Dark Triumph: His Fair Assassin Book Two
By Robin LaFevers
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
April 2, 2013
Vengeance is divine.
To read the first chapter, click HERE:
A New York Times Bestseller
Spring 2013 Kids’ Indie Next List
What Others Are Saying:
The riveting historical adventure that began with Grave Mercy (2012) here follows the story of another of Death’s handmaidens, Sybella. Backtracking just a bit, the story starts with the climactic event of the previous book: Sybella warns Ismae, her dear friend and fellow killer from the convent of St. Mortrain, that troops protecting Brittany’s young Duchess are riding into a trap to be sprung by Sybella’s despotic father.
The story’s parameters are the same as in the previous book (the struggle between various forces to decide Brittany’s fate, the relationship between the young women trained in the deathly arts and the saint that directs them); and once again the tale is filled with vicious battles, heart stopping escapes, and intricately devised scenarios. However, in this book, the wounds are deeper as Sybella must come to terms with her past and how her secrets tie and untie her to a knight who is the bane of her existence and her hope for the future. 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. With one more daughter of Death seeking her fate, readers can expect a sequel. But how will they stand the wait?
An assassin with a will of steel fights her way through deadly palace deceptions, sickening sexual servitude and baffling assignments from her convent, becoming a major player in Brittany’s 15th-century resistance of French occupation.
Readers last glimpsed Sybella through Ismae’s eyes (Grave Mercy, 2012), serving in the entourage of d’Albret, a bloodthirsty Breton noble. Unknown to Ismae, Sybella is d’Albret’s daughter, raised in a household in which her kindest brother demanded sex from her and their father murdered wife after wife. Now Sybella’s a trained assassin, serving Mortain, the god of Death. In a castle that d’Albret stole from Brittany’s steadfast 13-year-old duchess, Sybella waits to see a marque on d’Albret’s body so she can kill him with Mortain’s grace. Living there requires a soul-breaking dance of flirtation and survival, and she is never safe. Is Mortain her real father, and has he rejected her? When an unexpected assignment arrives—a rescue, shockingly, not an assassination—it requires all of Sybella’s physical and emotional strength and stealth, plus the use of her sterling assassin skills in active battle. LaFevers weaves the “crazed, tangled web” of Sybella’s life (including her tortured past) with force, suspense and subtle tenderness. 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.
In this electric sequel to Grave Mercy, LaFevers tells the story of another 15th-century “handmaiden to Death” from the convent of St. Mortain, Lady Sybella. Raised in terror by her father, the monstrous nobleman D’Albret, Sybella was barely sane when she entered the convent. Years later, still filled with rage, she has returned home to spy on the traitorous D’Albret and foil his attempt to kidnap and forcibly marry his liege, the young Duchess of Brittany. Sybella must navigate a complex web of political subterfuge, violence, and self-hatred to stay alive, while secretly assassinating those traitors whom the god Mortain has “marqued” for death (“When I see a dark shadow covering his chest, my heart soars. He is marqued! This makes everything so much simpler”). Ordered to save the life of the ugly Beast of Waroch, a knight loyal to the duchess, Sybella soon ends up on the run from her father’s vengeance. Brimming with powerful emotions, thrilling sword fights, and accurate period detail, this tightly plotted tale will enthrall readers of romantic historical fantasy.
In this sequel to Grave Mercy (Houghton Harcourt, 2012), Sybella leaves the convent where she has learned her assassin’s skills and returns to Brittany, where she must endure her father’s unspeakable cruelty and the incestuous love of her half brother. Determined to undermine D’Albret at every turn and stay loyal to Duchess Anne, she carries out covert operations and looks for opportunities to use her skills and bring evildoers to justice. She helps to foil a plot to capture Anne and frees the Beast of Waroch, the duchess’s most loyal and fierce champion, from D’Albret’s prison, all the while waiting for an opening to kill her father. When the knight knocks her out and takes her along with him, her cover is blown and she despairs that no one will be able to stop D’Albret’s reign of terror.
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. The love that develops between her and Beast provides a model of a healthy relationship built on mutual trust and understanding. Realistic details of 15th-century Breton life abound, providing an overall clear and accurate picture of the times. There is much talk about St. Mortain as the Lord of Death, which some may find disturbing, but these topics are handled well and the story will leave readers eager for the series’ finale.