Sybella is one of Deaths handmaidens, and she is very good at what she does. The Abbess of the convent knows that Sybella is gifted in the arts of death and seduction, a combination that makes it easy for her to reach her targets because they welcome her with open arms - and where they welcome her they also welcome death. But Sybella's latest mission is one that poses great danger, not only because she has been sent into the home of a ruthless man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, but also because that man is her father.
Sybella escaped from her family, but she was left broken and half-mad - until she found peace at the convent and developed her skills so she could carry out the will of Mortain, but something is not quite right, sometimes it seems as though the Abbess has secrets. Back in the loving embrace of her family, and far from the care and protection of the convent, Sybella finds herself struggling to keep a clear head and most of all stay safe. The twisted past of her family haunts her, and Sybella must face her own personal demons to stay on the mission her Abbess has sent her on. The one thing that keeps her going is the knowledge that she can kill her father as soon as the marque appears - a marque that is richly deserved.
Dark triumph is the sequel to Grave mercy and follows the story of Sybella, but continues on from and overlaps with the events that Ismae faces in Grave mercy - the third and final book in the series promises to follow the story of Annith. This series is richly steeped in historical detail, although LaFevers admits at the end of this book that she compressed time and took some poetic licence to make the history work for the story. This is a strong story which is rooted in a very real world, one that lives and breathes with people who are fighting their own battles, who are working behind the scenes to get what they want, and just a touch of magic through the touch of the god Mortain on Sybella, Ismae, and the other girls who are the daughters of death (or another god which is mentioned).
It took me a few pages to get back into the story because it is so different from what I have been reading lately, but also because it has been some time since I read Grave mercy - a grumble I have had a few times lately because I tend to read books when they first come out and then have to wait for the sequels to come (and I seldom have time to re-read the previous books because my shelves are packed with new books to read). This is a fantastic series for young people who like to have a solid foundation for their stories with a well developed casts of characters, and language that you can sink your teeth into. This is not a simple story, it is an epic tale that is part of an even greater epic tale, and the historical detail helps to make it both captivating and thoroughly engaging.
This is one for the boys and the girls, although the touch of developing romance for some of the characters may have the boys rolling their eyes and skipping ahead to the fight scenes. As an adult reader this was still an absorbing read written by a deft hand, but older teens will also enjoy the story. Younger teens may struggle with some of the themes (incest and murder), and parents may want to have a quick look to make sure they are happy with the tone of the book and what it involves.
If you like this book then try:
- Grave mercy by Robin LaFevers
- Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
- Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore
- The girl of fire and thorns by Rae Carson
- Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
- Crown duel by Sherwood Smith
- Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
- Reserved for the cat by Mercedes Lackey
- Throne of glass by Sarah J. Maas
Reviewed by Brilla