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Apr 3, 2012

Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012

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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?
My $0.02
There’s something about the medieval time period that completely captivates me—the swords, the battles, the castles and palaces, the knights in shining armor, the princesses, the corrupt officials, the love affairs, the betrayals—all of it just makes for one crazy endeavor that you won’t be able to shake…for a good while!  When I ran across Grave Mercy, I knew immediately that I had to—without a doubt—get my fingers on a copy that instant!  Right away I knew that it was just my cup of tea; something that I would genuinely enjoy, something that would keep me coming back for more.  And Grave Mercy did not disappoint me at all, not one bit!  I am so crazy in love with this book; it is definitely going on my Favorites Shelf!
How do you make a Grave Mercy?  Just add five cups of betrayal, three teaspoons of blood and gore, and two sprinkles of sweet romance and voila!  Grave Mercy was such an epic and heroic read!  You have your fearless and dauntless heroine, the valiant and oh-so-very noble knight and a whole lot of mischief and plotting going on!
Grave Mercy wasn’t necessarily slow for me because something was always going on that my attention was glued to the pages of the book!  It was paced just right and everything was a gradual build until the end, which I appreciated greatly.  That gradual build might be slow for some but I felt like it made the story that much better because you get to see how everything eventually came together and why and how certain events occurred.  This steady flow of the book also played a huge part in Ismae and Gavriel’s relationship.  Because she is a handmaiden of Death, all she knows is how to kill and nothing else.  But the more time that she spends in Gavriel’s presence, the more he begins to grow on her and she finds herself questioning what the little flutters in her stomach mean, the tingles in her fingertips, and the slight blush on her cheeks.  I love that she was so uncertain of her feelings and that she ran through every possible explanation as to why she was feeling the way she was.
Also, her time at court and with Gavriel makes her begin to question the convent and their credibility.  She doesn’t know if what Gavriel tells her is the truth or if he’s just trying to lead her deeper into his deception yet, all the events going on at court doesn’t really match up with the convent’s orders either.  Either way, I was on the edge of my seat, constantly wondering who was behind everything and most importantly, why.  There is so much to the story: all kinds of acts of betrayal, the crazy world of court politics, and the uncertainty of it all made me squirm and squee all over!  Grave Mercy also contains a great cast of supporting characters.  At first, I couldn’t really get them straight because I suck at pronouncing names.  For example, whenever I ran across the name D’Albret, I would just murmur Dealbret and continue on with my reading, so that kind of hindered my understanding of the characters and who was who, but the deeper you get into the story, they all become very clear.  Some of my favorites besides Ismae and Gavriel, of course, are the Duchess, Beast, de Lornay, Isabeau and oddly, Madame Hivern and Louyse.  They grew on me.  A lot.  I didn’t expect some of them to make the list…but well, there they are.
I think Gavriel Duval most certainly gets his own paragraph!  There is so much to this guy.  When you’re first introduced to him, he seems very hard and guarded, which makes sense after you find out who he is.  But there are moments, little moments, where you see just a glimpse of him and his extremely genuine concern for those he loves.  He’s so like…I don’t know, just the perfect knight in shining armor—one that I would very much like to marry.  Right now.  He’s chivalrous, honorable, kindhearted and it might seem like he’s not because of all the secrecy happening at court, but he really is.  And ahem, how hott (yes, he definitely requires the double T) is the name Gavriel. Duval?!  It just sounds so…knightly!  Sigh, anyway I’m madly in love with this dude; I want him.  That is all.
I would absolutely recommend this book to fans of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and/or Game of Thrones!  It was truly an epic and adventurous read that I just couldn't get enough of!  It had everything I wanted and a whole lot more!  It was like LaFevers took a little bit from each of those listed above (some of my favorite movies) and created this masterpiece that I am for seriously crazy about!  Grave Mercy definitely has a little bit of everything:  suspense, mystery, blood and gore, history, horses, swords, and of course, the love story.  If you’re into that stuff, Grave Mercy would positively be the book for you!
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Links to purchase Grave Mercy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


  1. Awesome review!! I liked the book, but didn't love it as much as you did. I found myself getting wrapped up in the history and quite confused by it. (It's been a while since I had history classes lol) After I googled it, I was able to enjoy it more. I really loved the characters and everything else, I was just focused too much on the history aspect of it I think.

  2. Ah! Momo, the way you wrote this review... It makes me want to read Grave Mercy RIGHT NOW. Ismae sounds completely lovable and Gavriel Duval seems to be completely SWOON-WORTHY <333 I need to get this book ASAP. I haven't read much historical fiction, but this one sounds fabulouss (yes, it needs the double s). ;) LOVE your review, Momo! <3

  3. I must be the only fantasy fan who can't get into Erikson. I've tried to read "Gardens of the Moon" three times...

  4. I've had this sitting in my Kindle for the longest time now, but haven't gotten around to it. But if you say it's Arthurian/Robin Hood-esque, I guess I should really get to it! A fun fictional male to swoon over also doesn't hurt. :P Great review! Thanks :)

  5. Excellent review, I'm sure I read Grave Mercy in the near future.

  6. Unexpected plot twists, great character development and plenty of intrigue. It was a pleasure to read something that is both based on historical fact woven with great fictional depiction. If was a great blend that left you wanting now. Good thing there is a second book.


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