Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2012
Genres: historical, romance, young adult
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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?
I’m glad to be taking part in my first Epic Recs! Thankfully, it was a book I’d already been recommended numerous times by many of my reader friends, so this only gave me more of a push to finally get around to it. But Lyn and I paired up-and she insisted I read it. I wasn’t too disappointed either.
Grave Mercy was mostly one of those first books for me that I know I’ll need to continue the series to get more enjoyment out of the series. It has a slow burn, but it’s certainly a good read because I did want to keep picking it back up despite my setting it down for the occasional breather. The length of the book, as well as the unusual concept, has a necessity to provide heavy detail into the world-building and character development. While I like this a lot, I also get easily impatient as a reader so I did find myself getting bored in areas. This made a struggle to read at times—becoming slow or sometimes even wanting to give up. I continued though because there was an unexplainable pull to the story that kept telling me to keep going. And sometimes something would happen and I’d have to know what was going to happen next. I’ve come across a few books like this before in the past, and found that I liked the next installments better because I already got past the extra detail. So it’s possible when I continue, I’ll find myself doing the same with this as well. Or so I’ve already been told. Haha.
I adored Duval and Ismae’s connection. The relationship was such a slow building one, I thought I wouldn’t see it in this book at first. It was glorious that there wasn’t some insta-love, and I’m excited for more between these characters. I look forward to getting to know the other characters later, too. Like Sybella, who I’ve already heard a lot about.
I always thought the concept sounded pretty simple—but after reading it, I think it’s much more complicated than just “assassin nuns” as I’d assumed the book was originally just about. Maybe that’s why I kept putting it off for so long. It sounded so silly. But really: There’s a lot of royal politics, drama, romance, religion building, and world building. I was quite fascinated. I’m ready for more soon.
Though Grave Mercy is a slow read, it is an enjoyable one. I will be happily continuing on to see what is going to happen to this cast of characters next.