”Conquer your fear, and you can conquer the world.”
I’m the first one to admit that this book was not what I expected it to be. I mean after the “school for assassins setting” in the first book I thought this series might continue in that vein. Little did I know Jay Kristoff had completely different plans that would exceed all of my expectations. And what kind of glorious plans they actually turned out to be. Glorious, indeed. Sanguis et gloria to be exact! Yes, my gentlefriends this is latin and if you’re familiar with the language you can already tell that this story is quite literally about blood and glory. (Well, I suppose in some way all of Jay Kristoff’s stories are. *lol*)
Anyway! Let’s not get distracted. 😉 “Godsgrave” was not what I expected, knowing Jay I probably should have expected this though. He always throws me for a loop and by now I’m convinced he lives and breathes to give his fans multiple heart attacks. I swear, all those plot twists will kill me one day and if I ever meet Jay I’ll pinch him in his ear. Well, and then I’ll hug the hell out of him. But first I’ll pinch him! You can bet on it! *lol* You deserve it, Jay! You know you do! (I might be two heads shorter than you but I’m fierce. ;-P)
This said: I absolutely loved “Godsgrave”! This book had me at the edge of my seat and I was more than eager to read on! And some days I wasn’t eager at all because I dreaded what was going to happen next. Thankfully my awesome friend Sabrina buddy read this book with me and I enjoyed her company immensely! XD Our WhatsApp chats were amazing and the amount of emojis and BTS gifs we used will probably go down in reading history. *lol* I’m very glad I didn’t have to read this alone and I’m already looking forward to our buddy read of “Darkdawn”. And before I continue to ramble I’ll just go to my character section! Jeez I have so many thoughts!
Welcome on the sands of the arena! Pick up your weapon of choice and face your enemy! We can’t promise you that you’ll survive this, but what we can promise, is that all of those spoilers will hurt! A lot! *lol* So if you don’t want to be spoiled you better drop your weapon and leave this arena as fast as possible. Yes, spoilers are a tough enemy, indeed! ;-P
”And you know why I’m here. My father was executed as a traitor to entertain the mob. My mother died in a prison, and my baby brother beside her. And the men responsible need a fucking killing. That’s how I feel about it.”
I’m besotted and in love with Mia Corvere. There I said it and I stand by it! This girl is amazing! I already knew that she’s cunning and kick-ass but she reached an entirely new level of slyness in this one. Plus her character arc was beautiful to behold. The conflict in her only got even stronger as the plot proceeded and even though Mia was always one to question her actions and decisions she never felt as torn as she did in “Godsgrave”. I can’t believe she became a slave in order to kill Scaeva and Duomo at the magni. Her iron will is stunning! To go through with getting a slave mark and to live and fight alongside the gladiatii… Wow. I’m still in awe of the great lengths she’ll go to just to get her revenge. >_< The reality of it all touches her though and you could see it in her every action. I think Mia found her humanity and compassion in this book and it made for a really great character arc. Considering it all I can’t wait to see what will happen in “Darkdawn”! I mean that freaking ending!!! Her brother??! Some part of me already suspected he was still alive, but boy, this plot twist was kind of unexpected. XD
”But the wrongness of it was creeping on her like a cancer. Every turn she spent with this brand on her cheek made it harder and harder for her to ignore the folk who couldn’t just skip away from their chains through the shadows like she could. Not just gladiatii. The whole Republic was oiled by the machine of human misery. Now that her eyes were opened to it, she couldn’t unsee it. Didn’t want to.”
”She didn’t feel fear in the face of it all, no, the thing in her shadow wouldn’t allow that. But she did feel sorrow. Regret, for all that was and might have been.”
”The choice between looking plain and pretty isn’t really a choice at all. But any fool knows looking dangerous is preferable to both.”
“You can keep the glory. I’m just here for the blood.”
”But not this time,” she spat. “Never again. I want him on his knees. I want him to look up into my eyes and know it was me who put him there. I want to drink his suffering like the finest wine.”
Now here’s a character I really appreciated. Not for who she is but for what she represented. I loved that Jay Kristoff introduced us to Dona Leona because she was the mirror reflection of Mia. She was the person Mia would have become if her parents wouldn’t have died and if she would have been raised normally. (or as normal as you can be raised in a world like theirs) In a lot of ways Leona was a privileged woman, but no matter how independent she was, she still wasted her resources and couldn’t handle her money, which ultimately got her in a lot of dangerous traps. I believe there is something good in her and I’m pretty sure Mia saw it too because otherwise she would have let her die with the others. She spared her life and gifted her “all the kindness she could muster” so I hope Leona learned her lesson and will live a humble life with Arkades at her side. Also I kind of doubt we’ll see her in “Darkdawn”. 😉
Leona took Mia’s hand. Bladesinger’s also.
She shook her head, trying to speak. Tears welling in her eyes.
“Be careful out there,” she finally whispered.
”He beat her to death with a bottle of goldwine, Arkades,” Leona said, her voice beginning to tremble. “Because she knocked over his glass at dinner. Who exactly does deserve that?”
”If I’d allowed you to win at Messala’s palazzo with your devilry, you’d have set a taint at the heart of this place. I’d starve before I ate food bought with dishonest coin, and die before I claimed a laurel I’d not earned.”
I think Furian is the perfect name for this numpty because he made me so damn furious, I can’t even. *lol* I hated that guy with a fierce passion and I’m not sorry that he died. XD I mean, how stupid can you possibly be? All that talk about honour and the will of the gods drove me crazy and his stubbornness made me super angry. Especially after I found out why he became a gladiatii. Like seriously? Are you kidding me? He was a vile scoundrel and wanted to atone for his deeds by killing even more people? (innocent, enslaved people for that matter!!!) REALLY??!! WTH??!! I had such high hopes when he was introduced as another darkin but he only turned out to be one hell of a disappointment. >_< And just for the record I knew he was sleeping with Leona right from the beginning. *shakes head* Well, I hope the next darkin Mia encounters will have more common sense. *wipes away Furian’s blood stains* Good riddance!
”I do not expect you to understand. But magni is a holy rite. Judged by the Hand of God himself. And if Rapha taught me anything, it was that the things we do are more important than the things we’ve done.”
”I look in your eyes and I see intent. I see design. Ever since you set foot in our collegium, I’ve felt your hand at work. Like some shadow puppeteer ever pulling the strings, and we, the marionettes.”
Mia snatched her arm free with a snarl. “Don’t touch me.”
”Bollocks,” Sid said. “I watch you, Crow. I watch you watching us. Arkades. Leona. Furian. Me. Those little wheels behind those shady eyes always aturn. And though I don’t think you’re quite the coldest fish in this pond, you can’t honestly say you give a damn whether any of us lives or dies. Especially when we’re all likely to perish in the venatus anyways. So what’s your game?”
Haha! I remember Sabrina and me saying that he’s going to die… and that pretty soon! *lol* Well, I guess we were both wrong. Sid turned out to be quite the surprise and I got really attached to that big oaf! XD His principles and morals weren’t misguided like Furian’s and the longer I read the more I began to appreciate his character. That he knew Mia’s father was a twist I didn’t see coming and everything he said about Dona Corvere? After that ending I can only assume that he was right about her character. I wonder if we’ll ever see him again? With Jay you never know. I, for my part, hope we will! 😉
”There’s no softer pillow than a clear conscience.”
Mia & Ash:
”No, if Mia was afraid, it wasn’t of wanting a girl.
It was wanting this girl.
A lot of people are probably going to hate me for this but: Am I the only one who doesn’t feel this relationship. At all?! Go ahead! You’re allowed to pull out your pitchforks and axes. I won’t hold it against you. I’ll just say my part and be done with it, okay? 😉 Here goes nothing! You all know I’m the first one who’d love to ship an f/f couple! I think they are still underrepresented in YA literature and I definitely want more f/f ships in my books. So believe me when I say that I’m ALL for the sapphic romances! This one however just doesn’t seem to work for me. As much as I appreciated the Mia & Ash vs. Leona & Furian scene, I still can’t help but feel like something is missing. Maybe it’s the fact that Ash killed Tric (in cold blood I might add) and never apologized for it because “he had to die” in order for her plan to work. Or maybe it’s because this came out of nowhere. Yes, they kissed in “Nevernight” but they basically went from “I hate you” right to “I love you”. I mean, hell’s bells, she killed Tric and there was nothing that would have redeemed her actions. So why the hell would Mia fall for her? My only explanation is that she became blinded by all the violence around her and wanted something sweet. *lol* I dunno. *shrugs* It just didn’t work for me. I know that’s a super unpopular opinion but I stand by it. #SorryNotSorry
”This kiss was an invitation; a gently, desperate plea for a beginning, not an ending. A question without words, Mia’s mouth open and melting against Ashlinn’s own. And as she felt Ashlinn shiver, the feather-light brush of her tongue in kind, Mia had her answer.”
Mia & Mr. Kindly & Eclipse:
”You’re not helping,” she whispered back.
“… i am offering moral support …”
“You’re being an annoying little shit.”
“… that too …”
The dynamic between those three is quite something! It’s interesting to see them interact with each other and even though Mr. Kindly and Eclipse seem to hate each other they are both reluctant to part ways with Mia. Sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder if they represent different parts of Mia’s character because Eclipse is rather the improvident and reckless character while Mr. Kindly is all compassion and caution. When Mr. Kindly remarked that they might change her by eating her fear I began to wonder too. Mia being darkin is still so mysterious and the fact that she killed Furian… well, is he going to be a shadow creature too? Where do they come from? Why are darkin so drawn toward each other? I have so many questions and just like Mia I hope they’ll be answered soon!
”… you send me away …?”
“… O, MY HEART BLEEDS …”
“… we have no hearts, you idiotic mutt …”
“… BE SURE TO REMIND ME OF THAT, WHEN I AM EATING YOURS …”
”… i am sorry, mia …”
“You?” she whispered. “Why?”
“ … he was your friend … “
“They’re not my familia, remember?” she replied. “They’re not my friends.”
She looked down at her hands. Blurred almost shapeless by her tears. “All of them are only a means to an end.”
”… i wonder sometimes, what we are making of her …”
“… WE ARE MAKING HER STRONG. STEEL. RUTHLESS AS THE STORM AND THE SEA…”
“… the thing we take from her … i wonder if she does not need it…”
“… YOU SPEAK OF FEAR …?”
Mia & The gladiatii:
”In every breath, hope abides.”
This was one of the best found families I ever saw. Mia fought her compassion tooth and nail but in the end it didn’t help. She still got attached to that bunch of gladiatii and I can’t blame her for it. They were all such interesting characters and they grew on me as well. I loved Byern, Bryn, Sidionius, Bladesinger, Wavewaker and Maggot. Those 6 were amazing and I grew super fond of them. I can’t believe little Maggot had to die though! My heart broke so much when Mia called her baby! T_T Poor little Maggot! She deserved so much better than that. And all just because of Magistrae! That witch! Urgh! I really hope the survivors will do fine after they got their slave mark removed! ❤
Mia felt hot tears in her eyes, a crushing weight on her shoulders. A scream was building in her belly, but her voice was only a whisper.
Mia & Mercurio:
”This is important to her,” Mercurio replied.
“Be that as it may, this whole plan is fucking lunacy.”
Mercurio sighed. “I’m not sure if you’ve noticed yet, girl, but Mia Corvere and lunacy go together like cigarillos and smoke.”
Ashlinn smiled. “O, aye, I noticed.”
I love Mercurio! He’s not only a great teacher but also a great man and underneath all that grumpiness he’s a real softie. *lol* He’s Mia’s family and her father figure. Also he obviously feels strongly about Mia because otherwise he would have never dared to defy the Red Church as long as he did. He loves her and she loves him and I’m really worried about that old bastard now. XD The Church has him and knowing them they won’t go soft on my old man. I just hope he survives until Mia is able to find him. >_<
”I’m not in the business of taking in every stray that walks in off the street, Mia,” he growled. “I’m a bishop of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, not a fucking charity worker.”
Mia folded her arms, fixed Mercurio with her dark stare.
“I recall a stray who walked into the parlour of Mercurio’s Curios not so long ago,” she said. “A girl without a friend in the world, and a whole Republic arrayed against her. You took her in. You gave her a place to belong. You gave her love in a world where she’d thought there was nothing left but shit. And thinking of it now, I don’t ever think she said, thank you.”
Mia & the Red Church:
”Problem with being a librarian is there’s some lessons you just can’t learn from books. And the problem with being an assassin is there’s some mysteries you just can’t solve by stabbing fuck out of them.”
Ha! Chronicler Aelius is probably one of my all-time fave characters ever! I wonder how he feels towards Mia now though. I mean he always liked her and he knew that she would be part of a great story so I kind of hope he is still on her side. I’m sure Adonai is still on Team Mia too. He owes her after all. As for Aalea, maybe she would help her? She obviously seems to have the hots for Mia. *lol* I loved her direct offer to warm Mia’s cold nights. ;-P I guess we’ll have to see if the Red Church is truly Mia’s enemy now. >_<
”This life we live … there is room in it for love, Mia. But a love like autumn leaves. Beautiful one turn. A bonfire the next. Only ashes the remainder.”
“Godsgrave” was one hell of a surprise and I loved every second of it. This is how character arcs are done and even though this book plays in a Roman setting I couldn’t help but compare it to a Greek tragedy. It had all the makings and plot twists to be one and after THAT kind of ending I’m more than just ready for “Darkdawn”!