Mortal Heart: His Fair Assassin, Book 3

Book review by
Karen Wirsing, Common Sense Media
Mortal Heart: His Fair Assassin, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Great themes and heroine but no bang-up series finish.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers are introduced to 15th-century Brittany and learn about culture during the Middle Ages.

Positive Messages

Authoritative figures and people of power don’t always make decisions that benefit those around them. Therefore, it’s OK to question authority. Also, spirituality doesn’t have to come from the written word, it can be created within.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Annith learns to question what she’s told and seeks answers for herself. She comes to understand that sometimes the best path in life is the one you create for yourself.  

Violence

Men are killed in battle by way of swords and bows and arrows. It's mentioned that a woman was raped in the past, and many hints as to why women should never travel alone, because men can't control their sexual desires. 

Sex

Annith loses her virginity, and although it's to the man she loves, it's an act of rebellion against the church. Includes some sexual innuendos.

Language

"Bastard" and "merde" -- (French for "s--t") are infrequently used.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine with dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mortal Heart ​by Robin LaFevers is the third and final installment, in the His Fair Assassin fantasy trilogy about a group of women chosen to kill others in the name of Saint Mortain, the god of Death. Although Mortal Heart is less violent than the previous installments, Grave Mercy and Dark Triumphit does explore mature existential themes of identity, spirituality, and death. Set in the 1400s, it recounts the historical war between Brittany and France, and men are killed with swords and bows and arrows during combat. The heroine loses her virginity as a way to rebel against others’ expectations of her, and it's mentioned that a woman was raped in the past. In the book's most affecting scene, a dying girl describes her fear of death and pleads, “I don’t want to go alone.”

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What's the story?

MORTAL HEART is the final installment of the His Fair Assassins trilogy. This book chronicles the life of Annith, a young novitiate of Saint Mortain, the god of Death, who has spent all of her days in the convent learning the traits of an assassin. She has practiced long and hard to become the best archer, swordswoman, horseback rider and healer to represent her god well. After years of watching girls come and go, Annith can’t help but to wonder why all the others have been sent on assignments except her. She's far better in her trade than any of her comrades, so it comes as a great surprise when the abbess informs her that she may never see the outside world. Instead, Saint Mortain wishes for Annith to remain in the convent forever, as a seeress. Annith must decide if she will sacrifice the life she wants to live to honor her god, or if she'll seek autonomy outside the convent.

Is it any good?

This book examines concepts that many people reflect upon, and watching Annith become an independent, self-reliant woman who molds her own identity is a rewarding journey. And, although author Robin LaFevers offers readers a great story with a lovable heroine, some will be let down by the lack of a great climactic moment and an odd plot resolution. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the history of the Middle Ages. What were some cultural differences between that time and ours? Do you think Mortal Heart accurately depicts the era?

  • How does Mortal Heart compare to the first two installments in this series? Were you satisfied by the ending? 

  • Discuss different types of governing methods -- is it easier to rule a country if you are feared by the people? Draw from historical examples.

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