Author: Robin LaFevers
Date of Publication: April 3, 2012
Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book
Synopsis: After escaping from her cruel father and her brutal arranged marriage Ismae Rienne finds peace at the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters there serve the god of death. There Ismae learns all the ways to kill a man, from poisons to knives she throws herself whole heartedly into serving the convent and bringing death to those who betray her country. After earning the trust of the sisters she is given her most important assignment yet, she must go to court posing as the mysterious Gavriel Duval's mistress to gather information. Once in court Ismae finds herself becoming attached to the duchess, as well as Duval, and begins questioning the principles she lives by.
Initially I was a bit dubious about starting this novel; at well over 500 pages I was sure the novel would drag on at an unbearably slow pace. Contrary to my prediction Grave Mercy turned out to be a wonderful novel. Full of action, adventure, political intrigue, and a dash of romance I was soon wrapped up in the plot, unable to put this book down.
I was happy to find that very little of the beginning of the novel is spent on back story and Ismae's training as an assassin. Within the first 100 pages Ismae has already killed two men and is on her way to court with Duval. The novel moves along very quickly, the short chapters break the story up into small chunks rather than long dragging chapters. While the plot was strong there were a few of Ismae's abilities that puzzled me, seemingly appearing out of nowhere I couldn't figure out if every sister in the convent shared these abilities or if it was just Ismae.
Ismae is a strong and intelligent main character, as the story moves a long she stops relying on the convent to tell her what to do and starts doing what she thinks is right, even if it means disobeying the convent. The romance between Ismae and Duval was a bit more subtle but the time period (the late 1400's) made it work. I really enjoyed the secondary characters, d'Albret was a perfectly disgusting villain and Anne was a strong and noble duchess.
Grave Mercy is a fantastic novel; it has something for both fans of historical fiction and fans of fantasy. Despite its length Grave Mercy is a wonderful novel full of action and adventure. I would undoubtedly recommend Grave Mercy to older fans of fantasy and historical novels.