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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?
Intrigue, court politics, betrayals and Death’s handmaiden… Grave Mercy was an awesome read!
There are so many awesome elements in Grave Mercy I almost don’t know where to start! There is a strong female main character, Ismae has certainly had a hard life, but she is a true fighter. She is also an honorable and loyal fighter who is willing to walk the walk for her God, Death himself. There are intricate court politics, a very young Duchess, a covent that trains young girls to become Death’s assassins and historical facts that seem very real. Not being at all a specialist on Brittany in the 15th century, I don’t know how accurate these historical facts are, but they certainly got me believing the whole story was true.
The world-building took up a lot of space, and I loved learning about the abbey, the nuns, the intrigue at court and also the chess-board moves the Duchess’ advisors needed to make in order to keep both her and Brittany safe. I instantly took to Ismae, from the way her childhood was described, to how she arrived at the abbey and to her dangerous and difficult mission. The relationships between the characters, and also the strength Ismae needed was very well done. She had to be strong both physically and mentally, because she soon realized she had to be able to think for herself and never follow orders blindly.
Grave Mercy appealed to me because of the bleak world inside the castle, the way Anne felt like there was nobody she could trust, and how Ismae and Duval came to an uneasy understanding. The descriptions of the various characters and the castle wove very detailed images in my mind, and at times I felt as if I was sneaking around next to Ismae. As the story moved on, several sub-plots were revealed, and I just cannot wait to start reading Dark Triumph.
Guillo wants me enough to pay three silver coins. Surely where there is want, there is room for kindness?
“So, it is our job to believe and to serve. If you choose to stay here and take the vows, you will be sworn to serve Mortain in any way He asks of you. In all things. In all ways. We carry out His will. Do you understand?”
While the nuns are strict taskmistresses, they are kind too, rarely raising their voices or shaming us. Mayhap they know that treating us well makes us want to please them all the more, or mayhap they suspect we have had too much shame in our lives already.