[Review #43] Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin
Book one
Author: Robin LaFevers
Published: 3rd April, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Young Adult
[Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Whitcoulls NZ]


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?


What a story! I don’t even know where to begin.

I loved this plot. It was so interesting to read about a religion that believed in the Saint/God of death, yet those people weren’t murderers, they believed that they killed that men that were traitors to their country. They killed for the good. What an interesting aspect to look at.

I really liked this book. I loved the whole idea of it. It just fascinated me really.

But I did feel like that it was a little bit too much based on the romance in some points. For example once Ismae left the convent, she didn’t get to do much work that her God Mortain wished. I wanted more assassination! More fighting! More action!

I found Ismae to be interesting only in the way because of her background and how she was desperate to never be in that situation again. I really liked that she was strong and could defend herself. But then I had wanted her to be stronger and I guess more cruel in her decisions. She felt like such a good girl, only ever acting if her God Mortain willed it, only if she was ever instructed to do so by the convent. At first that was how I felt. That did change and I liked her more, I liked that she didn’t just follow instructions without questioning as well.

At first I really liked how strong and opinionated Gavriel seemed. How angry he got over the things that he believed in was somehow an attractive quality. His love for his sister was heart warming to see and just added to the mysterious Gavriel. For most of the book I thought he was going to be the strong character that never let anyone in simply because he had no room for them, all the space was taken up by the people he loved and cared about and his duty to them. But then it became obvious just how nice he was, how much he actually did care, his bad boy status dropped off quite sharply after that. I guess by ‘bad boy status’ I mean his strong interior suddenly felt more like desperation therefore rendering him a normal human being. I liked him more when he sounded untouchable. Is that horrible of me?

In the end I still really liked Gavriel,  my opinion just went from ‘oh-my-god-what-a-swoon-worthy-guy’ to admiration for his actions. He was a strong character and I liked that everything he did was for his sister and the situation.

I had really, really wanted to learn more about Beast and De Lornay! They were the mysterious, strong and interesting friends of Gavriel. I felt like they were in the story for a reason but that this story was not actually their story. I had wanted more interaction with them, more scenes with them in it, deeper personalities. I really wanted to know more about them, their backgrounds and their lives!

Beast reminded me of Barak (Also known as ‘Bear’) from David Eddings’ The Belgariad, and De Lornay reminded me of Lelldorin from the same series. So for some odd reason I really liked De Lornay, I really wanted Ismae and him to ‘click’, I wanted them to like each-other and be at least friends. I’m not sure what drew me to him, probably the way he treated Ismae when he first met her. So as the best friends of Gavriel I felt like they were hardly around or mentioned as often as I felt like they should have been. Well wanted them to be.

Anne was the duchess to be in Brittany. I thought this was shown quite well, I loved that she had such a personality! And Isabeau, her younger sister, I thought was cute. But I’m sure if we had been shown more of her or more about her than I would have been able to really like her and really feel for her and how sick she was.

Even though I really liked all the characters I do feel like the only two we really got to learn about and really see / connect with was Ismae and Gavriel. This isn’t bad in anyway, being able to connect with the main characters is a great thing. But I did kind of feel like all the other characters were outer shells to us, we didn’t get the chance to learn about or connect with anyone else. I had really wanted to. For example I felt like characters dropped off the face of the earth when they weren’t in the plot line, like Annith and Sybella, when Ismae left the convent these two characters suddenly felt like they weren’t a part of the story any more. Same with a certain character that I found was very entwined in the plot, when he left it felt like he didn’t matter any more. Ismae just forgot about him. Well not to that extent but it was in that general direction.

The world was beautifully created in my opinion. There wasn’t one moment where I was drawn out because something didn’t feel right or I couldn’t understand it. The world was constant and very believable. I loved the saint’s and religion aspect that wasn’t forced down your throat. It was a very interesting and well built world.

This book was very beautifully written. It was nice and easy to read and it was constant with the style it was written in. I loved that it was narrated the way everyone spoke, it would have weird otherwise.

The romance. At first I was very excited for the prospect of the romance, there was no insta-love, Gavriel and Ismae disliked each other a lot and there seemed to be some sort of chemistry between them. Then once they left the convent the romance felt too predictable. Gavriel became nicer and you could just see there was no way he was not going to fall for Ismae. Ismae was so naive and inexperienced on the subject that it felt like all she felt towards Gavriel was trust, simply because even she didn’t know what she was feeling. Then the chemistry between them disappeared somewhere along the way. So it was once exciting, but then by the end it was what I expected.

Overall I really, really liked this book! It was entertaining, fun to read and very fascinating. I couldn’t put it down, even when I knew I had to I found it so hard to stop reading.

The rating for this book is four and a half because there were quite a few small things that I think brought it down from being a full blown five. It was definitely worth the read and I recommend giving this book ago!

When I first read the summary I wasn’t too fond of it, but then there were many people saying it was really good. So I thought I would give it a go, I’m really glad I gave this one a chance because I loved it!

Miss J


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