A while back, I reviewed Grave Mercy, the first in this trilogy. Unsure initially about whether or not the book would keep my interest, I found myself quite intrigued with the idea of a convent that trained assassins and worshiped Mortain, the god of death.
Dark Triumph is Sybella's story (she made a few brief appearances in Grave Mercy). Sybella has a background of abuse from her own family, but like Ismae in Grave Mercy, Sybella is rescued from her horrific family and delivered to the convent to begin training as Death's handmaiden. However, the abbess who treated Ismae kindly exhibits little compassion for Sybella despite the terrible abuse the child has endured. Perhaps the third book will reveal the cause of this strange animosity.
Although the abbess treats Sybella without warmth or empathy, she nevertheless recognizes Sybella's value as an assassin. After three years, the abbess sends the seventeen-year-old Sybella back to her despicable father as an assassin and a spy. Why would the abbess return the girl to the very situation that led Sybella, half-mad with fear and grief, to the convent of St. Mortain in the first place?
The story is a darker one than Grave Mercy, and there are some unpleasant aspects, but it kept me engrossed throughout. I especially liked seeing the Beast of Waroch, the ugly knight who had a small role in Grave Mercy take a larger role in Dark Triumph.
I look forward to the final book in the series and finding out more about the abbess of St. Mortain. Although this is a book listed for "young readers," I would classify it in the recently added New Adult category.
NetGalley/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Fantasy. 2013. Print length: 405 pages.