If you're a fan of historical fiction, you won't want to miss this story of an assassin nun plunged into fifteenth-century political intrigue.
by Robin LaFevers
April 3, 2011
Source: won this from Andrea @ Busy Bibliophile.
Tagline: Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?
My summary: Ismae's new husband rejects her upon discovering that she bears the mark of one sired by Death. She's given a choice: an arranged marriage or the convent. She picks the latter, and becomes a nun in the Convent of Saint Morain, which she soon learns is no ordinary religious order. Morain is the ancient patron saint of death, and the nuns carry out his will by becoming assassins. Ismae is trained in weapons, in combat, and in poisons. Upon carrying out one of her first assignments, she runs into Gavriel Duval --- a handsome member of the court of Brittany. Ismae is ordered to keep an eye on Duval and is soon drawn into a tangled web of intrigue, danger, and romance.
My take: I love historical fiction. My high school didn't teach much world history, and ever since then I've been playing catch-up. Reading a book like Grave Mercy offers me a welcome chance to learn something new, even if that slows my reading down. In this book, Robin LaFevers takes a fascinating historical figure -- Anne of Brittany -- and uses the very real intrigue surrounding Anne's betrothal and first marriage to ground the imagined parts of her story.
If brushing up on history isn't your thing, there's still enough information offered up within the story that you can enjoy it thoroughly. But if you want to know more, the author has some information on her website. The Anne of Brittany Wikipedia page also seems pretty thorough.
If you are new to historical fiction, this book might seem like slow going at first, even with the assassin-nun training and such. Robin LaFevers slowly and patiently weaves a web of tension and conflict that always kept my attention, but eventually had me flipping the pages like crazy. I found the last third of the book to be unbearably suspenseful and surprisingly poignant.
If you're weary of love triangles, this book will bring a smile to your face. The relationship between Ismae and Durant is of the slow burn variety -- they circle warily around each other for some time, which I loved.
No cliffhanger ending, which also made me very happy. While I will welcome another chance to return to the world that Robin LaFevers created, I was pleased to discover that the next book in this series will be more of a companion novel than a sequel, and will be from the point of view of Sybella, another of the convent's lovely handmaidens of death.
Should you read Grave Mercy? Yes. I mean, if for no other reason than:
|You can buy these here.|
But in all seriousness, I think you'll especially love Grave Mercy if you're a fan of these books:
Scroll down for today's Divergent Trivia Question!