Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)




Grave Mercy

Author: Robin LaFevers

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?



Published 3 April 2012.

*


Grave Mercy. It’s no simple YA book.

Yes, it has that slight dose of magic.

Yes, it has the excitement and thrill of adventure beyond your wildest dreams.

And, yes, it has the romance that will make your heart sigh with dreamy contentment.

But, Grave Mercy is more than just that. Because, for once, not only did a YA historical fiction met my impossibly high standards and ever-growing expectations, it also earned itself a worthy place in my best reads of 2012. Without a single doubt.

Grave Mercy took my breath away.

Taking place in medieval Brittany, this novel follows the adventures of Ismae. Escaping from an abusive arranged marriage, Ismae ends up in the St. Mortain convent. She is a daughter of the God of Death and in an age when women are can be traded as sheep, she is to learn the thousands of ways to kill a man. 

I think that was when I first fell head over heels in love with this book. Perhaps it's just the case for me, but it was like seeing all of my dreams come true in that one single moment. In that precious times of our fast childhoods, we always have some tiny dreams tucked away under our pillows and in our hearts. Those dreams of being an undercover spy, of being identified as a lost princess, of getting on that train to Hogwarts... That is why books like Harry Potter and Princess Diaries are immortalised in our hearts. Simply because we can never outgrow our outlandish childhood daydreams. They stay with us. And when we see them take shape within the pages of a book, the dying embers of our dreams are revived. 

It's the same thing when we become teenagers. With angst, we say we don't dream any more. But, we do. We yearn for things more pragmatically, but still with pinch of fairy dust. To be a Broadway musical star, to be the rags-to-riches Cinderella extraordinaire, to be that girl who falls in love on that one fateful night in Paris... We turn to people like Stephanie Perkins (that's me), Sophie Kinsella (that's me again) and all those contemporary goddesses and the occasional god (like Jay Asher and John Green). 

That is precisely why I put my whole heart and soul into reading Grave Mercy from that moment onwards-- the moment when Ismae sets off to the high court of Brittany to aid the young duchess in securing the nation’s freedom and independence. I had always wanted to do that, to be an assassin in the royal courts. To dance amongst feathers, masks and glittering gowns, with a stiletto and dagger in my boot. 

So I readily lost myself within the pages, and got delighted again and again by an author who packed all the realities of my daydreams into one brilliant package set within the exotic cage of the palace walls. 

Manoeuvring in dangerous waters filled with the duchess’ treacherous enemies and hungry suitors, Ismae puts her assassin skills to full use by hiding behind doors and sneaking into dangerous rooms. But it is only when her convent sends her the final order to assassinate a noble whom she has fallen in love with does Ismae finally dare to open her eyes to start seeing the truth for herself. 

Does she follow the words of the abbess or her heart? Does she dare to go against the convent who had brought her here in the first place? How far can she stray from her duty to St. Mortain before it is too late to turn back? 

Grave Mercy sets forth some startlingly deep questions. What is Death in the first place? As Ismae witnesses the death of a close friend, we finally realize along with her dawning understanding. Death, is not vengeance, but mercy

Quoting Robin LaFevers herself,

You know that book you’re terrified to write? The one that is too hard, too scary, too weird, or too damn intimidating. Yeah, that one. That’s the one you need to write.

She wrote that book, the one that is the hardest and the most daunting. Because she dared, she dared to put her most bizarre and outrageous thoughts to words, she dared to play them out on the epic stage  of history, her book is one with a heart and with a soul.

It has the soul of a girl with an unwavering sense of truth and the heart of a girl who dares to take the leap for love.


Source: Gifted (from my best friend, ZJ)



xoxo,
Sel



34 comments:

  1. agreed i loved how different it was
    bummr my e-arc expired when i had 100 pges left
    gr8 review

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    1. Thank you :) mine was worse, I didn't manage to download the galley and wanted to kill myself on the spot... But, in the end I managed to read it and that's enough ;)

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  2. I really loved this book!!And I'm glad you did too :) I can't wait for the next part of the series.

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    1. Yay! I absolutely can't wait to read Sybella's story :D I love how the three books are centered on the three friends!

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  3. Have a good break Sel :D See you when u get back to the bloggesphere :D

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  4. This is a wonderful review! I am so excited to read this one soon! I wear my Grave Mercy shirt all the time. LOL :)

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    1. Amazing books have amazing t-shirts ;) Well, read it soon! It deserves you unwavering attention >:)

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  5. Great review! That's always the best thing ever when you find a book that can take your breath away. :) This definitely makes me want to read it even more! God, there are so many books I need to read..

    I'm so jealous that you're in Thailand right now! That's so awesome. I hope you share some pictures when you get back!

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    1. Ahhhh, Linny, I bet you're still wondering how I look like >:D

      Thailand was just amazing! There was loads of good food and I bought a lot of tiny little elephant (key chains, not real ones ._.) for everyone back at home!

      I'm so glad I read this book, go read it too!

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  6. OMG I love this review, Sel! You have such a way with words, sweetie!! <333 I so agree with what you said about us teenagers. We pretend we don't care, that we couldn't be less bothered, but inside we do have dreams, and things we yearn for, and a passion and a need to see those dreams come alive. Even though sometimes it's hard to let it all out and admit it, it's true. :') Wow if I thought I wanted to read this book before, now I HAVE to have it. Seriously, Sel, your review's made me desperate for this book!! LOL since we both live in Singapore, could I maybe borrow it?? JK. :) Have a wonderful time in Thailand, sweetie!! It's lovely there!! :D

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    1. :D Your comment made me grin like crazy!! Thank you for saying such heartfelt words <333 When I typed out that huge chunk about teenagers and childhood dreams, I was kind of scared about the reaction I would get, but I'm really happy seeing that you agree and can identify with it :) Grave Mercy is that book that you should be desperate for! Where do you live in Singapore? For all you know, we may actually live next door ;) Now that's a scary thought...

      Thailand was awesome! But Singapore is even more amazing with all my book blogger friends *grins*

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  7. Great review! I absolutely ADORED this book as well and pretty much agree with everything you've said :))

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    1. That's always good to know :D I adore the fact that you adore this book!

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  8. Haha I totally agree with The Teen Book Guru!!! ^^ this really sound like a great book and you rarely give 5 stars :D glad you enjoyed your present!(: hey just a suggestion maybe you want to arrange the books you reviewed according to the number of stars you give to the books? Then people can find the nicer books more easily(; but just a suggestion yea(:

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    1. That's why the books with 5 stars are precious :D

      As for arranging the books according to the number of stars, let's wait until my IT skills aren't so hopeless...

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  9. Hi Sel, glad to have you back :D Looking forward to hearing about your trip x

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    1. Sawatica (Hello in Thai), Shahnila! You're the first blogger friend to greet me back from my trip ;)

      My trip was the best experience of my life, meeting people from all over the world! We partied together, studied together, debated against each other, argued with our pens and took huge quizzes. We ran all around Bangkok (capital of Thailand) in a Scavenge Hunt with twelve other teammates from twelve different countries :) I almost didn't want to come back!

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  10. oh PS: good luck with your exams, study hard :D

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    1. I saw this too late, but I'm hoping for all the luck I can get for my results *fingers-crossed* ><

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  11. Sounds like a beautiful and awesome book I have (no, must) to read soon. Yes, I always have dreams, each crazier than the next and are as likely to materialise as me suddenly becoming an assassin from a convent (I came from a convent school where murderous intentions between students run high, does that count?). I have always dreamed of being in a courtly chess game where I'm the chess master, the one that conceals unorthodox weapons in her beautiful clothes which she uses with graceful lethality. Not ever happening, but it's fun to fantasise. And that's what books like this are for isn't it? A convincing escape from reality.

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    1. Brilliantly put, Alice :) Bless your classmates in your convent school then, but since it's a dream, everyone has the liberty to be whoever they long to be ;) Oh, I do agree with your chess master dream, I've dreamed of being an assassin in the royal court, wearing glittering gowns with a sharp and cunning look in my eye. And best if I fall head over heels in love along the way too *winks*

      Even though it might never happen in this lifetime, books and movies provide the much needed escape. I can't agree more.

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  12. Hi, I'm a new follower! Your blog is awesome! I would love a follow back at http://endlessdaysofbooks.blogspot.com/

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    1. Sure thing :) thanks for following, dearie!

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  13. Wow - this cover is BEAUTIFUL! :) Can't wait to read this one. :)

    New GFC follower here. Would love for you to check out http://betweenthebind.blogspot.com if you have some time. :)

    Can't wait to see what you post next!
    Jenna Lynne

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    1. I do agree :) The cover is really unique, the girl isn't perfect and there's a look of determination on her face.

      Thanks for following ;)

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  14. Good review! I never finished this one for some reason..the story was interesting but it didn't really keep me locked in

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    1. Oh well *makes sad face* I'm a total sucker for epic historical fiction novels :D so this one was irresistible! What genres do you like?

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  15. great review.....Grave Mercy was totally my 2012 best read too...it definitely gives a new perspective to Death....oh i'm so counting the days until the next one comes out(and *makes a sad face* its going to be a long wait).....

    oh and if u have time then do check my review too here

    Le' Grande Codex

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    1. Sure, Aparajita ;) It's coming out soon!

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  16. I already have this book and I'll read it soon. The story sounds really great. And reading your review, I can't wait to read it myself.
    Thanks for the review.

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  17. This is one of my favorite books of the year, and of all time, if I am honest. It blew me completely away. I can't wait to read Dark Triumph! It is going to be amazing, no doubt about it! Thanks for the awesome review!

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    1. I know :D I'm beyond excited for Dark Triumph to come out too, I already know that it's going to be so great!

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  18. Haven't read it yet but I would love to check it out :D Thanks for your honest opinion and I love the cover :D

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