Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)
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?

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1) Details

TitleGrave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 3rd, 2012
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139780547628349
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Historical, Historical Fiction, Romance, Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult Fantasy, Adventure, Teen

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1) Review

  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    ‘‘So,’’ she says, looking back at me. ‘‘You are well equipped for our service.’’ ‘‘Which is?’’ ‘‘We kill people.’’ Everything in this fantasy book approaches perfection.Maybe I have been bewitched, compelled, but, when I think of this novel, the word ‘‘masterpiece’’ is the first one that comes to my mind. Historical and fantasy make delightful mélanges when the two of them are present in a novel. The story may not have been of the same rare quality as Clockwork Angel, for example, but ther ‘‘So,’’ she says, looking back at me. ‘‘You are well equipped for our service.’’ ‘‘Which is?’’ ‘‘We kill people.’’ Everything in this fantasy book approaches perfection.Maybe I have been bewitched, compelled, but, when I think of this novel, the word ‘‘masterpiece’’ is the first one that comes to my mind. Historical and fantasy make delightful mélanges when the two of them are present in a novel. The story may not have been of the same rare quality as Clockwork Angel, for example, but there is something fascinating about those two genres combined nonetheless.Sometimes, there are authors that make us ‘think’ and try to ‘convince’ us that their heroine is special when, in fact, she is nothing more than another lucky chick. In this case though, Ismae really was one of a kind and the generalisation above does not include Robin LaFevers. And, when I say that she appeared different and powerful, I do mean it. For instance, Ismae's body possessed immunition againt poison. No poison on earth was to kill her. Also, she could talk to souls. Needless to say, no body risked outmatching her. Which was not only exciting but also refreshing. I was so tired of whiny heroine that always need their knight in shining armour to rescue them.I saw countless reviewers complaining about the pacing. I am not going to dare say that it was nothing but fast – since that would be a lie, but, to me, there was no ‘slowness’ really. And that because 1) I was strongly hooked, 2) enjoyed the writing so much – very well adapted to the context and century by the way and 3) in every chapter, there was something new, a different scene which made sure that I was never tired of seeing the same characters over and over again or perhaps fear boredom. But, if the story does not appeal to you from the beginning, I am sure you will find this long and endless. She leans forward then, as if eager to tempt me with what Mortain offers. ‘‘If you choose to stay, you will be trained in His arts. You will learn more ways to kill a man than you imagined possible. We will train you in stealth and cunning and all manner of skills that will ensure no man is ever again to threat you.’’ The characters, primary and secondary ones, were not always ‘unique’ but they had personality! Of course I had read about many duchesses and men plotting marriage for power and wealth, but those personages being included in this plot, along with everything aside – magic, secrecy and an ounce of mystery – brought the banal situation of scheming to a new level. And a most unsettling one, may I add, for I had no idea what would happen in the end and who will have to die for the situation to be resolved.One thing I do not seem to read often about is assassins. Not because they are not at the top of my fantasy professions list; it’s just that I do not choose reads in purpose for the story to contain some. If there are, then fantastic! But if none are included, then I will not interrupt my read or skip the book because of it. I admit though that the last assassin book I had read did not appeal to me. It was Midnight Thief and, that one specifically, I stopped reading when I started being annoyed of the romance taking to0 much importance and the heroine risking to go on the path I feared she would take. None of that in this, however! Only fierce, talented and conscious of their missions assassins that might very likely surprise you were featured. And, let’s not forget, they were girls. A lovely plus *wink* *wink*.Why this book was not one hundred percent perfect was due to Gavriel, the love-interest. Don’t get me wrong, the romance had everything I hoped for – slow-burn, love/hate – but Gavriel was a little too controlling for my taste. He ordered Ismae around a little too often. I assumed he did not realise he was doing it throughout the story, but it does not change the fact that he could have been looser with her. ‘‘What if I say no?’’ ‘‘Then you will be taken far from here and given to a kind, gentle man in need of a wife.’’ ‘‘If you think I am fit to serve, Reverend Mother, I will do so gladly.’’ If you are a lover of historical + fantasy + romance stories with a religious vibe, then this is the series for you!
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  • Rick Riordan
    January 1, 1970
    hooked me with a great premise: medieval nun assassins who serve Saint Mortain, the god of death. The novel is set in an alternate realm of Brittany, where the local gods have been subsumed by Christianity and renamed saints. The old ways live on, however, especially among the daughters of Saint Mortain, who serve as the realm's assassins, killing those who need to be killed.Our lethal heroine, Ismae, escapes a life of poverty and abuse by joining the convent. Soon she is plunged into a game of hooked me with a great premise: medieval nun assassins who serve Saint Mortain, the god of death. The novel is set in an alternate realm of Brittany, where the local gods have been subsumed by Christianity and renamed saints. The old ways live on, however, especially among the daughters of Saint Mortain, who serve as the realm's assassins, killing those who need to be killed.Our lethal heroine, Ismae, escapes a life of poverty and abuse by joining the convent. Soon she is plunged into a game of intrigue and villainy as the realm tries to maintain its independence from France. Unfortunately for Ismae, one of the people she is sent to spy on (and possibly assassinate) is the first man she feels she might love.The novel is driven by mystery, romance and subtle skulduggery. It isn't exactly an adventure novel, so don't expect a fight on every page, but if you stick with it, it's well worth reading! I'd recommend it to YA fans, especially those with an interest in history. The closest parallel I can think of is Cashore's Graceling -- another fantastic romance about a deadly heroine.
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  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    2.5This book is like small dashes of awesomeness randomly sprinkled throughout long stretches of boredom. Perhaps I would have been far less bored if I cared more for fantasy/historical fiction that focuses most of its energy on the romance story. Perhaps I would have been less bored if the romance had been the kind to creep up on you, so that you're inwardly pleading that the characters will get together long before they even acknowledge their attraction for one another. Perhaps.However, the r 2.5This book is like small dashes of awesomeness randomly sprinkled throughout long stretches of boredom. Perhaps I would have been far less bored if I cared more for fantasy/historical fiction that focuses most of its energy on the romance story. Perhaps I would have been less bored if the romance had been the kind to creep up on you, so that you're inwardly pleading that the characters will get together long before they even acknowledge their attraction for one another. Perhaps.However, the romance was the main player in this book and it was the kind that sprang up immediately and left our heroine instantly breathless every time she saw Mr Duval after their first meeting. I prefer a book that is about more than a bit of romancing, but I'm not immune to a well-told love story either and I can easily be persuaded to award a book at least three stars if I'd been sold on it. Unfortunately, I wasn't. It all happened too soon, too predictably, too obviously. The heroine - Ismae - is a trained assassin that has some serious man issues (with understandable reason), so why can she do nothing but ogle Duval's sexy body in armour when they are in life-threatening situations?The beginning, in my opinion, was the best part of the whole book. A young woman has been scarred since her mother attempted to abort her pregnancy but she survived, and the marque she bears is that of Death's servants. She is rescued away from the beginning of an abusive marriage to be taken to a convent... but these are no ordinary nuns. She is trained as an assassin, taught how to fight, how to create complicated poisons to kill instantly or drag out a death for days. She is the ultimate weapon and she uses her abilities to serve the convent and Death.I cannot deny that this is a wonderful, kickass idea. The problem was that this part at the beginning is the most action-packed of the entire novel. After this, Ismae doesn't use her abilities that much beyond flashing her "womanly charms" at the men of court in order to find out information about who Brittany can really trust in these dangerous times when France is out for everything she can get. This book needed a serious injection of badassery.The politics surrounding the issues of Brittany and France in the 1400s could have been much more interesting than it was, except for the fact that it was used as a platform for Ismae and Duval's budding romance. There was too much talking and eaves-dropping on conversations that didn't matter, too much family drama with characters I couldn't give a damn about, too much of all the wrong stuff. Not enough conspiracies, plotting, assassinations (she is an assassin, for pity's sake, was it too much to expect a little more of it?).As much as I like this idea and part of me would like to know how this series progresses, I cannot imagine wanting to put myself through another 500 pages of boredom to find out. And one last thing, I'm sure some of the phrases used in this book weren't around one hundred years ago, never mind six hundred years ago... can't say for sure, I'm no language expert, but it sounded very 20th/21st century for me.
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  • Wendy Darling
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars Absolutely spectacular, and everything you'd expect a historical YA novel about assassin nuns to be. Love love love!
  • Catie
    January 1, 1970
    3 1/2 starsI may have a few mixed feelings about this book, but I know exactly who to recommend this to. Do you love historical mysteries? Court intrigue? Romance? Very light fantasy? Do you love Juliet Marillier? Sherwood Smith? Do you wish that The Queen’s Thief series read a lot more like a romance novel? Then this book is absolutely for you.Ismae is a young teenager when she’s sold in marriage to a much older man. Her father is happy to be rid of her, but her new husband doesn’t know that sh 3 1/2 starsI may have a few mixed feelings about this book, but I know exactly who to recommend this to. Do you love historical mysteries? Court intrigue? Romance? Very light fantasy? Do you love Juliet Marillier? Sherwood Smith? Do you wish that The Queen’s Thief series read a lot more like a romance novel? Then this book is absolutely for you.Ismae is a young teenager when she’s sold in marriage to a much older man. Her father is happy to be rid of her, but her new husband doesn’t know that she bears a large red scar on her back - a scar that marks her as one of Death’s daughters. He is less than pleased (read: murderous with rage) when he discovers the mark, but Ismae is rescued by a hedge priest and bundled off to the convent of St. Mortain, the god of death. Soon she is in training to be a handmaiden of death, skilled in espionage and murder.This book reads a lot like a romance novel, but I really enjoyed that about it. The romance between Ismae and Duval is slow-building, believable, and pretty smoldering. I was a bit surprised when the book finally seemed to be getting to “the good stuff” and then it pulled one of these:“Sometime later…Boo. Apparently this is a young adult novel! Which is unfortunate because it reads so much like an adult romance, and I think that it would be better if it embraced that a bit more.My only huge disappointment is that Ismae suffers from what I am now going to refer to as “Driven Snow Syndrome” (because I see this so frequently that it deserves a label): she’s the kind of character who says, “I’m not a normal human being with a sexuality; I’m a woman.” That is, until one special man comes along and then suddenly it’s, “What are these FEELINGS that I keep having? Why is my heart pounding? Why are my loins quivering?” She startles like a little bird every time he touches her, and she’s conveniently skipped out on the “womanly wiles” classes at the convent so she has absolutely no knowledge of what sex is even about. Ladies, isn’t it enough that men have spent centuries pretending that our sexuality doesn’t exist and over-valuing our “purity?” Do we have to do it too? Come on.It’s also a bit unbelievable that Ismae would be a competent spy/assassin/seductress, and yet have no knowledge of court etiquette, social nuance, or male-female interaction. Not to mention…she has a giant SCAR. How is she supposed to insinuate herself at court as someone’s mistress if she can’t undress in front of anyone?Still, Ismae completely charmed me. I love her snap decision making and wild leaps of tangled logic. I love her awakening and growth as a person. I love that she’ll dangle out of a window to eavesdrop on someone.I also really love the mythology: the god of death and all his forms…the convent of assassins, for god’s sake! I love that I had some serious doubts about Ismae’s “calling” and she addressed every single one. I’ll definitely be reading the companion novels as they come out!Perfect Musical PairingMarvin Gaye – Sexual Healing OMG, yes!! I was *this close* to being able to assign this song only a few months ago, but then…the book that I was reading didn’t go the way that I expected and…I had to choose something else. Sad.Finally, a book that actually warrants this song (or at least, that's what I inferred was happening behind the closed curtains). This almost makes up for the complete lack of visible sexytime. Almost.Also seen on The Readventurer.
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  • Steph Sinclair
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating 2.5 starsGrave Mercy started out very strong for me with its historical roots. I instantly loved Ismae and could empathize with her bleak outlook on life. The novel had strong characters, a good plot, and political intrigue. I mean, c'mon! An assassin nun?! A badass premise like that is just begging to be read and loved. So what in heaven's name went wrong for me? Why am I only giving this book 2.5 stars? Well, I'll start with what I actually liked first. I did like all the charact Actual rating 2.5 starsGrave Mercy started out very strong for me with its historical roots. I instantly loved Ismae and could empathize with her bleak outlook on life. The novel had strong characters, a good plot, and political intrigue. I mean, c'mon! An assassin nun?! A badass premise like that is just begging to be read and loved. So what in heaven's name went wrong for me? Why am I only giving this book 2.5 stars? Well, I'll start with what I actually liked first. I did like all the characters, especially Ismae. It's a big deal for me to like the heroine since I usually hate them due to their inability to use their brains. But not Ismae, she's a smart cookie. This isn't shocking since I'd wager it does require a certain amount of neurons to assassinate someone. And while she does carry prejudices against men due to her harsh childhood, there is a good amount of character growth for her. So, gold star for her. Duval, the love interest, while initially not appealing to my co-blogger, won me over fairly easily. And for all those wondering, the "His" in "His Fair Assassin" is not referring to Duval. It refers to Ismae's god, Mortain. At least, I'm pretty sure. Lol. I also really liked the plot and the historic features. I can tell LaFevers did lot of research and it truly does show. Many of the characters in the novel are real people and the events occurring, real events. I felt it was a nice change in pace to the usual YA books I've read. But the good points just weren't enough for me to love this book. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives. *sigh* Another book falls short of badassery.First of all, I probably would never have picked up this book on my own if Kennedy hadn't suggested a read-a-long. I choose to avoid historic fiction for a myriad of reasons, the most important being: It's just not my cup of tea. When I have to sit down and think about the setting, time period, a huge cast of characters I have to keep up with, political talk, yada, yada, yada... it just turns me right off. It's too much. And I don't like having to concentrate while reading for enjoyment. In this case, I liked it, but then, I didn't like it. For the first portion of the novel, I was unsure of *when* in history this book took place. Personally, I cannot sit back and enjoy a novel if it feels like I'm missing a crucial part of the story. And the time period was important for me. European history is just not my forte, so I took to Wikipedia looking for answers. Unfortunately for me, I now knew how the story would eventually end unless Levers decided to deviate from history. But at least I knew the time period is the late 1480s. Yay for me. Boo that I had to work so hard to find the answer. Anyway, that was the first strike. The second? Boredom. Right around 40% the high from the strong beginning began to fade and along with it, my eyelids closed more often then I'd like them too. Ismae is a trained killer, but there wasn't much killing going on. In fact, there was mostly too much talking about the political plans being made to ward of the French from invasion. Honestly, I couldn't care less about any of that. I WANTED BLOOD. Then it got boring. Ismae spent more time talking about all her cool weapons, than using them. She'd go on and on about her poisons and how she could kill someone with this weapon or that poison. I wanted her to take a page from Nike.No excuses, Ismae!*FRUSTRATION* What good is an assassin nun that just wanders the castle?! Do something! Anything. Do the Macarena. Sing a Ke$ha song!But, I was still interested enough to continue on and I'm glad I did, because it started getting interesting. However, that leads me to my forth point...This book was entirely too predictable. Could the bad guy be anymore obvious? LaFevers pretty much dangled him in front of us the entire novel like a carrot, so by the time the main characters goes, "It was you!" you're thinking, "It's about time." And that really made me sad because I thought, "There was no way it can be who I think it is. It's just too easy. There has to be one last plot twist." Sadly, there wasn't one and because of that, I think the ending suffered greatly. Speaking of the ending, it felt incredibly rushed to me. All conflicts came to a more or less, hurried happy ending. As soon as the baddie is caught the book has nothing more to do then fall back on its underdeveloped romance between Ismae and Duval. That's not to say I disliked Duval and Ismae. I actually liked both characters a great deal, but together? Not so much. Grave Mercy spent entirely too much time revolving around the mystery and not much time developing the relationship. I think the book needed to make its mind up: Romance or plot. It couldn't have both believably, in this case. *mild spoilers* But the part I really disliked about the book was the scene where Ismae had to purge poison from Duval's body by having sex with him. I was relatively enjoying the book up until that point. When I read that scene I rolled my eyes so hard. I mean, really?! REALLY?! She is a nun assassin and the biggest gift Mortain gives her involves her sexuality? She becomes a human bezoar! Would ya look at that? A woman's body really can be objectified in almost any profession! Awesome. \(-_-)/The next book appears to be about Sybella, who I thought would have had a bigger role in this installment. The mystery surrounding the girl was thrown at the reader several times and we are given no information about her assignment. Same goes for Annith's story. I found that incredibly frustrating. I realize this is supposed to be a series and perhaps their stories will be told in the sequels, but leaving those gaps made Grave Mercy seem incomplete. I can't help to think the book would have been stronger as a stand alone novel instead of stretching their stories out over three books. So, will I continue on with this series? At this time, probably not. But I would still recommend it to others looking for a change-up in their usual YA readings, especially those who enjoy historic fiction with romance and a pleasant splash of paranormal. More reviews and other fantastically awesome things at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog
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  • may ❀
    January 1, 1970
    i finished this book in less than a day bc it was so bloody good and im offended that it doesn't get the recognition and hype it deserves (yes im well aware that it was published in 2012 BUT STILL)- i dont even know where to begin, this book was a ride- it starts off with a young girl about to be sold by her father into a marriage with this gross monster of a man, but nah this girl ain't having it- anyways she manages to get saved from that hell of a future and begins her life at a convent where i finished this book in less than a day bc it was so bloody good and im offended that it doesn't get the recognition and hype it deserves (yes im well aware that it was published in 2012 BUT STILL)- i dont even know where to begin, this book was a ride- it starts off with a young girl about to be sold by her father into a marriage with this gross monster of a man, but nah this girl ain't having it- anyways she manages to get saved from that hell of a future and begins her life at a convent where she finds her life has already been planned for her- BASICALLY SHE TRAINS AS AN ASSASSIN AND GETS SENT OUT ON THESE MISSIONS AND THEN HAS TO WORK WITH THIS BROODING GUY AND ITS ALL SO GREAT- i have to admit the beginning was very brief, we barely got to see her life in the convent and then it was mentioned somewhere how she spent 3 years there or smthing and i was like ??my dude that was only 30 pages??- i do wish we got to see her interact with her convent sisters more and the bonds they build bc they do continue their friendship throughout the book but its not as solidified for the reader bc there isn't any background events to back it up- and we didn't get to see her train, it was just very very brief and passed through really quickly- that's probably my only dislikes about this book- FROM THERE ON, WE GET THIS ANGSTY RELATIONSHIP THAT IS SO SLOWBURN AND BEAUTIFUL AND ADORABLE - basically its haters to lovers but they arent really enemies bc they serve the same side, they just really dislike each other and THEY'RE KINDA FORCED TO BE IN A FAKE RELATIONSHIP- aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa- (basically my new favourite thing)- that along with the political intrigue, schemes, court life, plotting, secrecy, treachery, its ALL so well crafted- i thought the author did an INCREDIBLE job of balancing the plot, action, and romance.- as much as im going on about the ship (they stole my heart from the beginning im weak) it was sprinkled throughout the novel so it's not heavy on the mush- its just every moment where they sniped at each other i was screaming - damn i love a well written ship- and then when he referred to her (SARCASTICALLY) as 'my fair assassin' & 'my little rebel' i fricken went ALL HEART EYES ldjfljaFJKDAFLA I LOVE THEM SO MUCH- and you know those SCENES where ONE OF THEM GETS HURT AND THE OTHER ONE MENDS THE WOUND AND THEY GET ALL SOFT AND VULNERABLE AROUND EACH OTHER- MY EFFING AESTHETIC - ahem, anyways.....- THERE'S A LOT OF FIGHTING AND ACTION AND INTRIGUE- im so impressed with the way it all turned out and i got so attached to the characters 😭😭😭- the friendships that bloomed between anne and ismae- so fricken beautiful you guys i love girls supporting girls and being happy and protective of each other im softthis is really a sidenote, but it was giving me so many 'Reign' vibes (lolz i didnt even finish s1) and the entire time i was picturing Duval as Bash and i think that made me love him infinitely more 😍😍 “This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance.”4.5 stars!
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  • Jo
    January 1, 1970
    “When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.” Initial Final Page Thoughts.Well, I thought I was going to hate that... quite the opposite.High Points.Ismae. Breton courts. Nuns. The coolest convent EVER. Saints. The genre (my first historical/fantastical adventure… very exciting). Death’s handmaidens. 13th century gadgets. Poison. Saints. Horsies. Beast. Anne. Secret passage ways. Traitors. Secrets. Corruption. A kiss can be deadlier if you “When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.” Initial Final Page Thoughts.Well, I thought I was going to hate that... quite the opposite.High Points.Ismae. Breton courts. Nuns. The coolest convent EVER. Saints. The genre (my first historical/fantastical adventure… very exciting). Death’s handmaidens. 13th century gadgets. Poison. Saints. Horsies. Beast. Anne. Secret passage ways. Traitors. Secrets. Corruption. A kiss can be deadlier if you mean it. Chess games that could give Ingmar Bergman a run for his money. Court dandies. Soul searching. Scars. Marques. Dreams. Low Point.Lessons on “Womanly Arts”… really? OK. Hmm, the love interest/romantic situation was…. Interesting. More on this later.And in regards to this… situation… there was a lot of unnecessary boy-induced angst. But again… more on this later. Soooo much elbow grabbing. Is this a new thing? Do men really have a thing about elbows? I’m not sure I’m on board with this new craze. Heroine.OK, I loved Ismae. She was such a fantastic and original character and a fabulous narrator. She is definitely the kind of girl you would ring up if you were in the depths of boy despair and needed someone to shake you out of it because she has these dry observations that were absolutely hilarious.Example: “Are men truly such idiots that they cannot resist two orbs of flesh?”Oh, and did I mention she has bracelets that contain thin wire so she can GAROTTE men who dare to venture into her web of brilliance?! And a headband full of poisonous pearls? AND a knife that fits into her corset?!Yeah, Wonder Woman would be jealous of Ismae’s gadgets. The only thing that annoyed me about Ismae was the way she suddenly forgot that she was amazing whenever Gavriel loped onto the page. Issy (can I call you Issy? No? Tough.) he touched your waist when he helped you off a horse and you completely lost it. GET A GRIP, WOMAN, YOU’RE AN ASSASSIN. “JUMPS AT MAN’S TOUCH” IS PROBABLY NOT IN THE JOB DESCRIPTION.Maybe you should have attended your “Womanly Arts” class. She has a dagger in her booties that can kill a man with a single touch but she turns into a quivering lamb when he grabs her elbow or looks at her in a smouldering way? No, honey. Just no. Love Interest.Sigh. OK, I’ll be fair. There was so much eye-rolling in the first few chapters that it wasn’t even funny. BUT it did get better…and there were a few scenes that made my Northern heart thaw a little.I think when an author wants a dramatic Jane/Rochy kind of relationship it has to be full-on romantic peril. There has to be moments where the reader is chomping on their nails to find out whether they will get together or not. There were no moments like this and my nails were left intact, which is good because I’ve just painted them a lovely colour. It was so very obvious that these two would get together and it seemed everyone in Brittany (and probably France) could see this, except the two of them.And they are both supposed to intelligent and fiery… but they sometimes came across as quite dim. But like I said, it got there eventually. I know a lot of people will love the relationship and how it develops… but I’m cynical and crotchety and I like to whinge.So even though the beginning was ridiculous, it did win me over eventually and it was very sweet in an ‘Oh, my lord, I just fell into your lap. Whatever shall we do now?’ way. I just could have done with more… y’know… *looks over shoulder and lowers voice* sex. It did amuse me, though, to think of the scene in the sequel when Gavriel meets Ismae’s dad.“So…you’re dating my daughter.” “Um.. yes. I mean no. With respect sir, I wouldn’t… um.. do anything…I mean… um. Yes. Yes I am.” “You’d better not hurt her. Because if you do. I’ll kill you.”*Death shares a look with Ismae and they chortle while sharpening their knives that could fit comfortably in their underwear. Gavriel laughs too…as he wets himself.”Awkward. Theme Tune. I want to love you but I better not touch (Don't touch)I want to hold you but my senses tell me to stopI want to kiss you but I want it too much (Too much)I want to taste you but your lips are venomous poisonI think this song has a lot of relevance to this story of Death’s handmaiden and her quest to save a duchess from traitors and staying to true to herself and her beliefs while falling in love with a… Fine, whatever.You come up with a song that is relevant to a story set in the courts of Brittany in the 13th century.That chorus though, it’s pretty apt. Think about it. Think about it.Boy Angst Scale.10/10. I think I’ve pretty much covered this in the above sections. There is a lot of simpering moments that seem completely out of character (for both of them).I mean… it didn’t make me mad…as such.Just a little bit disappointed.But I guess that just shows how much I love Ismae when she was brilliant. Sadness Scale.8/10. But I’m not saying anything else in case of spoilery badtimes. Recommended For.People who like historical and fantasy fiction. People who are looking for a series that isn’t (overly) paranormal and dystopian but still awesome. People who are proud of their scars. People who wish they could have had a thin wire hidden in their bracelet. People who think more men should wear armour and joust. People who need lessons in ‘womanly arts’. People who would like a sassypants crow to deliver their messages for them. People who think religion needs more gadgets. People who would like to learn how to gavotte. People who only know there’s only one way to check for poison thoroughly…. GET YER KIT OFF, SONNY JIM. I received an advance copy of this book from the publishers.You can read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog here.
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  • Anzu The Great Destroyer
    January 1, 1970
    Ugh I couldn’t finish this. I tried and tried so far but eventually the inevitable happened.I may be harsh (I don’t consider myself harsh), I may be an asshole (I don’t consider myself an asshole), I may be a hater (I’m totally a hater) but I DNF’d the bitch! And it felt so damn good!I was fair though. I gave it a 100-page trial, stuck to it like the good little girl I am and couldn’t even handle it. And to think page 100 was like 35% or something inside the book. 35%!!! Imagine how much left un Ugh I couldn’t finish this. I tried and tried so far but eventually the inevitable happened.I may be harsh (I don’t consider myself harsh), I may be an asshole (I don’t consider myself an asshole), I may be a hater (I’m totally a hater) but I DNF’d the bitch! And it felt so damn good!I was fair though. I gave it a 100-page trial, stuck to it like the good little girl I am and couldn’t even handle it. And to think page 100 was like 35% or something inside the book. 35%!!! Imagine how much left until it was done. I’d have to chew off my own fingers in order to bear with it.Why did I hate it? I have two big-assed reasons. One, it’s shit boring. Two, it’s an Assassin’s Creed rip-off. And a really bad and boring (did I mention boring?) one. Now let me expand my hatred a bit.My relationship with historical books is amazing. Yep. So amazing that I tend to spill acid on them each time I play mad scientist dress-up. And that’s a lot considering the pile of ruined books lying in the corner of my room.Then why choose a historical book in the first place? Easy, because I thought it’s Young Adult.Yep. I fell straight into the trap. It was the fucking cover. Does that look like a Historical Romance to you? And I presume it’s Historical Romance since some people on Goodreads added it to the Young Adult shelf. Thank you guys, you rock. But back to my covers. Just look at it. Does this resemble any of the following?I thought so. I look at the Grave Mercy cover and I see Young Adult. I read the Grave Mercy ebook and I see bullshit. The silence feels thick and awkward to me, but any attempt to make small talk seems equally so. Wondering if he feels it too, I sneak a glance in his direction and am appalled to find him watching me. We both wrench our eyes away, and even though I am no longer looking at him, every part of me is aware of his proximity, of the faint heat coming off his body in the damp autumn air, of the scent- This woman is killing me. How can she be so lifeless?? She’s skipping the best parts. Does it have action? Throw it to the pigs. Is it boring? Put it in the damn book. Make it more difficult for Anzu to finish the damn thing. But of course Anzu is an idiot and will try her best to read it. Ugh!When I look a title like His Fair Assassin I think of - hold on to your seats folks, I’m sure you weren’t expecting this - assassins. A huge surprise there, is it not? So as I was saying, before I rudely interrupted myself, assassins. An assassin is a wicked cool person with amazing murder, stealth and weapon skills who uses them in order to remove certain obstacles that get in the way of their happiness. A book about assassins is supposed to be murder/action/stealth/blood/brains filled. At least in my opinion. It was logical that I would expect this from title. Why it was filled with boring details and lacked action? I have no clue.Which reminds me. Did you guys play the Assassin’s Creed games? Read the books? Am I the only one who smells the theft of many elements from the game?First the Reverend Mother who is a female version of Al Mualim, the covenant is the creed, Ismae is Altaïr. In Assassin’s Creed they get their next target’s name through carrier pigeons, in Grave mercy they use a blind lady who reads it in chicken bones and feathers. The Tears of Mortain have done their job well, for I am certain there is no spark of life burning behind that door. Eagle vision much? What the hell??At least if it was cool I wouldn’t mind it, but they are running the story. You don’t ruin the Assassin’s Creed story and get to live.Ugh I so much wish the cover had a shirtless dude on it!! Then I wouldn’t have been tempted to read it.
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  • Maggie ☘ (Wonderland-Reader)
    January 1, 1970
    *4,75/5 stars*“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.” Grave Mercy was such a lovely surprise! It is surely one of the most memorable Historical Fiction YA books with fantasy elements there is. I cannot recommend this series highly enough!Ismae is not your typical young adult heroine. She lived her whole live under care of her brutal father, and if not for the convent of St. Mortain, she would live the rest of her life with abusive hus *4,75/5 stars*“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.” Grave Mercy was such a lovely surprise! It is surely one of the most memorable Historical Fiction YA books with fantasy elements there is. I cannot recommend this series highly enough!Ismae is not your typical young adult heroine. She lived her whole live under care of her brutal father, and if not for the convent of St. Mortain, she would live the rest of her life with abusive husband. Based on her experiences, Ismae think that every men is the same and for that gladly joins the convent to be Death's handmaiden and serve His will. It is surely a batter future than the one she was supposed to have.Ismae is simply amazing. She has strong opinions and is more than capable of taking care of herself. She is an assassin.There are also some very interesting secondary characters: -> “Good intentions are only lies the weak tell themselves. I will not be caged.” -Sybella “It is this kindness of his that unsettles me most. I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.” I was little bit sad that the actual assassin training wasn't quite shown. Ismae's life with the nuns was shortly described and I was hoping to see more of the actual poison and combat training. Nevertheless, the beginning was very imersive and gripping. After training, Ismae gets her first assignment, which she manages with ease and no questions. But her third task is much harder then even the abbess anticipated.Ismae gets herself in the mids of intrigues and political machinations right at the court of Brittany. She starts to question everyone around her and soon finds out that maybe, the only person whom she can truly trust, is the one she wasn't supposed to. The one convent sent her to spy on, Duval.“I have no better plan, my lord. In truth, I am sorely disappointed in my god’s justice so far.”Duval stares at me a long moment, his eyes bright as if with fever. “Perhaps that is because you mistake death for justice, and they are not the same thing at all.”The middle of this book was a little bit stretched. I'm not going to lie, it is not always fast paced, but rather slowly revealing, intriguing and mystrious story with lots of spying at court. You can't be sure whom to trust. The prose is also worth mentioning, as it was absolutely beautiful and well suited the story.AND I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. Grave Mercy has the right amount of romance - Ismae's relationship with Duval is swoon worthy and amusing from the beginning - blended with political intrigue, court life, poisons and killing.If you enjoy stories set in the past, gorgeous prose and interestingly balanced romance, politics and kickass-ness, as well as if you're interested in reading about Assassin Nuns (I'm sure everyone is a bit interested in that! I sure was and am not in the least disappointed), then Grave Mercy is meant right for you.“The body on the ground is nothing more than a shell, a husk, and I am filled with a sense of peace. Yes, I think. Yes. This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance.”
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  • Kat Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    Grave Mercy is the improbable tale of an assassin-y murder-nun, Ismae, on a mission to rescue the Duchess of Brittany from a fate worse than death – a really disgusting old, pervert man. She’s joined along the way by a studly lord-type person, Duval, in order to defeat evil (the French), crown the Duchess, and get laid.So on the positive side there’s court intrigue, crossbows, britches untied and skirts hitching and all those kinds of shenangians. And given those facts, you would be forgiven for Grave Mercy is the improbable tale of an assassin-y murder-nun, Ismae, on a mission to rescue the Duchess of Brittany from a fate worse than death – a really disgusting old, pervert man. She’s joined along the way by a studly lord-type person, Duval, in order to defeat evil (the French), crown the Duchess, and get laid.So on the positive side there’s court intrigue, crossbows, britches untied and skirts hitching and all those kinds of shenangians. And given those facts, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is your average bodice ripper with all it’s stripped-to-the-shift, sexy occupational hazards of the 16th century, man-rooty goodness (…or badness?)But this is actually a YA novel, which makes it awkward because it actually reads far more like it should have this cover:Look, you can’t just clean up an historical romance, put it through the wash, cut out all the descriptive sex and relabel it YA. It doesn’t work like that. The result is an Historical Romance without any sex - and you’ve just removed the one reason why I WOULD read a Historical Romance.They tried to do that with that Pirates porn movie. The director loved it so much he cut out the sex and rereleased it as a feature movie. But YOU STILL HAVE A PORN MOVIE! There’s just no three way pirate sex scenes to off-put the fake books, stilted dialogue, ridiculous non-sensical story-lines… actually, it sounds like I AM describing Pirates of the Carribean – so let’s just move on.The premise was very interesting and I think the idea was most noteworthy. There’s nothing much to complain about with LaFever’s writing and stylistic choices in that regard. But it’s the plot and the pacing that is its biggest let down.Quite early in this novel we see the plot mostly dry up and the fantasy of a badass killer-nun seems to be unattainable as we’re left with a soggy romance that never feels quite convincing. Certainly, both characters are likable and work well together as a team. But the actual romance is never particularly breathtaking or impassioned. Which would be fine if the movie had more throat-cutting and less awkward moments where the two main characters almost kiss.The mystery is laughably easy to deduce which, for me, just added to a rather average reading fare.I recommend this book to those that like the idea of assassin-nuns without dealing with the mess and teenagers who want a gateway book to the historical romance genre.Check out our joint review of this book on Cuddlebuggery
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  • Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
    January 1, 1970
    What a pleasant surprise this was! Grave Mercy won me over in chapter one and I was unable to put down Ferguson, my Kindle, until I finished it. I always have troubles getting through the middle part of a book, but that was not the case here at all. I stayed up very late to finish it and I didn’t regret it for a second.After being abused for her entire life by her vicious father and then married off at fourteen to an equally vicious husband, Ismae is saved by a hedge priest on her wedding night What a pleasant surprise this was! Grave Mercy won me over in chapter one and I was unable to put down Ferguson, my Kindle, until I finished it. I always have troubles getting through the middle part of a book, but that was not the case here at all. I stayed up very late to finish it and I didn’t regret it for a second.After being abused for her entire life by her vicious father and then married off at fourteen to an equally vicious husband, Ismae is saved by a hedge priest on her wedding night and taken to a convent where she is told that she is a daughter of Mortain, the god of death. She is to be trained to carry out Mortain’s will and kill those he has placed his mark upon. Ismae is reborn in the convent, determined to make the absolute best of the second chance life has given her. She is a good and dedicated student. But when the abbess orders her to go to duchess’ court and do her best to protect her, Ismae is not very comfortable with her orders. At 17, she is highly trained in every skill she might need and she has no trouble killing any traitor the convent tells her to, but the only way to get access to everyone important is by posing as Duval’s mistress, and that is very unsettling. Duval seems to be loyal to the duchess, he is her half-brother after all, but Ismae is under orders to investigate him. It doesn’t matter that she finds him attractive, slightly infuriating, but most of all trustworthy. Mortain’s will always come first. What can be more fun than nuns who turned You shall not murder into You shall murder only those we order you to and You shall not commit adultery into You shall seduce for information, but not for love? Everyone, including myself, was thrilled by the idea of killer nuns, but that part proved to be just a little bit disappointing because these nuns had very little in common with actual nuns. I expected more conflict between their religion and their actions, but LaFevers chose another direction altogether. I really admired Ismae. Getting to know her was my favorite part of this book. I liked her spirit and her intelligence, and I felt that her actions were pretty consistent, a sure sign of a well-built character. It didn’t take long for her to abandon the victim mentality and accept that she’s the one with the power, and that she earned that power by working hard for three whole years. While I had a lot of fun reading it, Grave Mercy was by no means perfect. People with little patience for political intrigue will probably find themselves bored from time to time, especially around the middle. There is also the small issue of predictability: I knew who the traitor was about ten seconds after he showed up and it left me disappointed because I loved everything else so much. Aside from that, I really wish Duval’s poisoning was handled differently. (I have to be extremely vague here lest I spoil things for some poor, unsuspecting reader, but those of you who have read the book will know exactly what I’m talking about.) I don’t mind what happened at all, I wish there was more of it, but the way it happened, under those circumstances, felt a little like a cop out to me. It’s like the action needed to be justified by a life or death situation, which I thought didn’t fit well with the overall tone of the book.Grave Mercy was much more fun than I expected it to be. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.
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  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    January 1, 1970
    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/Upon starting Grave Mercy things were going swimmingly . . . “You would not expect a queen to wash her own clothes or lace her own gown, she has handmaids for that. And so it is with us; we serve as handmaids to Death. When we are guided by His will, killing is a sacrament.” My inner bunneh was all like . . . But then the MC was given the assignment that I thought would be the driving force throughout the book, only to find out what Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/Upon starting Grave Mercy things were going swimmingly . . . “You would not expect a queen to wash her own clothes or lace her own gown, she has handmaids for that. And so it is with us; we serve as handmaids to Death. When we are guided by His will, killing is a sacrament.” My inner bunneh was all like . . . But then the MC was given the assignment that I thought would be the driving force throughout the book, only to find out what was really going to happen was not how I had imagined . . . . “He blinks, ‘If you are not careful, I will begin to think you are enamored of me.’ At his words, something flutters happily in my breast, pleasure, perhaps.” And I was all like . . . So here’s a chick who was raised with an abusive father who pawns her off to the highest bidder who OF COURSE couldn’t wait to smack the shit out of her as well – gets rescued from said abuser’s house before he has a chance to rape and beat her – is transported to a convent where she discovers she is TOTALLY kick-ass/immune to poison/has the ability to see the mark of death on a person/etc. – is trained to become an assassin – and then gets sent on an assignment only to become smitten with the dude who may actually end up being the bad guy . . . Talk about a real bait and switch. It was like going to pick up your brand new blue sports wagon and instead walking away with . . . Grave Mercy could be used as an exhibit of why YA books get a bad rap. For the love of Tom Cruise, why do authors assume young people are stupid? Talk about a story that was 100% predictable. I. SAW. EVERYTHING. COMING. From the bad guy (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] to that stupid f*&^%g ending. (view spoiler)[SAVED BY THE VOODOO PUNANY?!?!?!?!? (hide spoiler)] If you’re looking for a story with a lot of stabby, run far far away. On the other hand, if you enjoy a novel that takes you in the wayback machine and deals with romance and intrigue in the Royal Court, you’ll be like the 95% of my Goodreads friends who thought this one was a big winner.
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  • Arlene
    January 1, 1970
    Five Solid Stars!When I was reading Grave Mercy, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the life lessons I learned from the nuns I went to Catholic School with. Now keep in mind, they weren’t the skills Ismae was exposed to at Saint Mortmain's convent, so maybe I should start off with a brief comparison. See, I was taught:To walk like a bird, not like an elephant. Keep my ankles and knees together when I sit.My school tie is not to be used as a napkin.Keep plenty of room for the Holy Spirit betwee Five Solid Stars!When I was reading Grave Mercy, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the life lessons I learned from the nuns I went to Catholic School with. Now keep in mind, they weren’t the skills Ismae was exposed to at Saint Mortmain's convent, so maybe I should start off with a brief comparison. See, I was taught:To walk like a bird, not like an elephant. Keep my ankles and knees together when I sit.My school tie is not to be used as a napkin.Keep plenty of room for the Holy Spirit between me and my “male companion.” ~snickers~Tear my bread with my hands and not my teeth.God can read my thoughts so keep them pure.My foul and sarcastic mouth will gain me no points in life. ~pbtfff~If you’re wondering, the answer is an emphatic yes on both points. (1) Yes, each of those lessons were directed at me at some time or another. (2)Yes, I still read romantic bodice rippers while tucked under my covers at night. Come on! What did you expect? :PNow Ismae, the main character of Grave Mercy, on the other hand seemed to have gotten a more well rounded and useful life training in my opinion. She learned from the Saint Mortmain nuns:Stealth and cunning knife combat to bring down a man with a marque of Death.Feminine artistry to lure her victims into a false sense of security.The chemistry of poison making that could kill a man a hundred different ways.Defense moves to escape a chokehold or garrote.If those were the lessons being taught by the nuns I grew up with, I'd like to believe I would not have been such a disappointment. I have to say that prior to starting Grave Mercy I was skeptical about whether I would be able to keep my beliefs and deep seeded convictions about religion and faith enough at bay to enjoy this story. Surprisingly (or maybe not) it wasn’t an issue for me at all. I enjoyed the political backdrop, the killer nuns, the historical time period, the constant intrigue and yes you heard me right... killer nuns. For me, it all blended perfectly to make Grave Mercy a fantastical story. In this book, Ismae escapes the cruelty to her father and the man she is wedded to, and is taken away one night after a brutal beating to Saint Mortmain’s convent. There, she learns the skills to keep her safe from ever being hurt by a man again. After several years of combat training, she has been molded into a perfect assassin and is thrust into the political battle between three countries that fight for power and land, where she must carry out the orders of her convent. However, when the desires of her convent collide with the path of her heart, Ismae is forced to make a choice between executing a command from her convent and doing what she believes in her heart is right.Ismae and Duval were a perfect pair of protags, and their story was filled with enough struggle and romantic tension to keep me glued to the eInk on my reader. I loved how their relationship developed at a slow and deliberate pace. It made their love for one another believable and perfect.Like I said… FANTASTICAL. It’s books such as Grave Mercy that prove to me time and again that fantasy, when done right, is at the top of my favorite genre list. I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel in this story line as I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Sybella. Awesome read!
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  • Sophia
    January 1, 1970
    me halfway into this novel: wait. this isn't a fantasy? this is historical fiction. mixed with fantasy. and it's pretty dang great. the main character is an actual assassin who actually kills her assignments (shade), but the plot is mainly about political intrigue, complicated alliances, and preserving a nation's independence. there's a really nice romantic lead, too!!
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  • Sh3lly (GrumpyBookGrrrl.com)
    January 1, 1970
    This whole trilogy (bundle) is on sale today (27 DEC 2018) for $2.99 on US Kindle!https://www.amazon.com/His-Fair-Assas...Update: This is on sale for $0.99 US Amazon 22 OCT 2016 - If you have not read this trilogy and like historical fantasy romance, I HIGHLY recommend this! Sooo good.This book takes place in the 15th century. Ismae escapes from a brutal arranged marriage and is taken to the convent of St. Mortain, the god of death. There, she is trained to be the god's assassin. Ismae is then s This whole trilogy (bundle) is on sale today (27 DEC 2018) for $2.99 on US Kindle!https://www.amazon.com/His-Fair-Assas...Update: This is on sale for $0.99 US Amazon 22 OCT 2016 - If you have not read this trilogy and like historical fantasy romance, I HIGHLY recommend this! Sooo good.This book takes place in the 15th century. Ismae escapes from a brutal arranged marriage and is taken to the convent of St. Mortain, the god of death. There, she is trained to be the god's assassin. Ismae is then sent into a dangerous game of politics and betrayal at the court of young Anne, the Duchess of Brittany. Holy cow. The feels! Duval!Ismae! Sybella, Beast, de Lornay, Anne...Well, ahem, so I liked this book just a little and recommend it. There is no love triangle! Yay. No annoying heroine. Yay! Lots of action. A lot of the characters were based on real people and historical events. I'm excited to read the next one, which is about Sybella. A definite favorite!
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  • Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
    January 1, 1970
    ➸ Book 2 : Dark Triumph ✮✮✮✮✮ ۩ This is the kind of book you eat and forget most of the details just after reaching the last page, because if there's a new event at each chapter, you quit on the feeling that nothing happened. Actually if Grave Mercy is by no means a bad book, I wasn't impressed either. What surprises me the most is how an original concept as Assassin nuns can lead me to feel slightly underwhelmed. I guess that expectations are everything. "So," she says, looking back up at me. ➸ Book 2 : Dark Triumph ✮✮✮✮✮ ۩ This is the kind of book you eat and forget most of the details just after reaching the last page, because if there's a new event at each chapter, you quit on the feeling that nothing happened. Actually if Grave Mercy is by no means a bad book, I wasn't impressed either. What surprises me the most is how an original concept as Assassin nuns can lead me to feel slightly underwhelmed. I guess that expectations are everything. "So," she says, looking back up at me. "You are well equipped for our service.""Which is?""We kill people." My biggest fear before starting it? To be bored to death. And yet, strangely, the biggest - only one? - compliment I can offer it is the fact it was so compulsively readable. Weird right? ► First of all, how can we not be interested in the original concept on which Grave Mercy relies? Undeniably, what could be more fascinating than the discovery of the daughters of Death, more known as St Mortain's nouns, whose purpose is to learn an incredible amount of ways to be a deadly assassin? Tell me? Therefore I wasn't bored, but interested, hooked, even - political calculations always draw me in, and I must confess that the settings immensely pleased me. As a great fan of Dumas, I always had a soft spot for intrigues taking place at Court, especially when the Kings aren't the most famous (please stop talking about Louis XIV and Henri IV, not to mention Louis XVI). Indeed there're so many periods which have not yet been explored by the literature! However, I'm sorry, but what was this obvious twist? For real, I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the characters to get to the same conclusion as me and Oh. My. They took their time for sure. As a result, I can't say that the mystery was compelling. Indeed while the writing, the details of the political complots enthralled me, I didn't care much about the big revelation of the villains' identity, for it was pretty obvious since the beginning. Moreover, I couldn't help but notice the lack of accuracy in the historical facts - I don't know if that's supposed to be accurate, but in case you're wondering, that's not. Oh, yes, the big events are "true", but except from them, every character is pictured in a wrong way. Take Alain d'Albret, for example. Yes he was betrothed to Anne de Bretagne, but he never had 6 wifes (only one, actually). As for Fedrik de Nemours... he didn't exist. And so on. To be fair, even Dumas was known for romanticizing grandly his characters, so I'm not sure that it can be considered as a flaw. I thought I'd point it, anyway, because I'm an History nerd (sorry about that). Finally, why in the world are they travelling via Quimper when they intend to go to Guérande? Seriously, lost enough, aren't you? Okay, I'm annoying. I stop here. Sigh. ✐ Generally speaking, I quite liked the writing, which was pleasant and flowed smoothly. But then, I must point that I have not the sufficient knowledge to judge if the way the characters speak can be considered as accurate for 1400s (I have to admit that I have many doubts, because it appeared rather modern to me). Now, what I can judge are the mistakes when French language is used. Of course it was rare - Thanks Mortain! - but come on, don't you think that it would be greatly appreciated if, I don't know, some French speaker checked before publishing? There are grammar mistakes ("entré" instead of "entrez") and a weird use of interjections ("mais bon", in that sentence, doesn't make any sense. At all.) One might argue that I make grammar mistakes in English as well, and it's true (sorry about that). But the fact is, I'm not publishing a book, but writing a review. But let's talk about the characters, shall we?▧ Ismae, who has a special talent for poison, is sent on an assignment in the Guérande court. Her mission? To protect the Duchess, Anne de Bretagne, while unraveling the layers of treason the young ruler faces. In a word : Ismae must use her talent to figure out who is plotting against the duchess, including her closest support, Gavriel Duval. Well, I haven't much to reproach her, to be fair. Indeed I could understand her decisions, and contrary to some (many?) readers I didn't feel like she gave up her mind for the sake of her love for Duval. On the contrary, she thinks before acting, and if she IS long to realize some facts (DUH), I can't say that she's blinded by love, as she wonders why and who and how is right all the freaking time. She didn't trust Gavriel on sight for Mortain's sake! Yet... I didn't care so much about her either. In my opinion her monologues lacked of sincerity and believability, as I often found myself wondering... Who thinks like that? Every thought is too neat, and I never really felt her struggle, question - I was told so, but never get the feeling, you know? ▧ Gavriel, now. He is nice, kind, but has the bad habit to order Ismae around. Yet he is nice. And, you know, he is ... he IS ... Well, okay, mostly dull. ♥ That's why even if the romance didn't bother me, it never made me swoon either, as I never really saw any chemistry between Ismae and Duval. As the rest of the story, everything felt too mild to me, and no, my heart never missed a beat. Lack of strong feelings indeed.▧ The so-called villains. Yes, so-called, because we are told that they are the villains in this story, but never really shown, or not enough, in my opinion. Take d'Albret, for example. Oh, yes, he seems really disgusting, but what does he really do? Nothing. To me, the only real villains are Ismae's father and her previous husband. ▧ What bothered me the most was the lack of involvement of the secondary characters. Indeed even if they exist, except for the beginning, the other characters fall into the background pretty fast, unfortunately. Personally, I'm eager to learn more about Beast (how awesome is that name, by the way?) and Sybella - Annith I don't care about.► See, when I weigh the pros and cons.... ... It's pretty obvious that the cons overtake the pros by far. Now, as I did enjoy my reading still, I decided for a three that I can't help but find quite generous. For more of my reviews, please visit:
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  • Robin (Bridge Four)
    January 1, 1970
    Sale Alert 19May19 Kindle Deal $2.99 I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed the political intrigue and different heroine. This one is more Political while the next in the series has a lot more action. Still Assassin Nuns are always interesting.Original Review:This is an interesting YA novel as it is set in the 1400s so it is somewhat historical but at the same time fantasy. There is royal intrigue, plots, strange customs and dangerous women.Ismae has been marked since birth. She is a dau Sale Alert 19May19 Kindle Deal $2.99 I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed the political intrigue and different heroine. This one is more Political while the next in the series has a lot more action. Still Assassin Nuns are always interesting.Original Review:This is an interesting YA novel as it is set in the 1400s so it is somewhat historical but at the same time fantasy. There is royal intrigue, plots, strange customs and dangerous women.Ismae has been marked since birth. She is a daughter of death better known as Saint Mortain. Daughters of death it seems are beautiful and have some other worldly qualities to them. Ismae’s special talent is with poison she is immune to it in all forms. She is saved from an arranged marriage and sent to a convent for daughters of Mortain. There she is educated and trained to be a deadly assassin for Mortain’s bidding. After years in the convent the time had finally come be sent on her first assignment. She killed a man that might have repented his past transgressions and was trying to clear his name for Brittany (the country not the girl). To figure out who is plotting against Brittany she must set off to court with Gavriel Duval where she can use her gifts to assess who is plotting against Brittany and the Duchess Anne.I liked that there were complex characters in this novel. No one was all good or all bad. Even our heroine is sorely misunderstood. She can tell when someone is about to die or sense them after they have died. Even she doesn’t understand the scope of her gifts. But she is feared as death is feared. Gavriel too is complex dutiful to the core but sometimes he goes against the norm for what he thinks is right even if it brands him a traitor to his sworn saint. The romance that eventually grows between them is sweet and takes its time to blossom. He sees Ismae for who and what she truly is and never tries to change her. I felt so bad for Anne, she has to marry to make an alliance to keep her kingdom that is on the brink of war but some of her suitors are treacherous and if wed she will surely die soon after so they can control her kingdom. The story was so interesting and watching Ismae grow into a bold woman was fascinating. I loved how she came to better understand Mortain and the two sides of him better throughout the book to realize possibly that being an assassin was not all he wanted for his daughters. There were some great nail biting moments and honestly after the first 100 pages I just couldn’t put it down. Incredibly unique heroine.
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  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    Update 11/27/18So, this one is a double DNF I guess. When I saw Kirkus give a starred review to the 4th book in this world and make it sounds so enticing, with all the court intrigue and assassinating, I got super excited and thought maybe this would be the case when I try an old DNF and love it and have a whole new set of fantasy books to gush over and look forward to. But NO, "Grave Mercy" is still too shallow and pedestrian for my taste. Absolutely love the premise, which reminds me a bit of Update 11/27/18So, this one is a double DNF I guess. When I saw Kirkus give a starred review to the 4th book in this world and make it sounds so enticing, with all the court intrigue and assassinating, I got super excited and thought maybe this would be the case when I try an old DNF and love it and have a whole new set of fantasy books to gush over and look forward to. But NO, "Grave Mercy" is still too shallow and pedestrian for my taste. Absolutely love the premise, which reminds me a bit of "The Cruel Prince." But "The Cruel Prince" was so dynamic and ship-ful, and "Grave Mercy" is dull and write-by-numbers. Sad. I do think that those people who missed reading these books 5 years ago and are into Maas and lite fantasy/romance, should give this series a go. Original reviewI don't know, for a book that received so many starred reviews it is oddly superficial and immature. Maybe too much of a romance? Not interested in finishing.
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  • Rachel Reads Ravenously
    January 1, 1970
    “When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.” Battered and abused for the majority of her life, Ismae is saved right after her wedding ceremony from a disgusting man and sent to a convent of Mortain's, the God of Death. There, she is schooled in the art of being an assassin and dedicated to carry out his work. For 3-4 years she is trained in many different ways to kill a man, and when she becomes 17 she is sent on her first assignment. F “When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.” Battered and abused for the majority of her life, Ismae is saved right after her wedding ceremony from a disgusting man and sent to a convent of Mortain's, the God of Death. There, she is schooled in the art of being an assassin and dedicated to carry out his work. For 3-4 years she is trained in many different ways to kill a man, and when she becomes 17 she is sent on her first assignment. Fairly soon Ismae is wrapped up in a mission to help the Duchess of Brittany, and forced to work with a man named Duval, who also does not want Ismae's help. “Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?” I've read and heard many mixed reviews on this book since it's publication, so I didn't know what to expect going in. I really liked this book, but it fell short of that something special that would make me love it. Ismae is a very compelling character, if a bit ill-prepared for the assignment she was given. Duval was interesting as well, but I never really felt as if the reader really got to know him. The relationship between him and Ismae could technically be filed under slow-build, but it felt forced to me. I wish more time had been spent building their relationship because it very much felt like it went from "I can't trust you" to "We will do our best to be together in the future" in a matter of 50 pages or so. The aboutface was too quick for my tastes. “It is this kindness of his that unsettles me most. I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.” I'm also not a giant fan of political plots in my fantasy/science fiction novels and this book was primarily that. It was done very well, but I grew a bit tiresome of it by the end of the book.^^^Despite all of these issues I listed above, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I felt it was a very fresh idea in the young adult genre. The book also promoted important aspects such as to think for yourself, second chances, and first impressions are not always correct. All very important themes for a ya novel.I am very excited to read Sybella's book next, I feel like she would be an incredibly interesting character.PS: (view spoiler)[ I think the fact that Ismae literally saved Duval with her magic vagina is fucking hilarious. If only we all had that ability (hide spoiler)]
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  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    www.melissa413readsalot.blogspot.comOne Word:I freaking loved this book and I am buying it for damn sure! This is a long drawn out book and I wasn't bored not one time...NOT ONE TIME!!! Ismae's mom tried to rid her in the womb with poison from a herbwitch and all of this did was give her a scar and make her a daughter of St. Mortain..the god of death! When she is older her dad sells her to a horrible man who was trying to make her do her wifely duties, but once he saw her scar, he was terrified. www.melissa413readsalot.blogspot.comOne Word:I freaking loved this book and I am buying it for damn sure! This is a long drawn out book and I wasn't bored not one time...NOT ONE TIME!!! Ismae's mom tried to rid her in the womb with poison from a herbwitch and all of this did was give her a scar and make her a daughter of St. Mortain..the god of death! When she is older her dad sells her to a horrible man who was trying to make her do her wifely duties, but once he saw her scar, he was terrified. Everyone that knew who she was, was terrified of her. The abess of St. Mortain Convent brings Ismae into the fold and trains her as an assassin for death. She is trained in poisons and weaponry. I love it! I freaking love it! Sorry, I digressed! The misericorde is only one of her weapons of choice, she uses a garotte in her bracelet, crossbows, knives, you name it. She is bad to the bone! She is sent out on missions to kill people that have the marque of Mortain on them, this is like the go ahead to kill them, they are evil. She is allowed to kill in self defense as well. She is sent on a mission with Gavriel Duval to help protect his sister, who is Duchess Anne. They find they are up against a lot of traitors, and bad people all around. I mean, it seems like you can't trust but a few in this book! Ismae isn't interested in men, she thinks they are vile creatures. But.. she was abused by mean all of her life.. sooooooo.. Anyhoo, she starts to have feelings for Duval and I think it is so awesome. They are actually perfect for each other in their bad assery! I can't stress how much I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Plots, schemes, weapons, killings, etc. If you like all of that stuff, I think you will like this book :)
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  • Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker Queen of the Undead
    January 1, 1970
    This book was outstanding. You have all the fun elements- a young "kick-ass" female assassin gifted by the God of Death, a potential love interest, court politics, revenge, mistrust, and so on. In addition, you have a beautiful tale of a girl’s personal growth. Watching Ismae go from a naive young girl, who blindly follows, to a smart thinking young woman, was the best part of the book.Update-3/11/12I was going to write more for this review but I am going to just roll with what I wrote originall This book was outstanding. You have all the fun elements- a young "kick-ass" female assassin gifted by the God of Death, a potential love interest, court politics, revenge, mistrust, and so on. In addition, you have a beautiful tale of a girl’s personal growth. Watching Ismae go from a naive young girl, who blindly follows, to a smart thinking young woman, was the best part of the book.Update-3/11/12I was going to write more for this review but I am going to just roll with what I wrote originally right after I read the book. I loved this book. While not the prettiest of reviews, it gets the point across!
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  • Gail Carriger
    January 1, 1970
    The series premise: three girls from different backgrounds are deemed daughters of death and taken in to a mysterious convent where they are trained as assassins, called death's handmaidens. Each is then sent from the convent into the politics of late 1400s Brittany where they find self confidence through love, purpose, and place in society.The writing: rich period color, first person perspective, strong voice, some graphic violence, modest sex scenes, excellent heroic counterparts, complex poli The series premise: three girls from different backgrounds are deemed daughters of death and taken in to a mysterious convent where they are trained as assassins, called death's handmaidens. Each is then sent from the convent into the politics of late 1400s Brittany where they find self confidence through love, purpose, and place in society.The writing: rich period color, first person perspective, strong voice, some graphic violence, modest sex scenes, excellent heroic counterparts, complex politics. Close accepting friendship between girls and women, betrayal by adult role models.Grave Mercy is about Ismae, an abused peasant girl, for whom a convent is salvation and her devotion to her god, Death, a redemption and a means to self actualization. Her journey is one of faith ~ learning to define faith for herself, to find faith in others, and to have faith in her own abilities and in love.Ismae is sent into the high politics of the time to unearth betrayal, learning along the way what she must question and who she must become. She is learning about herself as she learns about her world, and what kind of place and path is open to her.“Is that what my life has been? A series of trials to be passed?”“You come to us well tempered, my child, and it is not in my nature to be sorry for it.It is the well-tempered blade that is the strongest.”Ismae is a gentle almost sweet character, a fish out of water in the best sense, despite her deadly abilities. The romance that develops between her and the man she is supposed to watch is part of her own journey learning to trust not just men but herself: in her heart, in her abilities, and in her judgement.I adored this book. So much so that I entirely forgave it some initial world building and historical exposition. This was front loaded, once through the beginning chapters (to Ismae's first kill and the introduction of the hero) the pace picks up considerably. I wanted more of the assassin training, because I like the school aspect of most books (well, duh, I wrote a whole series about this) but I can understand why it wasn't there (or was cut out). I enjoyed the journey and the characters (even though I didn't personally relate to them) but I liked them both much more as they are set into motion, on the road and into the city and politics. I thought some of the romance was a little much ~ salvation through sex has never been a trope I latch on to myself. However, I wonder if, LaFevers is playing parody with that trope in her connubial culmination, as Ismae literally saves Duval with her body.
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  • Giselle
    January 1, 1970
    An unsolicited Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review. Quotes have been pulled from an ARC and may be subject to change.Intrigue. Murder. Politics. What more could you want?Ismae gets rescued by a priest from a future with an abusive husband. The two journey to the convent, and is trained by the church to do St. Mortain’s work. But most of all she’s an assassin who is marked by Death himself. She slowly gathers the trust and respect of her fellow mentors and is finally ass An unsolicited Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review. Quotes have been pulled from an ARC and may be subject to change.Intrigue. Murder. Politics. What more could you want?Ismae gets rescued by a priest from a future with an abusive husband. The two journey to the convent, and is trained by the church to do St. Mortain’s work. But most of all she’s an assassin who is marked by Death himself. She slowly gathers the trust and respect of her fellow mentors and is finally assigned on a mission.I won’t say what that mission will be just because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but let me tell you this book was long, yet I couldn’t put it down. I’m not a historical fiction fan. Probably because I haven’t read a great book that’s kept me awake and entertained, until I read Grave Mercy.Nun assassins trained in combat, and poisons, and seduction?? Now that’s a book that caught my interest!! This was a well written book. I enjoyed Ismae’s journey into the world of espionage, all set in the country of Brittany. There’s romance in this book, that’s enough to keep all romantics happy. At first it’s obvious they’re falling in love, but the readers know it, and the character doesn’t. Ismae is not your average female protagonist. She’s strong, stubborn and beautiful. And the way she hones her powers to take down a life, amazed me.I enjoyed reading Grave Mercy! Assassin nuns and girls who are trained by Death itself?? Yes sign me up!
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  • Norah Una Sumner
    January 1, 1970
    3,5 starsSuch an interesting read.I love the story and the main character.Seems like a start to a great trilogy.I enjoyed reading about Ismae's adventures and I love how she developed as a character.There's action,there's a bit of slow-burning romance which I definitely liked,there's a lot of scheming and there are many interesting historical facts.The supporting characters are very interesting - Duval,the Duchess,Sybella etc.Yes,the writing and the world-building aren't perfect but I really con 3,5 starsSuch an interesting read.I love the story and the main character.Seems like a start to a great trilogy.I enjoyed reading about Ismae's adventures and I love how she developed as a character.There's action,there's a bit of slow-burning romance which I definitely liked,there's a lot of scheming and there are many interesting historical facts.The supporting characters are very interesting - Duval,the Duchess,Sybella etc.Yes,the writing and the world-building aren't perfect but I really connected with these characters and I had a great time reading about them.Plus,the story really is unique and captivating. The Duchess seriously needs the Lord's help,though,she's in a difficult position. A really good book with a lot of potential.
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  • Deborah Obida
    January 1, 1970
    Buddy reading with Kelsey My Dec tbr twinThis is really going to be a short review, based on the fact that 3 stars review are just so hard for me to write most times and also I didn't enjoy this book even though it was okay.As glad as I am that I enjoyed this book, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. The book lacks action, in depth depictions of things that happened in the book,some things were just too rushed for my liking.I love the politics and scheming in the book, even though I Buddy reading with Kelsey My Dec tbr twinThis is really going to be a short review, based on the fact that 3 stars review are just so hard for me to write most times and also I didn't enjoy this book even though it was okay.As glad as I am that I enjoyed this book, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. The book lacks action, in depth depictions of things that happened in the book,some things were just too rushed for my liking.I love the politics and scheming in the book, even though I predicted most, I still enjoyed the scheming a lot.The world building is average, it was just okay. The book is written in the first person point of view of Ismae the MC. Despite some of her cringing thoughts I still enjoyed her narration and the dialogues in the book.The characters are a bit bland. Ismae and Duval was okay and the rest was more of a filler than an actual character. I expected more from Anne and the other nobles but got nothing.The plot is no where near original but the author did a good job with the book.
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  • Stacia (the 2010 club)
    January 1, 1970
    A history of (paraphrased) reader responses to Grave Mercy.Oooh...assassin nuns!Love the historical setting!Yawn. This is boring.The romance is a nicely handled but I wish there was more.I hate that there's even a romance in this book.No, really? Is this book still going?I could eat up every single word on the pages!Maybe there's a few parts which drag but I'm still really liking it.Forget this. I'm done.Polarizing books are nothing new. In fact, I'm almost wary of a popular book if there isn't A history of (paraphrased) reader responses to Grave Mercy.Oooh...assassin nuns!Love the historical setting!Yawn. This is boring.The romance is a nicely handled but I wish there was more.I hate that there's even a romance in this book.No, really? Is this book still going?I could eat up every single word on the pages!Maybe there's a few parts which drag but I'm still really liking it.Forget this. I'm done.Polarizing books are nothing new. In fact, I'm almost wary of a popular book if there isn't an ample amount of criticism to temper a mass amount of glowing reviews.So of course, I get to be one of those people who can't come out of the gate with a strong opinion in either direction. I didn't love or hate this book. There were parts that I loved and parts I didn't. I agree with every person who thinks Grave Mercy could have been so much more. This chick was going around and offing people as an agent of Death. I was expecting something a little more epic. "How does one serve Death?" I'm also pretty sure that most everyone who's read this picked the selection for the assassin nun thing. Am I right? In all fairness to the story, I don't think an entire book of assassinations would have gone over well. Could the body count have gone up at least a notch or two? Perhaps. But I can't say that Ismae wasn't assassinating anyone either. I weigh the choice that is no choice at all. To be removed from the world of men and trained to kill them, or to be handed to one like a sheep. "If you think I am fit to serve, Reverend Mother, I will do so gladly." The parts that I struggled with (as usual for me) involved the politics and planning. Not unlike how I felt while reading Lies of Locke Lamora, I found myself wanting to skim ahead to the action. It's not that anything was wrong, but I have a mind which tends to wander. If I'm having to wait around for people to come to decisions on things, I drift off into thinking about what I need to cook for dinner. Which I did. We had spaghetti tonight. It was nothing fancy, but I also baked a cake because I had some free time on my hands.See? Mind wandering. The amount of romance was actually perfect for me. I didn't think it was too much or too little. Duval is what made the second half of the book entertaining. Men of mystery and intrigue are always appreciated.The first 25 and last 25% were excellent. It was that pesky middle section which had me struggling to pick the book back up. I'm not sure what could have been done differently but the pacing felt skewed somehow.I hear Sybella's installment (book 2) is quite a bit better, so I will be looking forward to it. Even with some complaints, I still enjoyed watching an assassin nun at work for death, so I'll be heading back to this world at some point.Many of you know that I can't seem to avoid noticing random things in books which make me laugh. Here's my latest find : The two men draw together, silent but deadly, as their companion writhes on the ground.
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  • Glass
    January 1, 1970
    Don't you love when by some weird luck you discover a book that manages to surprise you? And it is not even kind of a book you would usually read? That is exactly what happened to me - first two books of His Fair Assassin trilogy were available on NetGalley, I saw both countless times on my friend's blogs or social network's profiles and I just couldn't miss an opportunity to read them myself. The story. Young girl escapes from unwanted marriage just so she would become professional assassin tr Don't you love when by some weird luck you discover a book that manages to surprise you? And it is not even kind of a book you would usually read? That is exactly what happened to me - first two books of His Fair Assassin trilogy were available on NetGalley, I saw both countless times on my friend's blogs or social network's profiles and I just couldn't miss an opportunity to read them myself. The story. Young girl escapes from unwanted marriage just so she would become professional assassin trained by nuns. Seriously, how can you resist reading something with premise like this? It screams "girl power". But there is something that, in my opinion, skyrockets Grave Mercy into "epic-ness". Although, it is labeled as young adult, you have a feeling as if this book is "ageless". I didn't have usual issues when it comes to young adult fantasy. World building was believable which is a big deal considering that this is a historical fiction. Author herself points out that she had done extensive research and that many of characters are historical figures (including thirteen years old Anne). Fourteenth century is so different from our own time and being a child was a privilege not a basic human right and - as I used to remind my students in many occasions - back then, being teenager meant that you are adult with all responsibilities that come with that.Characters. Ismae, Sybella, Annith, Anne and even those who are supposedly negative characters, are the most amazing women I fantasy I have read about. Strong and opinionated, with enough strength to fight for their believes and, at the same time, like any other human being flawed and tempered. Duval reminded me of Barrons from Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. Man who knows what he needs to do protect those he love, reluctant to let anyone in and, when he finally does, loyal and honest. Saint Mortain. The most intriguing part of the story. I have so many things to say about this, but I won't because that would spoil Grave Mercy for you. I will just say that I was impressed how author put together ancient believes and character development giving us convent full of nuns and young girls who serve Death.(Read what Tanja thought about Grave Mercy here.)Review posted at Ja čitam, a ti?*Copy of this book was provided by publisher, HMH Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Natalie Monroe
    January 1, 1970
    "I am a handmaiden of Death. I walk in His dark shadow and do His bidding. Serving Him is my only purpose in this life, and I have let my annoyance drive that duty from my mind. I will not let that happen again." Like Truthwitch, Grave Mercy is a book I should have loved. It's got an interesting historical background and assassin nuns. Assassin. Nuns. I'll just let that sink in.Unfortunately, the premise doesn't hold up. The beginning is the best part. We open with Ismae being married against "I am a handmaiden of Death. I walk in His dark shadow and do His bidding. Serving Him is my only purpose in this life, and I have let my annoyance drive that duty from my mind. I will not let that happen again." Like Truthwitch, Grave Mercy is a book I should have loved. It's got an interesting historical background and assassin nuns. Assassin. Nuns. I'll just let that sink in.Unfortunately, the premise doesn't hold up. The beginning is the best part. We open with Ismae being married against her will to a much older man. The convent rescues her and she's subjected to a poison test before discovering she has the ability to be a handmaiden of Mortain, god of Death. Then we go through a time-skip and everything goes downhill. I don't mind that we skip the training, but the plot just drags and drags. Half the time I'm not sure what's going on. Part of it is on me; I put it down in December and didn't pick it back up until three weeks later. But what I can suss out—war is imminent, but the Duchess doesn't want an alliance marriage—isn't written in an engaging manner. Now, I love court politics. Game of Thrones is one of all-time favorite series. Grave Mercy lacks that spark that holds a reader's interest while secondary characters mill about and talk and scheme. (A few jokes now and then wouldn't hurt.) Ismae wanders around, looking for the marque that signifies divine order to kill, and slowly falls in love with Duval. It's less interesting when that one sentence stretches into 300+ pages.(view spoiler)[It also takes a long time for Ismae to stop trusting the convent. Way too long. I figured it out pages ago and it looks her look dumb when readers have to wait for her to catch up. (hide spoiler)]But it could just be me. The writing's fine, the romance is nice and believable, and the characters are okay.That's it, really. It's okay.
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  •  Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
    January 1, 1970
    Grave Mercy is a fantasy novel that feels like historical fiction. Our heroine is a young woman in 15th Century Brittany who has always been cast in the role of victim, until she is delivered to the Convent of St. Mortain, the God of Death who masquerades as a saint to appease the newer Christian church. Now she is the wolf instead of the prey. Ismae is believed to be the daughter of this god, since she even survived being poisoned in her mother's womb, although she is forever physically scarred Grave Mercy is a fantasy novel that feels like historical fiction. Our heroine is a young woman in 15th Century Brittany who has always been cast in the role of victim, until she is delivered to the Convent of St. Mortain, the God of Death who masquerades as a saint to appease the newer Christian church. Now she is the wolf instead of the prey. Ismae is believed to be the daughter of this god, since she even survived being poisoned in her mother's womb, although she is forever physically scarred by that poison. She seems to be resistant to poisons and heals faster. While Ismae never felt special so much as rejected, when the choice is a life away from an abusive husband, and some agency in her life, she chooses to become a novice in the convent, learning all the many skills of bringing death to those marked by her god.Not long after her first mission, Ismae is sent to masquerade as the mistress of Gavriel Duval, the bastard brother of the young Duchess of Brittany. Her Mother Superior has tasked her with spying on Duval to see if he is faithful to the Duchy. If Mortain marks him for death, she is free to kill him. Instead of growing sure that Duval needs to die, she falls in love with him, one of the few men she has met who is decent and caring to women, when her own father hated and abused her. But love won't be easy when Ismae is surrounded by intrigue and treachery in the young Duchess's court. Will her father guide her aim true in these tortuous waters?I enjoyed this book a lot. While the author doesn't describe every detail of the setting and appearance of the characters, I obtained a very clear picture of what was going on. Better yet, the story simmers with atmosphere, quite Gothic. While this book establishes itself as a historical fiction novel, the paranormal/supernatural vibe teases at the senses. The manner in which Ismae knows that her god has selected a target is quite eerie but doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, because the story fits so naturally in both categories, paranormal and historical fiction.As far as Ismae's character, she is quite admirable. She's incredibly lethal, and I think a large part of her lethality is her quick mind and her observant nature. She makes a very good spy but also a bodyguard because of those skills. I liked seeing the mystery unfold through her eyes. You see that she isn't always unbiased, especially when it comes to men, considering her past painful experiences with men. I did like that her view changes as she comes to realize that not all men are bad and women aren't the superior sex, because they are just as flawed. She also comes to realize that people can use religion of any kind as a tool for power and control, but that doesn't invalidate one's personal faith in their god. While Ismae is very skilled at killing, she's not a killing machine. She has a respect for life and no desire to torture or cause suffering in others. This was necessary for the story to feel right. This reader is fascinated with assassins in literature, but she hates cruel, sadistic acts, and a good assassin should always show self control (or so this fictional assassin connoisseur believes).Grave Mercy is a successful book, in my opinion. While this is slated as a young adult novel, it doesn't feel as though it's trying to talk down or dumb down the story. If anything, it aims for a clean feel, meaning no graphic sexuality or depictions of violence. But this book doesn't need that. The storytelling gives the reader what they would want for a story of this type. The author writes about themes that affect women, especially women in the past. How their lives and choices are restricted due to their sex, and how that impacts nearly every decision they make, even if they are allowed to have that much control over their lives. Ismae is a heroine that a reader can cheer for. A lethal assassin with a supernatural ability who realizes the world is a lot bigger, less cut and dried place than she first assumed. And that love is definitely a possibility for the daughter of death, but her life and her choices are ultimately her own.
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