Grave Mercy is the first book in a trilogy. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but soon found myself hooked. Set in 1480 Brittany, amidst Brittany's struggles to remain independent of France, the political intrigue and corruption are basically true and many of the characters and events are real. While I did not like the list of Dramatis Personae that prefaced the story, I did appreciate the author's historical information at the conclusion.
"Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?"
Rescued from a brutal father and an arranged marriage, fourteen-year-old Ismae is hurried in secret to a convent.
Not any old convent, however; this convent serves St. Mortain, the god of death. Ismae is given a test and a choice. Ismae passes the test and chooses to remain at the convent, where she will be trained as an assassin and taught multiple ways to kill. She will become one of the Handmaidens of Death.
After a three years of training, Ismae begins her role as an assassin. Her victims are traitors who have sided with France and betrayed Brittany. When Gavriel Duval arrives at the convent incensed that the convent has ordered the deaths of men he had hoped to interrogate, it seems that either a mistake was made or that Duval himself is a traitor. Ismae is assigned to travel with Duval, to determine his loyalties, and to protect the young Duchess of Brittany.
History, fantasy, myth, and a little romance. I found Grave Mercy entertaining and look forward to the next in the series. Goodreads reviews were certainly mixed!
NetGalley/Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt
Historical Fantasy. 2012. Print length: 565 pages. (didn't feel like it was that long at all)