Thursday, May 4, 2017

His Fair Assassin

This series was an entertaining and engrossing end to my day for the last few weeks.  It leans towards being filed as pure guilty-pleasure, but its (mostly) tasteful execution and historical bent are a notch above the average YA romance series.
Grave Mercy, Robin Lafevers
Thankfully these are less The Other Boelyn Girl and more Bitterblue.  The supernatural elements also reminded me of Bowring, but less bloody.  It annoys me when female authors refer to characters as wenches (does that version of serving women's history really need propagation?), and the conceit is really quite silly...but it was also irresistible.  There were some whopping cliches too (a girl descending the stairs in a dress to a speechless suitor, for example), but then the dialogue was a delight.  The key with this was going in knowing it was romance- and happiness-driven, so there are some foibles with the bargain.  Because the story was fun, the world interesting, the characters likable and dialogue good; I gobbled. it. up.

Dark Triumph, Robin LaFevers
Of the three books, this is the most disturbing.  There's some of everything Tudor court is infamous for (and more).  There are lots of references to rape, sexual assault, using women, and many male characters are driven by lust.  While the other two books might be appropriate for some around age 14, not this, by me.  There are some truly disturbing suggestions, although little is explored in detail (you are told things go on rather than invited to spectate; the worst thing the reader is present for is an unpleasant advance, not the full encounter).  These sordid inclusions are part of what makes the heroine who she is (an angry, vengeful protag, to start), and she is very different from the assassins spotlighted in the other two completed books; because yes, like the Graceling series, these are same-world, new heroine (I would still read them in order though).   Like book one, some female stereotypes are disappointing, but LaFevers' love stories, world, and themes are darn compelling; I forgave.  The writing and world-build felt stronger in this.  The dimensions for resistance and wrong-doing are explored with surprising insight.
Mortal Heart, Robin LaFevers
I do love when things come together *hand rub* -- the three assassins hangin' together was stell.'  I am impressed by the exploration of redemption, choice and mercy in this.  I also found some narrative portions like Ilona Andrews, Rosamond Hodge, and Neil Gaiman.  Some reviewers have objected to how the supernatural/spiritual component developed in this one, but me?  All for it.  It had similar foibles to the earlier books, but the scope, intrigue and politics of this one won me over more than the former two -- and they were all fun -- but the overall hook and merit of book 3 was greater.

I will be reading future installments in this series.

These are good picks for fans of Graceling, Throne of Glass, and The Winner's Curse.
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