Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

I am feeling very satisfied with the book Dark Triumph. In fact, I liked it so much I finished it through the first part of family firework night (much to my husbands consternation). And, since this is a library book instead of my own book, I could not mark all the things I loved about it. However, here are a few thoughts.

From Goodreads: When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.
But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...

If we break this book out into a three act structure, we find that:
the inciting event is a message from the convent to free the prisoner,
the first plot point is Sybella setting out to free him,
the midpoint is when she reaches Rennes,
and the third plot point is Sybella being commanded to return to her father's presence.

I love Sybella's character arc in this book. In the beginning she believes she is scum, that many of the horrors forced upon her have been of her own making, and that death would be better than the life she leads. She is blindly following what she believes are orders from Mortain (god of death) although she is beginning to doubt his existence. We, as readers, are quickly shown otherwise as the book opens with two 'save the cat' moments: she keeps the duchess from getting captured and she saves the life of a young girl and her sister.
Then, in the first half of the second act, she begins to fall in love for the first time in her life. She also decides that once her current errand is accomplished, she will no longer obey Mortain or the Convent (who trained her). She will do what she wants once her task is accomplished.
In the second half of the second act she receives reassurances that Mortain is real and that he loves her, although she does not believe these assurances. She also admits to her strong need to feel approval from Beast but tries to avoid him because she fears that he thinks very ill of her.
In the third act Beast declares his love for her and she for him. But, and I think this is why I like the book so much, she discovers that Mortain is real and that he does love her as a daughter. She becomes changed from this knowledge and, instead of being filled with the need for revenge, becomes filled with love.
It is such a beautiful transformation, full of reassurance and validation. The love story is good (I knew what would happen from the moment she got her orders to free Beast but I still enjoyed having it unfold), but the real meat to this book is the character arc.

Other thoughts
This trilogy is written in the first person present tense. I love the first person, but not so much the present tense.
The books are about Brittany. It makes for a fascinating backstory.
There are so many good lines in here that I want to remember that I will probably buy the book and re-read it with a pen. Then I may come amend this post with lots of good lines.

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