**Warning! If you haven’t read Grave Mercy which is the first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is the second book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy but as it is a companion series, it follows a different set of characters than those in Grave Mercy. The main story continues from book one with the Duchess fighting against those backstabbing her and plotting to take her reign of Brittany away from her. This time around, we see the story progress through Sybella’s point of view with Beast as a major character as well. Sybella is a character you may remember from Grave Mercy as she is one of Ismae’s half sisters, or daughters of Mortain, who was trained at the same convent, while Beast is one of the two men Duval placed his trust in. I have to say that while I did love Dark Triumph, I did not quite enjoy it as much as I did Grave Mercy.
Dark Triumph is a darker tale than Grave Mercy. We’re clued into some of Sybella’s supposed madness as we see it through Ismae’s eyes in Grave Mercy but in Dark Triumph we are able to delve deeper and find out firsthand why Sybella suffers the way she does. I really enjoyed the progression of Sybella’s character and the growth she undergoes during her tumultuous time in the D’Albret household. Sybella is chosen to go undercover in his household as she has the best cover of any of the other assassins, D’Albret believes her to be his daughter. I bet you can gather where some of her psychological issues are stemming from. Sybella is extremely hard on herself and it’s not until she opens herself up in the latter half of the book that she finally begins to accept her past and live more in the present.
The love story between Sybella and Beast is absolutely adorable. Their characters are such great compliments for one another and there’s a darkness that dwells in each of them which explains why they’re so drawn to each other. I also appreciate that there attraction is largely non-physical. Sybella looks past Beast’s physical appearance and she loves him for who he is and Beast wholly accepts Sybella and all of her past. Their relationship develops and they establish a bond built on mutual respect. If I have one complaint about Dark Triumph, it’s that while I enjoyed the Sybella and Beast story and there were definite things happening to move the overarching plot along, I felt like their story often distracted from the elements I loved in Grave Mercy which left me wishing for more information about the politics and further information about the occurrences in Ismae and Duval’s household. Also, I would’ve just liked to see more Duval in general.
Final Thoughts: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is the follow up to Grave Mercy but it takes us to D’Albret’s house while he continues to plot against the Duchess. The story focuses on Sybella and Beast, two strong characters with dark pasts who are coming to terms with their place in the world while forging a slow burn romantic relationship. As the name suggests, Dark Triumph is a much darker story than Grave Mercy and it’s much more psychological and character driven at its heart. I’m looking forward to reading Mortal Heart and learning more about Annith before this historical fantasy comes to a close.
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convnt 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… (via Goodreads)