Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers

Amazon Synopsis: Young, beautiful and deadly.

Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the 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?

A dangerous romance full of intrigue, poison and ultimately finding ones way.

Picked this book up in an America airport since I accidentally locked my kindle away. I have wanted to read this for a while because it seemed interesting that there be such a powerful female assassin in a medieval setting.

**WARNING: I am aiming for spoiler free but there may be minor references that people count as spoilers so be warned**

The story begins in 1485 with  a girl called Ismae being forced to flee from an abusive marriage. Granted it is not really a marriage properly yet since it is about twenty minutes after the wedding but you still learn to hate her groom in the single chapter he features. From there she is sent to the nuns of St. Mortain who heal her and then train her to be an assassin with her hatred of men being fuelled by her 'husband' and father.

At this nunnery are some of the most bad ass characters ever seen and they are all nuns. They are experts in deception and torture with hundreds of different methods to kill a man. It is certainly a shock to the system to read about them but a good one at the very least. The representation of death as a positive force in these women's lives and it being their saviour in the form of the saint, Mortain, was really interesting. It did become annoying sometimes when the character just repeated the same doting things about Mortain but it was a different perspective none the less.

Whilst the setting is in the nunnery, which is only a brief time, Ismae finds a talent for poisons, which is usually considered a woman's choice of murder weapon,  and it was really interesting to see the different types of poison throughout the book.It does not give a lot of information surrounding the training but because of the knowledge the character shares without hesitation it is clear she was trained well.

This also means that the book is fast paced and action packed. With only basic tools at her disposal, Ismae proves herself to be a capable and dangerous assassin. This pace is kept up through out the novel except for in a few places where it needs to establish some kind of political background or new character. This is probably why it too me so long to read this book, because I could put it down at these points and not pick it up again for a while. Once you get into a part of the book that thickened the political deceit and espionage you cannot put it down.

What made this book even better was the dislike between Duval and Ismae at the beginning. They are under cover of sorts and at first they do not particularly like one another as they are proving to be a nuisance in each others missions.As this continues there are some humorous bits with an awkward Ismae or a surprised Duval. It doesn't help that they suspect each other all the time either but that is expected.

A large part of the book is not to trust anyone and this is true. All throughout there were twists and turns involving character after character and sometimes it was hard to keep up with all the lies and schemes. It was interesting to see it from the point of view of a girl who was doing the plotting instead of just stumbling upon it. 

If you are going to read this book though I would recommend doing some brief research on the politics surrounding Brittany at this time because you will definitely understand more of the references. The time period this was set (1488 primarily) was a big part in my history course last year so it was good to be able to pick up on subtle details that come with having some background knowledge.

I did have problems with the amount of repetition in this book though as the character would use the same dialogue with different characters some times and the audience has already heard it. One of the things that really bugged me was how many times "It was all I could do to stop myself from..." was used when the character was doing nothing to stop herself. This phrase was used so much that it could be made into a drinking game. Granted the drinking game may last a week and therefore not be very effective but it is possible!

Despite this, I cannot wait to read the next book. This one did have both a resolved and unresolved ending and I cannot wait to experience this world more. I think my dear Grandma may be getting "Dark Triumph" as my Christmas request.

Rating: 4/5


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