Sunday, November 2, 2014
Life and Death: Mortal Heart
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Release Date: November 4, 2014
*ARC provided by the publisher at BEA and picked up by Rachel of ReadWriteRamble - thank you! This in no way impacts my opinions expressed in this review. Also, as this is the final book in a series, there are some spoilers for the previous books in the series - you have been warned!*
I remember when my library first got a copy of the first book in Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assassin series - in fact, I'm pretty sure I'm the one who put it on the order. Nuns who serve the ancient Brittany god of death, St. Mortain (who is actually their father), by becoming highly skilled assassins? Sign me up! Yet there it sat, a premise I was always interested in, yet just didn't pick it up and start reading. When I finally did, I was hooked on this historical series. I inhaled Grave Mercy, then Dark Triumph, and finally Mortal Heart.
Annith has been at the convent of St. Mortain her entire life and is still waiting for her chance to leave the abbey's walls so she may finally carry out the will of her god with her own highly skilled hands. Her dearest friends Ismae and Sybella have already been sent out, as have younger girls with far less training. So when the abbess declares that it is the will of Mortain that Annith become the new Seeress, a role that means never leaving the abbey for the rest of her life, this daughter of Death takes her life into her own hands and leaves to join her friends. The journey unites her with unlikely people, long buried secrets come to light, and it becomes clear that Annith's destiny with Death is far different from anything she could have imagined in the abbey's walls.
This was a very satisfying ending to LaFever's trilogy. I've been interested in Annith's story ever since meeting her back in book one. While this novel has fewer action sequences than its predecessors, here readers get a lot in terms of the ancient beliefs of Brittany, backstory about the abbey, and the followers of other saints. The abbess also plays a much bigger role here, and while I still hate her more than ever, learning her story was illuminating. Seeing Ismae and Sybella again was like visiting old friends, but I think my favorite parts are ones involving new characters. I won't say more than that because the surprise was so much fun and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. For readers of this series who like the dashes of romance included before, never fear, you'll find that here as well. My only criticism is that since it's been a year since I read book two, I was hazy on remembering the political details of this world, so a bit more in terms of helping refresh my memory would have been helpful.
Though the story of these three handmaidens of Death is over, LaFevers has ended her saga in a way that still allows room for the story to continue should she choose. All in all, if you liked books one and two, pick up Mortal Heart. I'm so glad I got to read it early, but even if I hadn't, I'd say this book was worth the wait.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
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