Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Thursday, July 30, 2015

His Fair Assassin #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Purchase
Pages: 549

Summary (from the back of the book):

Escaping from the brutality of an arranged marriage, seventeen-year-old Ismae finds sanctuary at 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 be willing to take the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany, where she must pose as mistress to the darkly mysterious Gavriel Duval, who has fallen under a cloud of suspicion. Once there, she finds herself woefully underprepared—not only for the deadly games of love and intrigue, 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?

This book totally blew me away! It was so much better than I was expecting, not that I was expecting it to be anything but good! This book has everything! Betrayal, politics, romance, adventure, action! It will have you questioning everyone you meet as to what their motives are!

This story follows Ismae who is sold by her father at the age of fourteen to marry a disgusting pig farmer named Guillo. She is rescued and taken to the convent of St. Mortain where she chooses to serve Death and is taught all the skills an assassin may need. Three years later, she is ready to begin going on assignments. Her first big assignment is to pose as a mistress to Gavriel Duval who is the half brother to the duchess of Brittany. She is to keep an eye on him because the convent has reason to believe that he is up to no good. But among those closest to the duchess, Duval seems the least suspicious to Ismae. So they must try and figure out who the real traitor among them is. I really enjoyed the mysterious aspect of this book. Who is the traitor among them working for the French? It really kept me guessing and feeling unable to trust anyone and I loved it!

I really enjoyed the characters in this book! Ismae is very dedicated to doing the work of Mortain. She doesn't question what the convent is telling her, believing them to know all. She thinks very little of men because all of the men in her life have been horrible to her. So she is not at all trusting of Duval when she is first assigned to tag along with him. But everything she learns while out with Duval makes her question what the convent has taught her about carrying out Mortain's will. Maybe it's not all about vengeance. She wants to believe that Mortain is also merciful. Duval also teaches her that not all men are completely awful like her father and Guillo.

Duval is wonderful. He is kind, caring, smart, strategic, and just wonderful. He is dedicated to the duchess and to helping her get out of a totally gross arranged marriage and helping her come up with strategies to keep Brittany safe and free from France. He is just so very good. He's a bit of a grump as well.

I never in a million years would have guess that Anne, the duchess, was only twelve years old during most of this book! That seems FAR too young to be having to worry about the well being of an entire country and avoiding gross old men who want to marry you for your throne! But I guess that things were far more different back in the day. She is a VERY strong young lady!

The only character that I found to be truly unlikable was d'Albret or whatever his name was. Every other character, not matter how awful they were, I seemed to be able to find the tiniest sliver of good in them or in the motives behind their actions. But that man was just really and truly vile. He was only out to help himself at the expense of a little girl! What a CREEP! Also, Madame Dinan was pretty awful as well. You'd think she'd care a bit more for the well being of the girl she's been caring for for years. I guess not!

I really enjoyed the note from the author at the end of the book explaining how this was all based on true events! It seemed that very few things were pulled out of thin air and I really liked that! I don't think I've read a whole lot of historical fiction in my life, but of them, this would by far have to be my favorite! So interesting!

I liked how everything in this book wrapped up nicely so there’s no cliffhanger or anything, but I’m kinda disappointed that the other two books don’t follow Ismae and Duval! I want to know what other shenanigans they get up to! I feel like there’s so much more that could happen with them! This is the thing that makes me the most sad, but also I am excited to know what happens with the character who the next story is about! 

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction, assassins, and ‘courtly drama’, as I saw someone say. That is a good way to describe this!


  1. My favorite book of 2012, and definitely an overall favorite! It's the best of the series (in my opinion) - loooove Ismae and her fierce awesomeness. And Duval and his protective self. And the two of them together. And medieval history. Gah! Such an "Alyssa" book!

    Fabulous review, Cyra :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. This was an excellent book! I am so glad that I got into this twitter/blogging book world because I don't think I ever would have heard of this one if I hadn't! And it's SO GOOD! Love Ismae and Duval!


CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan