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Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy 1) [Kindle Edition]

Robin LaFevers
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (650 customer reviews)

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Best of the Month in Young Adult
Grave Mercy is our Best of the Month in Young Adult spotlight pick for April 2012. For more on our editors' other picks check out this list.

Book Description

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?

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2012: Seventeen-year-old Ismae was fathered by Saint Mortain, the God of Death, and one dark and stormy night, she is brought to a mysterious convent where his many daughters are trained as assassins. When she is given an important assignment to protect the Duchess of Brittany and kill the traitor in her court, Ismae begins to learn that being a handmaiden of Death may not mean what the nuns taught her. But her burgeoning independence comes with consequences, and the fate of an entire country--and the only man she could ever love--hangs in the balance. Set in medieval France with historically accurate details, Grave Mercy is the first book in a gritty, fast-paced trilogy, and gives thrilling new meaning to the term "girl power." --Juliet Disparte

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the late fifteenth century, Mortain, the god of death, has sired Ismae to be his handmaiden. She will carry out his wishes by working through the Convent, where she has found refuge from a brutal father and husband. After learning the Convent’s wily warfare and womanly arts, and being apprenticed to Sister Serafina (poisons mistress and Convent healer), 17-year-old Ismae is sent to the high court of Brittany, ostensibly as the cousin (aka mistress) of the Breton noble Duval—but, in truth, she is there as a spy. Her tacit assignment is to protect the young duchess by assassinating Duval if he proves to be a traitor, a charge made more difficult because of the couple’s attraction to each other. LaFevers has written a dark, sophisticated novel true to the fairy-tale conventions of castles, high courts, and good versus evil, and spiced with poison potions; violent (and sometimes merciful) assassinations; subtle seductions; and gentle, perfect love. With characters that will inspire the imagination, a plot that nods to history while defying accuracy, and a love story that promises more in the second book, this is sure to attract feminist readers and romantics alike. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With a $100,000 marketing campaign, including national print, online, and social-media outreach; a video trailer; and a vintage T-shirt promotion, the publisher is pushing LaFevers’ novel in a big way. Grades 9-12. --Frances Bradburn

Product Details

  • File Size: 6889 KB
  • Print Length: 565 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,036 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
139 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just one phrase: Killer. Nuns. May 25, 2012
Upon finishing this book, the critical reviewer in me had a bad moment. It raised its hackles and started stalking back through the book for something to comment on, something that annoyed me, something that stuck out. It took me a really long moment to realize that I had just simply enjoyed this book. Then the reviewer in me freaked out, because I hate throwing around 5 stars. But so the rating stays.

Why, you ask? Well that's what I'm here to tell you.

This book started in the exact right place. You get an insight into what makes Ismae who she is-a poignant one-that doesn't last for more than a few pages before you get to what you know you really want to read about, the killing nuns. However, those few pages are important, done well, and really allow the rest of the book to be accessible. The book is in the first person, and at first glance Ismae isn't exactly a narrator like Sophie from the Hex Hall books. However, because you know where she's coming from, her matter-of-fact way of speaking makes sense and connects the reader rather than repels them. And makes her dry sense of humor that much more awesome.

Speaking of characters, few books have such a solid cast of background characters such as this book. Even the characters that you didn't see that often were well written and not stereotypes. From the younger duchess to Duval's second-in-commands, I was in love with every single one of them-even the villains! (In fact, in places, especially the villains.)

I'll admit, after reading Illuminate by Aimee Agresti Grave Mercy scared me because of its length. It's 549 pages long. However, every single one of those pages was well used. Plenty of assassin stuff goes on, as well as plenty of intrigue and plotting.
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blown Away! March 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Where should I start with this book? I really adored this book. I read it in a few short days. I was extremely interested in just about everything that was going on and my expectations were exceeded.

The heroine, Ismae, was really great. She is kick-ass in a rather subtle way. She's not overly so, but her cleverness lends a hand, making her a force to be reckoned with. She's very strong, despite a very troubled and painful past. She acts very much according to how she's been taught and I found it very realistic. Her internal struggle is fascinating. I loved watching her question what was right or wrong, as well as who she could trust. Her "abilities" and skills were very interesting and added to a very rich storyline. This is what makes the story loosely fantasy, but definitely not enough for me to actually label this story paranormal.

Ismae's hero, Gavriel Duval, was an awesome character. He was loyal, strong, true, and just a pleasure to read about. He deals with an internal struggle nearly as much as Ismae does, but his deals with several outside conflicts. He is very family-oriented - every bit of politics in this book goes back to his family. His romantic side is very sweet and I loved seeing him with Ismae. He is the first man to every really treat her respectfully and not in a completely horrible, hateful way. It's easy to see why she is drawn to him and their romance is very believable.

The supporting characters are extremely rich and well-written. Duval's friends are fun to read and quickly make you want to be their friends, as well. Duval's family and the rest of the political characters are fleshed out and each has a very distinct personality that is really fun to read.

The plot is where this book truly shines, however.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Holy Cow. Hooooooolly Cow. I’m just floored by how much I adored this book, and now I’m wondering what took me so long to get to it? I mean, I do know, I got it from Arcycle a few months ago, but I was trying to read all of my upcoming releases first, and now that I have finished all 2013 releases, now I get to dive into all these other books that have been calling my name for way too long. Now? Now I get to ask myself why I waited so long to read this amazing book. I know one of the biggest drawbacks is the size, but man was it worth reading.

For starters, I loved how this was like a historical fiction with some magic wrapped into it. There is nothing like taking the past and adding something to make it lively because, as a historian, the past can be boring and so can historical fictions that just don’t understand how the past really happened. I think I would actually liken this to a sort of Game of Thrones lite. Sure there are no dragons or things like that, but there is that element that this could have been the past if not for the crazy mysticism.

I adored the characters almost right away. Of course there was some getting used to what the hell was going on and adjusting to who all these people were. Its hard to deny that when you have such a complicated plot and so many different character. That was my biggest problem I think that there were a few characters that I couldn't keep straight, namely the high lords that were all kinds of wrapped up in the plot.

I adored Ismae and her strength in the face of everything that could go wrong that did. I really enjoyed her getting to know Duval and how even though she was sort of told not to trust men, she clearly trusted her gut which was much more important.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I passed on this book about fifty times before I picked it up
I admit that I passed on reading this series because of the convent part of this book, surprisingly it was not what I thought it would be. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Wilfred S. McKenney
1.0 out of 5 stars Plot was boring. None of the characters were developed very well
Pushed myself to get halfway through the book and finally gave up. Plot was boring. None of the characters were developed very well. Very disappointed.
Published 2 days ago by Nicole
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read
I read some terrible reviews on here, but I actually loved this book! The story is unique and I found it very interesting. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Lauren317
5.0 out of 5 stars Different and Delightful
The perfect quirky mash-up of historical and girl power adventure, LOVED it!
Published 3 days ago by Kimberly Sabatini
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good book, leads to a very good series.
Published 5 days ago by Karie
4.0 out of 5 stars A Unique novel with a twist!
His Fair Assassin has been on my TBR for quite some time now, and I'm quite happy I decided to indulge in it. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Benish Khan @ Feminist Reflections
4.0 out of 5 stars it is pretty hefty, even for a person who reads a ...
What intimidated me initially about Grave Mercy was the sheer size of the actual book. At 549 pages, it is pretty hefty, even for a person who reads a lot of long fantasy novels. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books
4.0 out of 5 stars Grave Mercy
Grave Mercy has everything that I like in a book. It’s dark, and evil dipped in adventure with a bit of love on the side. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Stacy Palm
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 Stars
I have been wanting to read Grave Mercy since it came out almost three years ago and I have just now gotten to it and it was pretty awesome. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Book Flame
Originally reviewed at

Thwarted arranged marriages, female assassins, life-or-death... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Shae Has Left the Room
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Topic From this Discussion
Other books in the series?
No, it's definitely a trilogy. There's Dark Triumph: His Fair Assassins, Book II (His Fair Assassin Trilogy), which is Sybella's story. Then there's Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin Trilogy), which comes out in November (2014).

If you're an adult and... Read More
May 22, 2014 by Rawrr |  See all 2 posts
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