kpg813, January 14, 2013 (view all comments by kpg813)
I loved this beautifully written historical novel. The world created by the author was so vivid and interesting, I can't wait for the second book to revisit this exciting place and time!
Lieder Madchen, May 1, 2012 (view all comments by Lieder Madchen)
This book was utterly...fascinating. It was at times brutal and very dark, but it was always fascinating. The premise of a convent where young women are trained to be both nuns and assassins was highly original, if rather strange. I was worried that I would find it difficult to sympathize with the heroine, but her feelings were so real and understandable that I couldn't help but like Ismae.
Robin LaFevers is a master at description and atmosphere. You never once felt like you were anywhere but in medieval Europe. One of the reasons that I love me stories set in medieval time is for all of the politics and intrigues that go on in a kingdom, or, in this case, a duchy. In that respect, this book was perfect.
I wondered how the author would handle assassinations being carried out by a teenage girl, but you quickly realize that Ismae is no girl. She is despised by her parents throughout her 'childhood', until her father sells her to a man for a few measly coins. This upbringing gives her the motivation needed to kill, coldly and without mercy. If she had stayed that way through the whole novel I might have given up, but when she becomes exposed to the world she learns to forgive and think for herself.
Gavriel Duval is a fantastic love interest. Loyal to a fault, it is easy to like him from the very beginning. He is as dismayed as Ismae when they find themselves unwilling allies in their efforts to reveal (Duval) and destroy (Ismae) the young duchess's enemies - of which she has many. Thankfully, Duval and Ismae have some likable and heroic friends in the form of de Lornay and Beast. (I am really hoping to see more of Beast in the next book.)
I would not recommend this book to everyone, due to the dark and at times disturbing elements, but I enjoyed it a great deal and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark fantasy and historical fiction (though it isn't technically historical). The sequel will be about Sybilla, a fellow assassin of Ismae's, and I can't wait to read it.
StormyWolf, April 4, 2012 (view all comments by StormyWolf)
I found Grave Mercy a refreshing and intriguing start to what I can only imagine will be a wonderful series. I'd recommend it for those who love Historical Fiction and YA, but don't mind a little Fantasy and Romance thrown into the mix. There is a fair amount of violence and many references to sex, so I'd place this as appropriate for late high-school and older, despite the young characters and inconsiderable language. Daunting as the length may be, Grave Mercy is one book you surely don't want to miss.
Approximate Reading Time: 9.5 hours
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
While it looked like a long book at first with 500+ pages, after I started reading it, it went fast.
Ismae has had a hard life.
After living seventeen miserable years with her abusive father, he sells her to Guillo the pig farmer for a few coins, Ismae hopes that the arranged marriage will be her salvation, but Guillo is not her knight in shining armor. Marriage life is not kind to Ismae, she still endures beatings and even being locked away. She is soon rescued and is sent to the convent of St. Mortain, the god of death. Once there she learns of she was sired by death himself and gets the chance to study the art assassination and serve as a handmaiden to death.
I liked how Ismae grew within the book. Ismae was a strong heroine.
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for an early ARC eBook.
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Middle-grade author LaFevers (the Theodosia books) makes an outstanding foray into historical romance with an enthralling recreation of 15th-century Brittany. At its center is 17-year-old Ismae, a badly scarred peasant girl who, fleeing her thuggish husband, is taken in by the convent of St. Mortain, whose patron saint is the ancient, pre-Christian god of death. Believed to be Death's literal daughter, blessed (or cursed) with powerful gifts, Ismae is trained as an assassin, highly competent with all weapons and poisons. After two successful missions, she is dispatched to the court of Anne of Brittany to keep track of Duval, the duchess's handsome and tempestuous illegitimate older brother. Reluctantly, she falls in love with him, knowing full well that she may someday be called upon to end his life. Rich in historical detail, well-realized characters, political machinations, and enticingly prickly scenes between Ismae and Duval, LaFevers's complex tale incorporates magic both sparingly and subtly. This powerful first volume of the His Fair Assassin series should attract many readers. Ages 14 – up. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Booklist, starred review,
"With characters that will inspire the imagination, a plot that nods to history while defying accuracy, and a love story that promises more in the second book, this is sure to attract feminist readers and romantics alike."
by Kirkus, starred review,
"Fiction and history coalesce in a rich, ripping tale of assassinations, political intrigue and religion in 15th-century Brittany....LaFevers' ambitious tapestry includes poison and treason and murder, valor and honor and slow love, suspense and sexuality and mercy. A page-turner — with grace."
by School Library Journal, starred review,
"The book is well written and filled with fascinating, complex characters who function realistically in this invented medieval world."
"LaFevers is an artful storyteller who has created a strong lead character....The tale is one of scheming nobles, political subterfuge, murder, and romance — all of the best aspects of a good read. And like any good mystery, the plot is unpredictable."
by Justine magazine,
"Start with the medieval action and mystery of a Tamora Piere novel, throw in some 007 License to Kill action (only the assassins are nuns!) and add two duty-driven and proud main characters involved in an achingly-denied romance (seriously, would you just kiss him already!?!). This triple threat of entertainment is unputdownable."
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes a brutal arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of assassins — for a price. Packed with love, magic, and deadly games of courtly intrigue and treason, book one of a fast-paced YA trilogy set in 15th-century France combines romance with captivating action.
Theodosia Throckmorton is in a fix. Allowed to attend a reception given by one of the directors of her parentsand#8217; museum, she stumbles across Mr. Tetley of the British Museumand#151;in most unusual circumstances! Since Theo has last seen him in a showdown in an ancient Egyptian tomb, his reappearance could mean only one thing: the Serpents of Chaos are back.
Once again Theodosia will have to take on secret societies, evil curses, and dark magic too sinister to imagine, especially if it falls into the wrong hands. Blocked at every turn, Theodosia will have to rely on her own skill and cunningand#151;along with a little help from the most unexpected places.
When her father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, eighteen year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers--and justice. In the spirit of True Grit, acclaimed young adult novelist Erin Bowman brings to life the unpredictable and cutthroat days of the Wild West.
The next riveting adventure in the Theodosia Throckmorton series!
Romantic medieval fantasy from a debut author
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eightand#8212;sheand#8217;s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the kingand#8217;s thug.
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Poand#8217;s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Graceand#8212;or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
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