Grave Mercy

Written by Robin LaFevers
Review by Jessica Brockmole

When seventeen-year-old Ismae flees a brutal marriage, she is taken in by the nuns at the abbey of St. Mortain. Mortain is more than a saint; he’s the old Breton god of death. And the nuns are more than just handmaidens; with their meticulous training in combat and weaponry, they help along those who Mortain has called home.

Highly skilled and armed to the teeth, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where sinister plotting is afoot to keep the young duchess Anne from being crowned. Ismae is charged with keeping an eye on Anne and eliminating the undesirables around her, marked for death with Mortain’s shadowy marque. Masquerading as the mistress of the enigmatic Gavriel Duval, no one but he knows her true identity as a handmaiden of Death. Ismae is trained in assassination, but not in how to navigate through the intrigues of court or the struggles in her own heart. She is taught never to question who Mortain lays his marque on, but her faith is shaken when he targets those she has grown close to.

This novel was packed with not only thrills and glorious fights, but also romance, mystery, and a good amount of the history of 15th century Brittany. Ismae is a compelling character, being both strong and conflicted, and she grew believably with each fresh challenge and wrinkle to her plans. I was pleased to learn that Grave Mercy is the first in His Fair Assassin trilogy and already look forward to seeing which characters we get to follow in the future novels.