Goodreads Summary: "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?"
Grave Mercy has one of those opening lines that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go until you finally turn the last page. I was slightly intimidated by the length of this novel when I picked it up as I had prior engagements (read as I was coming down to the wire on a couple other books that I still needed to read and review) and was afraid that a tome of this size would take even me, an insanely fast reader, forever to get through as I had only been reading thinner volumes. But no. I devoured it. I finished this novel in a SINGLE day. A SINGLE BEEP DAY.
Ismae is a nun assassin. You just don't get any more epic a heroine than that no matter how hard or long you look. She was used and abused as a girl and developed an extreme case of the man-hating. She learned to take care of herself, she learned so that she (nor any other girl/woman that she came across) would have to deal with what she did. Ismae is inspiring really. Aside from the whole maiden of death thing. Though, in its own right that is pretty epic. In a lot of ways (her extreme loyalty, her reluctance around men, her sheer stubborness) reminded me of Katsa of Kristin Cashore's Graceling.
Duval...as I told Alli of Magnet 4 Books Reviews...there just are not words to describe him. He was clever, he was handsome, he was...my medieval fictional boyfriend of choice.
Ismae's fellow nuns? SO WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THESE GIRLS. Which I'm excited to discover, courtesy of the back of the book, that we will be finding out more about them in the sequels. They were just that incredibly awesome in their own ways. I loved them. ESPECIALLY SYBELLA. <3
Court intrigue, assassins (that are nuns nonetheless!), romance, fighting and death...Grave Mercy has it all and therefore has something for everyone. This is historical fantasy done right. This novel will definitely be making my top ten list for this year and I will be recommending it to everyone I see. Heck, even my BF (a non-reader aside from comics and graphic novels) was hooked on the idea of nun assassins. So definitely give this one a chance, you will not regret it.