Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy

Book - 2012
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In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Brittany, seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts-- and a violent destiny.
Publisher: Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin, 2012.
ISBN: 9780547628349
Characteristics: 549 pages :,map ;,22 cm.

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PimaLib_ChristineR Apr 06, 2019

I'm torn on this book. I don't read romances as a rule and this definitely fell into the "historical romance" genre. So I'll say that I really enjoyed this book but I don't feel it necessary to read anything else in the series following other convent classmates of our heroine, Ismae.

What I loved: while this is fantasy to some extent (Ismae can see some sort of mark, or as she would say "marque" on those she is sent to kill), it is mostly a history, covering the court of Anne of Brittany at the end of the 15th century. Even more than the And I Darken series with Istanbul, Grave Mercy</i> taught me a huge amount about the duchy of Brittany--that I hadn't even known existed before this book!

Ismae is a poor villager who is sent off to live in a convent that worships St. Mortain, the saint of death, as a god. Trained to kill, it is the sisters' job to remove those who would work against the Duchess--and there are many. One of Ismae's first jobs is to infiltrate the court and decide if her court patron, Gavriel Duval, the Duchess' half-brother, is a traitor. While I felt that her indecision regarding his innocence was overblown, it was perhaps one of the only missteps in this novel full of intrigue, and murder of course.

The mystery of who was the key traitor was well-crafted and the romance didn't overpower the story. Indeed, it would be difficult to overcome the many levels of machinations that were taking place. If you enjoy historical fiction or mysteries, you'll likely enjoy this novel.

p
Precious1687
Apr 03, 2019

Very fascinating book, had fun reading it the whole way through. The first book that I enjoyed all the through. Was a little slow in the beginning but that is to always be expected. First book to read in a whole week.

In 15th century Brittany, Ismae is a 17-year-old trained assassin, chosen as a handmaiden to the god of Death. Eager to prove herself and fulfill her sworn duty, she is thrust headlong into a world full of danger, deception and political intrigue and from the first few paragraphs, I was easily pulled into the struggles of young Ismae. Despite her lethal training, she is a vulnerable, damaged girl who is easy to root for as she makes her way in a world where she is clearly the outsider and the story itself, complete with romance and adventure, is a real page-turner and very hard to put down. For fans of Tamora Pierce and other like minded authors, this is a must-read. (submitted by QP)

ArapahoeDagmar Sep 29, 2018

Great YA historical fiction. The story of an assassin takes place in medieval Brittany, France and it takes you from a convent to the intrigues of the castles. Based on historical facts with a good dose of mystery, this is a great read! The best part is that it's the first installment in a trilogy.

a
AConsolver
Sep 13, 2018

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy novels of political intrigue, court life, and a bit of magic.

Ismae was to be expelled from her mother's womb, but survived. She bears a deep red scar, and is said to be the god of death, Mortain's own child. When she is married to an abusive farmer, she is rescued by the herb witch and priest in her city and sent to a convent of Mortain's handmaidens. There she will learn the arts of death, and how to kill those Mortain wills it upon. However, when her assassinations get in the way of Lord Gavriel Duval's plans to cull information from his Duchess's court, Ismae must pose as his mistress and go to court herself. Will they be able to stop traitors to the crown before it is too late?

I really really enjoyed this book. The premise is so neat: nun assassins. I wasn't sure what sort of vibe this book would take: nun boarding school, super fantasy-based, mostly political intrigue, etc. It ended up being mostly political intrigue, which I loved. It would have been cool to have a few more chapters when they were young at the convent, but I loved the part at court, and as Ismae learns about her abilities on her way to court. I loved Gavriel and Beast as well. I think I read all but a few chapters of this in one day. I definitely recommend if it sounds like your kind of thing.

l
Linyarai
May 26, 2018

I read this for the "an adventure/espionage novel" part of my 2018 reading challenge. Interesting concept, but it was a little bit predictable and it didn't quite suck me in.

h
happycanuck
Sep 20, 2017

Really like the writing style, female assassins theme, character development and pace of the book. Am happy to have just discovered this talented author.

a
Agrysen
Sep 10, 2016

Fantastic historical fiction book with supernatural elements. Nods to historical figures, old gods, and mythos.

c
Chelsea016
Aug 22, 2016

This was a great book!

I liked Ismae's journey into becoming an assassin and I loved it even more as she started to see that things weren't necessarily as black and white as she thought. I really liked how in the end she came to a realization that she could serve Mortain as well as her heart.

n
Nymeria23
May 25, 2016

What a great book. Just because I'm not planning on reading Sybella's or Annith's story after this, doesn't mean I enjoyed this book any less. I may have appreciated it more, knowing that my glimpse into this world of Brittany would be cut short due to my own insistence.
Wonderful read! I loved the hardcore Ismae, set on becoming an assassin for her father, the patron of death. Her previous experiences before the convent have definitely harden her heart and her thoughts, especially towards men, which is why she is ecstatic for her first missions, where she can finally work for her god in full. That is, until her newest assignment leads to her being portrayed as the 'consort' to the very angry, quite infuriating Duval. Unable to comprehend how her Reverend Mother could place such a task before her, Ismae decides to take her situation in stride, learning all she can and being on the lookout for as many marques as possible. When the conspiracies and threats against her country and her duchess not only amount but become much more personal, Ismae is going to need all the help she needs to make sure everyone around her keeps their heads; and that she keeps her heart.
One of my favorite aspects of the book was her and Duval's relationship, which just seemed to develop naturally, and how Ismae is immune to poison. However, while this aspect of her did come in to play in the storyline, I wish more may have come from it, such as her detecting an assassination attempt or having someone think that they were poisoning her or something. I don't know, I just kept expecting more to develop from that.
Really good read, it's size didn't stop me from finishing it in a total of two days though :)

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Quotes

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e
EricaMcKay
Jul 19, 2015

“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”

KaiaWillow Aug 13, 2014

"Perhaps you mistake death for justice, and they are not the same thing at all"

n
neocarleen
Dec 18, 2013

“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?”

m
mrfbiini2
Feb 01, 2013

“When he laces his fingers through mine, my heart does its now familiar panicked flight, bumping painfully against my ribs. My shoulder twitches as if to pull my hand back, but my heart overrules it.”

m
mrfbiini2
Feb 01, 2013

“I pause at the door, wishing I could find a corner and sleep until my head clears, but the sailor said the abbess is expecting me, and while I do not know much about abbesses, I suspect they are not fond of waiting.”

m
mrfbiini2
Feb 01, 2013

“He barks out a laugh. "My little rebel.”

m
mrfbiini2
Feb 01, 2013

“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.”

m
mrfbiini2
Feb 01, 2013

“The body on the ground is nothing more than a shell, a husk, and I am filled with a sense of peace. Yes, I think. Yes. This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance.”

m
mrfbiini2
Feb 01, 2013

“... true faith never comes without anguish.”

m
mrfbiini2
Feb 01, 2013

“God's Teeth,' he says. 'I was only trying to wake you. You were crying out in your sleep.'
'I was not,' I say, then look from his neck to my knife.
'When I tried to wake you, you stabbed me.' He sounds sore put out. and I cannot blame him.”

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Age Suitability

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b
blue_dog_8329
Jul 05, 2017

blue_dog_8329 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Agrysen
Sep 10, 2016

Agrysen thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

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EricaMcKay
Jul 19, 2015

EricaMcKay thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

adottoprog Jun 26, 2014

adottoprog thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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KKPGIRL
Jul 27, 2012

KKPGIRL thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

black_panda_159 May 05, 2012

black_panda_159 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Summary

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mvkramer Sep 27, 2013

Ismae Rienne is not a normal girl; she is the daughter of Death himself, marked -- and hated -- from birth. When her human father tries to sell her into a brutal arranged marriage, Ismae escapes to the convent of Saint Mortain, where other daughters of Death learn how to kill for their Duchess and their patron god. Ismae believes in the convent's purpose, and is excited by her first assignment -- following the serious Gaviel Duval to the court of Brittany to root out traitors and French agents. But what she learns at court, and what she begins to feel for Duval, might come between her and the convent that rescued her.

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