16 July 2013

Grave Mercy

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Robin LaFevers
Format: Paperback
Pages: 549
Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary (Need you always Goodreads): Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly 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? 

My Thoughts: I found that the opening was a strange combination of both quick and slow. We are thrust into the life of Ismae. We see what she has been put through and how she suffers. The reader is quick to understand where she is coming from. She is also quick to agree to change her life for what she believes is the better. On the other hand, looking back, it didn't seem as quick as I thought. The author may have thought to include more about the political situation of the area since it turned out to be the real story here. Without the politics,  there would be no story. I guess this could be explained by Ismae's lack of knowledge, why should the reader know more than her when it's told from her perspective but I'm not so sure. I think knowing from the beginning would have helped a reader to know where the story is leading.

There were quite a few characters. I'm glad that there was a character index in the the beginning on the novel. I didn't use it but I could have at some points. The author did a good job at making sure that the reader kept up with the who's who. The characters were written in great detail so we knew what they were like. 

I love how they introduce Duval! It's perfect. I also enjoyed Ismae. She wasn't just some character to be messed with. She may be duped at times but she works to catch up and get ahead. She doesn't give up and she has the capacity to grow and learn. She doesn't take what people say at face value. She also learns to look at the bigger picture which characters often forget to do.

I wish the the end was explained in greater detail. Without spoilers, some things happen which are quite like miracles. They aren't bad. I was happy for them but I wasn't sure how Ismae came to the conclusions to fix things up the way she did. I feel like I missed something while I was reading that part. I read it twice but still couldn't figure it out. The solution had been mentioned earlier (this is relating to a specific plot twist near the end, not the whole novel) but it was mentioned in passing and as a metaphor, not a real solution. That confused me a little bit.

This novel, though 549 pages, wasn't long. Font size made it a quick read. I'm happy that this novel didn't have super small print or formatting issues because I've had too much of that lately. This novel was like a break for the eyes. It wasn't a break for the brain though. Outside of keeping track of characters and places (there is a character index and map after the front cover to aid the reader), the reader must keep up with all the politics. It's hard work. That won't stop me from rereading this novel again soon.

This novel really had a little bit of everything. There was death, illness, murder, mystery, politics, strategy, action and fighting, love and romance, friendship, betrayal, conspiracy, magic, and religion. Religion isn't really true to real life but go with it anyway.

Imagining this taking place in my world made it hard for me to relate to a lot of the story. Once I put it outside of my world, ignoring that there actually is a France, England, and Germany, I enjoyed it a lot more. I'm not suggesting imagining it on another world just don't try to fit this into real life like you might with other books. The fantasy and paranormal parts of the novel really stand out and it's hard to reconcile what most people know of the world with what happens in this book. Don't try, you'll enjoy it a lot more, I promise.

To End: Wow, that was long. I loved this book. I plan on rereading it again very soon. I would recommend this to young people that like a little romance but also love strong female characters, action, and can accept the violence and death that takes place throughout this novel. It gets kind of graphic at some points but it wasn't too bad. It's a well rounded novel.

P.S. The "series" is called His Fair Assassin and this is book #1. However, it's not really. The other novel has another main character which makes this novel stand alone if you want it to be. Thank God for that, they are so hard to find these days. Enjoy it!

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