Dark Triumph is Book #2 in the His Fair Assassin Series by Robin LaFevers. I honestly tried to keep out spoilers of the first book, but seeing that I hate spoilers, I’d hate to be the person to spoil book #1 for you. If you haven’t read “Grave Mercy” yet, turn back now, I beg of you. Okay… don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Title: Dark Triumph
Author(s): Robin LaFevers
Pub. Date: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance
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…
I really struggled with writing up this review for “Dark Triumph”. On one hand, I truly loved the characters of this book. However, loving a character does not make up for a weakness in plot and I think that’s why it has taken me so long to reconcile the two.
At the end of “Dark Triumph”, I felt underwhelmed. Like, “Is that it?” Despite this, I have a lot of love for Sybella, she is a wonderfully developed character in this book. She takes the series to a whole different level of dark, which I thought was great. I also couldn’t get enough of Beast. He was funny, smart, and I’ll be damned if he wasn’t the most sexiest character I’ve ever read before.
My Fan Art
So I want you to meet these two characters and get a chance to see them as I do, because while the book for me as a whole was sort of ‘meh’, the characters were definitely not.
“Dark Triumph” was a much darker book than “Grave Mercy”. Sybella has a very tortured past. Do you remember when Ismae described Sybella when she fist came to the convent? Yeah,Ismae basically said she was feral. Well, over the course of the book, we’re fed these little nuggets of information to sate our curiosity, but it’s rather merciful in my opinion that the details of these events are left out. Suffice to say, it makes sense why Sybella is the way she is.
Many reviewers who’ve read the whole series agree, Sybella is their favorite of three girls the series follows. And now after having read “Dark Triumph” am happy to say that I whole-heartedly agree. Sybella has really overcome a lot and she’s such an overall badass with a penchant for daggers, which, to be fair, is sort of a requisite for me to fall in love with any character. (The badass part, not the daggers. Though I’m sure the daggers help.) But if I’m being completely honest, I think I liked Beast even more. In the first book he’s described as this horribly ugly man, which even though Ismae said it, I still couldn’t quite picture it. He seemed too, well, I don’t know, awesome to be all that ugly. So the whole, he’s-got a-horrible-face-to-look-at thing, never really connected with me. It wasn’t until we see him through Sybella’s lens that I started to appreciate what Ismae probably meant. What I mean, is that Beast just isn’t her type. Like, I imaged Duval as achingly beautiful. So, basically a pretty boy. Beast, he has that scar running down half his face, but despite that I always pictured his rugged handsomeness to be more manly. So, to me, that just makes his face have more character. Whatever, Beast’s attractiveness is not at all important to the story. Sorry for the random deviation, what is important to the story though is who he is as a person, his perspective on life, how he balances Sybella out and how he doesn’t try to bring her down. He’s not intimidated by her. Any man in his right mind should be. But Beast? Nope. He admires her. *Swoon* Yep, I’m in love. Together, they fight through tough situations both physically and metaphorically and it’s really a beautiful friendship.
Despite all of that, the book’s weakness lies in the fact that it focuses on trying to stay close to historically accurate and I don’t think it really needed to. I’m sure there are sticklers out there for historical details, and any deviation from those details pains those people, but me not being one of them, I honestly felt a bit jostled around when things were moving in the plot too quickly just to align with some timeline that, frankly, I had no clue about because I’m not a historian.
So my biggest criticism for this book is the lack of flexibility. LaFevers does deviate from history, which she explains those deviations in an afterword at the end of the book, but for me I think I would have preferred a story that was more true to the characters and less true to history. I am, however, looking forward to finishing the series with “Mortal Heart”. I have it on good authority, aka another book blogger, that LaFevers didn’t focus on historical accuracy as much for that one. So, I am looking forward to more focus on character and more flexibility on the storyline in the conclusion to this series.
Furthermore, I’d recommend any writer who is looking for an example of how to balance a dark character with a their corresponding character foil to read this book. The friendship between Sybella and Beast is great, so much so that I really would have liked to see more of it.