2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant sequel that should live up to Grave Mercy fans' anticipation,
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This review is from: Dark Triumph: 2 (His Fair Assassin) (Paperback)
The moment I finished Grave Mercy, a wonderful tale of assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, I immediately downloaded this sequel. If you have read and enjoyed the first book, you won't be disappointed with this one.
Where Grave Mercy was told from Ismae's point of view, here, the focus shifts to Sybelle, a bit part character in the first book. It's a brave decision on the part of the author and ends up working very well. Although Sybelle is a very different character, she ends up being just as compelling and sympathetic. She also has a rather more complex past, which makes for interesting reading.
The story is quite a lot darker than last time around, with abuse and incest and suicide and all sorts of cruelties cutting across the story. It was never gratuitous or lingered over, but you might want to exercise caution if you're particularly sensitive to this sort of thing. The political machinations and historical tales continue, but at heart, this book is much more of a personal tale of one woman's attempts to fight her demons.
On the subject of demons, D'Albret, the Duchess' unpleasant suitor from the first book, plays a much larger role in this book and becomes more of an overt villain. In fact, he's a wife-murdering, peasant slaying, child abusing psychopath. He's quite terrifying and appears to have no redeeming features at all, but is a brilliant character. His almost cartoon villain aspects are nicely balanced out by a variety of other flawed characters of more ambiguous loyalties and morals, the standout for me being Julian, one of D'Albret's sons, who is one of the more interesting secondary characters I've come across in a long time.
In my review of Grave Mercy, I suggested that the weakest part of that book was the central romance. Sybelle's love story caught my imagination much more. Romantic novels currently seem to be dominated by astonishingly attractive men, and in many cases, men who are such "bad boys" or "alpha males" that they're borderline abusive. While I have a soft spot for a handsome caddish hero, it was refreshing that the romantic lead here combined physical ugliness with being utterly lovely. There's was a genuinely touching story.
I suspect it will be about fifty/fifty between people who prefer Grave Mercy and people who prefer Dark Triumph, but despite their very different heroines and rather different tones, the same strands of magic, folklore, history and romance run through them both, so if you enjoyed the first one, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this. And if you haven't read that yet, what are you waiting for?