Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers really brings something a lot to the fantasy genre, y’all. The plot had a lot of originality and intrigue. The characters were well fleshed out. The setting had nice complexity. I ended up being pretty impressed by this one!

Ismae ends up being a handmaiden for the god of Death. That very fact – along with being raised in an old remote nunnery – added a big Gothic-y creepy factor that I loved. She is basically trained to be an assassin, working to fulfill Death’s wishes. How awesome is that? I fully admit to lovingassassin stories.I refuse to delve too far into the plot in my review, because the whole mysterious assassin thing is best left for you to discover on your own. I’ll just hit the highlights.When she ends up on a more long-term assignment and her emotions get tangled up with duty, the job doesn’t seem as easy as Ismae always thought. She ends up at high court in Brittany, and trying to navigate court politics and figure out what is going on under the surface becomes her personal mission. Too bad what she is discovering doesn’t seem to line up with what Death is asking her to do…

Seriously – the way Ismae acted sometimes throughout Grave Mercy made me want to scream. While I appreciate and respect a certain level of prickliness and self-awareness, there can be a fine line between stubbornness and idiocy. Wanting to think for yourself and not trust easily is one thing, being insufferably obstinate to the point that you become somewhat blind to reality is another. Seriously, this book had me completely frustrated at times. When characters blindly follow what they are taught, it always makes me think of jihadists. Not exactly a good impression there. (Although, come to think about it, I guess Ismae is a religious extremist in a way.)

You guys, despite my frustrations with Ismae, I still absolutely loved Grave Mercy! Besides, Ismae is able to come into herself throughout the story. It isn’t really her fault that she was taught the things she was. Despite wanting to beat my head against the wall at times, I actually think Robin LaFevers did do a really great job with her character arc.

One of the best things about Grave Mercy is that it stands alone! It is the first book of a trilogy, but each book will have different main characters. They will be connected – and I will be thrilled to revisit the world that Robin LaFevers has built. But, I will be returning because I want to, not because I have to continue an unfinished story line.

Check out Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers on Goodreads / Amazon

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Angie September 7, 2012, 1:42 pm

    Glad you ended up enjoying it despite your frustrations with Ismae. I loved all the subterfuge and political machinations. To say nothing of Duval.
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  • Amanda, The Vintage Bookworm September 7, 2012, 10:13 pm

    I’m really glad you liked this. And I knew it was a trilogy, but didn’t know that it was a standalone! I have this book, but haven’t had the chance to read it yet. My husband has though, and I think he liked it well enough. 🙂 He never gives me a straight answer. >> Men!

    Great review!
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  • Mary @ My Sisters Bookshelf September 8, 2012, 12:08 pm

    I had the same reaction! Enjoyed despite my frustration with Ismae. Though I still had reservations about her at the end. She was relying on gut (and swoon) more than her head. Sh just got lucky she was attracted to the right guy! (maybe that’s too harsh but I thought there were also some weird wish-to-be-dominated moments early in their relationship that made me uncomfortable)

    But I still enjoyed it!
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  • Bookworm1858 September 8, 2012, 4:06 pm

    I liked this one but I didn’t LOVE it like so many other bloggers-I ended up feeling a little let down by the hype. I am definitely excited for the next book though-BEAST!
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  • Andrea September 10, 2012, 2:37 pm

    I absolutely loved this book! I do agree about Ismae’s attitude at times but it was understandable. The best thing about the book I found was LaFevers world building. I can’t wait to read the next one (though it is a different character, I hope we still get to see a little bit of Ismae). Great review!
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  • Maja (The Nocturnal Library) September 13, 2012, 1:31 pm

    I’m so sorry you struggled with Ismae – I actually found her to be quite refreshing. But we agree on the rest. I loved this book and can’t wait to get my hands on a sequel. Even better, I think it’s time for a reread.
    Great review!

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