Thursday, April 5, 2012
Review: 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.