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Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) – Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) – Robin LaFeversTitle: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin Lafevers
Publishing Info: April 2, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Netgalley, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 21, 2013
Related Posts: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1), Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)

The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her home to the life that nearly drove her mad. 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?

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DarkTriumph

Maybe I needed someone to fangirl with while I read this. Maybe my hopes were too high. Maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to read long books on my Kindle because for some reason they feel like they take forever. Maybe I needed help from the Recaptains to remember what exactly was up with Sybella in GRAVE MERCY — But for whatever reason, I was SO BUMMED that I didn’t enjoyed DARK TRIUMPH as much as I had hoped. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I really did; I just hard a hard time getting into it as easily as I fell into GRAVE MERCY.

I was incredibly excited to jump into the Sybella’s story in DARK TRIUMPH since her side of the story seemed much darker and mysterious than that of Ismae in GRAVE MERCY and I was not disappointed with the tragic details of Sybella’s past as well as her difficult current assignment for the abbey. For some reason I just had a really hard time getting totally sucked in like I had with GM. I honestly feel like if I had read this as a hardcover instead of ebook, I would have had a better time with it. It sounds stupid, but I just felt like I was not making any progress with it on my Kindle (which is another reason I sometimes have a hard time reading ebooks) at a point where I felt a lot of reading pressure, and I really felt like it wasn’t fair to the book. Excuses aside, I still felt like I should have felt more enthralled than I was.

A few of my closest blogging friends absolutely loved this one, so I know it’s not that DARK TRIUMPH was a bad story — Aw hell, even I don’t think it was a bad story, BUT Sybella’s life is very different from Ismae’s. Once her life starts to intertwine with the fate of Beast (remember him? Duval’s light-hearted right hand man?), the reader can immediately see the potential for a romance there, but the romance just didn’t capture me as much as I had hoped it would. Since Sybella & Beast are quite different than our original romantic couple, Ismae & Duval, their relationship develops in a vastly different way and I felt developed even slower than the slow burn of the first book. I think I felt like it took a while for that romance to start and although I wasn’t keen on rushing it, I also think I needed a bit more of that earlier on to really tug on my heart strings and pull me in.

The other issue I had was the chase. Why is there always a chase in book two? WHY? Our beloved characters are on the run, fleeing injustice, hiding from bad guys, and camping in the woods… And clearly this is something in books I have come to loathe. I think it’s the act of not having a grounded setting? Maybe? I’m not 100% sure, but characters on the run creates a lot of action, but scenes that just don’t hold my attention. Unfortunately, this made up the first half of the book, so maybe that’s why it took me so long to get into DARK TRIUMPH.

All complaints aside, DARK TRIUMPH is another great addition to the collection of books that make up the HIS FAIR ASSASSIN trilogy. Robin LaFevers does a great job with this historical fiction (considering that’s not usually a genre I enjoy at all) and the language is easy to understand considering it’s written as the 15th century and there’s quite a bit of humor as well. Although book two didn’t quite sell me as much as I’d hoped, this was clearly a personal issue (stress? personal preference? Kindle?) and not a plot or character issue so I think GRAVE MERCY fans will still fall in love with DARK TRIUMPH!

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Sybella: Sybella definitely has a crazy and difficult life. Even after seeking shelter in the abbey, she still doesn’t quite fit in. She’s never been accepted wherever she goes, so it was really interesting to see her reactions to various predicaments in DT. I really enjoyed how different she was from Ismae and that Robin LaFevers was able to create such a different POV for the readers to follow and enjoy.
Beast: I’ve always loved Beast! He’s just so much fun, he’s honest, he’s fierce. Beast is a pleasure to read about and it was great to see his interactions and developing relationship with Sybella too. I was really glad we got to see him in the spotlight in DT!

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Buy it!

GRAVE MERCY is still my favorite so far but I really enjoyed DARK TRIUMPH as well! I think I need to re-read these books someday after they’ve sat for a while. I’d love to see how my feelings change or stay the same with a re-read!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE DARK TRIUMPH

     Grave Mercy      Born Wicked

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) – Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) – Robin LaFeversTitle: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin Lafevers
Publishing Info: April 3, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 21, 2012
Related Posts: Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2), Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)

    Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.      Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

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GRAVE MERCY follows the story of Ismae who after escaping the terrible fate of an arranged marriage to an oaf of a man is delivered to the convent of St. Mortain, the patron saint of Death. There she learns how to fully embody her true calling as the daughter of Mortain and learn the ways of death from her fellow Sisters and nuns. Upon the abbess’s approval, Ismae is sent out on her first big mission to protect the duchess of Brittany and to assassinate any traitors to her beloved country. When Ismae gets tangled up in the people of the court of Brittany, she finds it more and more confusing on who to trust and how to best fulfill Mortain’s will with her own feelings mixed in, especially when that means possibly betrayal of a man she may be falling in love with.

Once again, this is a book I probably would not have picked up if it were not for the glowing reviews of my fellow bloggers. This is what makes me so glad that I started my blog and am able to find such great books out there that I never would have known about otherwise!

First off, I really loved that this story was about the handmaidens of Death, but somehow had a positive spin on it. It wasn’t sinister or cruel — Ismae and her fellow Sisters are trained to assassinate those who have been “marked” by Death himself and are only the vessels to carry out His will. These are the traitors, the brutes, the tyrants – All who are deserving to suffer Death’s revenge. And even still, the story takes on so much more than pure assassinations and executions.

I really enjoyed the character development. I was surprised to see more time spent developing the minor characters that were of questionable intent versus what we usually see of the minor characters as sidekicks to the heroes. But in a way, it was actually perfectly fitting to the story. We are dealing with royal politics here and there were many hidden motives and people not to be trusted!
My favorite thing, of course, was the development of Isame & Duval’s relationship. Duval seems like one of those guys who just gives you his crooked smile and has you instantly hooked! I love any love interest that is played off as sly, witty, and sarcastic, making our strong heroine question the “weakness” of falling in love and finally bringing down that wall. And we get all of that and so much more from Duval!
Ismae really reminded me a lot of Katsa from Graceling — They had very similar natural talents (killing, fighting, etc) and that sense of surprise when they find themselves falling for a guy! Silly girls. We all swoon – It’ll happen to you even if you’re a badass! I found myself making quite a few comparisons between these two awesome heroines.

I was really interested in the whole plot of the duchess Anne and how young she was (thirteen!), yet really stood her ground, knew her politics so well, and was the head authority of all of the court. Usually the side stories (or main stories I guess in this case…) about politics and warring strategies usually don’t interest me, but this was written extremely well and it really helped that we got to know Anne so well. If she wasn’t prominently featured in the book and we were hearing of her story from afar, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. She brought a nice aspect to the story and made a good friend for Ismae and softened her character a bit as well.

I thought it was great how deeply the story really took us, constantly turning our loyalties as to who we could really trust. It was just such an interesting concept and a really original story that it really had me hooked. I couldn’t guess as to how it would finish!

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BUY IT!

Wow, I was so impressed by this book. It started off just a teensy bit slow but totally swept me away!

QUOTES

  • p 31: “Good intentions are only lies the weak tell themselves.”
  • p 161: “I kick my right foot out of the stirrup, swing my leg over the saddle, and send both feet into the face of my attacker.”
  • p 454: “Like the tumblers in a lock, my mind shifts and moves.”
  • p 549, Last line of the book: “For while I am Death’s daughter and walk in His dark shadow, surely the darkness can give way to the light sometimes.”

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE GRAVE MERCY

   

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) – Kristin Cashore

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) – Kristin CashoreTitle: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore
Publishing Info: October 8, 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 15, 2012
Related Posts: Jane, Unlimited

    Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight -- she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
    When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
    She never expects to become Po's friend.
    She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace  or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

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I picked up GRACELING due to the many, many glowing reviews I’ve seen around the blogosphere. Usually I’m not one for fantasy-type stories or settings in kingdoms. For some reason, I’m not usually captured by medieval stories or fantasy worlds — But GRACELING was just so much more than that!

I loved the idea of Graces. It’s only a few people who develop Graces and they must protect themselves fiercely for the fear that they’ll be taken advantage of by those who have power over them. Katsa’s Grace was abused by her uncle, King Randa of Middlun, and she was forced to do his bidding of pain and killings against his enemies with her Grace ability of fighting and killing.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Katsa is a fighter — She’s tough, she’s strong, and she’s built up a wall around herself that’s tough for people to break. Her only close companions are her cousin Raffin (who’s another extremely enjoyable and funny character) and less close, her companions of the Council and her servant Helda. The relationship that develops between her and Po is extremely hesitant at first, but easily became one of my favorite relationships in a book. Katsa and Po are both extremely strong characters, but together they create a perfect team. Katsa is more serious, and always has been, and Po has an excellent sense of her and is able to bring the humor. I love his teasing of Katsa and he really breaks her down and is able to create such a trusting and loving bond with her.

The mystery behind the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather was also a great development in the story. It’s not just fighting and romance and fighting and romance. We learn more about the true nature of a few of the kingdoms as we also develop more of the characters. It’s many layers of a story that unfold so nicely and seamlessly carried me throughout the book.

Bitterblue, who we meet later in the story (and I’ve grown to not hate her name as I had before I read the book!), is another great character addition. She’s a little fireball and another strong character. Even with all of the strength in this book, I was never overwhelmed, which looking back on it is surprising.

GRACELING just had it all: A great story line, a fantastic world, an element of almost “supernatural” with the Graces, fighting, romance, humor, more romance, evil, action, the outdoors, fantasy, wonderful character development. And I just loved Cashore’s writing style! It felt a little medieval without being overwhelming or confusing with the language. It put me in the perfect mindset while reading and really helped develop the story that much more.

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Buy it!

 I loved it! And that’s exactly what I exclaimed after I finished the book and closed it. And hugged it.

QUOTES

  • p 134: Katsa didn’t think a person should thank her for not causing pain. Causing joy was worth of thanks, and causing pain was worthy of disgust. Causing neither was neither, it was nothing, and nothing didn’t warrant thanks.
  • p 187: (Po to Katsa, humorously) “And I suppose it never occurs to you to start small. If I told you my roof needed rebuilding, you’d start by knocking down the house.”
  • p 202: Po sat back in his chair. His eyes flicked lazily around the room. He drank from his cup of cider, and his finger traced the wet ring it left on the table. He leaned his elbow on the table and propped his head in his hand. He yawned. He looked, Katsa thought, as if he only needed a lullaby and he would nod off to sleep. It was a good act.
  • p 431: King Ror: “I have no doubt that you are more than capable of bringing the Monsean queen and my son and the rest of my sons and a hundred Nanderan kittens through and onslaught of howling raiders if you chose to.”

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE GRACELING