I absolutely loved Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers when I read it last year so I'm thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the ebook release of the second book in the series. Dark Triumph was released as an exclusive ebook on the 2nd of April and the paperback will be available from the 6th of June. I'm thrilled to have Robin LaFevers here today to answer some of my questions but first let's have a look at the book:
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.
His Fair Assassin Series:
Dark Hope (2013)
Visit Robin LaFevers' website for more information
Q&A with Robin LaFevers:
1. Can you give a brief description of the His Fair Assassin series for readers who haven't come across the books before?
Robin: Girls who are sired by the god of death are trained at a convent to serve as his handmaidens and carry out his will on earth, but they must also come to terms with the very human issues we all face; who to trust, how to balance blind obedience with self actualization, and whether or not love is at odds with their service to their god.
2. I loved the concept of a series about assassin nuns because it's such a unique idea. How did you come up with the idea in the first place?
Robin: I knew I wanted to write an epic story full of lives and kingdoms hanging in the balance and impossible choices for those involved. And because of that, I knew I wanted to set it in the middle ages, which seemed a perfect backdrop for that sort of story. I also knew I wanted to write about girls who went from being totally powerless and take them on a journey to where they found both personal power and agency in a society where they traditionally had none. There were only a very few choices available to women then, and when I read during a bit of research that some noblewomen preferred entering a convent to the more traditional roles of wife or mother because it offered them greater freedom and autonomy, the idea of assassin nuns began to take shape.
When I combined that with the medieval fascination with patron saints and the early Christian church’s decision to incorporate earlier pagan deities into it’s fold in order to make their religion more palatable to the general population, the idea coalesced into assassin nuns who served the old god of death.
3. Although the series contains fantasy elements in a lot of ways it reads more like historical fiction. Did you have to spend a lot of time researching the time period to make it accurate?
Robin: Oh yes! Lots and lots of time researching! Luckily, the book was my ‘side’ project for a number of years, the project I used as a creative playground when I had time between contracted projects. So that really allowed me the luxury of taking my time with research and building the story world. Also, the middle ages have always been a time period I’m fascinated with, so I had a big of general knowledge to build upon.
The great thing was that I always found the answers or details I needed in the historical research. Bits and pieces that not only brought the time period to life, but that provided essential plot twists or solutions.
Even so, the books are historical fantasy so I didn’t get as hung up on complete accuracy as I would have if it were straight historical fiction. The needs of the story always took precedent over issues of accuracy, but luckily there weren’t many instances where I had to choose.
4. Grave Mercy was narrated by Ismae, Dark Triumph is narrated by Sybella and Mortal Heart is going to be from Annith's point of view. Did you always plan to tell the story that way and how easy was it to give each of the girls their own distinct voices?
Robin: Yes, I always knew I wanted to tell three distinct stories within an overarching framework. For one, I feel that any story should be about the most important or transformational moment in a character’s life, and I didn’t want to stretch a single story too thin by spreading it across three books.
But more importantly, I was fascinated by the idea of exploring how three different girls would respond if given a similar opportunity to serve the god of death. How would their histories and personalities affect the decisions and choices they made?
5. Did you have the whole series planned out before you started writing or do you prefer to see where the story takes you?
Robin: I had a number of the broad strokes planned out, and of course, history itself provides the overarching template of what will happen, but I try to leave as much room for the characters to be spontaneous and let the journey be organic to them as they develop on the page. Because that’s definitely part of the fun, creating these characters who become so real, who take on such a life of their own, that they end up surprising me.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Robin, I loved Grave Mercy and can't wait to get started on Dark Triumph!
To celebrate the release of Dark Triumph my contact at Andersen Press is offering one of my UK readers the chance to win a paperback copy of the first book in the series, Grave Mercy. So if you're new to the series this is ideal, you can read the first book now and come back in June when I'll be holding a giveaway for a paperback copy of Dark Triumph!
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?
- Courtesy of Andersen Press I have 1 paperback copy of Grave Mercy to giveaway to a lucky UK winner.
- The winner will be chosen at random from all entries received.
- To enter please use the rafflecopter below to confirm that you are a UK resident, there are optional extra entries for following or tweeting about the giveaway but these are not required to enter.
- The giveaway will close at 12:01am GMT on the 19th of April 2013 and the winner will be contacted soon afterwards. You will have 48 hours to reply to me with your address or A new winner will be chosen.
Make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour for some great content and more chances to win prizes: