Die deutsche Rezension findet ihr hier
Brittany, 1489: Sybella has been sent to Count d’Albret for one reason: she is his daughter and can spy on him without being instantly caught. Doing that still isn’t easy. On the one hand, she has to risk so much that it could betray her and there is no doubt her father would kill Sybella the second he found out the true purpose for her being with him. On the other hand, her past, her childhood and life together with this man are slowly ruining her. Too many horrible things have happened, and more are to come. Then she is ordered to free a captive who is one of the Duchess’s supporters and to send him back to her – he might not only be his regent’s rescue, but also Sybella’s.
I had hoped for “Dark Triumph” to be better than “Grave Mercy”, but in the end it was neither better nor worse (for me); which isn’t a bad thing, seeing that I did like the first book after all.
Back then I had hoped for a very short moment that de Lornay would be the second book’s love interest, but who didn’t completely forget what happened in book one knows that this isn’t likely to happen. So, yes, the mysterious knight here is Beast. Which was obvious from the beginning, I really don’t understand why it’s kept secret for so long.
Anyway, the author made a good decision. Not that de Lornay (or anybody else) would have been a bad one, but who can possibly resist the generous murder bear? (Despite how often he is described as ugly – and that happens a lot. Sometimes I wondered why they aren’t throwing stones at him yet, such an emphasis was put on his looks.)
It becomes apparent that Benebic (that’s his beautiful name; in the German edition he’s called Benabic which sound even better I think) is the person Sybella needs right now. With such a father even a tolerable childhood is impossible and … well, how do I put this? INCEST FUCKING EVERYWHERE. My skin regularly started to crawl while reading about this family, which admittedly also had to do with the people themselves. (Really, the Lannisters look tame compared to this. Wait … no. There’s still Joffrey.) At some point you get convinced that those people are capable of anything, and all joking aside: it’s no wonder Sybella’s desperation is continually growing. Soon, you will be rooting for her and hoping she’ll be able to flee from her father’s influence.
However, I got slightly annoyed that she links everything to herself – it’s always her fault and hers to remove. Which is complete nonsense; unfortunately, she has a different view on that topic. This is where Benebic gets important. Did I mention that he’s generous and good-natured? (He doesn’t really have to forgive her anything, he only has to show her that there is nothing to forgive; and he’s the one who can do just that.)
Meanwhile, Sybella doubting the convent and abbess – even more than Ismae did – was plain awesome, as well as her being a young woman making her own decisions and going her own way – just let me tell you that this is a pretty cool way.
In contrast to book one, “Dark Triumph” doesn’t deal much with politics. Ismae had to fight verbal duels; Sybella can use her knives much more often. This book is more about her way back to life: the aims are often visible but not the direction she has to take in order to get there. It’s a mostly thrilling read and should be much more interesting than book one was for some readers – you really had to be into political quarrels to find that one thrilling. In book two the characters don’t threaten you with hidden meanings but wring your neck; literally. Where does that lead to? Well, I wasn’t too happy with the ending, but only because it was written rather pathetically. (My criticism of the writing style from the first book remains: some terms are too modern to fit the setting of the 15th century.)
A little side-remark should be left for the secondary characters. The important ones don’t appear too often, and some of them are real monsters, but sometimes they are very important for the plot and you can’t stop to like them for it. I hope I’m not the only one who wants to see Sybella and Tephanie married? (Yes, I know that this isn’t going to happen. Ever.)
“Dark Triumph” might be slightly better than “Grave Mercy” for some readers, but I liked it just as much even though it’s different than the first one. If you’re up for a little bit more blood, then this book is one to look forward to!