Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin 1
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3rd 2012
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Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

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 Brittanywhere she finds herself woefully under preparednot only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Deaths vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart??

So I finally dived into this series and I am so glad that I did. This was such a wonderful book, even if the language was a little weird at times. I still have a hard time accepting mayhap as a word. The history of the story was amazingly vivid and completely enthralling.

Ismae is a wonderful heroin! She’s strong and a fighter. She comes from a terrible past where she never felt wanted or loved but she doesn’t let that break her sprit. She escapes her terrible life to be thrust into a whole new world of religion and death. She’s throws everything she has into her new life, learning every way there is to kill a man among other things. Ismae not only finds a purpose but she also finds a family in the sisters and the other girls in the covenant.

Ismae’s first assignment start a chain of events that lead her straight into the high court of Brittany. Even with all her training she feels unprepared for this high class and overly policital world where doing her duty to St. Mortain becomes more complicated than she was taught.

Her patron and possible enemy, Duval doesn’t make her life any easier. She knows that she can trust no one but the more time they spent together the harder she is finding it to keep her eye on the goals the convent set before her. Ismae even begins to wonder how well informed the sisters who guide her hand are.

Again I just loved Ismae! She’s such a strong heroin and it was just wonderful to read about her relationships with all of the characters she comes across on her mission. She and Duval have a very interesting relationship from the very beginning. Not knowing if she can trust him or not, and her sorted history with the other men in her life make getting to know him difficult at best.

Duval is a very interesting character. You don’t really know whether to love him or hate him. His extremely intelligent but it’s hard to peg is he is using that for good or for evil. He’s unswervingly loyal and that ends up being his redeemable quality. He also challenges Ismae in a good way, she hates it of course but he helps her learn to think for herself.

I loved the court of Brittany! It was like reading about the Tudors court without the tyrant king and the killing of many wives. I even loved the way the clothing was described, even though Ismae wasn’t a fan. I had no problem envisioning every step of Ismae’s journey from her humble beginnings on a turnip farm to the grandiose court of Brittany.

All in all Grave Mercy is a wonderful historical fiction novel with an awesome assassin’s twist! This book has everything I love about historical fiction, the old tradition, religious and monarchy with the intrigue of James Blond haha. This is book on in the His Fair Assassin’s series, book two and three are about Ismae’s friends from the convent of St. Mortain and I cannot wait to read their stories as well. 

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Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.

Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.
While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.
In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. You can learn more about those books at