying, and I was convinced I wouldn’t like her anywhere near as much as I liked Ismae. Fortunately, I was wrong. Sybella has a very dynamic story, growing from a place a darkness and despair into that of a healthy, hopeful human being. She is a daughter of both Death and d’Albret, and she has to reconcile what that means. Her struggle to do so, with the adorable help of Beast, makes her a very endearing character. Beast and Sybella have a lovely relationship. At first their banter is sarcastic and funny, but it slowly grows into a sweet friendship which eventually becomes romantic. I liked them as much as I liked Ismae and Duval, although there was more of an emphasis on the fact that Beast was really saving Sybella from a tortured existence (more so than Ismae). So much of this book feels like a no-win scenario. That’s why Beast is so good for Sybella; he doesn’t believe in no win scenarios. He makes her believe there’s an alternative to the darkness she’s endured for so long. The politics are still in full swing, with everyone trying to marry the Duchess off just to keep her away from d’Albret. France is invading. Everything looks rather grim for our heroes. But they forge on. The assassin nuns of St. Mortain are still as mysterious as ever, and I can’t wait to see more of their secrets revealed in the final book. This is a great read for fans of historical fiction who are looking for a little something different. If the phrase “Assassin Nuns” sounds interesting to you, go pick up Grave Mercy.
Three years ago, when Sybella first came to the convent of St. Mortain, she had just escaped her family who had driven her half mad. The convent took her in and trained her alongside Ismae and Annith in all manner of assassin techniques. When she is finally ready for assignments, where does that complete witch of an abbess send her? Right back into the evil clutches of her family she had finally escaped. Back to her father who is none other than the vile d'Albret who cares for no one but himself and her brother, Julian, who cares for her in a way that brothers shouldn't care for their sisters. So basically, I was concerned for Sybella's well being during this whole book. She doesn't especially seem to value her own life. The only reason that Sybella can hold out so long with d'Albret is because the abbess has promised that she would be able to kill him. But no matter what horrible, treacherous things he does, he never gets marqued for death! Frustrated, she waits for a message from the abbess. When it finally comes, it's not an order to kill d'Albret, but to free the Beast of Waroch from her father's dungeon and send him to aid the duchess. He is a big dude and seriously injured, but she manages to get him out by bringing out his battle fever and he knocks her out and when she comes to, she is also on her way to the duchess. She thinks she is finally free of d'Albret. Sybella is a great character. She has had an incredibly rough life. The book focuses a lot on her dark past and how she is trying to move on from it. She questions the existence of her god on many occasions, positive he can't be real if a man like d'Albret is not marqued. She is selfless. She enjoys killing those who deserve it and does everything she can to help protect those who cannot help themselves. She is a good person. Beast is also wonderful. In the first book you see how very loyal he is to the duchess and his friend Duval. He is described as being incredibly ugly, but on the inside he is so far from ugly. He is kind, caring, gentle. On the way to meet the duchess, he goes out of his way to save every innocent person he finds to be in trouble. He is a killing machine and will be the first to put his life on the line in a battle. Especially if he is asking the same from others. He seems to have no care at all for his own life when his battle fever comes over him. He is just a good person. Jamette.. I hated her. She is a rat and uses Sybella's secrets against her to gain favor with d'Albret. In the end, the only reason she tried to help Sybella was for her own sake. She couldn't bear what was going to happen to someone she loved if Sybella couldn't help them. Witch. The only other character I feel the need to say anything about is the abbess. And this will mostly be a rant and a theory for the next book. Why is she so awful!? Sybella FINALLY gets away from d'Albret when she makes her way to the convent just for that witch to send her back to gather information! What information do you need? He's awful and there isn't a single thing he can do to redeem himself, just have to kill him, marque or no, and be done with it! And then she gets out of there again when she leaves with Beast and when they make their way to Rennes, the abbess is there and tells her that she needs to go back there AGAIN?!? That is so obviously a death sentence because obviously she's the one who freed the prized prisoner as they went missing at the same time!! And the she black nails her say
Dark Triumph is an amazing sequel. The action, adventure, romance and continuation of the political drama drew me in from the beginning to the end! Some sequels have been disappointing but that is not the case with Dark Triumph. I enjoyed this even more than the first book Grave Mercy. Dark Triumph is the second book in the His Fair Assassin series. You have to read the first book Grave Mercy so you can easily follow the story. The story continues where it left off in the first book but this time we see the events through Sybella’s eyes. When we first met Sybella in Grave Mercy she was a big mystery. She arrived at the convent of St. Mortain appearing mad and disturb so I was really looking forward to hearing her story. Her past is dark and disturbing due to her father’s rage and brutality. But we see a softer and loving side of Sybella that keeps her apart from the assassin skills and teachings. She isn’t the cruel and heartless assassin that everyone thinks of. Sybella’s main goal is to protect everyone from her cruel father. I enjoyed Dark Triumph more because of the espionage. Sybella returns to her father on a secret mission and with no allies we see how intelligent and calculating she is. The romance between Sybella and the Beast built up was slow and sweet. It felt right considering her past and the danger they were in. Author Robin LaFevers is a great storyteller. Her writing is flawless and the characters are amazing. Her twist of the historical facts is unique and entertaining. There was so much excitement and suspense that kept me captivated. I look forward to reading the final book Mortal Heart, but I am sad to see an end to this series.
Nantes, Brittany, 1489: Trained by the convent of St. Mortmain in the arts of death and seduction, Lady Sybella is no stranger to killing or spying. Even before learning she was a daughter of death and coming to the convent, Sybella had done much of both to stay alive. Over the years Sybella learned to harden her heart until even she begins to believe she has none. She dreams of revenge and justice, the day she will become a divine instrument of vengeance when she can kill the traitorous Count d'Albret. But instead of her desired mission of vengeance, Sybella finds herself acting as a spy in d'Albret's household, a dangerous mission for anyone but even more so given Sybella's past. Her formidable array of weapons and skills may not be enough to escape this living nightmare. Not alive anyway. Mortmain has already rejected Sybella twice, though, so death is hardly an option either. Sybella is trapped until new orders arrive from the convent. A prisoner is locked in d'Albret's dungeon. The prisoner is of extreme importance to the young Duchess of Brittany as she struggles to hold onto her kingdom and keep d'Albret and his ilk at bay. Sybella is only meant to initiate the prisoner's departure. Instead, she is swept into the escape as a reluctant nurse and travel companion. This one change thrusts Sybella into an entirely surprising direction--one where her life may not have to end in order for vengeance to be served. Stranger still, Sybella may learn there is more to live for than the promise of revenge, or even justice, in Dark Triumph (2013) by R. L. LaFevers. Dark Triumph is the second book in LaFever's His Fair Assassin trilogy, preceded by Grave Mercy (with the conclusion, Mortal Heart, due out in 2014). (She is the author of several middle grade novels including my beloved Nathaniel Fludd books as R. L. LaFevers.) There is a very satisfying overlap between the plots of Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph. It's also becoming clear that the books are building together to an epic finish. That said, I really think Dark Triumph could work as a standalone. It doesn't have to. And it's certainly better to start at book one. But if you really wanted to, Sybella's story stands on its own quite nicely. I didn't realize how much I loved this improbable series about assassin nuns until I finished Dark Triumph. As great as Ismae's story and voice were, Sybella's is better. Dark Triumph is a grittier read with sharper edges but also more satisfying outcome. As LaFevers points out in her author's note, the story takes many more historical liberties. Happily, the atmosphere and language remain. I also enjoyed the expanded view of Mortmain. Sometimes I have problems with books that deal with some kind of "faith" because they veer into the territory of conventional religious dogma. LaFevers artfully shifts the theology of His Fair Assassin into a different direction. Reading about Mortmain never feels like reading about a god or even religion. He really feels like a father. And I appreciated that nuance. Sybella is an angry, broken narrator who is at pains to convince everyone that she has no heart--especially herself. Dark Triumph is the story of her own healing as much as it is a stunning historical fantasy filled with action and intrigue. I can't talk about some other aspects without spoiling both books, but the way Dark Triumph comes together with Grave Mercy is impressive. I also adore these heroines and their male leads. These books, right here, these are what true partnerships look like. Dark Triumph is a surprising, original read sure to appeal to anyone who likes historical fiction, journey-based fantasies, or a damsel who rescues herself (and maybe the prince while she's at it). Possible Pairings: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Fire by Kristin Cashore, The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner, All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
LaFevers dos it again in Dark Triumph! While I think I enjoyed Grave Mercy a little more, Dark Triumph has still stolen my heart. I loved Sybella's sassy blood lust, and it was just so perfect for the beauty fell in love with the Beast! As in the first book of the series, the story is beautifully written with fantastic dialogue, breathtaking settings, and exciting plot twists. I tried my best to guess what events would take place throughout the book, but I was never able to predict properly. LaFevers has perfected the element of surprise! Very excited to move onto the third book in this series that has stolen my dark heart!
Dark Triumph is a stunning sequel to Grave Mercy. I had high expectations picking it up and I was not disappointed. I loved this story just as much if not more than Grave Mercy! Sybella is one of St. Mortain’s daughter’s and thereby gifted with deadly talents, and skills in the art of killing to carry out his will. She owes a debt to the convent in service to St. Mortain since they brought her back from the brink of madness, taking her in at fourteen and training her for special assignments. Sybella never thought she would be forced to go back to the very same household that caused all the terror in her life, but that’s exactly what she’s had to do. To aid the young duchess of Brittany she is sent as a spy into the d’Albret’s household, one she knows only too well. For the last year there she’s been there, languishing in hell until she is instructed to move against him. The only thing that keeps Sybella going is knowing that she’ll be the one to kill d’Albret, and finally bring retribution to this vile man. Finally Sybella receives word to take action, but it’s not what she expected. Instead she’s instructed to save one of the duchesses’ knights being held in d’Albret’s dungeons, the mighty Beast. While I was thrilled to pick up Dark Triumph, I was also a little nervous. Knowing it would be Sybella’s story, I knew it would be darker than Grave Mercy, because she was such a tortured character. I was even more nervous when I found out Sybella was in d’Albret’s house. I shuddered thinking of what she might be going through, because one thing you found out in Grave Mercy is that d’Albret was a man of twisted and dark depths! It was heartbreaking to find out the full story of Sybella’s past but her strength and bravery made you love and admire her. Plus, she was no defenseless creature, and I love that she dealt out some much needed kick-ass!! Another hesitation I had was the thought of a romance between Sybella and Beast. He’s described as a big hulking and ugly character, and to be honest, that didn’t sound very appealing as a potential love interest. I had nothing to fear because what Beast lacked in looks he made up for with his big heart, and charismatic personality, he’s like a magnet you can’t help but be drawn to. I loved the slow progression of their relationship and how is lightened Sybella’s soul. I can’t tell you how much this romance touched and filled my heart! While Dark Triumph is an adventure and full of action, I felt there wasn’t as much focus on political drama as there was in Grave Mercy, and I liked that change. I would like to know more about the abbess: her motivations whether they’re good or bad. I couldn’t stand the woman for most of the story. If you’re a fan of Graceling, Fire, or Poison Study, I highly recommend this story and Grave Mercy. You won’t be disappointed. Dark Triumph is a story you won’t be able to put down! I was addicted to the point of sneaking pages in between work when I could! Robin La Fevers’ writing utterly captivated me, and I will be picking up anything she writes in the future. I can’t wait for Annith’s story!