Hey guys, hope you’re having a great day! This is my review to Robin LaFevers’s debut novel, Grave Mercy, which was her first book in her His Fair Assassin Trilogy.
This book is about a young girl named Ismae, who is believed to be the Daughter of St. Mortain (Saint of Death). When she is forced to marry a man quite older than herself, she is taken to a convent, where she is trained to be a handmaiden of death. These handmaidens carry out the will of Mortain and kill those who have betrayed their country. Ismae has dangerous gifts that benefit her to kill. Her major one is that she is immune to all kinds of poisons—and none can affect or kill her. For her final assignment, before she is able to say her vows to serve Mortain, she has to enter the high court of Brittany as the mistress to Gavriel Duval whose loyalty to Brittany is suspected by the convent.
I have to admit, the first quarter of Grave Mercy was quite enjoyable. Mostly, because it was quite interesting to read about Ismae’s skills and how she uses them in her assignments. The way Ismae carries out her duties is admirable, and her loyalty is unquestionable—to the convent.
But the around the second quarter, I wasn’t sure how much I was enjoying Grave Mercy. I mean, she leaves with Gavriel Duval and gets her stuff. Then after, nothing much happens. You’re kind of just sitting there and waiting, but really nothing much happens. I mean, that is until the plot starts getting into the political stuff.
But the last half (two quarters—I don’t know why I have to write this . . .) was extremely enjoyable! That was the time I had gotten into the political meaning of the book, and some of the plot twists were finally getting to play! The ending was very enjoyable and Grave Mercy seemed to be a stand-alone novel to me, until I turned the page and found out that there was a second book: Dark Triumph. Of course I’m going to get it!
I would warn people that it is going to be more on the political side, it does include the whole assassination aspects too, but it will be more political. It did take me a while to get used to, but I eventually got there.
I loved Duval! He was a great hero: he wasn’t the “most handsome person Ismae had ever seen” and he wasn’t stereotyped in any way. He was simply extremely loyal to his sister, the duchess. NO INSTA-LOVE. NO INSTA-LOVE. Like, sure they had tensions, but the actual romance started up in the middle of the book. Especially the tiny moments between him and Ismae at night when they would pretend that she was his mistress!
“What is my fair assassin so afraid of? I wonder.”
“I’m not afraid.”
Duval tilts his head to the side. “No?” He studies me a long moment, then rises out of his chair. I hold my breath as he crosses to my bed. “Are you afraid I will draw closer, perhaps?”
Duval is my favorite!
I also loved Ismae, I definitely think she found her way along the story when she continued going on her own journey and figured out Mortain’s true will, and that he truly wants mercy than vengeance. While they’re taught at the convent that they should have no mercy. I loved how Ismae figured out how to truly serve Mortain, and this story is truly enjoyable all on its own.
I would’ve given this book five stars from the beginning, after the second quarter, I was thinking four and a half, and then by the middle of the second half, I was thinking four stars. But now, I’m thinking four and a half stars again, adding the extra half because I personally enjoyed this book a whole lot, despite its small and intricate flaws.
I would recommend this book to people who like to read about medieval times. This was the first for me, and I think this may lead a bit into fantasy from the fictional setting about the magical powers these handmaidens have. But this book is more political than constant assassinations, but it still has that since the main character is, after all, an assassin. It was pretty fun to read about the types of ways to kill people, and the poisons. So keep in mind: politics over constant killing. :) This book is highly recommended, some may like this more than others . . . so please, please, please give this book a try! It is definitely ambitious, mixing politics with religion and service towards the Saints. Definitely a refreshing read!
Thanks for reading my review, and I hope you all have a great day!