Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

dark-triumphDark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers, published in 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

Author. Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository. Barnes & Noble.

Genre: historical YA fantasy.

Source: publisher via Netgalley (it was “read now” for a while). Thank you, Houghton Mifflin, for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for… (Goodreads)

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My rating: 3.5/5.

Warning: this is a review of a second part of the series and may include some spoilers for part one. Read my review of Grave Mercy here.

We know Sybella as a slightly deranged, troubled young lady from Grave Mercy, and here she is again, the heroine of her own book.

This second instalment of the series is darker than the first, because Sybella’s story is even worse than Ismae’s. Her family is awful and her task is made that much harder by the fact that she is forced to spy on her own relatives. I like the fact that we get to see the courtly intrigues and war from different points of view – I really want to read the last part of the series so I’ll get the complete picture.

Sybella seems cold and downright scary sometimes, but she’s also very protective and loyal to those she loves. I liked the way LaFevers gave us some glimpses of her in the first part of the series, only to develop her character in such a complex way in this book. I also liked the very unusual love interest, and felt, for a change, that my yearning for a slow-burn romance in YA (as opposed to insta-love) was fulfilled.

I had a bit of a problem with the bad guys in this story. The beefy, cruel, incestuous Count d’Albret is so bad he would be a pure, black-hole black on the colour spectrum. I usually prefer bad guys with some layering, a redeeming quality or two, and some weakness. It was almost too easy to hate the guy (and his entourage). I *know* human monsters exist, but I felt like LaFevers piled too many bad habits onto one character, if you know what I mean.

Other than that, the series continues to secure my interest and I’m looking forward to reading the final part. It’s good historical YA fantasy and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of the genre.

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Have you read this series? What did you think?

What are your thoughts on bad bad guys?

  • Good review! I’m hoping to start this series in 2015. I agree with you in preferring villains who are more nuanced than the one you describe here. I don’t want to like them, but few people are wholly and thoroughly evil, without a hint of a redeeming or sympathetic characteristic. Still, I keep reading good reviews of the series, and I’m eager to read them. I have the first two on Kindle, picked up when they were on sale, so hopefully I can get to them early in the year.

    • Kaja

      Thanks, Lark!
      Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say about villains in my own convoluted way. :) I want to read the last part soon so I finish the series while it’s still fresh in my mind.

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