by Robin LaFevers
Book 3 of His Fair Assassin
The most recent updates will be added to the top each re-post.
As I progress through the book and find reasons to update, more events may or may not be revealed. Also, as this is the third book in the series, there may be mentions of events from the first two books that could give away pertinent information. So I will include a **SPOILER WARNING** right here just in case I have inadvertently given away anything significant to the story itself. I've done my best not to mention any big spoilers, but I don't always check myself accordingly.
Progress on 11/29/16: 88 of 463 pages (19%)
And there it is. The threat I have lived with my entire life. If I am not good enough, kind enough, thoughtful enough, obedient enough, I will be cast from my home like a stunted fish from a fisherman's net.
This is what I was talking about with the abbess and the convent. How it seems so easy for the nuns to just throw the girls out just because they dare speak up. I thought this was a place where the girls were supposed to feel safe, and where they can understand their strengths and know how they can live a life without worrying about being abandoned or tossed out just because they refuse to be controlled by the men in their lives.
I'm glad that Annith is now finally taking some steps to figure out what might be going on with the abbess and what propels her to do the things she does. Especially since now it seems that the revered Reverend Mother is sending girls out on assignments when they aren't even ready at all.
Again, I'm ready to get the adventure started, and the plot seems to thicken some more when Annith discovers some things about her own records kept in the abbess's study.
Progress on 11/29/16: 59 of 463 pages (13%)
"We have already spoken of this. Serving Mortain is not a right, but a privilege. A privilege I grant to you, not one you can march in here and demand for yourself."
"I thought it was a privilege granted by Mortain."
I am ready to get this show on the road. I know we're not that far into the book yet, but I'm ready for the adventure to start.
The abbess is so manipulative that it's obvious there's something else going on. In the quote above, she even slips up, claiming the tasks that serve Mortain as a privilege granted by herself. So Annith's questioning her is quite logical, and it makes me even more curious to know about what else is going on and what the abbess has planned, whether for her own selfish gain, or maybe for her own delusional misunderstanding of the god she serves.
One of the things I don't like is how the abbess keeps using threats of either throwing the girls away, forcing them into a dangerous service, or marrying them off to keep them in line. I had been under the impression at the beginning of the series that the convent was a safe haven for girls who get thrown out of their families, or who need a place to go to hide away from the dangerous world outside. But the abbess threatens to throw these girls out so easily if they even try to resist a little bit.
I'm not even very happy with the rest of the nuns either, as we learn from a few casual anecdotes here and there what the nuns will tell the younger girls to keep them subservient. Indeed, is it as Annith says that they make up these stories and rules as a means to keep the girls subservient for their own selfish reasons? Or is there just a lack of true knowledge about what their God of Death really wants?
It makes one wonder. And just as well, I like the new side of this series' development. I knew I'd really like Mortal Heart because we get to see a whole other side of the entire convent and the abbess from the girl who has always been with the convent, and can say is the abbess's favorite student.
Progress on 11/29/16: 56 of 463 pages (13%)
But am I defying Him? That is at the root of my uncertainty. Has He asked this of me, or is it the abbess's will?
My faith, my dedication to Him, is as much a part of me as my arm or my leg or my heart. It is hard not to question my own motives, for I realize now that I have been trained since birth to blame myself as thoroughly as I have been trained to wield a blade. It is so easy for the sisters to imply that it is my obedience and willingness to surrender my will to Mortain that is being tested--but what if that is not what is being tested at all? What if that is what they tell us so we will not question their own selfish motives?
By the third book, if not for the fact that we've already seen firsthand the manipulative, jealous, and petty personality that the abbess tries so hard to hide, I would assume that Annith is a rather unreliable narrator and is spouting ideals that cannot be proven. But the fact is, we have seen from the first two books already what kind of a person the abbess is turning out to be.
At least Annith is truly asking all the right questions.
Progress on 11/17/16: 46 of 463 pages (10%)
So it seems that while Sybella's story in Dark Triumph continues right after Grave Mercy, Annith's story starts somewhere within the time frame of Grave Mercy's time frame. I should have guessed since it sounds like Annith just learned about the abbess's plans to make her into the next Seeress of the convent.
And also, going by the letter that Annith just intercepted from Ismae, it has been quite some time since Ismae's assignment started at the duchy court. The letter is addressed to their Reverend Mother, which tells me that Ismae is still in good standing with the abbess. The letter details an event that occurs a little over halfway into Grave Mercy.
This is an interesting way to begin Annith's story, I think, as we may get more insight into the goings on of the convent, and see more about what the abbess is up to from another side of the story.
I find it interesting that all three stories depict the girls, unknowing about each other's situations, and each finding out in their own way that the convent may not be the ultimate messenger of St. Mortain's words, and that there is more to St. Mortain's will than the convent has taught them.
Progress on 11/17/16: 42 of 463 pages (9%)
Annith is certainly a bit different from our first two heroines, Ismae and Sybella. She doesn't display the same demure, quietly obedient character than Ismae has; nor does she have the mad, emotionally unstable life Sybella displays. She's one of Mortain's daughters who has lived in the convent the longest, and who has excelled in all of her studies.
And she even states that she does not have, or does not remember anything about her past life before her life at the convent.
I'm curious to see where this book takes our third heroine who has already learned that she is now fated to remain in the convent forever. The abbess has plans to make her the new Seeress--basically she will become the nun to convey Mortain's wishes to the convent through prophecy or augury. I never thought that those were skills that could be learned or forced on anyone, so the abbess's certainty that Annith is perfect for the job seems a little questionable.
It makes me even more wary of the abbess; as we've already seen from the first two books, the old nun does not hesitate to manipulate and use the girls at the convent for her own gain. What her play is though, I've yet to figure out. Clearly she's supposed to be serving Mortain, but a lot of her decisions have been questionable so far, and her ruthless manipulations aren't what I'd have expected from a woman who runs a convent that aims at taking in young girls who need a place to escape their tragic lives.
And Annith seems to be describing the abbess as a good woman... it's hard to reconcile the abbess that Annith sees in her eyes versus the abbess who so readily shunned Ismae for daring to have a life outside of the convent, or who wasn't above using Sybella in ways that could possibly get the poor girl killed, or worse.
And also, how pretty is that cover?