Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers – Advance Review

Dark Triumph BIG

Book Jacket:

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

You can read an excerpt here.


Grave Mercy was certainly no easy act to follow, but Robin LaFevers has indeed done it again – Dark Triumph is every bit as good, if not better than, its predecessor. And WOW did I love it.

Now to be honest, going in I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to spend a book in Sybella’s head. She certainly made for a fascinating enigma in the first book, with her homicidal blend of broken trust and sharp edges, but I just wasn’t sure how much I actually liked her – but trust me, even if you found Sybella a bit trying in the first book, you will fall head over heels in love with her in this one. Because once LaFevers unlocks Sybella for us, letting us inside her head where we can truly know her – and seething beneath her deadly competent exterior is an emotional tsunami – you can’t help but FEEL for the girl, can’t help but care for her. And this book takes us to every dark corner of Sybella’s past, as she’s forced to dance across her personal minefield in a desperate attempt to assassinate her personal demon (and the way Sybella’s terrible history slowly comes to light over the course of this story is utterly BRILLIANT), and it is just impossible to look away. A bit more sinister, more Game of Thrones-y, than Ismae’s story, this book is utterly, hypnotically, compelling – and it all boils down to Sybella’s fascinating character.

And while there are many layers to this story – it does indeed carry on where Grave Mercy left off, in terms of the struggle for Brittany, which involves plenty of action and intrigue – at its heart, this is the story of Sybella’s redemption, and it is a very, very powerful one. Sybella is a beautiful mess, in every respect, and the emotional complexity of everything she has to face down and overcome is just breathtaking. Watching Sybella slowly come to believe that she’s not broken beyond all repair, that she can forgive herself, and that, even damaged as she is, she might still be worthy of happiness and love – it’s heart-rending and devastatingly wonderful. The courage of Sybella, in fully accepting her heritage at last, in claiming her unique place in the world (much as Ismae did before her), it’s just… Wow. I mean, this is fantastic storytelling.

So yes, I did altogether love everything about this book – the history, the action, the romance (a delightful, believable slow burn), the emotion, and most of all, the main character. Believe you me, you do NOT want to miss this one.

Byrt Grade: A+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews (starred review) says:

An intricate, masterful page-turner about politics, treachery, religion, love and healing.

Reading Teen says:

Dark Triumph is heartbreaking and beautiful, and is easily one of my favorite books of the year.

Publishers Weekly (starred review) says:

Brimming with powerful emotions, thrilling sword fights, and accurate period detail, this tightly plotted tale will enthrall readers of romantic historical fantasy.