Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
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... (courtesy of Goodreads)
The sad time has come for the His Fair Assassin series to finish. But at least it went out on a high. The series is accessible to several different types of readers. It has a touch of fantasy but not so much that it will annoy the realistic fans. It has a lot of romance but never overwhelms the plot. It incorporates real history but doesn't get bogged down in facts. It has a little something for everyone.
I particularly like that each book in the series tells a complete story of one character while incorporating it into the larger story. This seems to be a popular technique lately. Annith, like Ismae and Sybella, is not what one would expect of a medieval young woman. Trained as an assassin nun, Annith excels at basically everything. Yet for reasons she doesn't understand, she is kept cloistered within the convent, when less accomplished girls are sent on missions.
I didn't have strong memories of Annith from the previous books. My basic impression of her was that she was quiet and supportive. She lacked the chutzpah one might expect of a trained assassin. But I was wrong to think that the face she put forward reflected her abilities to be sent on missions. There are reasons beyond Annith's control stopping her from leaving the convent, which she doesn't understand and openly disobeys. She also has reasons for having such a diminutive and almost subservient demeanor, which are explored in the book.
Of course, when Annith leaves the school, she is a more than capable assassin - in both abilities and personality. She is cunning and resourceful. And perhaps most importantly in her case, willing to listen and accept help from others. Circumstances outside her control and perhaps her own personality make her unsuitable to be the lone wolf type.
What would a book in this series be without a handsome leading man? Balthazar is the stereotypical tall, dark stranger. He has the brooding personality that you'd expect from this type but is also a strong leader of his group of outlaws. I loved that he is supportive of Annith making her own way. He protects her but doesn't prevent her from acting on her own and being the leader of her story.
The greater story of this series is the political drama surrounding the Duchess of Brittany. War is now at hand. The question is whether the Duchess can keep her country independent from France and whether she can keep her personal future secure. There are many supporting and hurting her, but ultimately it is she who gets to make the choice, in this wonderfully feminist piece of literature.
Grave Mercy is still by far my favorite book in this series. It is the most political and historical of the series, which is right in my wheelhouse. The second book is the most romantic. This book had the most fantastical elements. Although all of the books incorporate these elements strongly. I think each person will have a favorite depending on the type of literature they most enjoy. Lucky for me, I loved all three!
Recommendation: Buy - buy them all!
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