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On a Book Bender

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers {Amanda’s Review}

Oh, to be an assassin nun.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin, #2)

Genre: Historical fantasy
Format: hardcover from the library
Read: October 2013
Robin LaFevers | @RLLaFevers
Dark Triumph on Goodreads

7

Book Order

1. Grave Mercy
2. Dark Triumph
3. Dark Hope (2014)

Synopsis

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. 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 to a 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?
-from Goodreads

Thoughts on Dark Triumph

In a galaxy far, far away. Wait. No. That’s not how it goes. In March of 2012, I read Grave Mercy, the first book in this series. (March 2012 may as well be another galaxy, so you understand my confusion.) That’s 18 months between books. While I didn’t necessarily need to remember everything that went on in the first book (which was good, since I didn’t), the lack of my memory frustrated me. Dark Triumph would have been more deeply layered, had I read these closer together.

Which is to say, it IS deeply layered, and I missed it because I couldn’t remember what happened in Grave Mercy. Bits and pieces of the world—the handmaidens of Death and the convent’s role—were frustratingly unfamiliar and just out of my grasp. Too much recapping would have weighed this already long story down, so it’s more my problem than anything.

Despite all that, I was intrigued by Sybella, who has so many secrets and hardships to bear. There are a lot of dark and ugly issues here, many of which are never explicitly stated, but rather left to the reader to fill in the blanks. Sybella isn’t a heroine you want to be. Perhaps be on her side or her friend, should she let her guard down long enough.

Even though Dark Triumph is technically YA (Sybella is only 17), the characters and situations feel adult-ish. But it’s never graphic; the fight scenes are quick and efficient, and the love story takes a back seat to Sybella’s struggles. It was a nice break from all the historical romance I’ve been reading, and I hereby resolve not to let 18 months pass before I pick up the third book in this series.

About the author: Amanda, noun: 1. Creator of On a Book Bender and Bout of Books. 2. Editor at The Path of Least Revision. 3. Lover of language and books. 4. Drinker of wine, coffee, and vodka. 5. Idea wrangler and wielder of words.

22 comments… add one

  • I love this series, but it definitely is better to read them closer together. I had to remember certain things from the first book too, but I still really enjoyed it. I think when the last book comes out I’m going to read them all!

  • Yeah, too much recapping would have killed the story but there are so many layers, I kind of had to just say okay and move on without remembering everything. I think, before the next one comes out, that I’ll have to do a reread. They’re so good, it’s not like it’s a chore!

  • Well your review answers my question Amanda! I was wondering if I could skip book one and start with this one since it’s a different protagonist, but clearly I’d be better off reading Grave Mercy first and this one a close second. I’m curious about these books because they seem to be almost universally praised, and I don’t want to be out of the loop of Awesome:) Hopefully book 3 isn’t 18 months away!

    • Definitely start with book 1. You do learn a lot about the world (since there are paranormal type elements) that you need. But they are so good!

  • I really like this series but I have to say that I was surprised just how dark it is! It was a slow starter for me but I’m glad I stuck with it.

    • It is rather dark. I like it, but it’s surprising if you’re not expecting it.

  • Oo, good to know! It’s been like six months since I read Grave Mercy, so I need to get on this! I’m excited to get to know Sybella and it’s a relief to hear that the abuses are just referred to since anything too graphic would be hard for me to read. I’m also excited for historical fiction (/fantasy?) that doesn’t have a heavy romance element :D *requests from library*

  • I remember feeling that way about Grave Mercy – that it’s technically YA but very very dark.

    This is one of those books/series that suffers from “OMG the first one is SO AMAZING” but then… I never pick up the second one. I do that entirely too often.

    • I think it’s a common occurrence if you read the first book before the second is published. So many books are published in between the two that it’s easy to forget.

  • I feel like I’ve been hiding under a rock. How did I not know that this book had been released? Yikes! I loved Grave Mercy, but since I’ve read your comments I’m thinking that I need to pick it up again before I read this one. Especially since I read Grave Mercy in March of 2012. Any excuse for a re-read, right?

    • That’s when I read Grave Mercy too. A reread would be good.

  • Glad to see it was still worth the read despite the distance. I just read Grave Mercy a few months ago, so I better not let this one sit too long.

    You might also like Maria V Snyder’s Study & Healer series.

  • I really wish that serial books had a one-page summary at the beginning of each book. It would really help with series that have huge gaps between each.

  • Jan

    I’ve had this series on my wishlist for a while now – assassin nuns, what’s not to get excited about?? I think I’ll get both books together though after reading your review rather than leaving a big gap in between!

    • Assassin nuns are awesome! I think you’ll appreciate reading these books together, though.

  • I think I forgot a lot of what happened in Grave Mercy too and it hindered my ability to enjoy it juuust a little bit. I think I enjoyed book one more but I really did like Dark Triumph a lot! I’m REALLY looking forward to book three though! Definitely excited for it! :)

    • Yeah. I feel like I would have enjoyed this one more if I’d read the books closer together. But… still good. Book three should be gooood. :)

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