Title: Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: 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 really didn’t know what to expect from this book because it’s gotten such mixed reviews. Some people have raved about it, yet I’ve seen others who disliked it so much that they didn’t even finish it. I knew that it could go either way for me.
Fortunately, I loved it!
I mean, c’mon – a convent full of assassin nuns!
It was, I admit, somewhat predictable in parts. But then, it’s rare to find any book with a romance involved in it that isn’t. And Duval is my very favorite sort of man in a book. He has notes of Jericho Barrons in him, without being quite the bastard that Barrons could be.
The mythology presented in this book was fascinating to me. Ismae (isn’t that a beautiful name?) is a handmaiden of Death – her father was one of the old gods now worshipped as a saint within the church. That means that she has supernatural gifts including immunity to poisons, being able to see the “marque of death” that Mortain has placed on someone who must die, and the ability to converse with souls after death. Because of this, she has been trained as an assassin.
These are all things that made this book stand out to me. It is not simply another supernatural/paranormal book. The world building and plot development are all refreshingly original. There is murder, espionage, treachery, war… so many action items happen within the book.
Also – there’s no love triangle, which is always a plus.
Sometimes the political scenes were a bit tedious, but they were absolutely necessary to further both plot and character development.
I’m really looking forward to book 2 – which should, based on the excerpt at the end of this galley, be about Sybella (another of Mortain’s daughters trained to be an assassin). Which means the final book will hopefully be about Annith – the poor novice who has yet to leave the convent for an assignment.