Note: Sexual content (abuse) in this book may be too much for younger readers.
So while it took me awhile to read this sequel after it came out, I am absolutely still a fan!
When we last saw Sybella, she was in the company of the traitorous Lord d’Albret and saved the duchess’s life by revealing the parley was a trap when they were to meet on the battlefield. While Sybella’s past and identity were entirely unknown to Ismae in Grave Mercy, here she is revealed to be d’Albret’s daughter and to certainly have suffered a horrific past. The abbess of St. Mortain’s convent has decreed she will be the one to kill d’Albret but Sybella can find no marque on him. She knows the abbess has her own agenda and doubts herself and the plans of her real father, Mortain, or Death.
There is no doubt that d’Albret must die, for he has murdered six wives, killed many men in evil plots, abused countless other men, women, and children, and even sets his own children up to be abused both physically and sexually. Sybella is no exception, and she knows that if d’Albret’s plans to marry their Duchess (of Brittany) come to fruition, then there will be no end to the violence, blood, and terror that both the Duchess and her duchy will suffer.
As Sybella is hiding among his household waiting for the perfect time to strike, she is instructed to save a prisoner of her father’s before he is killed for being so important to the duchess. Readers of Grave Mercy will recognize this prisoner as he is the Beast of Waroch. Sybella risks much to get him out from under her father’s nose, including her cover and purpose for being in d’Albret’s household once more, and to her surprise, is most unwillingly kidnapped and taken along with the prisoner and his rescue party. She knows if she returns, she will be killed for the conspiracy, so she has no choice but to join the duchess’s forces publicly, mainly by keeping the Beast alive. The only thing she doesn’t count on is how much she’ll grow to actually like the Beast and how hard it will be to thwart her father and keep everyone she loves alive…
Definitely on my “To Buy” list!
If you’re interested in the historical fiction aspect of it, here’s the Wikipedia version for you. (Remember, Wikipedia is a source for general knowledge purposes only and not to be considered a source of true credibility.)
For me personally, I find two very fascinating connections here with Duchess Anne and the surrounding significant figures in history.
1) Anne’s previous betrothed was Edward V, the infamous Prince in the Tower who was rumored to have been killed by his uncle, Richard III. (This is not the version I buy into as it was perpetuated by Henry Tudor, who would’ve used anything to gain power over the House of York as he believed the House of Lancaster gave him kingly right.) This is one of the most fascinating eras of history for me.
2) D’Albret’s (theoretical second) daughter was Charlotte d’Albret who married Cesare Borgia. Cesare was the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI and his mistress, made legitimate by papal decree. The Borgia are infamous in history and in our time period because of the hit video game series Assassin’s Creed and the Showtime and Canal+ series based on the Borgia family. Note: I am not recommending watching either series, teens, for the content is rated very mature.