Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1), Robin LaFevers

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Yes, I think. Yes. This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance

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. 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. 

* * * *
4 / 5

Grave Mercy had murder, mystery, politics, and an interesting historical setting. Against the background of the tumultuous situation of the independent duchy of Brittany, seventeen year-old girl Ismae is saved from an arranged marriage and taken to the convent of the old death god, St. Mortain, to train to become an assassin.

“I fear the age of kingdoms and duchies is coming to an end. France is eating its way through Europe like a beggar at a banquet”

The synopsis of Grave Mercy reminded me of that of Red Sister, mostly because they both have the premise of assassin nuns. Which is dope. The convent of St. Mortain takes in the daughters of death himself and trains them to be killers and to serve His will. At the moment, death’s will is that Ismae infiltrate the court of the young Duchess-to-be Anne and to protect her crown. I’m not at all familiar with history of Anne of Brittany, but I understand that the broad brushstrokes of the plot are true to history. And it’s an interesting and compelling time period.

Ismae herself is an interesting character. She’s physically scarred from her mother’s botched abortion, mentally scarred from her abusive father’s attempts to marry her off, but she finds some measure of peace and friends at the convent. Yeah, I wish there had been a bit more actual assassinating and plotting of assassinations going on, rather just Ismae listening at doors, but there was something very compelling about Grave Mercy. The writing style was smooth, the plot flowed, and the machinations of court were intriguing.

You came to us a lump of clay and we molded you into an instrument of Death”

My only complaint? The romance slowly grows to dominate the story. Is it too much to ask to have a story about a young woman that kills people for a living to not have a romance? Or to at least not to fall in love with a person that she is ordered to kill. It’s uninspired and unoriginal and really quite boring. That aside, Grave Mercy sucked me in and I’m looking forward to reading the subsequent books.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Grave Mercy

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