Super vague spoilers for Grave Mercy, so read at your own risk but note this review is not riddled with all the big reveals and such.
I realize I might take some heat from other bloggers for posting my review of Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers so early, but you guys, I have that condition where when I love a book SO hard, I cannot for the life of me shut up about it, regardless of how early I’ve read the book. Also, I do what I want. YOLO. Friends, right now I am experiencing all of the feels because I clicked to the last page of Dark Triumph and all is as it should be with an utterly perfect ending where all comes together. Legit there is nary a second book in a series slump to be seen — which IDK about you all but seems like 2013 is the year of book 2 and thank god I haven’t read very many that don’t live up to book 1. Anyways, if you’ve come to His Fair Assassin book two, Dark Triumph looking to recapture the emotions and swoon and OH EM GEE OH EM GEE REVEALS from Grave Mercy then yo, you have come to the right place as I can vouch straight up Dark Triumph is a worthy book two and I fell hard for Sybella, as hard as I did for Ismae.
First things first, I need to put my inner bias out there so you can judge this review accordingly. I had originally read and reviewed Grave Mercy as an egalley. I loved it SO MUCH that I bought a hardcover, AT LIST PRICE, not at that Amazon Discount Pricing. Therefore, I was predisposed to like and desperately wait on Dark Triumph. YOU GUYS. I am in L-O-V-E with this book. Plus, I know for a fact that I will be buying it when it comes out AT LIST PRICE as well because it is worth it and you know this is one of those books that I need to have in hard cover form. Dark Triumph focuses on Death’s Handmaiden, Sybella. As you might remember from Grave Mercy, Sybella is the girl who came to the convent after going through some real shit. She’s kind of ‘damaged’ in book one. Well, in this book we get to see just why she’s so damaged. We open with her being sent to D’Albret’s house and Sybella is hell bent on killing D’Albret, only like a total douche he doesn’t have a marque, so it’s not exactly sanctioned by Mortain. Instead, Sybella finds that her mission is to rescue Beast (ILY ILY ILY) and get him to Rennes. You see, Beast is practically half dead from fighting some of D’Albret’s soldiers. ONLY he’s got the spirit of a total warrior and is one of St. Camulous’s own and so, together the two travel on to Rennes, to the duchess meeting plenty of interesting characters along the way. SHOUT OUT TO THE CHARBONNERIE, YOU KIDS ARE MY FAVORITE.
Sybella, Sybella, Sybella. Girl goes through so much pain and strife and ugh, you guys her life totally blows. And now I can see why she was Captain Emo in Grave Mercy. There is such a good reason for it, but I totally will not go into that because you do not deserve spoilers pre-Dark Triumph. Suffice to say, Sybella is a bit mopey, but in the book we actually understand why and it’s nothing that I can hold against her. I loved her character because she had what it takes to get the job done. Instead of agonizing over killing dudes with marques on them, she just does it. And it is legit and awesome. Sybella is very no nonsense and tough, and while yes she shows her vulnerable side to the readers, there’s a wall up to the other people in her life. It’s quite the interesting combination — tough as nails on the outside, soft on the inside.
What makes Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers so compelling is Sybella’s inner conflict. We get this exploration of Sybella’s inner landscape, you know like her feelings and emotions and such — I just wanted to sound smart with that line. Questions of whether evil is genetic or nurtured arise. I can’t tell you much about Sybella’s past without spoilers but I can say that her home environment sucks and she might as well live with the embodiment of evil. Further, she also consistently questions whether she is good enough or whether she really deserves love because of previous things that have happened to her. And what we really get is this awesome transformation from victim to survivor — it’s incredibly empowering, now that I think about it.
Of course, Dark Triumph is not all doom and gloom and depressing and well, dark. Beast from Grave Mercy features quite prominently in this companion book. You guys, Beast is awesome. He’s a bear of a man. Yet, despite his bulk, he has a lightness inside. He’s very charismatic and people are drawn to him. Where Sybella is brooding, Beast is laughing, ya know? Obviously based on the summary those of you with two brain cells to rub together can infer that Beast and Sybella hook up because come on, that is how these summaries and romances work. YOU GUYS maximum swoonage occurs within Dark Triumph and it’s a nice slow build over mutual antagonization and also definitely respect. What I love is that the two have issues to work through — their romance is not one that is easily won, thank goodness. Plus you guys, there is a kissing scene that you’ll totally want to highlight, and that’s the only bone I will throw you.
For such a long book, Robin Lafevers makes it so Dark Triumph is kind of impossible to set down. Y’all, I had intended Dark Triumph to be my work out book and we all see how great that one went. Instead of just reading it while on the bike, I carried it around with me reading my kindle like the wind. This noise is gripping in the best possible way. While it doesn’t quite focus on politics and machinations and intrigue like Grave Mercy, it does have that interesting focus on self-conflict. And I just loved that Sybella was such a dynamic character and seeing her have these epiphanies. It was definitely a treat to read about.
Obviously, I highly recommend this book. Robin LaFevers’ latest definitely adds more meat to the His Fair Assassin trilogy. Dark Triumph manages to not feel like a filler in any way shape or form. Instead, it was totally awesome, especially when everything just clicked for me and I had that AH-HA reader sort of moment. If you happen to have a copy, I recommend reading it now and totally talking it up because this is one series that deserves ALL OF THE SALES, seriously. All of them. I came, I saw, I swooned over Sybella, Beast, the Charbonnerie, Yanick and more. Definitely, definitely preorder LaFever’s Dark Triumph I promise you won’t regret one clicking it.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers:
Dark Faerie Tales – “Time escaped me, as I read through the story”
Carina’s Books – “So many things that made me cry. And smile.”
Sassyreads – “Dark, this one… and I liked it”
Books by Robin LaFevers:
Writing as RL LaFevers:
The Unicorn’s Tale