Review: Grave Mercy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Grave MercyGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on April 3, 2012
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Pages: 549
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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 Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

First Sentence: “I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.”

Because of the cover (pretty dress), I was really excited about this one. Then I saw a lot of mixed reviews around the blogosphere and put on my skeptical cap. Thankfully, I’m in the group of people that just ate Grave Mercy up and looked around for more. It’s kind of funny, because I started reading this and Candlewax at the same time, the latter of which was compared to Cashore; I ended up giving up on Candlewax and think Ismae is way more Katsa-ish.

To that end, let’s discuss Ismae, shall we? She may be a nun of sorts, but she kicks ass like a serious mofo. She’s the kind of girl who hides a crossbow in her skirts. A Crossbow. No joke. Of course, she doesn’t live in a society that respects strong women. She is married off at a young age to a brute, but refuses to accept his abuse. She would have been killed, but was rescued and sent to a convent where daughters of Mortain (the death god/saint) are trained to kill. It made me so sad to watch her trade being controlled by her father to being controlled by the convent. Watching her mature throughout the book was a pleasure.

Duval is completely amazing. I love him and would not mind having one of my own. He’s so supportive and caring of the people that he loves and so distrustful of anyone else. He’s incredibly intelligent and focused. He reminds me a lot of the hero from Touch of Power, who I also adored. His relationship with Ismae grows in a very natural way. He is so freaking swoon-worthy.

Grave Mercy is quite long. Reading it took me three days, which, given my record, is like forever, at least with my primary book. The length has turned some readers off, but I, personally, never felt like the book dragged at all. One complaint was that we didn’t get to read about the training of the killer nuns, but I was okay with missing out on that.

Robin LaFevers is definitely a new favorite author for me. I want book two, Dark Radiance immediately! Apparently, it’s going to be about Sybella, rather than continuing Ismae’s story. Although I love Ismae, I think I approve of the decision to move to a different character. I wonder if we’ll get Annith’s story in book three. I hope so!

5 responses to “Review: Grave Mercy”

  1. Nori says:

    I think I may have to buy this one then! Didn’t get to the galley in time.

  2. Tabitha says:

    I’m definitely going to need to buy this book! Thanks for the great review.

  3. Um, yes I want a Duval of my own too!


    I agree, I liked seeing Ismae mature. I think the character growth was excellent in Grave Mercy.

    Also? I think I need to hurry up and read Touch Of Power! 😀

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