4 out of 5 stars
This is the third in a series. I would give the first one 3 out of 5 stars and the second 4. Unlike most series, where it starts out strong and goes a little downhill, LeFevers really seems to be coming into her own as this series progresses. I found the first one too boring and romance-y, the second exciting but too romance-y, and this one exciting and just the right amount of romance.
Each book in the series centres on the adventures of one of three young women raised as an assassin raised in a convent dedicated to the god of death. They are embroiled in the political intrigue surrounding Anne of Brittany and her war against the French in the late 1400s. I wouldn’t have normally read these books, but I REALLY loved the idea of assassin nuns. Each of the girls starts at the convent, but end up being centre in the regions politics, all the while confronting their faith, their comfort with killing, and the possibility of love and friendship. The books are loosely based in fact, but awesomely embellished with fighting, poisons, and gods.
There is a lot of tension and politics in this book, and not a ton of up-close action (there is some, just not as much as some fantasy). The books are a neat series, in that you get a view of the same conflict from three very different women, with very different personalities. It is a cool way to approach a series. Each of the girls has different skills and powers (being a handmaiden of death has its advantages) and the overarching plot unrolls like a huge tapestry over the course of the three books. I found the details for the time period convincing, with the inclusion of more strong female characters making it approachable for young girls. Having Wikipedia up afterwards to compare the historical notes to the book is a good idea. Anne of Brittany was a neat historical figure in her own right, and having a bunch of religious organizations dedicated to 9 different pre-Christians Gods mucking about (not to mention the gods themselves) made for a really neat read.