His Fair Assassins and the General Awesomeness of Robin LaFevers

I know I say I love a lot of books. And I do mean it I really enjoy most of what I read and share (it helps that I have no problem abandoning books if they don’t grab me) but my love for Robin LaFevers His Fair Assassins books are on a different level. When I found out that she was going through on her tour of Dark Triumph the sequel to the very awesome Grave Mercy I was giddy with excitement.

While the books are full of political intrigue, mystery, historical awesomeness, and action (these are tales of assassin nuns after all), what really got me were the love stories. No need to worry about “insta-love” or the “you’re the hot guy in this tough situation syndrome” here the romances are slow and developing and they are formed out of mutual respect and shared values. These are the minds of pairings that are real, that last, that make the individual members more of who they are. No one is shrinking into the background, stepping aside for someone else, they become stronger together, and pull out the best in each other. They are in a very real sense partners. Its this extra level of special-ness that pushes these books quite over the top for me.

And as much as I loved the stories, getting to hear from Robin LaFevers was equally as delightful. For the sake of keeping this from being the longest post ever here are some highlights from the discussion.

  • These books are her junk drawer of everything she’s into (including a longstanding love for medieval weaponry)
  • She wanted to make stories where love is depicted how she experienced it, with imperfect people, mutual values and respect, and true partnerships.
  • She’s written a lot of middle grade books under the name R.L. LaFevers but used the name Robin LaFevers on her YA stuff because the content is much more mature and at times a little dark (not just murder, but abuse of various levels). She wanted to protect her midgrade readers knowing she has some “very precocious 10 year-olds” in her fan base and she wanted to make sure that there was thought before they picked up these more mature books. 
  • She was proven correct as we listened to many very intelligent questions about writing and research from a self-proclaimed 11 year-old writer. (No the girl hasn’t read the His Fair Assassins books yet). But this just made thing think that I MUST get to reading her middle grad books before too long.
  • She feel like so many books do real men a disservice and show the love interests to be impossibly perfect and gorgeous. But she sees that it is often the broken places where people connect so that is what she loves to write about. And let me tell you that her broken, real, men are just as (if not more) swoon worthy as any of the “perfect” variety found in other books

I could go on and on. The books are lovely and the author is stellar. If you enjoyed the Graceling books by Kristin Cashore or Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorn books I really encourage you to pick these up. My only sadness is that book 3 won’t be out until Fall of 2014 but as we in attenance all muttered in agreement it’s much easier to forgive a late book that a bad one. On a side note: I didn’t realize how much pressure many authors are under to crank out their sequels it makes a lot of sense why so many 2nd books just seem lacking. But thankfully Houghton Mifflin is very supportive of her and I believe that the quality is 100% worth the wait.

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

And for those of you who have read and loved Grave Mercy but are nervous about the point of view switch do not worry, Sybella’s story is just as amazing as Ismae’s and you will get your fair share of Ismae and Duval.

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

And a big thanks to The Kings English and Sprague Library for such a wonderful evening.


  1. Lovely recap. I found Robin very inspiring as well. She was so classy, funny and amazing. Love the inscription she left you for Grave Mercy!

  2. Oh I LOVE what she says about books doing real men disservice. I agree, and she has developed some awesome male characters. I can’t wait to read Dark Triumph!

  3. Assassin nuns?? Ok — now I want to read these. Broken places do make for chances at finding love. Thanks for sharing on these.

  4. woot! signed books! need to find a copy of Dark Triumph soon :D

  5. I have had the first book in her YA series for a year, now, and it has just sat in my very tall ‘to read’ pile. But I think I’ll take it out and start it tonight! :)

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