Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)FeaturedHot
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?
I was immediately drawn to Ismae, she is the kind of female lead that makes you want to keep reading. She is strong, loyal, and independent enough to do what she knows is right. She is trained to kill, and she does but she also respects truth and honesty. She also learns to love. Duval is a mystery right from the beginning. When Ismae is sent to court with him, she cannot figure out if he is really who he says he is. Duval claims his loyalty to the duchess but information she has received from her convent may prove otherwise. Ismae's personal strength is shown as she goes on her own quest for the truth.
I loved that Robin LaFevers kept me guessing throughout the novel. Every time I thought I had figured out the traitor to the duchess, there was another twist. I'm glad I felt the story play out through Ismae's eyes, I never felt like I was waiting for the story to catch up with me.
I am excited to see how this series plays out. I cannot wait for the second book!
The book starts off with seventeen-year-old Ismae, fleeing from a brutal arranged marriage. She finds shelter with the nuns at the convent of St. Mortain. The nuns here serve the old god of Death. Ismae finds she has been chosen to be one of the nuns and be trained as an assassin. She is sent on mission to the high court of Brittany, where she poses as the mistress of the mysterious Gavriel Duval.
There is so much to love in this story. Ismae is an assassin and does kill. The author could have made Ismae hard core without any feelings. Instead we watch as Ismae questions and also struggles with her feelings toward Duval. She's used to being ridiculed and scorned by her childhood villagers so to have any tenderness shown to her is confusing. Add to this the deadly court games of love and intrigue.
I love the court intrigues and the whole balance of power between nobility. The best part though has to be seeing a powerful woman who is able to make choices. Ismae is similar to one of Tamora Pierce's strong women protagonists. Let's just say Ismae is like a Medieval La Femme Nikita set in a world of nobility and intrigue.
Great pacing filled with lush descriptions and action will keep you glued to the pages. Reading GRAVE MERCY was like visiting an old friend. LaFevers is a master storyteller who weaves an awesome tale that you want to be trapped in. I devoured this story and wanted more. The mystery, suspense, and yes, even romance made me sad when I finished reading. The only bad thing is that I have to wait till Spring 2013 for the second book in this amazing series.
If you love YA historicals with strong protagonist, this is the book.
2. Lush images, details
3. Assassin nuns in Medieval Europe during 1488
4. Something for everyone: mystery, court intrigue, assassin nuns, and romance
5. I totally fell in love with this story
6. Strong female protagonist
Out of all books I love, Grave Mercy is one book of the top of the top. I'm going to add it in to my Recommended List. (That is how much I liked it) Grave Mercy is one of those books readers can't help but read it over and over again. It is so addicting.
Grave Mercy stars Ismae, a girl who is a handmaiden to Death, her father. Her mission is to find the traitor in the court of Anne, Duchess of Brittany. In order to be near the court, she poses as the mistress of Duval, half-brother of Anne, Duchess of Brittany.
The plot was wonderful! Full of surprises and endless delight, the plot was eye candy for me. I gobbled the entire plot up. After reading it once, I read it again. Every time, the plot never failed to shock and surprise me.
The writing. Strong point of Grave Mercy.
The dialects were amazing. Each word brought more of the past alive. It's an interesting characteristic of a historical fiction series.
The ending! Ah! What a wonderful ending. I'm so pleased with the ending. It's so fitting yet also sad. I love how Ismae moved on and just stopped thinking about the convent's ways. Instead, she moved onto a much different path. The road less traveled by.
Ismae: She's brave. She is Death's handmaiden. She is an assassin. She is sometimes afraid yet in other times brave. She is intelligent. She has her own scars and is afraid of showing them, because scars are weaknesses, right? (That is what she thinks) Ismae is killer. Sarah Conner bad. Angelina Jolie as Salt bad. She is, after all, helping Death do his duty to all mortals, especially the traitors of Brittany.
Duval: Gorgeous. And awesome character. Unfortunately, he is an old man inside. He is wise and good at chess. Strategy is his game and life. One wrong step made by Duval, he would be dead before he could fix his mistake. He is also good at politics. With his skill and cleverness, Duval helps his sister Anne of Brittany survived through the political world, full of blood thirsty barons and power hungry lords.
The villain: Clever man. Clever man. Sneaky. Cunning. Ingenious. Invisible. All marks of a great villain.
Rating: Five out of Five
I mean, I will, but I really can't say much more as I read this book in...um...May. You can probably tell it's not even close to May anymore.
I LOVED Ismae. Clever and tough and intelligent. She's dropped into court life after living in a convent, of course good things will happen...for readers anyway. Not so much for Ismae. But she didn't let the royalty get in the way of her mission. The games of court did get to her at times, but she didn't become an air head, so props to her.
The action is fantastic and easy to find. I mean...she IS an assassin after all. And R.L. LaFevers really knows how to write a story. Grave Mercy is a huge book, but I was never bored. I didn't speed through it, but I savored and enjoyed the tension and the action and, obviously, the romance. I was utterly swept away by this monster of a book.
Romance, action, death, royalty, assassin nuns...really what more do you want from a book? Seriously, go pick it up and then you can anxiously wait for Dark Triumph with me except you only have to wait like 3 or 4 more months, so really. Go. Now.
Ismae lives in 15th century Brittany, which nowadays is part of north-western France (yes, I researched into the history of this book), and she is a daughter of Death. Like, Death as in the old god Mortain. Abused by her father and now her new husband, Ismae is whisked away by some mysterious people to join the convent dedicated to Mortain. There she learns everything to know about the assassin arts. On her third assignment, she is told to go to the court of the duchess (who is only about 13/14 years old!!), pose as a mistress to the mysterious Gavriel Duval, and, well, assassinate anyone who needs assassinating. But on the way, she uncovers a plot more mysterious and confusing than she ever imagined.
I find it hilarious to consider the difference between my teachings and Ismae. Consider this: I was taught to: have good table manners, say please and thank you, sit up straight, and so on. Ismae, on the other hand was taught: The hundreds of different ways to kill a man, which poisons make a man wish he were dead, which ones make him dead, and so on. Man, I wish I had learnt that instead of algebra.
I loved Ismae. I mean, it's hard to go wrong with someone who is an assassin, but I absolutely loved loved loved her. She was a brilliant protagonist. Most of the women in those days were very dependent on the males/on other people, but Ismae wasn't like that, thankfully. She's been burned too badly to become dependent on anyone. She took it upon herself to discover things, and was very considerate of other people and smart, and she thought about her actions and wondered whether they were the right actions, instead of blindly following them. I reckon that while pretending to be Duval's mistress, she should have snooped around a bit more and done some more awesome secret assassin stuff.
I LOVED the gadgets and stuff. Hell, WONDER WOMAN would be jealous of Ismae. Here are some examples. She has a bracelet that can turn into wire so she can GARROTTE a man. She has a headband that is full of poisonous pearls. And a knife and mini crossbow thing that fits into her corset!!!
I also love the assassin nuns. Yep, that's right ASSASSIN NUNS. Now just think about that phrase, savour it, because you probably won't encounter it again in your life.
I loved everything about this book, the different poisons, the weapons, the characters, the setting... everything. Everyone should read this, because it is just amazing.
One sentence that sticks with me: "Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?"
- I love how she was immune to poison and could sense stuff about who to kill
- Loved ALL of the assassin stuff
- Brilliant protagonist
- See point 3
I loved Ismae, she was a brilliant protagonist. I loved how she wasn't dependent, like most women were in those days. She took things upon herself, and she turned about about to be very considerate and smart in the end, as she thought about her actions or assignments, unlike the reverend mother. She didn't do things without thought as the book started to finish, and that solved the complication perfectly. But I reckon while pretending to be Duval's mistress, Ismae should of done a bit more snooping and spying. She didn't really try THAT hard to find out information. She could of disguised herself and break into people's rooms to find out more. It would of made her a stronger character than she already is, and bring a bit more excitement.
I loved this entire book, as everyone else should. I loved the poisons, the weapons, the characters (especially Duval, he was pretty cool) and the twist in the end. This book is just unbelievable, and remember "Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?"
-I loved Ismae, she was fantastic protagonist. I loved how she wasn't dependent, like most women were in those days.
-I loved how Ismae was immune to poison
Grave Mercy is completely original, following Ismae, daughter of Death as she completes her work as an assassin. However, when she meets the charming and mysterious Gavriel Duval (what a gorgeous name!), she begins to question what she has been told about Death and his vengeance.
There is so much action, that I found myself resisting the need to put it down and go to sleep! I loved that it wasn't predictable--there were twists and turns at the perfect places, and I never felt bored. How could I with a romance like Ismae and Duval's? Duval is sexy, overprotective, mysterious, and somewhat broken--I love that in a young adult guy! He's the guy that you would want to dream about!
This is a refreshing and enticing read! You won't want to miss it!
It just sounded so ironic that I just had to read it!
I have no idea what exactly was going through my mind but for some reason when I heard "Assassin Nuns" I imagined a bunch of nuns with shades on carrying a gun and possibly also a briefcase.
JUST SO WE'RE CLEAR!
This book takes place in the 1400's so...
So what exactly is this book about?
Our main character, Ismae, has just been put into an arranged marriage that has an unmentionable outcome but is rescued and taken into the convent of St. Mortain (The god of death). She is trained at how to kill a man in a variety of different ways so that she can carry out the work of Mortain and kill those that are "marked" by him.
Shortly after finishing her training, Ismae is sent to the center of Brittany after rumor of betrayals to the duchess.
Her job? Get rid of the betrayer.
This book was actually very interesting!
Although it did start out slow and get a little bit confusing/annoying every now and then. IT WAS AMAZING!
My suggestion? Try reading it!
A word of CAUTION: This book is a BRICK! It's over 500 pages long! But please do not let that scare you!
Who would've thought of assassin nuns? Really? The two main characters in this story were amazing! Ismae , the kick-ass heroine that doesn't depend on others, can easily kill, and determined to achieve her assignment. Yet, when Gavriel touches her she feels warmth and loses her thoughts. Ahh, Gavriel! So loyal, protective, and swoon worthy! Who can forget someone like that? In the story, he goes out of his ways to protect and save his sister. His loyalty to his sister never falters. And that is what made me fall in love with him, that and the way he is with Ismae. =)
I love how the relationship between Ismae and Gavriel slowly developed throughout the book. It wasn't love at first sight, and that's what I really love about it. It made their relationship that much more real and believable. They obviously didn't like each other at first but had to work with one another to reach the main goal, and that was to protect Duchess Anne, Gavriel's younger sister. Every little scene they had with each other in this book was just so...sweet and cute.
The secondary characters were also awesome. Duchess Anne, so young, yet so mature for her age. The struggles she has to go through at such a young age makes me feel so sorry for her that her father would dangle her like fish bait.. Beast and De Lornay, I would assume, best friends of Gavriel. They both brought a bit of humor into the story.
Grave Mercy has so many twists and turns that I had to keep guessing who the real traitor was. I love how the book has action, romance, history, politics, and suspense. The book is so amazing and beautifully written. This world that Robin created has sucked me in and made me fall in love with the characters. After I finished reading the book, I realized I'd have to wait until Spring 2013 for Dark Triumph, the second book in His Fair Assassin Series. And it's so long from now!!! AHHHH!
Over all, I give this book a FIVE STAR and would definitely recommend this series to friends and family. Thank you so much Robin for writing such a wonderful book and creating a world and characters that people will definitely fall in love with. =)
I had no idea what to expect from Grave Mercy, as I'm not usually a big fan of historical fiction. But the constant shroud of mystery, the political backstabbing and constant plotting, light fantasy elements and a forbidden romance completely captivated me from start to finish!
The plot starts off deliciously slow as we begin to learn about the world Ismae lives in and the convent she has just sworn fealty to. Led by a group of strongly independent women, Saint Mortain's teaches Ismae everything she needs to know to be one of Death's handmaidens: stealth and knife combat so as to kill any man showing Death's marque; feminine artistry to lure her victims into a false sense of security; and the chemistry of poison making, so as to be able to kill a man with merely an aroma or a touch. Having always been strong-willed, the inclusion of these skills has made Ismae into a fiercely independent young woman. Her blood-lust is contagious, and experiencing her first kill was exhilarating. She is loyal to a fault, blinding following the nuns' teachings, until she meets Duval.
Being the first man Ismae has spent any length of time with since joining the convent, Ismae finds herself constantly on edge around Duval. He brings her to court, where she must learn the ways of the royals and how to best interact with the nobles in order to learn their secrets and hopefully find the traitor amongst the Duchess' party. As they spend more time together, Ismae begins to see a side to men that is completely foreign to her, having only ever experienced abuse by their hands, and is shocked when she realizes that while she still distrusts Duval, she also has feelings for him.
"I am well aware it could all be an act. An act designed to earn my trust. And just like some poor, dumb rabbit, I have stumbled into his snare."
Duval begins to question the convent, and their sources of information, as to why a man must be killed in order for her to have served her god. He plants tiny seeds of doubt in everything the nuns have taught her, and she begins to question their methods herself.
"I pray to Mortain for the insight and clarity to see my way through the thicket of loyalties and alliances that surround me. I pray for the wisdom to discern His will in this matter. And most of all, I pray that I am not falling in love with Duval."
Their romance is developed throughout the entire book, but it didn't overshadow the main plot. And while Ismae does fret about her growing feelings and what the convent will think of her, she also doesn't let her feelings get in the way of her purpose at being at court.
I loved all of the drama and intrigue at court, and watching the various political manoeuvres in the hopes of finding the duchess a suitor that would both benefit her country and give her a chance for happiness in her marriage. Whenever the book turned its attentions back to which suitor she should choose, I grew a little more sympathetic for the duchesses situation as the suitor with the most troops (and thus the best choice to help defend Brittany from the invading armies of the French) was definitely not someone I would ever want to marry.
"She sits, rigid and tense, looking pointedly away from him, her face pale. She looks like a young child trying to pretend a monster from a hearth tale has not just sprung to life beside her."
Like all of the somewhat minor characters, he was written extremely well; I'm cringing just thinking about him. LaFevers did a wonderful job of adding enough personality to each character to make them all interesting in their own way, and combined they truly added a lot of enjoyment to my reading experience.
From start to finish I was completely captivated by Grave Mercy. I was excited for Ismae to begin taking on assassination missions and I was hungry to solve the mysteries at court. A little forbidden romance, some unique abilities added in a fantasy element that I liked, and a great cast of characters makes me eager for the sequel!