Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

the first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy
published on April 3rd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
fantasy | historical fiction | romance

find the author on
Goodreads | website

find the book on
Goodreads | The Book Depository

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?


This is one of those books that I just had to stay up all night to absorb more chapters. Since I’ve been with them for more than 550 pages, of course I got really attached to the characters and I found it hard to let the book go.

One of the reasons I enjoy reading historical novels is because of their rich settings and elegant writing. Both were found in Grave Mercy. I absolutely loved everything about the Duval’s home and every other place Ismae visited. The writing definitely made it seem as if we were in the past.

Ismae was such a wonderful heroine. She defied others when she thought it was the right thing to do, and she never took shit from anyone. She learned, she tried. She never (at the beginning, at least) questioned the convent, which I found to be realistic. Sometimes, people do believe without questioning.

I felt like Grave Mercy had a little bit of everything. There was definitely a good amount of action, a bit of interesting politics and an endearing romance.

Speaking of romance, Duval was such an amazing love interest. I adored how he was very protective and also intelligent. He thought up the plans, loved his siblings dearly and never let other people bring him down. He and Ismae just had some wonderful chemistry and I loved them to bits.

I also loved the assassin-related things in the novel. We learned about poisons (Poison Study, anyone?), different killing techniques and all that. It was very interesting how Ismae could see when someone was about to die, and how that person was going to go. I definitely don’t want to get into Mortain’s bad side.

So generally, Grave Mercy was a well-balanced novel which I would recommend to fans of Maria V. Snyder or anyone who simply wants an engaging historical romance novel–with assassins.


Skulls 4

4 skulls


Let’s discuss! Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think of it? If you haven’t, will you be picking it up anytime soon?
SIG - Aimee

40 thoughts on “Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

  1. Sounds super interesting, I’ve had this novel on my TBR for a while but haven’t picked it up yet. But I like the assassin things as you said and the love interest sounds like someone I’d like to get to know. Great review Aimee!


  2. This book sounds really intriguing! I’ve had it on my TBR for such a long time, but unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to it just yet – however, I want to read it even sooner after reading your review, so thank you for that Aimee. :)


  3. Such a great review! I pretty much felt the exact same way reading it. I loved the idea of nun assassins. Ismae was such a well written character and her romance with Duval was perfect! I really need to continue on with the series!


  4. Eek, I kind of didn’t like this novel at all. I read it two years ago, and I don’t know, I guess I was in a funk or something, but I found it to be really boring. The assassin thing didn’t really appeal to me and I didn’t understand what was happening halfway through the book, so I just left it. I guess if I pick it up now, I might have different views on it.


    1. This type of writing is one to either love or hate, I guess, and I’m just in awe of historical-ish writing (most of the time). I felt the same when I first read it, Maddy.


  5. I’m not really into historical fiction. All the ones I’ve tried reading do far were not that interesting to me.. On the other hand I’ve never read a ya historical fiction before! And this one really sounds too good to pass up!


  6. I think I should read more historical. The problem is I like the present too much (one of the reasons I love contemporary). But I really did like The Book Thief. So I’m torn. Have you got any good recs for someone relatively new to the genre? :)


    1. I only rarely read historical, but I tend to enjoy the writing! =) You could try A Mad, Wicked Folly–it was historical but really felt like it was a contemporary read. =D


  7. I skimmed your review cause I actually have this on hardback, ebook and audio (whaaat?) but haven’t read it yet lol. I plan to though, will probably just listen to it on audio! From your rating and final words I have high hopes for this! I mean, female assassins! How cool is that? :)


  8. I totally agree Aimee!! This was a really great book and I mean female assassins as always the best girls out there. I’m really curious about your review for the second book. Great review! :)


  9. yes you’re right, it’s also why I love historical romance books. I remeber seeing this one a lot whenit was released but I’ve never read it. I should, it sounds like a really good one.


  10. The fact that you were hesitant to let the book go when you finished it is a great sign in itself! I love the sound of this one though, definitely going to have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing Aimee, and, as always, BRILLIANT review!


  11. Awesome read, wasn’t it? Glad you enjoyed it!
    I’ve read it when it came out and I was totally in love with the whole concept, the characters, the writing, everything. I also planned to read the second one, but of course got sidetracked, sadly. Meh. Maybe I’ll get to it before the third comes out this year, lol.


  12. This is on my MUSTREADIN2014 list so your review has sparked my excitement! I always love a book where I can really get attached to the characters. I’m sure I’d love this book! Almost as much as I loved your review. ;)


  13. I’m glad you like this one. I read this last year and the world settings is just so amazing. I like the political issues and conspiracies within the story. I haven’t read the second book yet and it’s about Sybella. She’s more interesting than Ismae though. I hope I can find a copy in our local bookstore.


  14. I really need to read this one soon. I think I read a bit of the first book and then stopped 20% in (I don’t remember why) and then forgot about it. It’s so hugely popular, and the last book of the trilogy is on its way. Surely, I really need to stop slacking..


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