- Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
- Format: Paperback | 496 pages
- Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 31mm | 356g
- Publication date: 6 July 2012
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 184939413X
- ISBN 13: 9781849394130
- Sales rank: 9,296
Young, beautiful and deadly. Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the 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 is a dangerous romance full of intrigue, poison and ultimately finding one's way.
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R. L. LaFevers (Robin Lorraine LaFevers) is an award-winning American children's book writer from California. She is the author of the Theodosia series and Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. R. L. La Fevers grew up in Los Angeles, California and now resides on a small ranch in Southern California with her husband, two sons, dog and cat. Grave Mercy is the first in the His Fair Assassin trilogy.
By Lily 04 May 2013
Review originally featured on Bookluvrs Haven
I love female characters like Ismae. A strong, lethal and beautiful female. Blessed by the god of Death from before birth, her immunity to poisons, her ability to heal faster than a normal human, makes her the ultimate assassin.
I was riveted from the very first page of this novel. From the moment that she is whisked away from her new husband's home after a near rape, and taken to the convent of St. Mortain to be trained, I was already 100% invested in this story and eager for more and more.
The political plots and schemes were exciting, and not as predictable as I thought they would be. In fact, every avenue that I thought of was blown out of the water and took me in a completely different direction on 'who dun it'.
Duval was an intriguing male lead. His unwavering loyalty to his Duchess and sister was endearing. Though he was the initial target of suspicion, I knew that there was more to him than met the eye, and so did Ismae. Their slow burning attraction to each other made me stop breathing through some of their most tension filled moments. Their chemistry was solid, and though I didn't know how Death's handmaiden and the Duchess' right hand man could be together, I really wanted them to.
I was sucked in deeply into this story by the writer's eloquent writing. Every character was explored and made known to me intimately, whether the character was hated or loved. The action scenes were cinematic, and visually fluent.
This was as epic as I hoped it would be, and I can't wait for the next installment!
*I received a eBook copy of this book for free to review from the author/publisher; this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.*
By Daphne (Winged Reviews) 15 Oct 2012
The first thing that everyone says about this book is 'assassin nuns'! Well, I'm going to say much the same, because guess what, assassin nuns are cool. In this YA historical fiction, we get a smartly-plotted tale that handles murder and treason as well as honour and romance.
The book lived up to its fantastic premise: set in the duchy of Brittany in the Middle Ages, it follows the story of Ismae, as she seeks sanctuary at the convent of St. Mortain. Unlike most girls, Ismae, a daughter of Death, has been blessed with the power to resist poisons and unlike normal convents, St. Mortain trains its girls to be assassins. There was humorous irony in the fact that a convent was teaching the arts of killing and seduction, but the author does such a great job with the authenticity of her historical setting that it was believable. LaFevers also managed to make the fantasy elements sit comfortably within the time period as an old religion serving old gods, which lent a sense of realism to the story.
Sent on a mission to the royal court, Ismae plays mistress to Gavriel Duval, the queen's half-brother. The Duchess Anne sits precariously on the throne struggling to decide which suitor is best for her and her duchy's battle for independence from France. I enjoy a good power struggle, and this book had plenty of it with every member of court trying to advance their own political agenda. When Ismae takes it upon herself to discover the threat to the Duchess' throne, every well-developed character is a suspect.
I admired Ismae's growing sense of self and conviction, as she is torn throughout the book between her loyalty to the convent and her affection for Duval. Mysterious throughout the book, Duval's true agenda is unknown so there was a real sense of danger about their relationship-that it might end at either of their own hands. Their scenes simply sizzled with chemistry which eventually developed into genuine emotion. It was truly satisfying to follow their slow-burning love.
At the risk of spoiling it, let me just say that I liked how Ismae found her own way to follow Death's path for her. The book resolves nicely, wrapping up her and Duval's story, but it is part of a wider series which will follow some of the other girls from the convent we got a glimpse of in this book. I for one would've loved more about Ismae but I will happily read the next book in the series. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and fantasy alike.
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing a review copy of the book via Netgalley.
By Suzanne Finnegan 28 Mar 2012
This book opens with fourteen year old Ismae Rienne taking part in an arranged marriage. That night, after being attacked by her new husband, she is rescued and taken to the Convent of Saint Mortain, the patron Saint of Death and one of the old gods. She meets with the abbess of the convent and learns that she was sired by Death and is one of his handmaidens. She is to train to be one of Deaths assassins, learning martial arts, how to use many different types of weapon and how to make and administer different poisons. She will then carry out Deaths work.
Three years later, she is ready for her first assignment.
When her second assignment doesn't quite go to plan, she is placed in the household of Gavriel Duval, half brother to the Duchess. She is to watch and see if he is a traitor. And if the marque of death appears on him or anyone else at Court, she is to kill them.
But what will she do when the man she has fallen in love with has been marqued?
This is the first historical fiction book that I have read and I did not think that this was a genre that I would enjoy. But I enjoyed every page. I could not put it down. I did no housework yesterday Ã?????Ã????Ã???Ã??Ã?Â¯??.
Ismae is an amazing character. She is definitely kick butt as she has been well trained but she is also intelligent. She is able to work with Duval to figure out who is traitorous and how they can secure that France doesn't take over Brittany while making sure that Anne, the Duchess, gets a suitable husband. She is very likeable not only to the reader but also to people that she meets at Court. She is brave and merciful.
I also loved Duval. He is definitely one for my book boyfriend list. I loved the way the romance played out. They started off really not liking each other, which gradually grew to respect and finally, to love. I love a romance where the characters start off not liking each other and when the love interest is not "hot", but becomes beautiful and sexy in their own right because of what we see on the inside.
This book had a lot of action and mystery and was not just built around the romance. The romance very much played a background part here. The characters were all really well written though I did have to really work at times to remember who everyone was. The politics throughout this book were interesting, surprisingly, as it's not something I would have expected to enjoy.
There isn't anything I can find to fault with this book. I would recommend it to everyone even if it's something you don't feel you'd like as that's the way I felt and I absolutely loved it. It is one of those books that keeps playing on my mind, even though I finished it yesterday.
I will read the second book in the series, Dark Triumph. From the blurb, it appears that we will not be continuing on with Ismae's story which I am sorry to see, even though the ending of this was perfect for her. I can only hope that we will see her and Duval at some point throughout the series.
"Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours, until Death do us part. Whatever that may mean when consorting with one of Death's handmaidens."
"A blooming romance...makes for a heady ferocious page-turner." The School Librarian "I loved how rich and detailed the story was." Have Book Will Read Blog "Like Hunger Games Ismae is a female assassin ... A fantasy based on the rough contours of history ... Game of Thrones-style." New York Times "Sweeps the reader up in a page-turning tale of clashing factions, dangerous ambitions and simmering romance... An original and sophisticated beginning to a worthy new YA series." Books for Keeps "Full of mystery and political intrigue that had me turning the pages as fast as I could" Feeling Fictional