Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ARC Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin, Book 1
Author(s): Robin LaFevers (R.L. LaFevers)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed Format: ARC (eGalley)
My Rating: ★★★★★
Get it @: Amazon | Book Depository

I think I found myself a new genre!

Grave Mercy has become a double first timer for me. It is the first historical fiction that I read as well as my very first ARC galley (thank you NetGalley). To be honest, this being my first ARC I had no idea how things would unravel; I am pleased to say the book did not disappointed me at all.

It is a breathtaking story, and although action is not the main feature (even though it has its moments) it is an amazing tale of self-discovery and independence. It takes place in Brittany, circa-late Middle Ages.

Ismae was 14 years old when her abusive farmer father sold her into marriage to an even more abusive man from her home village. But soon after she is whisk away to be taken to a convent that prays to Saint Mortain; pagan god of Death. There she discovers the reality behind her birth and hope springs anew.

Fast forward three years, and in her new life as handmaiden of Death, Ismae has been inducted and instructed in all things assassin. Have any of you ever played either of the Assassin’s Creed games? I’ve tried the first one, and although I never got to finish it I have watch my boyfriend play through the ones that came out for PS3. Why I bring this up? Because there is a similar feeling to both stories. You can feel Ismae’s emotions as she wrestles with what she has been taught at the convent vs. what she witnesses developing right in front of her.

The truth is I that like Ismae. Having a story being told only from the main character’s POV can be daunting. But Ismae is a smart, careful, observant young woman whose inexperience gives her a nice touch of realism. She is a strong character, a survivor.
The one person she is supposed to distrust the most is the same person she feels inexplicably drawn to. Duval’s character is a great counterweight to Ismae as well as an equally strong force. Telling you more about him will unfortunately give away too many plot points and I always like to try to avoid ruining the surprises for you guys (~.^).

The world around Ismae is both beautifully built and complex. I enjoyed the contrast between life at her home village vs. life at the convent vs. life at court. I can’t wait to read more about the other girls as well. Both Annith and Sybella are intriguing characters and I wish there was more of them in the story.

The plot of the tale has enough twists and machinations that all the possible outcomes kept me glued to it. If not for my classes I would have finished the book sooner.

Bottom line is, I love this book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fiction, be it historical or otherwise. I mean, who would not enjoy the story of a farmer raised, convent trained young female assassin?

Does any of you plans on reading this one once it comes out on April?

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  1. I am looking forward to reading this. Great review.

    1. Is a great book, I do recommend it.

  2. "Grave Mercy" is so refreshing! It's set in the fifteenth century, and many of the characters are based on real historical figures. Anne of Brittany really existed, and was stuck in the same situation. It's not a period I've studied, so I don't know how accurate the book is. According to the author's website, she uses the time period as a canvas rather than sticking strictly to fact. It works, creating a rich backdrop for Ismae's story.

    Ismae is a kick ass character in her own right; she doesn't need any magic or paranormal abilities to make her awesome. Yes, she's a trained assassin, and the daughter of a god, but other than that, her abilities come from hard work and training. She grows so much over the course of the book. I really, really liked her character.

    1. I completely agree, and considering that the book is YA, I do believe that Ismae is a great female role.


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