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? -(summary from Goodreads.com)
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
My Thoughts: First things first, you guys. I’m pretty sure that this was my first real historical fiction book. And it was amazing. I am certain it will not be my last. But the story! OH! Let’s just talk about it.
You need Grave Mercy on your wish list ASAP. Here’s why:
1. Ismae. We meet Ismae as she is sold to Guillo the Pig Farmer for 3 silver coins in an arranged marriage. Besides being kind of gross, Guillo is brutal and beats her badly. She’s rescued from this marriage and taken to a convent where the Abbess of St. Mortain (the Patron Saint of Death) is waiting for her. At the convent, she is schooled in weaponry, fighting, and all things related to killing people efficiently. After all, Ismae is Death’s daughter and her duty is to carry out his wishes…
Ismae started out being scared and shy. She grew up feeling unwanted and unloved. She was feared because of the scars on her skin. Escaping her marriage and village gave her a whole new chance at a meaningful life. Through her training at the convent, she gained courage and confidence and a set of skills which made her a fierce assassin and an awesome character. Her growth from the first page to the last was incredible.
Sidenote: Ismae excels in the study and use of poisons because she is immune to their effects. This comes in handy throughout the story more than once. This was very interesting to me as I have never read anything dealing with poisons before.
2. Duval. The Love Interest. Also brother to the Duchess. Ismae comes to court with him (begrudgingly) because there are some complex political things going on (too many to try and explain here, really). Her job is to help him investigate these things and also she is to keep an eye on him and find out where his loyalties are as he is being suspected of treason…but doggone it she can’t help but fall in love with him. And likewise, he falls in love with her. Duval’s priorities are to keep his sister and her throne safe, first and foremost. And Ismae never believes that he is committing treason – but are her feelings the truth or is it her heart trying to convince her of this?
I loved Duval. I loved him, I loved him, I loved him. The whole time, I loved that boy.
3. The Setting. Late 1400’s, Brittany. Admittedly, I know almost nothing about this area and this era. So when the book talked of dukes and duchesses and the high court, I could follow along okay but it did slow me down just a little bit. I DID, however, find it very interesting and I wonder why I’ve never read anything set in this time period and area before. Why, Asheley, Why? I loved the talk of the clothes of this era, the weaponry, the proper etiquette, and the way everyone lived together at court. The author researched everything well which meant that the book was set well. It was absolutely thrilling and the great setting only served to add to the rest of the story.
4. The Genre. Historical Fiction, of course. Romance, oh yes. YES. But there’s something else too…either paranormal or supernatural or fantasy – and it has to do with Ismae being the daughter of Death and everything that falls under that umbrella. It’s not a hugely paranormal-ish book, but it is there and it is really, really cool.
5. The Romance. Ismae and Duval. Slow-burn. They know they shouldn’t really love each other because they both have jobs to do, but sometimes you just can’t help falling in love, right? Do they act on it? Not really, no. There is a kiss or two and some stolen glances. But they WANT to act on it and there is definitely tension there and it is so lovely. Just lovely.
6. The Cover. Crossbow, castle, and a splash of red. I’m in love.
I don’t really know what else to do or say about Grave Mercy but gush mercilessly about it. It very well may be the perfect book – or at least one of the most perfect books in a long time. There are swords, daggers, and crossbows. There are women in corsets. And there is a slow-burn romance. Oh, and a castle.
Ismae is every bit the butt-kicking heroine that I want to read about, in the form of an assassin trained in a convent. The last time I remember getting this excited about female leading characters was when I read Kristin Cashore’s female leads from Graceling and Fire. I promise you guys, you’ll probably love this book. In fact, I think readers of all ages will love this one – YA readers up to adult readers. Just go ahead and throw it up on your TBR or wish-list. And then come back and let me know how much you loved it.
Grave Mercy will appeal to fans of:
Historical Fiction & Romance
Romance: Slow Burn, No Love Triangle
High Court Treason
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
will be published on April 3, 2012.
*I borrowed this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review.
Don’t you guys LOVE
female leading characters?
Or is it just me?