Oh my word! I think I have found another favorite series. (Right, yes, so I know I’m only on book 2 but did you see there’s going to be a book 4 and 5?! Both of which are untitled as of right now but I’m impatiently waiting on the edge of my seat!)
Title: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Release date: April 2, 2013
Length: 385 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, romance
Synopsis (from Goodreads): “I lean forward, pushing my body out past the battlements. The wind plucks at my cloak, buffets against me, as if it would carry me off in flight, just like the birds or the knight’s 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.
The convent has returned Sybella to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?”
Any qualms that I had about Grave Mercy was thrown out of the window in this book. I wasn’t sure I would come to like Sybella, but I think I may like her more than Ismae. We first meet Sybella in book 1 as a friend Ismae’s, but we don’t know much about her and, as it wasn’t Sybella’s story, she’s glossed over. But this book tells her haunting, tragic yet beautiful in its full glory.
Orders from the convent send Lady Sybella back to the house of d’Albret. While she enjoys seeing familiar faces, including that of her half-brother Julian, she’s unsure what her true purpose is, especially now that the Duchess Anne and her faithful followers have retreated. d’Albret is bent on his original plans of forcing Anne to marry him. When rumors and strange sounds coming from a small chapel cause Sybella to investigate, she’s surprised to find a loyal follower of Duchess Anne, who was captured by d’Albret on the battlefield. Receiving instructions from the abbess of Saint Mortain, Sybella must help the prisoner escape.
The beginning of the book was slow. I wasn’t sure how much more I could stand Sybella trotting along in the d’Albret’s household. I was a bit overwhelmed in the beginning with the introduction of all the characters, but I think I grew to care for Sybella more than I originally thought I would. She has dark secrets in her past and the slow revelation of each of them are what truly kept me on my seat. She finds it isn’t easy to make herself vulnerable to others, but the way she opens up, especially to one particular character, solidified the like I have for her. I love how she was twisted into the lives of some of important characters in this book.
I also couldn’t help but root for her and her love interest (which I knew immediately would be her love interest. That’s been one of the predictable parts about this book and the previous one) and how achingly adorable they were. I loved their developing feelings for one another, and how Sybella broke down all the hard walls around her heart to him. Sybella proves herself to be a strong character throughout it all. She falters, sure, but she rises higher and higher. (I’m also a sucker for sappy backstories and Sybella has one so omg, of course I love her! lol)
As for the world-building, I’m a fan of historical fiction, so I enjoyed this. There weren’t a lot of politics in this, almost as if it was pushed to the back burner, but I’m okay with that because this book is truly Sybella’s story–her healing. I definitely liked the Sybella’s revelation of Mortain’s true purpose for her. Isame and Sybella are different faces of Mortain, so I’m excited to read the third book and discover Annith’s role.