A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers learn about 15-century ideals, and are introduced to the Duchy of Brittany and its battle against France for independence. They may also learn to question what they were taught in school and church.
Dark Triumph sheds light on ideas of power, faith, and religion. When a country rules justly, rather than by fear, it is more effective. The book also explores themes of questioning oneself, faith, religion, and the purpose of life. It also proves that love conquers all.
Positive Role Models
Dark Triumph is full of common 15th-century beliefs that by today’s standards are perverse and outdated. However, the two main characters go against popular custom. Sybella transforms from a self-doubting, unknowing girl into a confident, strong, and independent woman. She learns to trust her own instincts rather than merely believe what she's told by others and makes decisions based upon her own judgment.
Violence & Scariness
Women are taught to kill brutal men. They use knives, swords, and poison. There are graphic details of war. Men are stabbed in the eyes, gutted, and beaten. Women are also abused physically and sexually. The main character is beaten by her father.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
As true to the era, women in this book are the property of men. As mere objects, they are frequently sexually abused. It's mentioned that the main character has been raped more than once and was forced into sexual servitude with her brother. One woman is forced to place her hand on a man's private parts. Another woman is almost the victim of a rape. There's one sex scene that is consensual and an expression of love.
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Merde, the French word for "s--t," is frequently used as an exclamation. People are also called insulting names such as "gargoyle" and "cow."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People drink wine in place of water, as water was usually contaminated.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.