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Friday, October 10, 2014

Grave Mercy by Robin Lafever

Grave Mercy:  His Fair Assassin   

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)


  1. My eldest daughter read it when it first came out and recommended this and book 2 to me, but I only read about 2 chapters before I had to return the book and I never pursued it.

    You make it sound interesting though. I though perhaps it was one of the many YA PN books that have flooded the market, but I guess I was wrong. Thanks for a good review.

  2. Rita - The first couple of chapters didn't work for me either, and I didn't think I'd finish the book, but...then the mood changed. At that point, I started to get involved and ended up liking the characters.

  3. This sounds quite good, and I really like the setting. I've never read anything about Brittany.

  4. Hmm...This sounds interesting enough to me. I'm intrigued with the premise, and I quite like reading about assassins and traitors. I may want to check this out. Thanks for this review!

  5. I've gone back and forth about whether I want to read this one, but you do make it sound good. You've twisted my arm. I'll give it a try. :-)