Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers

Title: Dark Triumph
Author: R.L. LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Rating: 5/5

Cover Impressions:
I really like the covers for this series.  Grave Mercy had a beautiful scarlet color, but I think the muted colors here are much more fitting for Sybella, as is the background of a dark corridor rather than a grand castle.  Her work is better suited to the shadows.

The Gist:
The His Fair Assassin series continues with the story of Sybella.  Having escaped the fear and madness of her father's house, Sybella finds a new home at the convent of St.Mortain.  Having been trained in the deadly arts, she is just beginning to find her way back to herself when the political ambitions of her father forces the convent to send Sybella back into his arms.  The brutality and unpredictable rage of her father, coupled with the unhealthy obsession of her brother threatens to drive Sybella mad until she embarks on a mission to free an important prisoner and, in doing so, finds an unlikely ally.

Admittedly, I was underwhelmed by Grave Mercy.  I loved the premise of assassin nuns trained in the deadly arts, but was turned off by the breadth of the political intrigue and Ismae's accursed conscience.  In the wings, however, waited Sybella.  She was such a mysterious and interesting character that it made me long for the release date of Dark Triumph.  I am happy to say, Sybella does not disappoint.  She is certainly bloodthirsty, (and one point she even mutters "I am in desperate need of killing something.") and she does not often worry about the moral implications as Ismae did.  While Ismae faded a little when the love interest was introduced, Sybella railed against him, taking every opportunity to comment on how ugly he was.

The romantic angle in Dark Triumph was much more palatable for me than it was in Grave Mercy.  Beast and Sybella seem equally well matched and neither comes to love the other easily.  There was a point at which Beast seemed to have developed an unhealthy desire to rescue Sybella, but that passed and they were placed on equal footing once again.  For his part, Beast opened Sybella to a world of compassion that her upbringing had denied her and I really enjoyed how she developed in his presence. 

This book featured much less political maneuvering than its predecessor and this makes for a much faster paced plot.  Beast and Sybella's lives have been closely intertwined for many years and the revelation of her secrets adds an air of mystery to the story.  There are also a number of exciting battles and the introduction of an interesting new cast of characters.  While this book moves the overall plot along and sets up for the final in the series, it also provides a satisfying ending to Sybella's personal story.

I will definitely be waiting with baited breath for the final installment in the His Dark Assassin series for more of Sybella but, as I remember very little of Annith, I am also excited for a story that follows her and one that finally reveals the secrets of the convent.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Kissing, Allusion to incest, one instance of consensual sex - not explicit
Violence: Torture, Rape, Swordplay, Knifeplay, a number of murders including one disturbing (for me) scene featuring the death of an infant
Inappropriate Language: Whore, Piss, Bastard
Substance Use/Abuse: Drinking


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