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1 Beaverton Children's Young Adult- Paranormal

Other titles in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy series:

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin Trilogy #1)

by

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin Trilogy #1) Cover

ISBN13: 9780547628349
ISBN10: 054762834x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Excerpt

Chapter One Brittany 1485 I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitchs poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb. That I survived, according to the herbwitch, is no miracle but a sign I have been sired by the god of death himself. I am told my father flew into a rage and raised his hand to my mother even as she lay weak and bleeding on the birthing bed. Until the herbwitch pointed out to him that if my mother had lain with the god of death, surely He would not stand idly by while my father beat her. I risk a glance up at my husband-to-be, Guillo, and wonder if my father has told him of my lineage. I am guessing not, for who would pay three silver coins for what I am? Besides, Guillo looks far too placid to know of my true nature. If my father has tricked him, it will not bode well for our union. That we are being married in Guillos cottage rather than a church further adds to my unease. I feel my fathers heavy gaze upon me and look up. The triumph in his eyes frightens me, for if he has triumphed, then I have surely lost in some way I do not yet understand. Even so, I smile, wanting to convince him I am happy—for there is nothing that upsets him more than my happiness. But while I can easily lie to my father, it is harder to lie to myself. I am afraid, sorely afraid of this man to whom I will now belong. I look down at his big, wide hands. Just like my father, he has dirt caked under his fingernails and stains in the creases of his skin. Will the semblance end there? Or will he, too, wield those hands like a cudgel? It is a new beginning, I remind myself, and in spite of all my trepidations, I cannot extinguish a tiny spark of hope. Guillo wants me enough to pay three silver coins. Surely where there is want, there is room for kindness? It is the one thing that keeps my knees from knocking and my hands from trembling. That and the priest who has come to officiate, for while he is naught but a hedge priest, the furtive glance he sends me over his prayer book causes me to believe he knows who and what I am. As he mutters the ceremonys final words, I stare at the rough hempen prayer cord with the nine wooden beads that proclaim him a follower of the old ways. Even when he ties the cord around our hands and lays the blessings of God and the nine old saints upon our union, I keep my gaze downcast, afraid to see the smugness in my fathers eyes or what my husbands face might reveal. When the priest is done, he pads away on dirty feet, his rough leather sandals flapping noisily. He does not even pause long enough to raise a tankard to our union. Nor does my father. Before the dust from my fathers departing cart has settled, my new husband swats my rump and grunts toward the upstairs loft. I clench my fists to hide their trembling and cross to the rickety stairs. While Guillo fortifies himself with one last tankard of ale, I climb up to the loft and to the bed I will now share with him. I sorely miss my mother, for even though she was afraid of me, surely she would have given me a womans counsel on my wedding night. But both she and my sister fled long ago, one back into the arms of death, and the other into the arms of a passing tinker. I know, of course, what goes on between a man and a woman. Our cottage is small and my father loud. There was many a night when urgent movement accompanied by groans filled our dark cottage. The next day my father always looked slightly less bad tempered, and my mother more so. I try to convince myself that no matter how distasteful the marriage bed is, surely it cannot be any worse than my fathers raw temper and meaty fists. The loft is a close, musty place that smells as if the rough shutters on the far wall have never been opened. A timber-and-rope bed frame holds a mattress of straw. Other than that, there are only a few pegs to hang clothes on and a plain chest at the foot of the bed. I sit on the edge of the chest and wait. It does not take long. A heavy creak from the stairs warns me that Guillo is on his way. My mouth turns dry and my stomach sour. Not wanting to give him the advantage of height, I stand. When he reaches the room, I finally force myself to look at his face. His piggish eyes gorge themselves on my body, going from the top of my head down to my ankles, then back up to my breasts. My fathers insistence on lacing my gown so tight has worked, as Guillo can look at little else. He gestures with his tankard toward my bodice, slopping ale over the sides so that it dribbles to the floor. "Remove it." Desire thickens his voice. I stare at the wall behind him, my fingers trembling as I raise them to my laces. But not fast enough. Never fast enough. He takes three giant strides toward me and strikes me hard across the cheek. "Now!" he roars as my head snaps back. Bile rises in my throat and I fear I will be sick. So this is how it will be between us. This is why he was willing to pay three silver coins. My laces are finally undone, and I remove my bodice so that I stand before him in my skirt and shift. The stale air, which only moments before was too warm, is now cold as it presses against my skin. "Your skirt," he barks, breathing heavily. I untie the strings and step out of my skirt. As I turn to lay it on the nearby bench, Guillo reaches for me. He is surprisingly quick for one so large and stupid, but I am quicker. I have had long years of practice escaping my fathers rages. I jerk away, spinning out of his reach, infuriating him. In truth, I give no thought to where I will run, wishing only to hold off the inevitable a little longer. There is a loud crash as his half-empty tankard hits the wall behind me, sending a shower of ale into the room. He snarls and lunges, but something inside me will not—cannot—make this easy for him. I leap out of his reach. But not far enough. I feel a tug, then hear a rip of cloth as he tears my thin, worn chemise. Silence fills the loft—a silence so thick with shock that even his coarse breathing has stopped. I feel his eyes rake down my back, take in the ugly red welts and scars the poison left behind. I look over my shoulder to see his face has gone white as new cheese, his eyes wide. When our glances meet, he knows—knows—that he has been duped. He bellows then, a long, deep note of rage that holds equal parts fury and fear. Then his rough hand cracks against my skull and sends me to my knees. The pain of hope dying is worse than his fists and boots. When Guillos rage is spent, he reaches down and grabs me by the hair. "I will go for a real priest this time. He will burn you or drown you. Maybe both." He drags me down the steps, my knees bumping painfully against each one. He continues dragging me through the kitchen, then shoves me into a small root cellar, slams the door, and locks it. Bruised and possibly broken, I lie on the floor with my battered cheek pressed into the cool dirt. Unable to stop myself, I smile. I have avoided the fate my father had planned for me. Surely it is I who have won, not he.   The sound of the bolt lifting jerks me awake. I shove myself to a sitting position and clutch the tattered remains of my chemise around me. When the door opens, I am stunned to see the hedge priest, the same small rabbit of a man whod blessed our marriage only hours before. Guillo is not with him, and any moment that does not contain my father or Guillo is a happy one by my reckoning. The priest looks over his shoulder, then motions for me to follow. I rise to my feet, and the root cellar spins dizzily. I put a hand to the wall and wait for the feeling to pass. The priest motions again, more urgently. "Weve not much time before he returns." His words clear my head as nothing else can. If he is acting without Guillos knowledge, then he is most assuredly helping me. "Im coming." I push away from the wall, step carefully over a sack of onions, and follow the hedge priest into the kitchen. It is dark; the only light comes from the banked embers in the hearth. I should wonder how the priest found me, why he is helping me, but I do not care. All I can think is that he is not Guillo and not my father. The rest does not matter. He leads me to the back door, and in a day full of surprises, I find one more as I recognize the old herbwitch from our village hovering nearby. If I did not need to concentrate so hard on putting one foot in front of the other, I would ask her what she is doing here, but it is all I can do to stay upright and keep from falling on my face in the dirt. As I step into the night, a sigh of relief escapes me. It is dark out, and darkness has always been my friend. A cart waits nearby. Touching me as little as possible, the hedge priest helps me into the back of it before hurrying around to the drivers bench and climbing in. The priest glances over his shoulder at me, then averts his eyes as if hes been burned. "Theres a blanket back there," he mutters as he steers the nag out onto the cobbled lane. "Cover yourself." The unyielding wood of the cart presses painfully into my bruised bones, and the meager blanket scratches and reeks of donkey. Even so, I wish theyd brought a second one for padding. "Where are you taking me?" "To the boat." A boat means water, and crossing water means I will be far from the reach of my father and Guillo and the Church. "And where is this boat taking me?" I ask, but the priest says nothing. Exhaustion overwhelms me. I do not have the strength; plucking answers from him is like pulling meager berries from a thorny bush. I lie down in the cart and give myself over to the horses jolting gait.   And so my journey across Brittany begins. I am smuggled like some forbidden cargo, hidden among turnips or in hay in the back of carts, awakened by furtive voices and fumbling hands as I am passed from hedge priest to herbwife, a hidden chain of those who live in accordance with the old saints and are determined to keep me from the Church. The hedge priests, with their awkward movements and musty, stale robes, are kind enough, but their fingers are unschooled in tenderness or compassion. It is the herbwitches I like most;, their chapped, raw hands are gentle as lambs wool, and the sharp, pungent smell of a hundred different herbs clings to them like a fragrant shadow. Often as not, they give me a tincture of poppy for my injuries, while the priests merely give me their sympathy, and some begrudgingly at that. When I awake on what I reckon to be the fifth night of my journey, I smell the salty tang of the sea and remember the promise of a boat. I struggle to sit up, pleased to find my bruises pain me less and my ribs do not burn. We are passing through a small fishing village. I pull the blanket close against the chill and wonder what will happen next. At the very edge of the village sits a stone church. It is to this that the latest hedge priest steers our cart and I am relieved to see the door bears the sacred anchor of Saint Mer, one of the old saints. The priest reins his horse to a stop. "Get out." I cannot tell if it is fatigue or disdain I hear in his voice, but either way, my journey is almost done, so I ignore it and clamber out of the cart, keeping the blanket clutched tight around me lest I offend his modesty. Once he secures the horse, he leads me toward the beach, where a lone boat waits. The inky black ocean spreads out as far and wide as my eye can see, making the vessel seem very small. An old sailor sits hunched in the prow. A shell bleached white as bone hangs from a cord at his neck, marking him as a worshiper of Saint Mer. I wonder what he thinks of being woken in the middle of the night and made to row strangers out into the dark sea. The sailors faded blue eyes skim over me. He nods. "Climb in. We ent got all night." He thrusts an oar at me, and I grasp it to steady myself as I get into the boat. The small vessel dips and rocks and for a moment I am afraid it will tip me into the icy water. But it rights itself and then the priest steps in, causing the hull to sink even lower. The old sailor grunts, then returns the oar to its pin and begins rowing. We reach the small island just as dawn pinkens the eastern horizon. It looks barren in the early, spare light. As we draw closer, I see a standing stone next to a church and realize weve come to one of the old places of worship. Gravel crunches under the hull of the boat as the old sailor rows right up onto the beach. He jerks his head toward the stone fortress. "Get out then. The abbess of St. Mortain be expectin ye." Saint Mortain? The patron saint of death. A tremor of unease washes through me. I look at the priest, who averts his eyes, as if looking at me is too great a mortal temptation. Clutching the blanket close around me, I climb awkwardly from the boat and step into the shallows. Torn between gratitude and annoyance, I curtsy slightly, careful to let the blanket slip from my shoulder for the merest of seconds. I t is enough. Satisfied at the priests gasp and the old sailors cluck of his tongue, I turn and slog through the cold water to the beach. In truth, I have never flashed so much as an ankle before, but I am sorely vexed at being treated like a temptress when all I feel is bruised and broken. When I reach the patchy grass that grows between the rocks, I look back toward the boat, but it has already put out to sea. I turn and begin making my way to the convent, eager to see what those who worship Death want of me.

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

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!
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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.
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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
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780547628349
Author:
La Fevers, Robin
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin
Author:
La Fevers, R. L.
Author:
Tanaka, Yoko
Author:
Murphy, Kelly
Subject:
Action & Adventure
Subject:
Children s-Adventure Stories
Subject:
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Subject:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series:
His Fair Assassin Trilogy
Series Volume:
1
Publication Date:
20120431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
black and white
Pages:
560
Dimensions:
8 x 6.25 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 14

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Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin Trilogy #1) Used Hardcover
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Product details 560 pages Houghton Mifflin Books for Children - English 9780547628349 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "The book is well written and filled with fascinating, complex characters who function realistically in this invented medieval world."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by ,

After tangling with the deadly basilisk, Nathaniel Fludd is glad to return to England with his Aunt Phil. But someone has ransacked their home, and their best suspect is the sinister man who's been trying to steal the Book of Beasts.

Before Nate and Aunt Phil can find the culprit, they are called to Welsh countryside. The wyverns (giant dragons) are in an uproar. Could the same man who ransacked the Fludd house be behind the rift with the wyverns? And just what does he want with The Book of Beasts? But before Nate can solve that mystery, he must calm the dragons before it's too late. It's just another day at work for the world's youngest beastologist!

"Synopsis" by , [set star] "Fiction and history coalesce in a rich, ripping tale of assassinations, political intrigue and religion. . . . 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." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage to the respite of the convent of St. Mortain. Here she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts and a violent destiny. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. But how can she deliver Deaths vengeance upon a target who has stolen her heart?
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