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Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His…

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) (edition 2012)

by Robin LaFevers

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1,3201845,899 (4.07)78
Title:Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)
Authors:Robin LaFevers
Info:Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (2012), Hardcover, 560 pages
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Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers


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Showing 1-5 of 181 (next | show all)
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I'm so glad I read this book. Before I wasn't completely sure I was going to like it, but once I started reading it was very hard to put Grave Mercy down again.

Ismae is no stranger to death. Her mother tried to kill her still in the womb, leaving her scarred for life. After she's been saved from a disastrous marriage and taken to the Convent of Saint Mortain (one of the old Breton Gods now served as Saints), where she learns she's one of His daughters and trained to be a Handmaiden to Death. Or, in other words: an Assassin! Ismae has to take her place at the Breton court trying to make sense of the webs of lies and political intrigues that surround her everywhere. Can she keep the young Duchess safe and keep Brittany independent from France?

I really liked it. The setting of Medieval Brittany worked great and was very original as opposed to yet one more England-like country. At first I was a little bit disappointed at the fact the books skips over Ismae's training at the convent, but in the end it didn't really matter as we get to see enough of her tricks during the book. In a way, with all the political intrigues and many hidden agendas it reminded me of Game of Thrones (especially since Death's Handmaidens seem really similar to the Arya's training), but at the same time it's completely different as well. Except for Ismae's paternity, ability to withstand poison and be able to see the marque of Death, this novel is far more historical than paranormal.

Ismae was a nice character, I quite liked her. Her uneasiness at court and her transition during the book were done well. As a trained assassin she knows how to defend herself and luckily isn't waiting to be saved from one danger or another. Her relationship with Duval and the revelations at the end of the story however, were unnecessary for me, and I think the ending might have been stronger otherwise. But still it was a very enjoyable read. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

One small thing I was wondering about. Ismae is supposed to be able to carry a crossbow underneath her dress. I don't see how the one on the cover is supposed to fit underneath that dress. Just saying.

Grave Mercy is the first book in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy. Dark Triumph (Review to come soon) and Mortal Heart are the other books and they feature Sybella and Annith, respectively.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  Floratina | Sep 6, 2015 |
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 3 April 2012
Reviewed by Kj
The Word: Seduction, poision, mystery and political intrigue are bound to follow you if you're sired by Death himself!

Grave Mercy was a hard book to love. It’s a historical novel with mystery, intrigue, death and romance rolled into a nice package but just didn’t hit the mark for me. Don’t get me wrong it was an enjoyable read but I dragged my feet trying to finish it. I found the characters stark and distant and I wasn’t really invested into the outcome of the book.

It starts off amazingly – we are thrown into the world of Ismae, who has been sired by Death himself. Because of her heritage, she is constantly abused and shunned by the townspeople and finds herself in a life worse than death until she is saved and taken to the covenant of St Mortain – the God/ Saint of death, where she is promised revenge on man by receiving training in combat, poisons and seduction.
‘‘So,’’ she says, looking back at me. ‘‘You are well equipped for our service.’’
‘‘Which is?’’
‘‘We kill people.’’

Ismae was a really hard character to like. She appeared very cold and detached from reality at times. Her attitude to the world largely stemmed from her abusive past and promises of revenge by the nuns at the St. Mortain covenant. She is driven by her desire to serve St Mortain and to provide justice against those who have done wrong. After successfully completing several assignments commissioned by the nuns, she is paired with the Duchesses most trusted advisor Duval, to find a traitor at court.

At times Ismae suspects Duval of traitorous behaviour and puts herself in constant danger to discover the truth. Ismae is very innocent of the world and games of court life despite being raised in the arts of seduction and killing by the nuns. Danger, intrigue and mystery shroud every corner and she plays a cat and mouse game with the traitor trying to stop their devious plots.

Duval, the Duchess’s most trusted advisor navigates court life well and knits his own web of strategy to secure the Duchess’s success and safety. He is a strong stoic man who warms quickly to Ismae’s presence. The two develop an appreciation for each other which eventually turns to love. Duval is a kind and honest man and makes Ismae feel vulnerable.

Discovering the truth of the traitor at court makes Ismae question who she really serves, and she discovers that serving the convent and St Mortain may not be the same thing. Although on paper the book seems exciting and full of intrigue with sexy nuns trained to kill, it just wasn’t my thing. That’s not to say it wasn’t written well. If you’re a fan of historic novels I recommend you pick this one up – if your more into sci-fi dystopians – leave it on the shelf!

Love you long time ( )
  birdslovewords | Aug 30, 2015 |
“This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance.”

I felt like this book could've been something more. The main character is an assassin, yet I don't see much of any assassinations. I needed more badassery; this book was basically sprinkles of action throughout long stretches of boredom. The only action-filled scenes were at the beginning of the story and they were awesome, so I didn't expect this path that the book took a turn to.

The historical aspect of this book kind of bored me - I don't normally read historical fiction - but I felt like it could've been weaved into the story more artfully. The romance was bland and predictable. When I read this book's synopsis, my expectations soared; and by the way everyone was singing the book's praises, I expected it to be something more. However, I was sorely disappointed. This book had so much potential, which is such a shame.

Nevertheless, I'll still be reading the sequels - but with lowered expectations. In between the stretches of boredom, there were many parts of this book that just made you want to keep reading. The writing was pretty good and the similes and metaphors the author uses were incredible. So, to conclude this review, I will add some quotes that particularly impressed me from the book.

“Behind me, the door opens and Louyse bustles in. “My lady! Come away from there before you catch your death!”

Her words bring a smile to my lips. Does she think Death is some small bird with my name written on it, beating at the window in the hope that I will catch it?”

“For while I am Death’s daughter and walk in His dark shadow, surely the darkness can give way to light sometimes.”
( )
  fatimareadsbooks | Aug 18, 2015 |
I shit you not, this was the vibe I got from reading Grave Mercy.THIS IS NOT OK!!!

I understand that traumatic events can lead to a specific character trait in the future, but the nuns in this novel seem to be sipping from the Deep and Dark Pool of Radical Feminism on a daily basis.

After a very realistic and sobering start of an marriage where Ismae gets beaten by her husband on her wedding day and escapes with her life to join the convent of Death things go downhill really fast.

It would appear that almost every guy in this novel is a would be demonic rapist. All the girlies at St. Stiffies had by the words of the headmistress some kind of desire to run away from sex, marriage and those horrible ding-dongs guys have between their legs. To be a Handmaiden of Death you apparently need to be extraordinarily beautiful and have your heart filled with rage against men. The sheer hypocrisy of this novel is STAGGERING.

In the words of Ismae herself ,“Death apparently sires only comely daughters.” This is to tell us that she's the shit. Just so she doesn't sound like a conceited dick, the author also gave us this line by Ismae, at least I am not the ugliest here at one point. The whole subtle but not, backwards focus on how friggin beautiful Ismae is leaves quite a lot to be desired. It's a tactic often used, and it never fails to bring out the biggest eye rolls I've got in my repertoire.

Ismae had a shit start in her adult life, and I completely understand anger, fear and resentment the character might feel towards the institution of marriage. What pissed me off is the ease with witch Ismae wished death and suffering and actually killed men. Guys were eeeew, and they had sex drives and had gropey hands. THEY DESERVE TO DIE!

So lemme see if I got this straight?

A woman can't get assaulted without all-out condemnation of the male perpetrator, but if the same woman walks around simply killing men - nobody bats an eyelash because they are male pigs and they deserved it????


Is this shit I read here fur realz? Ismae, you are a hypocritical bitch. I don't like you.

Needless to say this book pissed me off something awful. The whole glorification of gender vendetta for no other reason than gender itself is old as modern rad-fem itself and equally stupid.

How many books have you read, and how many reviews have you seen where people were constantly appalled by the way the HERO treats the HEROINE? Yet somehow if the roles are reversed, and it's the female character that's an asshole, it's all about finding your true worth and your place in this world. And....

This whole novel is built on double standards. I FUCKING HATE DOUBLE STANDARDS!

Ismae the character, was appalling. I couldn't relate to her. I didn't want to. Her entire existence was a pathetic retreat to that place in your mind where you get instant gratification when things don't go your way. The phrase, 'I wish you were dead' really comes to life here - no pun intended. Aww, poor Ismae, she didn't have it easy. How ever are we going to help her? I know! Allow her to hold grudges against anyone who ever hurt her or upset her in any way. Then let's give her a clear path to SLAUGHTER with no repercussions whatsoever. Give her clear understanding of her own problems, but make her completely oblivious to anybody else's, justifying her stupidity of condemning an entire gender and then some, because of her own single experience. Because, you know, being a slimy, two-faced asshat is a great role model.


I am tired of weak minded females, constantly pushing their own problems on the entire world to solve. This was not empowerment, this was not helpful in any way. It only does solidify a current popular and extremely negative belief that most women think by having a vagina means you can do whatever you want, just blame it on the world, and all the while claim that your shit doesn't stink. It's shit like this, heroines like this, intolerant, pigheaded, ignorant, cruel and conceited that push us back fifty years. It's the portrayal of women in this selfish way that makes me so godamned angry I can't see straight. Ismae's husband had no right to treat her in the way he did, but also Ismae had no right to do half the stuff she did. I don't give a shit about your gender. Hold yourself with pride and think with your head not your friggin crotch.

I am the fuck outa ere.... ( )
  IvieHill | Aug 6, 2015 |
Ismae is abused and treated as a commodity for most of her life. She bears scars from the poison used on her mother while she was pregnant with her. On the night of her marriage, she is whisked away to a convent of St. Mortain, the patron saint/god of death. At the convent the girls and women are trained to kill those bearing the mark of the St. Ismae is given the duty of protecting the young duchess who is facing war with France and needs a suitor. She must go with DuVall, the duchess' half brother to live in the castle and navigate courtly intrigue, betrayal, love, and her duty. ( )
  ewyatt | Jul 22, 2015 |
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LaFevers, Robinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moon, ErinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mark, who first showed me what true love looked like.
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I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch's poison that my mother used to try to expell me from her womb. That I survived, according to the herbwitch, is no miracle but a sign that I have been sired by the god of death himself.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 054762834X, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2012: Seventeen-year-old Ismae was fathered by Saint Mortain, the God of Death, and one dark and stormy night, she is brought to a mysterious convent where his many daughters are trained as assassins. When she is given an important assignment to protect the Duchess of Brittany and kill the traitor in her court, Ismae begins to learn that being a handmaiden of Death may not mean what the nuns taught her. But her burgeoning independence comes with consequences, and the fate of an entire country--and the only man she could ever love--hangs in the balance. Set in medieval France with historically accurate details, Grave Mercy is the first book in a gritty, fast-paced trilogy, and gives thrilling new meaning to the term "girl power." --Juliet Disparte

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:59 -0400)

In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Brittany, seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts--and a violent destiny.… (more)

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