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…
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (HMH Books) sees assassin-novitiate Annith finally get her chance to do St. Mortain’s will. She has devoted her life to preparing to be Death’s handmaiden, to finally see the world beyond the convent’s walls, only to watch as newer and less-skilled novitiates be sent out on assignments while she stays behind. But can it really be Mortain’s will that she take over as seeress, as the Abbess says, and spend her life in the convent’s attic?
In this final installment of the His Fair Assassin trilogy, Annith faces a crisis of faith, not only in the deity she serves but also in the Abbess, someone she has always been loyal to. As a character that is described as “biddable and obedient” throughout the series, I admire Annith’s drive to go after the life she wants, even if it means making the scary decision of leaving behind all she’s ever known. Like the rest of the girls at the convent, Annith is quite broken, but as the pieces start to come together and she builds herself back up, she becomes a much stronger and courageous character than I had once thought.
I found the beginning of this book quite a bit slower than the first two, with most of the action occurring in the last few chapters when Annith really takes on an active role in the outcome of the war between France and Brittany. It is a slow build but well worth the payoff. Despite it’s slower start, I absolutely adore LaFevers’ writing. The beautiful language, the believable setting… It is an incredibly fleshed-out world.
One of my favourite things about this book was getting to see the heroines of the previous books again and how they are fairing. Now that I have read all three, I think Sybella (along with Beast!) is definitely my favourite of the handmaidens and seeing how far she has come through Annith’s eyes was a pleasure. I also really enjoyed the direction this book takes and how different Annith’s story is from the others; from her backstory to her relationship with Balthazar, her role is quite different and it made for a very interesting read.
Mortal Heart is a satisfying ending to a strong series. Brimming with powerful female characters, romance, action, intrigue and history, I cannot recommend the His Fair Assassin trilogy enough.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5 hearts)