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?(Summary from GoodReads)
There are some premises that sound way to badass to pass up, and assassin nuns definitely falls under that category. Although this novel has 549 pages, it’s so absorbing that it goes by quickly. Grave Mercy lives up to premise with action and a swoonworthy romance, but also proves itself to be a morally complex story of politics and purpose.
LaFevers nails the atmosphere and is very mindful about using details that felt historically realistic, such as Ismae being forced into marriage. The descriptions of the weapons and clothing created a really distinct picture in my mind.
Grave Mercy turned out to be more political and personal than I expected. Ismae has a compelling backstory and a desire to do the right thing, but is still a very independent thinker. She grows so much throughout the story in a way thats fit herself, her occupation, her world, and the pace of the story. Her character was great throughout, but the direction it took in the last 100 pages was not only fascinating but also piqued my interest in books two and three of this series.
It would have been pretty easy for LaFevers to lump together all the people of court, but I loved that each of them had their own distinct personalities and motives. It got hard to keep straight maybe once or twice, but it’s hard to say if that’s my fault or the author’s. Grave Mercy has a slow burn romance that I loved—it added so much intrigue and complexity to the story, and I got the appeal of the love interest, which made for a more emotionally engaging reading experience.
Grave Mercy is a compelling and absorbing start to a historical series that I cannot wait to continue. Some great hints were dropped in about Sybella to get to know her and Annith and find out how everyone’s stories fit together. I especially want to see how the moral complexities of this story unfold. Grave Mercy is a great read by itself, but I’m eager to discover how it fits into the larger puzzle of its series.