Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassins #1)
By Robin LaFevers
Originally Published April 3rd, 2012
Single POV, First Person
I started this book back when it was originally published in 2012, but never finished it. I don't remember the exact reasons why, but after giving it a go some eight years later, I have a feeling it was because of the slow start. True, the beginning of this historical fiction is slow, I am glad I gave it another shot. Especially with LaFevers revisiting her dark and brutal world once again with a new duology.
The first book in the His Fair Assassins trilogy follows seventeen year old Ismae, who, after escaping an abusive arranged marriage, finds safety at a convent that worships the old gods, particularly the god of death himself. It is there that Ismae learns that this very god is her true father and he has bestowed upon her gifts to help her do his earthly bidding. Ismae learns the truth behind the convent, it is a home of assassins and she is to be trained as well. Soon, Ismae is pulled into a deadly plot that not only threatens her kingdom but also everything she's been taught to know of her true father's desires for her.
Grave Mercy is superbly written with sharp and sensual prose full of court intrigue, deadly and unapologetic women, brutal twists and turns, and a subtly bittersweet romance. Grave Mercy might be Historical Fiction, but it bordered on Fantasy with its rich world building and creative pantheon of gods reminiscent of old Europe. If Jay Kristoff and Phillipa Gregory decided to write a book together, this would be it. Robin LaFevers is in a class of her own and I can not wait to continue on with the series to see what ultimately comes of this world and the convent's maidens of death.