Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)


Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)Author: R.L. LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin, #2
Release date: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: Houghton Miffin BfC
Hardcover, 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon
         The Book Depository

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. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella 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. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. 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?
This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.
About a year ago, the words ‘assassin nuns’ first started showing up around the blogosphere. Pretty soon they were everywhere, and everyone was talking about Grave Mercy, some obviously thrilled and some not so much. Seeing as I neatly fell into the first category, Dark Triumph became one of those books I often thought about… dreamed about, to be completely honest. And I was not disappointed.

The darkness of Ismae’s story pales in comparison to the utter hopelessness of Sybella’s circumstances. Sybella’s tale is so deeply personal and painful, a story of torture and degradation, a story full of monsters and betrayals. It is not an easy read, that much I can tell you, and yet it is certainly worth your tears, for you will be a better person once you finish it.

Unlike Ismae, who is well-trained but not that experienced, Sybella is a seasoned assassin. She kills those who deserve it and she does it without mercy. From the outside, it seems that her heart has hardened and that there isn’t a flicker of warmth inside her.

Through Sybella, LaFevers raised some interesting questions. Can a wounded animal ever completely heal? Can a person who’s been hurt in ways unimaginable to a normal human being ever find it within herself to trust anyone? What does it take to repair a shattered soul? Believe me when I say you will feel Sybella’s pain. It was an ugly cry I cried for this girl and yet my perception was limited because a human heart truly can’t stretch that far without breaking. There’s only so much I can imagine without unconsciously raising barriers to protect myself, and Sybella’s suffering went far above those limits.

The most interesting parts by far were all the times when Sybella doubted her god and father, Mortain. Her shaky beliefs were only natural – with all the hurt and betrayal she’s suffered, it’s hard for her to believe in anything, least of all a powerful father who supposedly loves her. Love? Sybella knows no such thing. No one ever truly loved her when she was a child, not without ulterior motives, and until she met Ismae and Annith, the concept was completely strange to her.

And then she saves Beast, the duchess’s mighty hero, and she finds compassion and tenderness in the most unlikely of places. There are secrets between them, but there’s love and admiration too, and they both have to decide which part is more important.

Beast as a hero made me think about all the other heroes I hold close to my heart, which lead me to conclude that I’ve matured somewhat as a (romance) reader. Perfection no longer holds any appeal for me. It’s not all those rich, gorgeous and successful male characters I remember to this day. Instead, it’s Curran, with his broken nose and his eyes filled with violence. It’s Terrible, with mutton chops on his ugly, scarred face. It’s March, brutal, determined and strong, but nowhere near beautiful. Duval, a soldier above all, both inside and out. And finally, it’s the mighty Beast of Waroch, uglier than you can imagine.*

LaFevers took a lot of risks in Dark Triumph, made a lot of choices and proved her worth, although they might not sit well with some. These days, when packaged books have become the norm rather than an (unwanted) exception, it’s comforting to know there are authors like Robin LaFevers who are artists above all. Some of us tend to forget that literature is art first, and business second (if at all), but luckily there are those who remind us over and over again.

Finishing Dark Triumph wasn’t easy at all. LaFevers did a fabulous job of wrapping things up, but I did not want to part with Sybella and Beast. In fact, the second I finished the final page, I wanted to go back to the beginning and start all over again. That’s really not something I get to say very often.

*All names are links, in case you don't know who I'm talking about.



32 comments:

  1. Your review has made me even more excited about reading this. When Grave Mercy came out last year I wasn't sure I'd like it, but it was such a pleasant surprise. It's good to hear that the companion novels is just as good! Fantastic review!

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  2. Fascinating review Maja! I love the way you shared how much you appreciate imperfect, even ugly heroes now. So happy you loved this book too!!!!!! Sybella is amazing; so strong!

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  3. *happy dance* Yes, Beast and Sybella are my new favorite couple. My review posts tomorrow and I think LaFevers totally out did herself. Wonderful review Maja!!

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  4. I had no idea this one was going to be so emotional. I really loved Grave Mercy so I am excited for this, especially after reading your review!

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  5. OMG. I LOVED this book!! Sybella was such a multi-layered character and BEAST!! Loved him!! I want to swim in this series. The Fair Assassin series is now an auto-buy for me.

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  6. That sounds excellent, Maja! I love imperfect beastly heroes and you just listed my favorites. ;) I admit I wasn't sold too much on the first book as it was lacking in world-building greatly, but if this is more about character development, and I will go into the book #2 aware of the author's shortcomings, I might like it much more :) Thank you!

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  7. Oh man Maja. Not only is this an absolutely gorgeous review, but you've made me fall madly in love with both Beast and Sybella. Like you, the perfect characters have lost their appeal for me, and now I seek out the damaged, the broken, the ugly, and the scarred because theirs an added dark beauty to their circumstances that never fails to suck me in. Do you think I could read this book without having read Grave Mercy, or is it best to start with that one?

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  8. Maja this review is utterly gorgeous, I love it when a book brings so many different emotions within you. I remember hearing about the first book last year, but not jumping on the bandwagon, but now I know for sure that I will have to read this amazing series too! :)

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  9. I really can't understand why this series didn't work for me. :/ I feel like I should love it - and this book sounds SO GOOD - but I never got through Grave Mercy. Do you think I should give this one a shot? Or do I need to have finished Grave Mercy first? *sigh* Wonderful review, Maja. I dearly wish I was on board with this series the way everyone else seems to be!

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  10. THis is the second review I've read of this book and both people loved it! :) I am seriously contemplating my decision on whether or not I want to check out the sequel! Awesome review :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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  11. I am very sorry that I didn't read Grave Mercy last year after reading the reviews for Dark Triumph. I was going to read it but it was such a bloggy slut. I mean everyone reviewed it so I skipped it, but after reading yours and Candace's review I am convinced I need to read this series. I must get my hands on this. OH can you shoot me the Tour banner for Ann Aguirre?

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  12. I haven't read Grave Mercy but now that you're raving its sequel, I think it's a must that I add the books to my read-list. Sybella sounds so different from Ismae but I think I'll enjoy reading about their empowering journeys of love and purpose. Thanks for sharing, Maja!

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  13. It seems like the year of sequels! So far I've been very pleased by the sequels that I've picked up; they all manage to be much better than the first book in the series. I skimmed your review because I'd like to go into this one blind and with your five star rating, I know I'm in good hands. :)

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  14. 5 stars! I'm so excited that this book comes out tomorrow, Maja. I'm definitely getting myself a copy. I was very much intrigued by Sybella in the first book. It seems that she is even more complex than I imagined her to be.
    Beast sounds like another great character. I cannot wait to get reacquainted with him.
    It seems that LaFevers really outdid herself with this sequel.
    Fabulous review, Maja!

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  15. I want this book so much! I really enjoyed the first book and the reviews I've seen have me wanting this more. I LOVE the scarred hero in these books because they concentrate more on the personality than the beauty. I think that is why they attract us more. More substance within the romance. So can't wait to get this one!

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  16. Well, it's clear to me now. I SERIOUSLY NEED to read Grave Mercy! You're the second person who's basically just recommended it to me, LOL! I agree with you, too. I remember the rough guys in romance, not the perfect beautiful ones. <3 Fabulous review, Maja!

    Loves,
    Megan@The Book Babe

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  17. Ah! I have about 100 pages left to read in this book and I don't want it to end. I'll fully read your review when I finish.

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  18. Ohh, I'm reading Magic Bites for the first time so I can't wait to meet Curran. I'm going to read Grave Mercy next(ish) so I can get to this book. Can't wait!

    -Maggie

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  19. Yep, THAT! Your review says it all PERFECTLY! I'm totally with you on every single thing you said. I still want to hug this book close. SO.MUCH.LOVE.

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  20. I've had a copy of Grave Mercy sitting on my shelf for a while, and I really want to get to it soon. For Dark Triumph, Sybella sounds like such an incredible character and Beast sounds equally amazing. Great review!

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  21. I have not read Grave Mercy yet but I have heard many wonderful things about it. That being said, stunning review. Sybella sounds like a character with a lot going on, a lot of emotion. I can see why you became so invested in the book, it sounds incredible.

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  22. This review perfectly sums up my feelings about this book (better than the review I have scheduled, actually :D). I am in awe of Robin's ability to make a character seem hopeless yet strong, and her ability to make me fall in love with a character who defies every conventional definition of attractive. Of course I'm thrilled you have so much love for this book, because I share your enthusiasm, but really, the best part of this review for me is getting a handy list of unconventional Beast like heroes to check out. :-) Lovely review!

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  23. I still haven't read the first book (yes I know I should be punished for that - you have all rights to do so). I'll for sure. First break and this book is on my list. I'm so happy that the sequel didn't disappoint! :) Great review Maja :)

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  24. I loved Grave Mercy so I'm thrilled that you gave Dark Triumph five stars, Maja. I found Sybella intriguing and liked what I saw of Beast so I can't wait to read this one when it comes out tomorrow. I hope you get to see more of Ismae and Duval too.

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  25. I did not read Grave Mercy yet but this week I read a couple of 5-star reviews for Dark Triumph so I'm totally pushing it up my tbr.
    Great review Maja. :)

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  26. Wow what a great review. I haven't read Dark Triumph, I am not one for historicals so I wasn't sure if it would be fore me but I love how emotional this one sounds. Sybella sounds pretty intense! I'm happy to see that this one lived up to the first book.

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  27. This is a brilliant review, Maja! One of my favourite of yours yet. I honestly wasn't sure if I would pick this up any time soon (I liked Grave Mercy a lot, though I do have to admit that I wasn't in love with it), but I think you have more than convinced me now. I can already see that Sybella is a character I will enjoy reading about. Thrilled you loved this so much.

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  28. This review is lovely, Maja. You did a much better job putting your feelings into words than I was able to. I loved Grave Mercy, but I agree that it pales in comparison to Dark Triumph. Grave Mercy is a lot lighter and safer. I feel like with this one LaFevers had proved her ability to sell books and was able to step out of the box. Beast doesn't have the immediate appeal of Duval, but I love him for Sybella, and I love how rare it is to find an unattractive hero. And Sybella's story is DARK. This one packed a punch and has gorgeous writing and historical ties too.

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  29. Lovely, lovely review, Maja. I haven't read my copy yet but not for the lack of wanting. Thanks for giving me the push.

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  30. Strong praise indeed; thanks for your lovely review. You know, I've heard of Grave Mercy but I don't think I've read that many reviews. Sounds like one that I should check out though, especially if the next book is just as wonderful.

    -Lauren

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  31. I love those deep questions you pose from Dark Triumph. They validate my need to read this book. And that's such a poignant point you make. Good literature IS art. I want my books to read like art forms, rather than pre-packaged and easily anticipated works. Whenever you praise something as highly as this, I know that I need to take note. Beautiful review, Maja - and now I need to request a copy of this book. :)

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  32. Sybella's story did break my heart but I was in awe of her strength even in the face of all she went through. I love the effect Beast had on her hopes and soul. The romance was unexpectedly sweet and satisfying. This was definitely darker than Grave Mercy, but I loved a little more. Brilliant review Maja! :)

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