Grave Mercy (#1 of 3) by Robin LaFevers
Published Year: 2012
Genre: Historical Fantasy
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."
I freaking love this book. Robin LaFevers I’m keeping my eye on you. Swoon. This book has fantasy, action, love, intrigue, plot twists, and literally everything you could ever ask from a book. The kickass heroine Ismae is the daughter of Saint Mortain, who is the god of Death (capital D). Being the daughter of Death comes with certain abilities (other than being kickass, they train to be kickass at the convent and it’s amazing). Once they have been properly trained, the daughters/nuns are released into the world armed with all the training to do His bidding (RL was real serious about that capitalization). Part of the reason why I really like Ismae and this story, is the character development. The reader learns that Ismae has been abused for most of her life, and once she's removed from that situation, she doesn't victimize herself and dwell on her past but instead completely embraces her new life and new role. She struggles with real problems (okay, they have a fantastical edge! but it's still relatable) and moves through them with us in this story. And I just love this book so much. Ah.
Grave Mercy is the first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy and is historical fantasy. The novel is set in Brittany in the 1400s (I didn’t know this but Brittany is a region of France that wasn’t always part of France – RL conveniently put a map at the beginning for anchoring in your mind the different locations in the story. Have I mentioned I love maps?), and loosely follows true historical events with some added color. The characters felt so real. Ismae slowly opens up to the reader about her past and how that affects her views on men and the world. We get to watch her grow and lose some of her naiveté in the best possible ways. She struggles with questions regarding her Father and the training she’s received and how she's supposed to use that training. She just felt so real to me that I felt like I was struggling with her struggles.
I also really loved RL's writing style. She had really great imagery in the descriptions, some flair and humor in the dialogue, but when the action would happen, every single sentence was necessary. I didn’t have to wade through descriptions or read through it twice to make sure I didn’t miss important actions or observations. I felt like Goldilocks when she found the soup that was just the right temperature. RL you’re my temperature.
5 out of 5 stars.