Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Heart of a female assassin + giveaway

Seriously, I am not the blood-thirsty type. So I was really surprised last year, when I picked up Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers, and fell in love with it. Granted, it's not just about a female assassin - it's about a whole convent full of assassins and killer nuns-in-training. The bizarre twist of killer nuns was enough to hook me, but it's the heart of this book that kept me going long after satisfying my curiosity about a convent with such a controversial calling.

And now the next book in the His Fair Assassins series is coming out, Dark Triumph, and I can't wait until April 2nd to start reading. When one of my favorite book bloggers, Shelver of Shelvers Anonymous, asked me to join in a blog tour for Dark Triumph, I jumped at the chance. At the end of my musings here on the heart of a female assassin, there's a rafflecopter for a giveaway of the new book Dark Triumph (and an extra goody, too).

So why am I so excited about another dark book about assassins, when dark and vengeful is really not my cup of tea? Is there something twisted in my psyche I've been hiding from myself? So I took this opportunity to dig a little deeper about this whole idea of female assassins.

First of all, a few facts you might not know: there were attempted assassinations of both Stalin and Mussolini by women. Both succeeded in shooting, but not killing, these infamous dictators from the 1930's and 40's. With just a little googling I found quite a few other historical female assassins, including one from the Bible, honored by God: Yael (or Jael), an Israelite woman who lured an enemy leader into her tent with the promise of food and rest, and then drove a tent peg through his head while he slept. Yikes!

But the female assassin that is most memorable in my mind is a fictional one, from the 1990 foreign film Nikita, also known as La Femme Nikita. (More about the Fair Assassins series in a moment, I promise. You gotta hear about Nikita first).

Nikita is a young, out-of-control drug addict who kills a disarmed police officer, and as a result is sentenced to life in prison, and then given a lethal injection (or so she thinks) in secret. She awakes believing she is dead (wow I remember that scene so well, it's so powerful). Instead she learns she will pay her debt to society by becoming a government assassin. She's extremely talented at her job, with one exception: she hates it. Every time she has to kill someone, you see how it kills her a little bit, too. (Warning, this film is very graphic, much more so than the young adult His Fair Assassin books).

Okay, back to Grave Mercy. Stop thinking sharp-shooter guns, and start picturing swords, daggers, and poisons. And knights in armor (sorry, couldn't help myself)

In Grave Mercy, set in the 1400's in Brittany when women had almost no rights, Ismae isn't given much more of a choice than Nikita: become an assassin or be married off (after she's just escaped a brutally abusive marriage, who can blame her choice?)  But here's the difference, Ismae discovers she loves her job. Her convent serves St. Mortain - the saint of death. She's death's handmaiden, serving her master by taking lives for the greater good. Then something happens with one of her assignments that changes her perspective - and it's not what you'd expect, so I can't give it away.

There's also a talent that Ismae has, that goes far beyond making her a great assassin - something she doesn't discover until near the end. It also relates to the "I love you but I might have to kill you" relationship she has with Gavriel Duval... which is also another reason why kept turning pages very late into the night. Hoping to discover another surprising secret and dangerous relationship in Dark Triumph.

Dark Triumph is about another girl from St Mortain's convent, Sybella, brought to the convent in chains, insane from some horrible thing done to her - we can only guess.  I'll be reading the book because I want to see, like with Nikita and Ismae, how this tortured soul finds her heart again, after insanity and revenge. The attraction of the darkness (at least for me) is how its shadows make the light of hope even brighter.

Here's your chance to win a copy of Dark Triumph along with a nice set of essential poisons oils, similar to this one (actual set may be different).

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here's some other bloggers participating in the Dark Triumph release party, with more thoughts on assassins  and more to give away, too:

Tuesday, March 26: Robin LaFever's Top Five Heroines of All Time at Bookshelvers Anonymous

Wednesday, March 27: Why I love the His Fair Assassin series at In Which Ems Reviews Books; Fairy Tale Influences of Dark Triumph at Bookshelvers Anonymous

Thursday, March 28: True Love = A Maggoty Carcass (A Dark Triumph post) + giveaway at Mary Gray Books; Cover Love #25 (The HFA edition) at Bookshelvers Anonymous

Friday, March 29: Review of Dark Triumph at Girls in the Stacks; Interview with Robin LaFevers at Bookshelvers Anonymous

Saturday, March 30: An Assassin In Love (The Unlikely Romance in Grave Mercy) at Bookshelvers Anonymous (a guest post from Molli at Once Upon a Prologue)

Sunday, March 31: Review: Dark Triumph at Bookshelvers Anonymous

Monday, April 1: Review: Dark Triumph + giveaway at In Which Ems Reviews Books;The Mythology of the Nine at Bookshelvers Anonymous

Tuesday, April 2: Author Interview with Robin LaFevers (+Giveaway!) at Blue Sky Bookshelf; A Special Message from St. Mortain at Bookshelvers Anonymous

Wednesday, April 3: Interview with a fellow fan at Burgundy Ice; Giveaway! at In Which Ems Reviews Books; Tour Wrap-up at Bookshelvers Anonymous

So, what's your preferred poison? - a medieval assassin like Ismae or Sybella, or a modern day one like Nikita?


  1. There's something about nuns I've always found menacing.

  2. Great post, Margo! I definitely need to look into the women who attempted to kill Stalin and Mussolini. Wow!

  3. Grave Mercy sounds super interesting! I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade, so I find the idea of killer nuns in training fascinating (and a little scary, lol). I'm glad there weren't too many nuns present in my schools because who knows what order they were really a part of! Hahaha :)

  4. I'm reading GRAVE MERCY right now and I loooove it. A nunnery full of trained assassins? So awesome. I love the cover of that new book!

  5. I loved Nikita the film!! I thought she was a much abused soul who fought back brilliantly!

    Good luck with everyone entering - it's a fab fab giveaway (esp with the "oils"! LOL!) Take care

  6. I loved Grave Mercy and who doesn't love the idea of killer nuns lol. I have to say I prefer medieval assassins like Sybella and Ismae. Nikita is awesome but like I said who can resist killer nuns :)

  7. Now that I've read your review, I'm definitely intrigued. These books sound amazing, and what a unique twist! Gonna go put them on my Goodreads list now... :)

  8. For me it's NIKITA all the way. (um... that's probably a little bit biased. lol)

  9. I'm with Shelver. I need to know more about these women who attempted to assassinate Stalin and Mussolini. I once tried to write a story about assassins in Russia--all I could think about was Angelina Jolie--and then I realized I didn't think I could write her voice very well and gave up completely. :)

    Thoughtful post. I adore both GM and DT. Everyone needs to know about these books!

  10. It`s fascinating to see the differences between techniques now and then! Would have to go with medieval assassin`s just because they`re so different.

  11. Elisabeth KauffmanMarch 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Ah! I can't resist a good give-away and you're having so many! :)

  12. Medieval assassins. Much cooler :)

  13. I love NIkita! So modern day!

  14. Ooh, great post! Very interesting :)

  15. LINDA ANN NickersonMarch 28, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    Spooky reads!
    Happy A-Z!
    Ready to go with EIGHT blogs in the April A-Z Challenge! Mine are 475 - 483 on the A-Z list.

    Two of these blogs (Simply Snickers and The Meme Express) will offer DAILY writing/blogging prompts and A-Z words throughout the month of April. The Meme Express welcomes A-Zers to leave daily comments, linking back to their alphabetic posts.

    Thanks for helping with the hosting of the A to Z Challenge! Here we go-o-o-o!

  16. I haven't watched Nikita so I'll go with Ismae/Sybella.

  17. I love Nikita tv show! (The one that is on right now) but I also love medieval assassin's! I just can't choose! You know they are quit different, each one is amazing in there own way!
    Thanks for this giveaway! Its awesome!(:

  18. I like the (pretend) romance of living in Medieval times and I LOVED Sybella so I am going to go with her as my choice :]

  19. Oh, Margo, I do think you should be a book reviewer because every single time you discuss a book, I'm itching to read it. I can't wait to check this one out!! You have a way with words, lady :)

  20. There's still something about medieval assassins that is classic for me. :)

  21. As badass as medieval assassins are, I'd have to choose a Nikita-like modern day assassin. They have so many gadgets and technology:)



Follow by Email

My Blog List