Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Review: Dark Triumph

With so many new books to keep track of this year it's not surprising that one or two nearly slipped my mind, after all it's not like I'm thinking of medieval, nearly-France, or assassins everyday. However my new library system actually has a section within the young adult section (the section forbidden to over-eighteens after 3pm on weekdays and all day on weekends, for once my ambiguous age appearance works in my favor!) dedicated to new books and that has helped me out quite a bit in keeping track of books. Now, if only all the books I wanted to read would magically pop up there....

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers 

Summary: The tiny country of Brittany continues to be plagued by troubles both internal and external, the French want to take over and local lord D'Albert wants the country for himself and seems to not care that all this internal struggling makes the country weaker. Sybella, a young nun trained in the arts of the god of death, is therefore send back to her father's household to try and kill him, or to at least disrupt his plans. But things aren't going according to her plan and with such high stakes can she find a way to rework her changing circumstances? 

The Good: I'm still rather happy that LaFevers has chosen a less common setting for her work (not one of the grand courts of Europe but a small, besieged country), although since her setting is on the more realistic side it's a rather unglamorous setting and almost made me miss stories with more fanciful locales. In any case, I'm rather happy that LaFevers has chosen to make each of the books in this trilogy have a different "main" character, partially for the richer view it gives but also because I felt like Ismae had reached the peak of her character development (for that stage in her life) in the previous book and felt the same for Sybella here, I'd much rather read about a third character next time than see an author flounder around trying to create meaningful development without regressing. 

The Bad: I can't quite put my finger on why but somehow this book just didn't fully work. Full disclosure, I noticed as I was reading that I didn't remember as much of the previous book as I thought I did (I did read it nearly a year ago) but I do recall feeling like the first book seemed to have wrapped up the story fairly well so it was a bit disconcerting that oh no, suddenly things were getting even worse for everyone. And this book felt a bit odd looking at how a trilogy is traditionally structured, while things do get worse it didn't feel like things escalated which is usually how things go in the second book in a triology (there wasn't any twist that completely changed the nature of the fight just, actually it made things simpler). Also, this is a trilogy so not everything will be revealed or explained by the second book, I completely understand that. However, it becomes clear that part of Sybella's troubles stem from the fact that the head of the convent does no like her and the reason why is still a mystery by the end of the story. While I can see why LeFevers wanted to leave that until the final book to answer, the fact that it seems to deal with Sybella's story more than Ismae or Annith's (who will be the main character of the third book) made it feel a bit weird that it never was addressed.

So, a 3 out of 5 to this book and hopefully I like the third novel a bit more, although if they pair up Annith with a guy as well I am going to be very grumpy about it.