Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin, book #2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
I loved Grave Mercy when I read it last year. In fact, it's right up there with my favorites of 2012. So, to say that I was worried Dark Triumph would fall short as a sequel is an understatement...especially since this book is a companion novel, not a true sequel. I wanted to follow Ismae and Duval on their exploits, but alas, I was consigned to learn more about the mysterious Sybella, another of Death's handmaidens. I was intrigued by her character in Grave Mercy but not enough to desire a whole book from her point-of-view.
Or so I thought. If Ismae's past was bleak, then it's sufficient to say that Sybella's was insufferable. The things this young woman has survived...and yet she manages to walk tall in the face of all those who have wronged her. You don't know everything Sybella's endured right from the beginning, but it's obvious she's every bit as strong and deadly as Ismae, maybe even more so. It almost felt like a betrayal to Ismae to like Sybella's character as much as I did, but they are best friends, and so I think Ismae might approve.
Dark Triumph picks up right where Grave Mercy left off, only from Sybella's perspective. It is not, I repeat, NOT the events of Grave Mercy retold from Sybella's point-of-view, as I've seen some report. Instead, Sybella finds herself back in her father's household as a spy for the Reverend Mother. The vileness this poor girl must withstand, it's enough to turn your stomach and pity Sybella. But she would not want your pity. No, Sybella merely wants vengeance. Fitting for the handmaiden of Death, right?
What isn't appropriate to Sybella is the attachment, the allegiance she feels to a certain soldier responsible for keeping the Duchess safe. He ends up being her salvation. She has only ever sought to exact her revenge since leaving the monastery, but now with the aide of this man, she has more to live for, to fight for. And the relationship that develops between these two lethal beings is just so pure and beautiful...I was rooting for it from the very beginning. It's nice that for two who have suffered so much, they may finally have a chance at some semblance of happiness.
Fret not, fans of Grave Mercy. Many of your favorite characters from the first book do make an appearance in this companion novel, some with a more substantial presence than others. Sybella's story hurt my heart, but it was promising to see how many have her welfare in mind. Just seeing how the author was able to seamlessly continue this story, but through another's eyes, gives me hope that the least known assassin's tale will be tremendously exciting. I now know I can go into Annith's story in Mortal Heart with zero trepidation.
If you loved Grave Mercy, I pretty much guarantee that you'll love Dark Triumph as much, if not more. It's that good. More poison. More weapons. More action. More everything! I couldn't have asked for a more perfect follow-up to Grave Mercy. There is no question that this will be among the leaders of the pack for my favorite novel of 2013.
And this trailer is perfection, too!