Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy
Publication: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)

Description: 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 Thoughts: GRAVE MERCY was a well-written fantasy novel that sees a young girl grow from abused peasant woman to educated and accomplished assassin. After being sold by her father to a brutal man, Ismae is rescued and sent to the convent of St. Mortain where she is enrolled as a student whose task is to learn all the ways she can serve her saint who is one of the ancient gods—the god of Death. She learns about weapons and poisons. She learns about society and seduction (though she usually ducked out to spend more time with the sister making potions during the seduction part).

When she is seventeen she is chosen to perform a mission that takes her to the court of Anne of Brittany and involves her in complex plots that she wasn't trained for. She is set to spy on Gavriel Duval who is the bastard son of the previous Duke and the older half-brother and protector of the 12-year-old Duchess. Anne is struggling to keep her country from being taken over by France. She has to deal with all sorts of marriage plans including one which would see her married to one of her barons who is a crude, brutal man old enough to be her grandfather and who has already buried six previous wives. 

Duval is trying to find a better solution for her that will let her protect her country and find a marriage that won't be so distasteful. Ismae doesn't know what to believe. The Reverend Mother of the convent is telling her one thing but her eyes and her heart are telling her something else. 

Ismae needs to decide for herself and has to figure out her own relationship with St. Mortain. She has to grow up, make decisions, and make choices she can live with. Watching her figure this out and fall in love with Duval made the story very engaging. 

This one sat on my TBR stack for nine months because I was intimidated by the size of the book. However, even at over 500 pages, this was a quick and fascinating book to read. Fans of high fantasy will enjoy this. So will readers who want to see their main character change and grow in a realistic way. 

Favorite Quote:
Reverend Mother leans back in her chair and tsks. "You exaggerate, milord. Ismae has been well trained in all things, including how to act as a man's mistress."

Clearly now will not be a good time to confess to playing truant during most of Sister Beatriz's lessons.
I bought this one when it was released and let it age on my TBR mountain. You can buy your copy here.


  1. I didn't realize how big the book is. Its on my Nook. I love the way it sounds and by the review you gave, the pages go quickly.

  2. Hi there, there is a collection of book links happening right now at Carole's Chatter. This time we are collecting links to posts about your favourite historical fiction. Here is the link Your Favourite Historical Fiction Please do pop by and link in – maybe this one? Have a lovely day.


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