Dark Triumph: His Fair Assassins, Book 2
Dark Triumph
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Robin LaFevers
ISBN 9780547628387
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
5 stars
Keywords: 15th-century-brittany dark-his-fair-book-2 historical-fiction robin-lafevers romance war

Dark Triumph: His Fair Assassins, Book 2
by Robin LaFevers

The gripping launch title in the His Fair Assassin series, Grave Mercy, focused on the training of the assassin nuns at the convent of St. Mortain and the inner workings of the Breton court. Through narrator Sybella, this second book takes readers deep into the dark heart of the enemy.

The abbess has ordered Sybella back to the dangerous d'Albret household, where Sybella was raised, to serve as a spy and to thwart d'Albret's attempts to gain Breton through marriage to the duchess. As the book opens, Sybella stands on the North tower, warning Ismae of a trap that's been set for the duchess. While there, Sybella witnesses "a great big ox of a man," the last of the duchess's soldiers, felled in battle. He is the legendary warrior called "Beast." The abbess sends a message to Sybella: If Beast is alive, she must return him to the duchess in Rennes. Reunited, Sybella and Ismae (from Grave Mercy) confide a distrust of the abbess. (Sybella refers to herself as "a lamb sacrificed for the elevation of the convent.")

LaFevers explores the complicated consequences of incest and the desperation that can grow out of a household consumed with violence. These complexities echo Sybella's growing awareness that her powers to heal are as strong as her skills as an assassin, and her ability to love is as fierce as her propensity for hatred. The multi-layered storytelling makes it even better than the first book, and it stands alone.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

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