Sunday, April 08, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers


This is not the book you can easily put down.

Grave Mercy is set in 15th century in Brittany. At that time, Brittany is in complex situation since their disadvantageous treaty with France. Anne, the Duchess of Brittany is not yet crowned and she is only twelve years old. Many people try to take advantage of that situation and Anne only has a few handful of loyal baron to serve her. The main task is to have Anne crowned and marry her to a powerful ruler.


Ismae was only fourteenth when she was to be married to a pig farmer in a horrible arranged marriage. However, her husband gone berserk when he found out that Ismae bears a deep red stain on her back as a proof that she is daughter of god of Death. She was in danger to be burnt to death by her husband, but she was saved and brought to a convent in a quiet, remote place. The convent is dedicated to serve St. Mortain, the old god of Death. The Abbes of St. Mortain offered her a choice to be the handmaiden of Death. Ismae was instantly intrigued by the possibility of revenge, to men who have done nothing but hurt her, including her own father.


“If you choose to stay, you will be trained in His arts. You will learn more ways to kill a man than you imagined possible. We will train you in stealth and cunning and all manner of skills that will ensure no man is ever again a threat to you.”


Ismae decided to be the handmaiden of Death. She will not question the convent or how they pick people she should kill. An unquestioning faith.


In three years, Ismae quickly learns the art of dagger, bows, and her specialty, poison. She also learns the art of seduction which the sisters said would help her in her missions. She never thought that she would ever use the art of seduction… until circumstance comes and suddenly, she is to act as the mistress of Gavriel Duval. Duval is a Breton noble, bastard of the late Duke, and the closest advisor of her twelve years old sister, Duchess of Brittany. He is also being suspected of betrayal by the Abbes and her ally, Chancellor Crunad.


Ismae is supposed to be the convent’s eyes and ears in the court. Duval is not a foolish and he knows that Ismae is watching his every moves. They're supposed to be ally, but no more than that. Still, they can’t resist the building attraction between them. Is Duval really a traitor, as the Abbess and Chancellor Crunad suspected? Can Ismae trust her own prejudice that Duval is not the traitor? Will she raise her bow and kill the man she is beginning to trust, if the convent gives her command to do so?


As I said earlier, Grave Mercy is the kind of book that you long to finish in one sit. The story is very engaging and it’s easy to slip into the conflict and political play in Brittany’s court. This book may bore people who don’t enjoy court politics, but I find the whole plot very convincing and nicely written. I practically flied through the pages because I was very curious to see the ending. The story is also fast-paced and I like it that there is no ineffective chapter that prolongs the whole story.


Ismae is a strong character and definitely an admirable heroine. She knows her ways with weapons and knows how to put act in front of her enemies. She is a bit impatient but I think that makes her more believable. I love when Ismae started warmed toward Duval. There’s not instant love here, and they even barely admitted the spark of attraction between them. Duval is such as swoon worthy character and I feel like he is the personification of a perfect knight in medieval court. He’s powerful, brilliant, and capable of making clever strategy and astounding tactics. I like the way he cares for Ismae from the very start and how he teases Ismae from time to time.


I couldn’t risk putting Grave Mercy down because the entire story is very complicated. Truth be told, the characters’ name feel foreign in my tongue and I had a little trouble remembering their names sometimes. I don’t have any trouble with the writing, it is beautiful and I can really feel the medieval atmosphere when the characters interact. Grave Mercy is not the book you want to miss, especially if you’re a fan of Historical fiction!


I risk glancing at him, expecting to see a glint of amusement or a smirk. Instead, there is a hint of concern. It is this kindness of his that unsettles me most. I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.

 



I rate this book: 
 Four cups of tea. Amazing! Love the book, it’s simply awesome. I love the tea flavor!  A strong recommendation.

17 comments:

  1. Awesome review, Hilda! I'm glad to see you liked this book too - maybe a little more than me as I'm not always a fan of political story lines. I agree that Ismae was a great heroine! I adored her character and wish the next book focused on her but I'm still looking forward to it. :)

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    1. Thank you, Sam! I do think that my love for political intrigue may play quite big part in the sparkling rate. :D I love Ismae too and I actually felt a little crushed that she won't be the next heroine in the second book. I want to read more of Ismae and Duval's sweet relationship. Finger crossed that Sybella will be just as awesome and admirable as Ismae! :)

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  2. That's exactly it, Hilda! :) This book may not be for everyone if they don't really like court politics, but if you do then this book is PERFECT. One of my favourite parts of the entire story was the romance between Duval and Ismae too -- we get a lot of insta-love or instant attraction in YA nowadays, so their relationship was so refreshing! And I loved Ismae as a protagonist like you did! Strong heroines are always favourites (and so are brilliant heroes like Duval)! ;)

    AMAZING review, Hilda! Now we just have to wait excitedly for the next book to come out! :) <3

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    1. I know, Mimi! There are so many insta-love in YA lately, so much that I sometimes can't believe in their romance anymore LOL! I didn't expect to like the romance in Grave Mercy that much, so it comes as a great surprise! Oh, how much I love smart heroines who know how to kick ass! xD

      Thank you, Mimi! I just hope that Sybella is as much fun as Ismae! :)

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  3. I really felt the medieval atmosphere too, I thought the author excelled in it very well! I had a bit of trouble with their names too but I just went it with it because you can still comprehend the story. Wonderful review, Hilda!

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    1. I'm so pleased to find that the phrases, the nickname, and everything are perfect for a medieval story. There aren't many good medieval story with amazing writing out there so I'm really glad to find this book! About the names, I just brushed it off and went on with the story too LOL! ;) Thank you, Elena! :)

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  4. I've had this sitting on my shelves for such a long time- and now I'm definitely going to be picking this up next! Ismae seems like such a great main character, and I love that there's no insta-love! Insta-love is definitely one of my pet peeves in books, so I'm excited to hear that Grave Mercy isn't one of those books. Great review, Hilda!

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

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    1. LOL insta-love in light read is fun sometimes, but I demand some depth in my reading too! I'm looking forward to hear your thoughts on Grave Mercy, Aneeqah! Ismae is a wonderful heroine and I know you will love her too! Looking forward to read your review! <3

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  5. See? You wrote a perfect, well-rounded review after all! I think Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief books convinced me of how much I love reading about political intrigue. I just can't get enough of these stories. Unlike GM, The Queen's Thief is light on the romance, but even more interesting.
    I agree with you, I didn't feel that theirs was an instalove which contributet to my overall enjoyment of the story.
    Wonderful review, Hilda. :)

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    1. You know very well that my review is nothing compared to your detailed and insightful review, Maja! I don't even know how to put on my thoughts without writing a super long review! :P This book actually reminds me of Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study since they have some same elements: medieval, assassin, poison, politics, and magic (kind of)! I really need to check out The Queen Thief if the book is anything like Grave Mercy! :) Thanks, Maja! :)

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  6. I AM SO GLAD YOU ENJOYED IT, Hilda! I've been seeing lots of reviews on this book lately and it makes me dying to get it. I love historical books as well so I better add this to my TBR.

    WHAT AN AWESOME REVIEW, Hilda! ♥ I really loved it!

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    1. My idea of historical books involve setting in Greece or Roman and set in before century, so I'm really glad to find one medieval-setting books which I end up loving it! SOOOO can't wait to read your amazing, detailed review! ♥

      Thank you, Celine! You're super amazing!! ♥

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  7. I've heard such amazing reviews about this one and I love love love the cover. Especially the crossbow. I'm not usually one who is interested in politics per se but when the politics involve fashion and romance I am so in!

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    1. I agree, Lan, the cover is amazing! The way she stands up holding the crossbow? SWOON!! <3 Politics can be boring, but I LOVE political court! Plus, the romance is lovely and believable! Hopefully you're going to love this book just as much as I am, Lan! :)

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  8. I loved this book! I'm glad you read it and enjoyed it! It was so hard to put down once you start! :)
    -Carmy.

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  9. I'm so thrilled that you have the same feeling like me, Carmy! Grave Mercy is amazing read and I'm just sooo glad that it lives up to its hype! <3

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  10. I keep hearing great things about this book. Glad you liked it! I love historical fiction, so I'll definitely have to check it out :)

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

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