Raindrops on Roses is a new feature here at Have Book Will Read.
Every now and again we come across something bookish that we absolutely love. When that happens we need to let everyone know about it. And THAT’S how Raindrops on Roses (points for anyone who gets the reference!) came about. Whenever we find something to shout about we’ll be sharing it with you in the form of a Raindrops on Roses post. Simple!
To start us off with this new feature I thought I’d do a triple review of one of my favourite series, one I’ve only recently discovered and devoured like a crazy woman! I present to you…
His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers
This series just took me completely by surprise! I didn’t expect to love it just as much as I did. I’d seen it around the blogosphere before but never really paid the first or second book much attention. They definitely weren’t on my TBR…until I saw from my friend Danielle at What Danielle Did Next that they were available as “read now” on NetGalley…and the rest is history!
Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
*I received a review copy via NetGalley*
When I saw that Grave Mercy was available as a ‘read now” on NetGalley I knew I had to get it. I mean, how often does a book about assassinating nuns come around?! To say I was intrigued with this premise is a huge understatement.
Grave Mercy is about Ismae, a lowly farmers daughter who finds herself in the care of the nuns in a convent after her forced marriage ends in violence against her. It’s here that she is taught the ways of St. Mortain, god of death, and how to serve him – simply put, kill those that betray the rulers of Brittany. She soon finds herself in the middle of Brittany’s high society, mixing with the nobility. She has no idea who she can trust, who should be killed for acts of treason against the duchess, and whether she can believe her growing feelings for Duval, brother of the duchess, are true ones.
I loved Ismae. I loved how she was fearless in her tasks, however scary they were. I also loved her quick wit whilst verbally sparring with Duval. And Duval, oh Duval – I think I loved him just as much as Ismae did! He was loyal to a fault towards his young sister and I definitely appreciated that about him.
The plot, for me, was unique. I can’t recall ever reading a book with a storyline even a tiny bit similar to this one. That was definitely a breath of fresh air. Another plus point for Grave Mercy is that I am a HUGE history geek, and, as such, I loved how rich and detailed the story was. From the traditions and customs of the time, the clothing worn, to the religious and political beliefs. It was all there in great detail – although as the author herself says, some of it embellished, some of it also made up.
There were a couple of things that stopped me from giving Grave Mercy a full 5 stars, even though I did enjoy reading it. The first one is just the sheer number of characters that featured in this story. There were SO MANY! I just couldn’t keep a track of them all, who they were, and who their allegiance was with. I think that that definitely distracted me because I had to stop reading and try to remember who they were and what their importance was. There was a reference guide at the start of Grave Mercy, which included a list of the characters. I flicked back to that a few times until I was sure I had everyone remembered. The other thing was the use of, what I felt was, very modern language. I’m not sure that the contractions we have NOW were contractions that were used back THEN. A little thing, I know, but still another distraction for me.
Overall, Grave Mercy was definitely worth the few days I spent reading it. If you’re a history geek like me and you want a historical story with a difference then Grave Mercy is one that I would recommend.
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)
*I received a review copy via NetGalley*
Wow! What a ride Sybella’s story was!
Having only just finished Grave Mercy the same night as I started Dark Triumph, I was still fully immersed in 15th century Brittany and all the double crossing and treachery that was happening, all the uncertainty over the future of Brittany, and the desperate attempts to secure Anne, Duchess of Brittany, the safest and most secure marriage.
I found Dark Triumph so much easier to get in to than Grave Mercy and I think that is entirely due to the fact that everything had been set up for me in Grave Mercy already. I knew who the characters were, I knew their allegiances, I knew the plots and conspiracies, and I knew that I loved Sybella from what I’d seen of her in Grave Mercy.
Sybella has to be one of the most selfless, bravest characters I have ever read about. She had learned long ago to close her heart to others but that didn’t stop her from doing all she could to help other people and to try and make their lives better, often at great risk to herself. That was just one of the reasons that I loved her.
Sybella’s story was not an easy one to read. Much as the title suggests, Sybella’s story is a dark one. Her life has been far from easy and when she left the convent in Grave Mercy, her life was only about to get worse. There’s a twist to Sybella’s story that is kept from the reader for a little while, it’s kept from the other characters in Dark Triumph for even longer. This twist is a heart-breaking secret that Sybella must keep, such is the depth of her shame.
I still had issues, like in Grave Mercy, with the use of contractions that were, in my mind, not around yet at these times. Also, some of the ways of speech, and words used, didn’t seem realistic to the time. This, again, was slightly distracting but not as much this time since I was a little more used to it.
I don’t think I have read over 400 pages so quickly in a long time. I was desperate to know if Sybella achieved her one goal, and if she stayed alive or died trying.
There’s so much I want to say about Dark Triumph but the words just don’t seem to be with me at the moment. I can definitely say this though – highly recommended and worth your time to read it. Maybe I’ll be back when I have the words together, we’ll see!
And my final thought… I cannot wait to read Mortal Heart to see what LaFevers has in store for poor Annith.
Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)
*I received review copies from Edelweiss and Andersen Press*
Since I first read about Annith in Grave Mercy, I was dying to know more about her and what her story was and that part didn’t disappoint me. The story was action packed, full of secrets and surprises, and it was the perfect ending to this series.
I loved how brave Annith was. She’d accepted and followed the rules of the convent all of her life, she’d never known any different or questioned them, until the rules just didn’t make as much sense as they used to…and then she needed answers…and she had to leave the comfort and security of the convent to get them….and so she just did it!! She had no real idea of what was out there or if she’d be safe, but her need to know was so great that nothing could stop her. I loved that about her.
There was a lot of Annith’s back story that needed to be told in Mortal Heart and this meant that, for me, the first 25 – 30% seemed to drag. I felt like I was in the middle of information overload in parts BUT it was all stuff that I NEEDED to know because in Mortal Heart Annith finds out a LOT about her past. There were some things I worked out before they were revealed (and they were still shocking) and some things that had me open mouthed with surprise when they were revealed! I love the way that this whole series has been planned out to the smallest detail and that it was all revealed and tied together in this final instalment Surely the sign of a great story-teller?
As with the other two books in this series, there is a love interest for our heroine. For Annith, that’s Balthazaar, the leader of the Hellequin hunters. He’s a dark, brooding, tortured soul kind of guy but Annith is drawn to him. All is not as it seems for Annith and Balthazaar and they definitely don’t have an easy ride on the road to happy ever after. That’s the best way I can put it – just read it!
There’s a lot more of Ismae and Sybella in Mortal Heart and it was lovely to see their friendship with Annith. They were just the people Annith needed to be with and the right people to support her through all she was dealing with. They had already been on their own missions for the Abbess and the convent and they had a whole load of advice to offer. I was also nice to see a little more of Beast and Duval in Mortal Heart.
One thing to mention is that just as I’d found in the other books, the language wasn’t as it would have been in the 1480’s. This time it was all the more noticeable, the way the characters spoke seemed even closer to present day English than ever before in this series. I don’t know if that’s picky of me or not, I just know that I would’ve expected the speech to be closer to medieval speech than it was.
All in all though, this is a series I ABSOLUTELY loved and one I HIGHLY recommend. I’m so pleased that I discovered this series, however late I was in reading the first two books!