Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)Author: R.L. LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin, #1
Published: April 3rd 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, 549 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

What a pleasant surprise this was! Grave Mercy won me over in chapter one and I was unable to put down Ferguson, my Kindle, until I finished it. I always have troubles getting through the middle part of a book, but that was not the case here at all. I stayed up very late to finish it and I didn’t regret it for a second.

After being abused for her entire life by her vicious father and then married off at fourteen to an equally vicious husband, Ismae is saved by a hedge priest on her wedding night and taken to a convent where she is told that she is a daughter of Mortain, the god of death. She is to be trained to carry out Mortain’s will and kill those he has placed his mark upon.
Ismae is reborn in the convent, determined to make the absolute best of the second chance life has given her. She is a good and dedicated student. But when the abbess orders her to go to duchess’ court and do her best to protect her, Ismae is not very comfortable with her orders. At 17, she is highly trained in every skill she might need and she has no trouble killing any traitor the convent tells her to, but the only way to get access to everyone important is by posing as Duval’s mistress, and that is very unsettling. Duval seems to be loyal to the duchess, he is her half-brother after all, but Ismae is under orders to investigate him. It doesn’t matter that she finds him attractive, slightly infuriating, but most of all trustworthy. Mortain’s will always come first.

What can be more fun than nuns who turned You shall not murder into You shall murder only those we order you to and You shall not commit adultery into You shall seduce for information, but not for love? Everyone, including myself, was thrilled by the idea of killer nuns, but that part proved to be just a little bit disappointing because these nuns had very little in common with actual nuns. I expected more conflict between their religion and their actions, but LaFevers chose another direction altogether.

I really admired Ismae. Getting to know her was my favorite part of this book. I liked her spirit and her intelligence, and I felt that her actions were pretty consistent, a sure sign of a well-built character. It didn’t take long for her to abandon the victim mentality and accept that she’s the one with the power, and that she earned that power by working hard for three whole years.

While I had a lot of fun reading it, Grave Mercy was by no means perfect. People with little patience for political intrigue will probably find themselves bored from time to time, especially around the middle. There is also the small issue of predictability: I knew who the traitor was about ten seconds after he showed up and it left me disappointed because I loved everything else so much.
Aside from that, I really wish Duval’s poisoning was handled differently. (I have to be extremely vague here lest I spoil things for some poor, unsuspecting reader, but those of you who have read the book will know exactly what I’m talking about.) I don’t mind what happened at all, I wish there was more of it, but the way it happened, under those circumstances, felt a little like a cop out to me. It’s like the action needed to be justified by a life or death situation, which I thought didn’t fit well with the overall tone of the book.

Grave Mercy was much more fun than I expected it to be. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.


  1. I agree with everything you wrote! Excellent review! I am so glad you liked this one!

  2. I remember getting the email about this book and I didn't even pay attention and now all these wonderful reviews are coming out :( I'm glad you've had more luck with books keeping your attention! Great review Maja :)

  3. I love your review, and Ferguson?? Well, that is just magnificent! Why have I not named my e-readers?? I must reconcile this immediately! LOL! I really loved what you did with the "You shall not murder," turning into "You shall only murder those we order you to," etc... That was brilliant and spot on! I'm so happy you enjoyed this one, too!

  4. Hm. I'm still super excited to read this, but I don't like when you can tell the traitor right off the bat:-/ Also, you're the first reviewer who has mentioned the whole aspect about being told to kill by a god of death. Don't know how I feel about that...

  5. Maja, I totally loved this novel from the beautiful cover to the last tantalizing glad you enjoyed it and I too cannot wait for book two...has made my top 5 list so far this year :)

  6. It's official! I'm the only person on the planet who has yet to read this book, but you know what, now I feel like I don't have to anymore because of all the reviews I've read for it. LOL

    I know. I'm a terrible cheater. And don't think I didn't pick up on the fact that you were referring to me when you said, "people with little patience for political intrigue will probably find themselves bored from time to time."


  7. Maja -- I am seriously going to boycott your reviews in the best way possible! Not really lol. Your excitement and plot descriptions make me want to have this in my hands RIGHT NOW! I can't wait to read this now. Love dark stuff! Thank you for confirming yet another of my next book buys ;).

  8. Maja!!! I finished reading this one yesteraday night, and I also loved it. I agree, it's not for those who don't enjoy political intrigue (they'll probably be asleep by page 30, but hey, I did a 6-hour reading session myself). I really liked the direction LeFrevre took the book on, opposed to the religious focus. And yes, I found Ismae's actions coherent.

    I have to admit, though, that it took me a while longer to figure out the traitor! I was placing my bets on someone else for a good while (and while I wasn't exactly wrong, I wasn't right either if you know what I mean).

    I've seen that book two will feature Sybelle and a wounded knight- are you hoping against all hope that it's the same knight I'm thinking about?

    I can't wait for the sequel either! Great review, as always, my friend!

    1. Oh, yes, and since they were both left at the same place with the same person at the end of GM, I really hope he'll be the one. I'm a huge fan of political intrigue, which is why I adore The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. This was milder, more focused on the romance, but still very good.
      I can't wait to read your review, Ron!

  9. Ah, awesome! I'm glad you enjoyed this one too! Wonderful review as always. I never really did think much about the religious aspect but I guess it would have made sense for the author to show more of conflict between their beliefs and their actions. I think you already know that I am one of the people who grew tired of the political scandal, but I did enjoy it otherwise! I look forward to reading the next book too. :)

  10. That's it! I am buying this book now :P I haven't read a historical books lately and this one sounds awesome. I've been hearing great things about it too! I've seen the ARC cover before and it was hilarious! I think there was a wolf picture in the cover (which made me confused!) but anyway...

    Awesome review, Maja! ♥ So glad you enjoyed it!

  11. I love political intrigue in my books! Grave Mercy sounds better and better with every review. I really cannot wait to read it! Great review!

    And Ferguson is an awesome name for your Kindle :)

  12. Great review Maja, I cant wait start reading this book, Ive heard great things about it. Glad you enjoyed it. Great review x


  13. I was hesitant about this book after seeing some negative reviews, but you've just put it back on my list, Maja! Well, you and Ferguson. :) -Maggie

  14. Yessss.
    I'm so glad you liked this one, Maja! It was such a surprise for me, too. I thought I was going to hate it but hoorah. :)
    Brilliant review, my dear.

  15. Yay! I just finished this book and I can't be even more agree with you, Maja! I can't put my thoughts into words exactly so I think you review has said it all for me! :D I agree, Duval's poisoning can be handled differently. I think the poison's antidote in the end (you know the antidote, not the bezoar) is a little strange and I'm still not exactly sure about Ismae's power, but in overall, I really enjoyed this book! I love Ismae, she's such a kick-ass! So glad you enjoyed this book too, Maja! :)

  16. LOL Maja, I probably should've posted my review for this earlier on because now I have to follow up all the bundles of amazing reviews for it coming out now like yours! x) Pressure, pressure! But you put your thoughts into words with EXTRA perfection. I have to admit that I couldn't get into it at first because of its pacing, but I loved it overall, even though the killer nuns weren't what I expected either :)

    Amazing review, Maja! I can't wait to read the sequel too! <3

  17. "While I had a lot of fun reading it, Grave Mercy was by no means perfect."

    This is pretty much how I felt about the book too. While I definitely enjoyed it and I'll be reading more from this author in the future, I had a few little issues that bugged me (one of them being the poison resolution that you mentioned). Still, assassin nuns? Great idea! :)


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