Review: Grave Mercy – Robin LaFevers

Posted 20 October, 2014 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 21 Comments

*I received a free copy of Grave Mercy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *

Review: Grave Mercy – Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 3 April 2012
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 549
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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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?

Intrigue, court politics, betrayals and Death’s handmaiden… Grave Mercy was an awesome read!

My Grave Mercy review:

There are so many awesome elements in Grave Mercy I almost don’t know where to start! There is a strong female main character, Ismae has certainly had a hard life, but she is a true fighter. She is also an honorable and loyal fighter who is willing to walk the walk for her God, Death himself. There are intricate court politics, a very young Duchess, a covent that trains young girls to become Death’s assassins and historical facts that seem very real. Not being at all a specialist on Brittany in the 15th century, I don’t know how accurate these historical facts are, but they certainly got me believing the whole story was true.

The world-building took up a lot of space, and I loved learning about the abbey, the nuns, the intrigue at court and also the chess-board moves the Duchess’ advisors needed to make in order to keep both her and Brittany safe. I instantly took to Ismae, from the way her childhood was described, to how she arrived at the abbey and to her dangerous and difficult mission. The relationships between the characters, and also the strength Ismae needed was very well done. She had to be strong both physically and mentally, because she soon realized she had to be able to think for herself and never follow orders blindly.

Grave Mercy appealed to me because of the bleak world inside the castle, the way Anne felt like there was nobody she could trust, and how Ismae and Duval came to an uneasy understanding. The descriptions of the various characters and the castle wove very detailed images in my mind, and at times I felt as if I was sneaking around next to Ismae. As the story moved on, several sub-plots were revealed, and I just cannot wait to start reading Dark Triumph.

 Some of my favorite Grave Mercy quotes:

Guillo wants me enough to pay three silver coins. Surely where there is want, there is room for kindness?

“So, it is our job to believe and to serve. If you choose to stay here and take the vows, you will be sworn to serve Mortain in any way He asks of you. In all things. In all ways. We carry out His will. Do you understand?”

While the nuns are strict taskmistresses, they are kind too, rarely raising their voices or shaming us. Mayhap they know that treating us well makes us want to please them all the more, or mayhap they suspect we have had too much shame in our lives already.

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Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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21 responses to “Review: Grave Mercy – Robin LaFevers

    • I thought it was amazing, Stormi! I’m so glad I happened upon this and the second book on Netgalley 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by.

  1. I’ve had this book on my maybe read list for a while. The world building seems great, but I tend to get nervous with books is this time period because I’m a religious / social historian of the 14th-16th centuries. But it does sound good, so I hope I could set questions of historical accuracy aside! Great review Lexxie 🙂

    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted: Dewey’s 24 Hour #ReadAThon 2014 Wrap Up!
    • The author seems to think her historical facts are accurate, even if this is still fiction. There was a very young Duchess in Brittany at that time, and it was difficult for her to make sure she would stay in power.
      Thanks for stopping by, Berls 🙂

    • I thought it was fantastic, Kiran! Now, I’m just waiting for the third book to be released so I can continue reading more about these amazing characters and their stories.
      Thanks for stopping by!

    • I don’t mind politics in RL, but in fiction, I love it! When it’s as well done as it is in Grave Mercy, it just makes the plot even thicker 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by, Carmel.

  2. Great review! I’m reading this right now and still trying to figure out if I like the world building. There are a lot of politics that are starting to shine through so I’m still not sure on what I think

    • That’s true. I enjoy historical fiction, and when real historical facts are part of the story, it makes everything that much more believable.
      Thanks for stopping by, Kate.

  3. Oh my goodness, Lexxie! Grave Mercy sounds amazing and I’m really sad I haven’t cracked it open yet. I got a print ARC of this at work a looonng time ago because I was so excited for HF in YA. Now I’m even more excited. I’m so glad you enjoyed this. *squee*

    **BIG HUGS**

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: **Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged ~ #38**
    • Oh my gosh, Brandee! You are going to LOVE Grave Mercy! Right now, I’m counting down the days until the third book will be released.
      Thanks for stopping by, my dear. *BIG HUGS*

  4. Eeeep! I was excited when I saw on GR you were reading this 🙂 I still need to read this one myself, granted, but I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things! It’s the kind of book I just know I’ll love so I was curious to see how you’d make out with it! Ismae sounds like the kind of heroine I could really love and the world-building and intrigue all sound amazing to me 😀 I’m happy you loved ALL THE THINGS about this one AND that everything felt so real. Fantastic review Lexxie ^^ I can’t wait to see how you’ll make out with Dark Triumph and hopefully we can compare notes on them all soon hehe. x

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted: Review: Words of Radiance
    • I loved Dark Triumph as well, Micheline! And now, I can’t wait for the third book in this series.
      I think you’ll enjoy everything just as much as I did. The intrigue was so well done, even Ismae had no idea whom to trust at times, and the young Duchess was really amazing.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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