GENRE: YA, Historical-fantasy
SERIES: His Fair Assassin, #1
Hi guys! I have finally gotten around to finishing! Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. Oh man! I really loved this book! There were so many great things about it! If you are not aware, it takes place in an early Christian time period where paganism still is playing a role in society but for the most part it has been phased out. And we are to understand that these pagan gods really exist have powers over us and can grant abilities to their children. I went into this totally blind and thinking it was a historical-fiction and was a tiny bit confused when magical things started happening. But it is a fantasy, although it isn’t played up a whole lot. The magical element was very nicely woven in.
Our main girl is Ismae and we meet her when she is 14 years old on her wedding day and obviously this is an arranged marriage because it’s like the 15th century. Ismae is said to be the daughter of Death because she was born with a huge red scar that runs along her side and when her new husband discovers this he attempts to beat her to death. But she is taken by an old pagan priest to the convent of St. Mortain (God of Death), where the sisters still serve the gods of old. It is here that the sisters teat her to use the deadly gifts He has given her and to dedicate her life to His work. An assassin, a handmaiden of Death. Three years later, Ismae is lethal but her her next assignment is one she finds herself woefully unprepared for. It takes her into the heart of her countries politics as she poses as a mistress of the court. A deadly game of treason has started and Mortain’s own has been charged to deal out vengeance, but on who?
That is all for the non-spoilery section! Bye if you haven’t read the book!
The only reason this book didn’t get 5/5 was because I wanted more of it! And its already 550 pages. But it was so fast paced and well written I found. There were no chapters where I was feeling weren’t really necessary because they didn’t add anything or nothing happened. Almost every little thing that happened ended up holding some relevance because it told us about some character or helped with the world building or moved the plot. But the ended felt rushed. It needed another 30 pages or so and normally when that happens you can just be “well they should have cut out the stupid chapter in the middle and taken the time to write a well paced ending!” but there was no useless chapter in the middle! Just needed to be 580 pages. It wasn’t a bad ending by any means and it wasn’t like some endings that make no sense, but a little more would have been nice. I didn’t get how she just sucked out the poison from Duval. She kind of neutralized it but how? By sleeping with him? Or is it a proximity thing becasue he kinda got better when she was just beside him for the night? Little of column A, little of column B?
What was amazing about the mystery in this book was that I felt like I was on the same page as Ismae for the entire time. Some mystery novels – even though they are in first person – you figure out exactly what is going on miles ahead of the main character. Or their conclusions seem out of the blue. But in this book I started suspecting Chancellor Crunard pretty much at the same time Ismae did. And when she was suspicious of someone I knew where she was coming from based on what we were seeing, it was just really well done! Most books are pretty good for this but some are terrible, *cough* Bitterblue *cough* Stands of Bronze and Gold *cough* but this one was exceptional so it deserved acknowledgment. And Ismae
herself is just a kick-ass character! Beast too, I wish we had been able to see more of him. I loved the part when they were going on the fake picnic! Just so perfect! Duval’s and Ismae’s relationship in general was just wonderful. They had that push and pull element about them that is just so great!
The Duchess, Anne. It took me a long time t clue in that she was STILL 13. When they said it I assumed that her fathering had starting bidding her off at 13 and that had been a few years ago. That was a lot to wrap my mind around, becasue when I was 13, I was playing grounders and not at all thinking about love or marriage accept for maybe they occasional fantasy of the wedding I wanted with a faceless groom and the crush I had for one of my classmates or celebrity that was subject to change at the drop of a hat. My next door neighbor is a 13 year old girl an her name is Anna and she’s still a child in my mind so putting Anne in that setting in the book was weird sometimes. Especially with the old men hitting on her, it was down right creepy.
In the middle of this book I was just so worries that they weren’t going to wrap this mystery up in this book because it is a series. And I was getting frustrated with that becasue I wanted to know! It’s ok though! Mystery was solved and everything was wrapped up. My understanding of the next book Dark Triumph is that it is not a sequel but a companion novel and it is about Sybella, Ismae’s friend from the convent. I love this type of series! I don’t think enough authors write like this, but love it. You get to have an adventure, see it to the end and then go on a totally new one without having to make it seem like the main character has a ridiculous, unbelievably terrible life. In the words of my drama teacher: only so many bad things can happen to a character. After awhile so many crazy things just gets implausible. BUT with each book being about a different character in the same world you get to stay in this amazing world and see different sides of it.
Anyway, that is all I can think of for this review. Loved the book! Tell me your thoughts! Bye! Kisses!