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…
Expecting Mortal Heart to be the most ordinary of the His Fair Assassin series was a grave mistake, and while many signs point toward that expectation, this book contains more surprises and twists than the first two books combined. Dark Triumph still triumphs over it in certain elements, but that one and Mortal Heart both put Grave Mercy to shame. In fact, I can barely remember Grave Mercy.
LaFever’s writing is still sophisticated but never overbearing. It’s always served as some sort of hindrance throughout the series for me because there is such detail to go with the slow pacing, but I admire it anyway. Brittany’s political affairs and increasing turmoil are continued in the story, one of the most fleshed out elements in the series as a whole. I think it’s amazing that LaFevers can create such a layered political plot in a fantasy and still keep it somewhat understandable. While Grave Mercy was more dramatic and romance-heavy, and Dark Triumph was darker and psychological, Mortal Heart is certainly focused on the mythology and spiritual side of the series. There is more talk about the Nine Saints and we even learn about their interconnections and their individual followers. I’m usually not that into mythology, but the vastness and depth of LaFever’s world has made me a fan. Annith’s connection with the Nine and Mortain himself is expressed so poignantly as well, and it is definitely the best part of the book.
Annith totally took me by surprise. I had initially expected her to be the most ordinary heroine (now I think that honor goes to Ismae), but after going through all these trials and tribulations with her, she is on par with Sybella’s complexity. Her story is vastly different from the others (in more ways than one) and the amount of emotion and passion in her character was expressed well. While her personality does not come off as vibrantly as Sybella’s, she is still an incredibly relatable and admirable character, and I loved her growth from the start to finish of the book. Like I said before, her story is largely focused on the spiritual and mythological part of the His Fair Assassin world, and while I can’t reveal too much about it due to spoilers, the amount of twists and turns in this aspect are crazy. Her backstory is fully explored too and it only makes her character even more fascinating.
There is a romance, one that I was not completely on board with at first. Many reviewers say that it felt random and outlandish, and I did have to agree with them even if Annith and her love interest were pretty shippable. However, as the story goes on and Annith’s relationship with her lover fluctuates and grows, wow, it totally makes sense. If I say anything more I would be spoiling, but how LaFevers handled this romance is just amazing.
This series’ writing and pacing can put me in a difficult position at times, but there is no denying the complexity involved in the His Fair Assassin world, characters, and relationships. In the midst of the political, mythological, and romantic discussion, LaFevers still masterfully keeps up the badass vibe of our leading ladies while exploring the psyche of nearly every remaining character. Apparently there are two more books coming out in this series, which confuses but excites me. I’m totally looking forward to reading those and whatever LaFevers decides to write afterward.