Saturday, March 24, 2012
Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers
- His Fair Assassin #1
Release Date: April 3rd 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Historical Fiction (YA)
Rating: 5 stars
Links: Goodreads, Amazon
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?
Having heard only good things about Grave Mercy, I had high expectations for this book. I can say right now that Robin LaFevers delivered me a fantastic story, way better than I had imagined. Sure, assassin nuns and a medieval setting sounds pretty interesting, but only in theory. When reading a book like this, it's hard for me to really commit myself to the characters. However, I found it was impossible to let go of the book for more than a few hours.
Ismae was part of the reason the story sucked me in. She was abused by her father her whole life, and harassed by the rest of the village she lived into, until her marriage. From that point on, her life went straight to hell. Her husband, after finding the God of Death's blessing on her, almost led Ismae to her grave. It was only with the help of the convent that she managed to have some peace, and the resemblance of a... normal life.
Trained to be the handmaiden to Mortain, Ismae learned to kill a man faster than one can blink, and when the intrigues of the Court threatens to overtake her country, Ismae is forced to pass as Gavriel Duval's mistress. Life among the nobles is not as simple as it may sounds, especially when she starts to fall for Gavriel. Their relationship was one of the most adorable things in Grave Mercy. It develops so slowly it's impossible not to yearn for more. Even then, Robin LaFevers made it believable and natural. Gavriel's personality fit in with Ismae's just right. His noble attitude walked alongside her duties and beliefs, and I appreciated that. Though they weren't fond of each other when they first met, there was always mutual respect in every conversation.
Apart from the romance, Ismae herself was charming. Her devotion to Mortain was certain and as solid as ever, not even once doubting of His strenght. Her faith on the Convent, however, was a little too blinding. It's okay to believe fully in a God who saved your life before you were even born, and blesses you constantly with his Marques, but a Convent run by nuns who gives you no explanation of their abilities? Well, Ismae believed too much in them.
Robin LaFever's writing was a treat to me. This, to be honest, is my favorite aspect of historical books. I love this type of writing, and setting. Observing the changes that English has gone through is fascinating to me, and even when the pace had slowed down, my attention never wavered from the pages. The flaws were minor, and they didn't bother me at all as I as reading. Overall, an enchanting medieval story. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.