A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dark Triumph is the second book, after Grave Mercy, in the His Fair Assassin trilogy about a group of women who have been chosen to kill others in the name of Saint Mortain, the god of Death. Dark Triumph deals with grave issues of war, female oppression, and revenge, but it's gracefully written and should spark many discussions. Women are frequently physically and sexually assaulted. Although the act of rape is never completed in this book, it's often attempted, and it's mentioned that rapes have happened in the past. A father forces his daughter to give sexual favors to another man in exchange for information. There's a forced incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister. The action in Dark Triumph takes place against the backdrop of the French occupation of Brittany; therefore, many people are killed in detailed, bloodied battles by way of knives, swords, and bow-and-arrows.
What's the story?
DARK TRIUMPH is the second book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy, based in Brittany in the 15th century, following the bestselling Grave Mercy. Sybella D'Albret has been chosen by Saint Mortain, the god of Death, to serve at his convent as one of his assassins. The women of the convent are a sisterhood of girls who have defied both death and the expectations of womanhood in their era, proving that women are capable and worthy of much more than just bearing sons. At the convent they are taught the art of war, along with the importance of female unity. Just as Sybella is beginning to enjoy her lessons as a lethal handmaiden, she is given an assignment that thrusts her back into the home of her malevolent, tyrannical father, D'Albret. Her mission is to rescue and safely return the queen's toughest and most fierce knight, known as the Beast of Waroch, who is being held captive in D'Albret’s dungeon. Although returning to her childhood home means that Sybella will face the horrifying memories of the past, this time promises to be different, as she is now trained to kill with her bare hands. There's only one problem: Sybella, serving her god, may kill only in self defense, or if she sees that the "marque of death" has been placed upon her victim. Her shock comes as no surprise when she discovers that D'Albret, despite all his sins and deceit, does not carry the marque! Will Sybella decide to abide by the laws of her faith, or take D'Albret’s fate into her own hands?
Is it any good?
This is a beautiful journey about learning to love in a world that teaches hate, finding trust after a lifetime of betrayal, and allowing time for healing after years of relentless repression. It's a story of war, not only with another army, but also with oneself, to find inner strength, perseverance, humanity, and purpose in a world where there doesn't seem to be any.
Author Robin LaFevers tells a tale of love and tragedy where love conquers all. She intertwines historical accuracy and fantasy, giving the reader a sweet medieval escape with moments that feel eerily real, as if the coolness of the stone cave walls come to life. Her characters are complex and face relatable real-life dilemmas, and above all, her prose is captivating and remarkably elegant.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between the treatment of women today and in the 15th century. What has changed? What more changes would you like to see?
Are there are any countries today that still foster 15th-century beliefs regarding women?
Discuss different types of governing methods -- is it easier to rule a country if you are feared by the people? Draw from historical examples.
Explore which character you found most interesting and why?
- Author: Robin LaFevers
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
- Publication date: April 2, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Hardback, Kindle
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