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Escaping an arranged marriage, 17-year-old Ismae finds sanctuary in the St. Mortain convent, where the sisters worship the gods of old. There, Ismae learns that the God of Death has special plans for her—a destiny that will one day compel her to betray the man she loves.
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By Staaj on 10-12-12
Slow Start but Finished Strong
At first, I didn’t particularly like Grave Mercy. It rubbed me the wrong way for some reason that I can’t put my finger on exactly. Maybe it was because I didn’t like the main character, Ismae, in the beginning. She irritated me. However, just before I reached the half way point, I become enthralled in the story. There’s a little mystery mixed in that holds your attention and keeps you guessing. I began to care for the characters and longed, as they did, for a good resolution. When the book was over, there was a little pang in my heart and I realized that I really enjoyed Grave Mercy after all.
Ismae is an assassin trained by the sisters of the convent of St. Mortain, known also as the God of Death. She is skilled in poisons, fighting, and weapons but could use some improvement in courting. After proving herself a worthy and loyal assassin, she is sent on assignment to protect the Duchess of Brittany while pretending to be the girlfriend of Duval, the Duchess’ half-brother. The convent believes Duval is deceiving the Duchess and they have arranged for Ismae to monitor him while fulfilling her other mission. Her assignment is complicated by the etiquette and procedures of the high court not to mention the deceit and treachery that takes place within it’s walls. On top that, Ismae develops unexpected feelings for Duval that conflict with the convents orders. Who is she to follow, her trusted sisters of St. Mortain or her heart?
As I said earlier, the beginning of the book didn’t appeal to me so much. There was a lot of emphasis on death and at times felt like the characters worshiped it. I like assassin tales, but this was too much to me. Then the story picked up and I could see the author spinning in a moral that redeemed the earlier focus on death. Ismae began to second guess killing others and started wondering if forgiveness was an option instead of death. This scored points with me as I don’t like heartless killers. When Ismae reaches this revelation, she turns into a new character who is even more formidable than before.
Additionally, Grave Mercy is more than just an assassin novel. It is also an historical fiction novel with a touch of romance. The historal fiction part was truly interesting and is actually what made me perk up and start really paying attention to the story. Also, the author doesn’t hit you over the head with a lovey-dovey romance. Instead, the Ismae and Duval grow independently while working together to protect the Duchess. Slowly their romance unfolds and when it comes to fruition, it’s sweet and heart warming. It’s just right for the story too.
Despite being skeptical at first, I ended up really liking Grave Mercy. It’s a well crafted story and I have plans to read the next one as soon as it comes out. I recommend it and encourage others to push past the beginning even if gives them trouble.
38 of 39 people found this review helpful
By Parajunkee on 12-11-12
Assasin Nuns! Sign me up.
PJV Quickie: I went to an all girls Catholic High School that was run by nuns. I can readily believe that they could have been assassins in hiding. This is why I have an innate fear of nuns and the nuns of ‘Grave Mercy’ were scary as Hell. And then of course, what a good story!
The book starts off immediately with anxiety galore. Ismae has been forced into an arranged marriage that she knows will only end tragically. When her husband forces her to disrobe and views the scars that are an obvious sign of her heritage, he is both scared an enraged that he has been tricked into this marriage. Ismae just manages to escape by the assistance of an unknown force, which leads her to the convent of St. Mortain, the sisters that serve the old god, now known as St. Mortain, formerly the god of Death.
Ismae is taught the ways of an assassin and is given her first assignment that will lead her into the high courts of Brittany. Yet, the deeper she becomes embroiled in court politics and the lives of the aristocracy, the more she is confused as to each persons intentions, especially the person that was thought to be a suspect from the beginning.
‘Grave Mercy’ was a very rich novel, full of a fantastical world, court intrigue and tragic romance. I was instantly drawn in, especially with the voice of the narrator Erin Moon. I was highly pleased with this audiobook, with the characters, with the plot. The mystery and the politics of the world, while not over-the-top and drawn out, was well done and deep. Another great novel that you should sink your teeth into!
Fans of young adult fantasy should really enjoy.
While the character is shown first as a 17 year old, I didn’t really view this as a young adult novel. It is labeled young adult fantasy, yet I found the elements have a more adult theme. Yet there is hardly anything inappropriate in the novel, so it is acceptable for teens. I think I’m just over thinking the classifications.
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16 of 16 people found this review helpful