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Sunday, October 19, 2014

What a surprise! I like Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers

The following is the first paragraph in the publisher's book description: "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."

I never expected to like this book, but I did. I am as surprised as anyone. Even with all those elements that usually send me running to my 'normal' historical fiction shelf, I found myself drawn into the story and wanting to know more. 

Set in Medieval France our heroine learns that she has been sired by Mortain, the god of death, and as his daughter she is to be an assassin for him.  At the Convent which worships Mortain, she learns to stalk, entice, and kill men who bare the marque of Mortain. 
On her second assignment in Mortain's name, Ismae is sent to the high court of Brittany, posing as a cousin or mistress if need be, of a Breton nobleman. Actually she is there too spy on her subject, Duval and determine if he is a spy working against the Duchess of Brittany. If he is she is to kill him. 
Ismae has worked very hard to avoid contact with men for she despises them for their treatment of her and all other women in her world. As in all good literature, there must be a complication. That complication is of course a physical attraction between Duval and Ismae. Both fight it but..... Now that poses a real complication for Ismae and Duval, and also for the Convent and the orders they have given Ismae.
Ismae is a likable character with a gentle side that is in contrast to the path her life has taken. My favorite character was a gentle giant who could snap a man in two if need be. He expertly exemplified the idea that gentle behavior can be part of any man (or woman) in the right circumstances. 
Robin LaFevers' unexpectedly enjoyable novel has a dark side full of castles, escapes, court intrigues, assassins, friendship and attraction. Ismae's current assignment is fulfilled, but that fulfilling only leads to more questions and leaves an ending that is open for the next book. This is book one in a trilogy. All the books are now available.
I bought my copy as a Kindle edition from Amazon. 

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