Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Book Three of the His Fair Assassins series
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...
What I Liked:
It's officially official (again): this series is one of my favorite series everrrrrr. Grave Mercy was my favorite novel of 2012, and Dark Triumph was an excellent sequel (which I just read this past March). I preferred Ismae's story to Sybella's, but I just knew that I would love Annith's story.
Annith has been in the convent, serving Mortain, longer than any of the other girls. She has never been on an assignment, whereas girls her age (like Ismae and Sybella) have been sent out. When Annith escapes, taking matters into her own hands, she discovers that some legends are true, and that she isn't quite like the other daughters of Mortain. Time is ticking for the duchess and the country, and Annith has an important role to play in the war to decide the ruling power of Europe.
I love this series. I love that it appears to be a companion series, and it could be, but it really isn't. There are several general plots that run throughout the series - like the duchess and her marriage and the politics and the war and so much political scheming! Also, we get to see Ismae/Duval and Sybella/Beast in this book, as well as other characters from books one and two that I did not think would appear again.
The first book is still my favorite of the series, but this book comes in second (with Dark Triumph in a close third). I love how complex this book is - it's not just about Annith and her self-discovery. The brewing war and overarching political conflict is also at the forefront of the book, as Annith is heading to Guérande (which is where Ismae, Duval, Sybella, etc. are). Annith has a key part to play in the war, but we don't get to see this until late in the book.
The book is pretty long (450+ pages), but the story is so intriguing and fun to read. Maybe "fun" isn't the right word - I mean like, totally engrossing and engaging. I love Ismae/Duval, and I enjoyed reading about Sybella/Beast, and I really REALLY wanted to know more about Annith (and her love interest, who I will talk about later). We follow Annith from the convent to some crazy forest thing (no spoilers!) to where the duchess and Ismae/Sybella are, and there, Annith takes her place helping the duchess, but also, discovering secrets about the abbess, and her (Annith's) past.
Annith is a mystery, for most of the book. We don't know who she is, or what she is, but we know that she cannot be an "ordinary" daughter of Mortain. She has no gifts of Mortain, but she is a faithful servant and a very skilled assassin. Annith is obedient, but there is always a thread of rebellion laced through her heart. She is determined to discover the truth of the abbess's schemes and plotting - and we know how twisted the abbess seemed in books one and two.
Yes, yes there is romance in this book. The romance is a bit... unexpected, as LaFevers introduces a new element to the lore of the story. The male love interest in question is part of the new element of the story (which I won't give away). His name is Balthazaar, I'll give you that. I loveeeee Balthazaar - he is an interesting character, and has quite the dangerous edge. I like edgy. I won't say more. I thought it was interesting how LaFevers resolved the romance - I didn't know how it would end, honestly.
This is probably my favorite historical fiction series in YA literature. Like, I loveee historical fiction, and I read a lot of it, but this has to be my favorite. Medieval historic times? Totally my thing. Plus all the politics and conflict AND breathtaking romance? Like woah.
The ending of this book (and therefore, series) is good. I'm not going to say if it ended with a "happily ever after" or whatever - no spoilers from me! But it was good. I loved it. I love how things fit together. LaFevers addressed all of the conflicts in the book and series. Very well-done!
Sufficient it to say, I was VERY pleased with this book. All the waiting and putting off reading this one despite having a review copy (I do things chronologically) was totally worth it. This book was stunning, beautifully written, solidly crafted, and all around, amazing!
What I Did Not Like:
Okay, I have to be honest, it took me a bit to get into the book. Maybe like, a hundred pages (or thereabout). It's a 450+ page book, so one hundred pages isn't really THAT much. Things get interesting when Annith leaves the convent, basically. Before that, I'm kind of like okay... I know LaFevers is setting up the scene, but eh. Necessary "evil".
I don't really have many dislikes - this one just FEELS like a 4-star-read, you know? I loved Grave Mercy more, but I really liked this book! More like 4.5 stars.
Would I Recommend It:
I would recommend this book AND I would totally recommend this series in general! Seriously, this series is an Alyssa-approved series, one of my favorites (and probably my favorite YA historical fiction series). Plus, check out the covers! I like the original cover of Dark Triumph, but in general, I LOVED the covers of these books. And the books.
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars (only because it's not quite to 5 stars, like Grave Mercy. If that makes sense). But really guys, this book (and series) is so so so good! One of the best!
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