Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassins, # 3)
By: Robin LaFevers
Expected Publication: November 4th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!!!)
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
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Goodreads description--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.
You guys, I am so sad that this series is over. I have absolutely fallen in love with this series and with these characters. I want more. Robin LaFevers has definitely made my list of authors to check out more of her work. Must do so immediately.
Before I discuss the book itself, I’d like to say that while I’m totally not complaining—I’m truly just happy to have been giving the opportunity to read and review Mortal Heart--but the egalley version I had used a special version of Adobe that I could only read on my computer. This super sucked because I had to put it down a lot more than I would have otherwise. I would have been reading it on my phone and kindle at every opportunity, but with the version it was that wasn’t possible. Again….not complaining….just commenting.
Mortal Heart had everything that I fell in love with in Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph plus some. I love the strong females that Robin LaFevers has created. This convent of assassins dedicated to serving Death. They’re all skilled in so many ways and smart to boot. Ismae and Sybella both have dark pasts filled with abuse from various men in their pasts. Annith has a past that includes abuse, but her abuse didn’t come from any man. I loved how real Annith was. Despite how much love she bears for her sisters at the convent, she’s insanely jealous that she hasn’t been called on to serve Mortain by going out on a mission of her own. When the abbess resorts to sending out a much younger novitiate, Annith decides that’s the last straw. She must confront the abbess as to why she has been passed over.
The answer that Annith is given—that she has been called to be the convents new Seeress—doesn’t make any sense to Annith. She hasn’t shown any particular skill in this area. The abbess is hiding something, but Annith just doesn’t know what it is. We know from the previous two books and the interactions that both Ismae and Sybella have had with the abbess that there is definitely something going on that she’s not sharing. There’s some deception involving her. Once we got to Annith’s story, I felt like the big secret wasn’t that much of a secret, but I wasn’t 100% confident in my guess either. I’m always happy when this happens—when the author can give me enough to let me feel like I’m ahead of the crowd, but keep me from being fully confident in my conclusions at the same time.
With each of these stories, I’ve been impressed with the romantic relationship that develops. Each time the romance has been slow building and based on much more than outward appearance. Substance and relationship is built before any major attraction is kindled or acted upon. Annith was “faster” than either Ismae or Sybella though (and yet slower at the same time). I absolutely loved Annith’s relationship. This whole aspect was much more of a mystery than the previous two books and so I won’t even tell you the name of Annith’s significant other just to keep you in suspense. Just know that I LOVED this part.
As I’ve mentioned in both reviews of the previous two books, Robin LaFevers chooses each word specifically. She doesn’t just write and hope everything fits and makes sense. Each word is handpicked—or at least appears that way. This adds an authenticity to the series that puts it on a whole new level than it would have been otherwise. While period language can cause me to stumble over sentences when reading the classics, this just doesn’t happen with her. Her sentences flow in just the perfect way. I love how much actual history she brings in, yet tweaking it to fit her own needs to move the story along.
But perhaps my favorite aspect of this entire series is the relationship that these girls have with their god. While I’m always hesitant when reading books that aren’t about God, I hate when books throw in the fact that a specific character doesn’t believe in God at all. And the relationship that these girls have with the god of Death is so symbolic that I couldn’t help but think Robin LaFevers was writing about the Christian’s relationship with God. My favorite quotes always revolved around each girl’s interaction with Mortain, and I loved the symbolism that I pulled out of this book (whether it was what Robin LaFevers intended or not).
Once again, here are too many of my favorite quotes--I couldn't stop:
-...Mortain is a far more gentle god than most people give him credit for...
-...compassion is as different from pity as as a feast is from crumbs. Compassion says that I, too, have felt this and I offer you the knowledge that it can be endured so that you may draw strength from that knowledge and survive. Whereas pity--pity makes one feel smaller.
-He simply plucked the arrow from his chest, then bowed and thanked her for reminding Him that love never comes without cost.
-Wholly bathed in sin, and still seeking redemption in spite of it. It puts my own smaller sins in perspective and makes me proud to serve a god who is so forgiving.
-"I am just overwhelmed by the immensity of Mortain's grace. That even if we are lost or wandering, He will find us--always, He will find us--and try to bring us home."
-I try every way I know to lever my body against his, to upset his balance or cause him to shift, even a bit. But every time we touch, it feels far too much like a caress. Every time our bodies slam into each other, it feels like an unspoken promise.
-I do not have a specific prayer I wish to recite to Mortain. I never do. It has always been my custom to simply open my heart to Him so He may see and know all I that I am feeling--the good along with the bad, my grand thoughts as well as my small ones. I do that now, and peace washes through me, clearing me of my doubts and renewing my sense of purpose.
-I pray so that I may know my heart.
-It is hard to tell if that is a note of anguish I detect in his voice or if it is merely my own longings reflected back at me.
-...this cold, calculated desire for revenge I hold in my heart feels much more human than divine.
-As I tell my tale, I realize he listens to me in a way that few others do. I can feel him listening, and I fear he hears things I do not even know I am saying.
-"Jealous? Of that old man? Nay, it is just that if anyone is to hunt you, it should be me."
-"I do not want a love if I must bind it to me in such a manner, for does not the very binding of it make it less like love?"
-And most important, I will teach them how to love, for in the end, that has been the greatest weapon of all. It has proven stronger even than Death.
Mortal Heart gets 5 stars from me. This may just be my favorite in the series, which is pretty odd for me to enjoy the last book better than the first. It was a brilliant series ender that answered all of my questions while leaving me wanting more too. I sense a book hangover because of this one. Have you read Mortal Heart? What did you think? Let me know!
This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.