Thursday, June 13, 2013

BRT: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)
Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Number of Pages: 549
Rating: 4/5
Published Date: April 3, 2012
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?
This craftily-woven, intriguing story of female assassins takes place in Brittany, France. The blurb of the story had an addicting premise to it, and I couldn't help but make the purchase. When I started the book, I was disappointed by the slow exposition.
See, there's something about assassin-based lore that disturbs me. I don't like assassin lore most of the time. I've been trying to play Assassin's Creed, and it's hard for me because there's something about it that just turns me off. That would be the fact it seems like there's only half-proven opinions as to why targets should die.
Upon Ismae's first target, and her second; it just seemed that she was told "This man betrayed France", and she just accepted it. Same for Assassin's Creed. "This man needs to die, but I can't tell you why." That just turns me off. I want solid, visible proof that this person should die.
It's because of these two missions that I gave the book a lower rating--as well as the slower exposition. It took too long for the real story to kick in (around 100 pages, if memory serves). But...after that? After we join Gavriel on his mission to protect the duchess?
Swoon! For one, Ismae tells the story with the perfect tone. Elegant, dignified... I don't think I saw any contractions. Given the time of the book and the setting, this was more than appropriate. The amount of research LaFevers put into this was admirable. (Though, I must admit, she explains that crossbows are good for long-range shots while another book I read said the opposite. I wonder?)
Two, the setting of characters: ingenious. Everyone had a place in the story, whether minor or major; and the book kept me guessing with Ismae to the very moment she discovered the culprit of each trial she faced. There was something about each and every character you had to love.
Back to my explanation earlier of mindless assassination turning me off, this was remedied by the fact Ismae starts to question the convent's choices. (If curious, the protagonist in Assassin's Creed does the same.) She realizes not all these people are guilty of what she has been told, and that some people can redeem for their sins and might possibly seek that redemption.
Guys, by the time I reached the climax of this, I was squealing! This plot was so freaking beautiful. There's nothing not to love in this book, aside from maybe the slowness of the first piece of the work. Seriously, though. What comes after that is so worth it. This is a story of passion, assassination, mystery, poison, love, war...and the mercy of St. Mortain himself. Four stars, closer to five than anything! This story will stay with you. Eagerly awaiting Dark Triumph to come out in paperback.

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