5 Star Review – Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

December 4, 2014 All-Time Favorites, Reviews 26 ★★★★★

5 Star Review – Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Also in this series: Dark Triumph
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2012
Genres: Europe, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 549
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: Mature YA (Characters have sex, but it's not described; Some violence - she's an assassin after all!)
My rating:
5 Stars

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?

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My Take

When I got this book from NetGalley, I didn’t know too much about it except for a vague idea that it was fantasy and the absolute knowledge that everyone seems to love it. I was fairly certain I would enjoy it too, since I tend to enjoy fantasy and the synopsis intrigued me. I had no idea that it was really historical fiction (I loved the author’s note at the end that told about what was and wasn’t true) or that it took place in the 1400’s or even that it was a romance. And I had no idea how much I would love it. When I went to go write this review and saw that the book was 549 pages, I thought, Really? That seems impossible to believe. It felt like half that because it didn’t drag. Ever.

What I LOVED:

  • Political intrigue. I put this first because this is actually something that I usually don’t love about these types of books. And yet, LaFevers somehow managed to completely engage me in the young Duchess of Brittany’s political plight. Ismae is sent to Brittany to weed out the duchess’s enemies – the problem is that there are so many. It is difficult for Ismae to determine who is trying to help the duchess and who is trying to secretly undermine her. She doesn’t know who she can trust – even the man she eventually grows to love is a suspect. I was definitely invested in the duchess’s story – and I was eager to see how it would all play out. For me, this proves that a book is well-written. If you can convince me to be interested in political intrigue, you are a fantastic author!
  • The fantasy elements. This book was mostly historical fiction, but I loved that the fantasy was built off of some of the religious beliefs of the time (with some finessing by LaFevers). Ismae was supposedly sired by Mortain, the God of Death. Because of this, she has certain abilities – she is immune to poisons and can see someone who is marked for death. After being trained as an assassin, she is sent off into the world to use her abilities and her skills in service of her country. The mythology of the old gods was a really interesting backdrop for the story, and I loved seeing Ismae as she began to understand her abilities and her god.
  • The romance. The romance in this story was hinted at relatively early on, but developed slowly – a perfect blend. I absolutely loved Ismae and Duval together. At first, they are both logically wary of trusting each other. Duval knows that Ismae is unwavering in her devotion to Mortain and her duty, and she won’t hesitate to kill anyone if she’s instructed to do so. Ismae knows that there are many people around the duchess who wish her harm, and that she can’t trust anyone, even those who seem devoted to her. Still, the longer these two work together, the more they are drawn to each other and the stronger the bond between them grows. I loved seeing that bond develop and grow.

The negatives:

  • Figured out the villain early on. I did pretty much figure out who the ultimate villain was going to be early on in the book, but I still really enjoyed the characters’ journey to discover it – plus, I was never sure (but there were enough clues that I wasn’t surprised when it was finally revealed).

So, now I’m hooked and I’ll definitely be continuing this series. I ended up getting the third book from BEA (I actually thought I hadn’t picked it up – but I did!) so I’ll let you know how the rest of the series goes for me. I give this one 5/5 stars.

This series made it onto my All-Time Favorites List

All -Time Favorite

***Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About the Author

Robin LaFeversRobin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.

Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.

While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.

In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series.

Author Links:
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26 Responses to “5 Star Review – Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers”

  1. Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    I really loved Grave Mercy as well! Especially the political intrigue and scheming. I really enjoyed Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart too. I think if I were to rank them, I’d say that I enjoyed Grave Mercy the most, then Mortal Heart and then Dark Triumph. The second and third novel have less/slim to none of the political aspect.

    I thought the romance in this book was very well done. I enjoyed reading about both of the characters! I liked that they are both strong and independent people.

    I hope you enjoy the sequels too!

    • Nicole

      Aw, too bad that the political intrigue is gone from the next books (can’t believe I’m saying that!) – Guess she used up the true-to-life plotline in the first book. 🙂

  2. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    I must read this book! I was supposed to have won it in a giveaway, so I did NOT buy it when it was on sale for $1.99. And I have not received said giveaway (and it was in September so I’m not exactly hopeful). Grr, now I wish I had bought it! Well, perhaps it’ll go on sale again someday, because it sounds SO good! The romance sounds perfect, and I like the political stuff usually, so that would work for me. Great review, I am grabbing this one ASAP!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted: Books I’m Never Going to Review: Part Two
    • Nicole

      Awww – you should check with the person you were supposed to have won the giveaway through – maybe they just lost your info or something!

    • Nicole

      Yes, historical fiction isn’t usually my thing, but if you throw some fantasy in, I’m usually happy (or, at least, I sometimes am – this was one of those cases!). I wasn’t sure what to expect with this series at all, and I’ve heard that the other two books are just as good, so I can’t wait to read them!

    • Nicole

      Yeah, it was funny because I was thinking I hadn’t picked up Mortal Heart since I hadn’t read the first two books – but there it was!

  3. Fran

    I just started reading this book too. I recently got approved for the third book in the trilogy and I realized I had yet to read the first two books in this series.
    I am really enjoying this story so far. I absolutely love it and I truly thought I would not. That is why I avoid it for so long.

    Fran recently posted: Can’t we all just get along?
    • Nicole

      They’re taking a long time to approve me for the second book, so I might just have to go pick it up from the library. I’m too impatient!

  4. Olivia

    I have seen quite a few reviews for this series, and I still can’t figure out if I want to try it or not! I thought this was more fantasy based as well, by the looks of it, but seeing as I enjoy historical fiction that does make it appealing. And I am curious to see how they handle the political themes to make it appeal to you this time round!

    Olivia recently posted: Fat Girl (Blog Tour & Giveaway!)

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