Friday, 10 January 2014

Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Title: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Release date: June 6th 2013
Publisher: Anderson Press
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 467
Source: Bought

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 . . .

It is the most comforting thing I have ever felt, that hand in mine, the quiet steadfastness it promises. That he offers me this after all the secrets I have told him humbles me. I want, more than anything, to keep that hand in mine and never let it go.
I can't believe I waited so long to read this. Dark Triumph is everything I hoped it would be, and at the same time, so different from what I expected. It's definitely a lot darker than Grave Mercy - hence the title of the book, I guess. But I didn't expect to fall into this world so easily despite the lack of multiple action scenes reminiscent of Grave Mercy. I didn't expect to love Sybella more than I did Ismae, and Beast more than I did Duval. But all of these things happened while I read Dark Triumph, and they are some of the reasons I loved this book so much.

Sybella's point of view is interesting to say the least. I was really intrigued by her in the first book, and was dying to know her story. Now that I do know it, I have to say I feel for her in a way I never imagined. Her true identity is something I never saw coming, and that's basically the key of the plot. Sybella is d'Albret's daughter. If you've read Grave Mercy, you'll recognize this name that puts an image of an incessantly vile man in your head. And don't worry, that wasn't a spoiler! We are told of Sybella's family right from the start. Another thing that isn't a spoiler - Beast, the lovable character and valiant warrior we met in the first book, is still alive. The real action in this book begins when Sybella receives orders to rescue him from the d'Albret mansion, and from then on it's a riveting journey throughout.

Sybella is clearly very different from Ismae, in many ways. But the thing I noticed first - just like Beast did - was her attitude towards killing. In simple words, she enjoys it. Making sure that evil doesn't touch anyone she cares about. And Beast is similar to her in that sense, which is one of the reasons they understand each other so well. Sybella's past is dark and shadowy, as one would expect from having d'Albret as a father and growing up with evil. But the extend of that darkness is unimaginable, and we are kept guessing until almost the very end. Despite everything she's been through, Sybella is strong and courageous, and I admire her so much for that. Her experiences have not broken her, and they never will. Of course she's tainted by it, but I love that Beast disregards it all to focus on who she truly is.

Ah, Beast. Never before have I totally fallen for a love interest described multiple times as an ugly oaf. In fact, I haven't even encountered a love interest who's so blatantly described that way! But the appeal of Beast isn't in his looks, it's in his character. He's so undeniably good, so kind-hearted, jovial and loyal. It's impossible not to fall for him. Even for someone like Sybella, who's decided not to believe in love. Beast is mostly what kept this book going, and I loved everything he says and does. He honestly has one of the best personalities I've ever read about, and I love that Robin didn't make him utterly gorgeous like pretty much every other YA hero.

This book is more focused on the characters and their thoughts and actions than anything else. Not just the protagonists, but others too. You'll find that not everyone is black or white, good or evil. And that's kind of confusing, but Robin did it so well. One such character is Sybella's brother, Julian. I don't want to say much about him, but I empathized with him a lot, despite the way he acts sometimes. Of course, one character that is pure evil is d'Albret. If what you saw of him in Grave Mercy repulsed you, the man you see in this book will have you shuddering in revulsion and hate. And that makes me feel even more sympathetic towards Sybella, for everything she has to endure.

It was great to see Ismae and Duval again! They're still the same, and still deeply in love. We see a lot of them later on in the novel, and they play key roles, too. We also find out the truth about the marques, and a lot of things fall into place with this novel. With the events surrounding the convent, I can't wait to find out what Annith does in the next book!

Some people may be put off by the slow pace at times, but I found myself absorbing everything, since it all flowed so smoothly. There's a lot of intensity in this book, and some pretty heavy stuff. Clearly not for younger kids! I also love the setting, the world-building and the writing. I think the author's note at the end of the book is really eye-opening, because I had no idea some of these characters and parts of the plot are based on true events. 

Dark Triumph is really one of the best books I've read in 2013, and I can't commend Robin enough on her beautiful writing and compelling characters. I'm generally not a historical fiction fan, but this is one series I can't help but love. So if you haven't picked up Grave Mercy yet, I highly recommend doing so!

Rating: 5/5


  1. GETTING SO EXCITED. I REALLY REALLY HAVE TO GET ONTO GRAVE MERCY SOON. I need more time in a day. :'( Soooonnnnnn. Thank you so much for recommending it to me though. Without the push, I would've never gotten to it. I so want to read it!

  2. Oh wow... after reading you review I need to get the first book and start the journey!! The characters sound great... Sybella... you have me intrigued!! Awesome review!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  3. I've had this series on my wishlist for a while but never got around to reading it! It sounds amazing though!


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