Friday, January 18, 2013

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (2012), narrated by Erin Moon

The daughter of a turnip farmer, Ismae is sold into marriage to a dangerous brute, but is soon rescued and taken to the convent of St. Mortain. The sisters serve the god of death by training their novices as assassins who carry out Mortain's will. One of Ismae's first assignments is at the royal court of Brittany, where she must protect the young duchess. Much intrigue and romance ensues!

All you really need to know about this book is: assassin nuns. They are pretty bad-ass and I liked the descriptions of the weapons and accessories used in their work, and the ways in which they concealed them. The novices were also taught the art of seduction, classes which Ismae mostly skipped, much to her later regret.

I liked Ismae a lot. She is grateful to the convent and carries out their tasks obediently and without question for much longer than I would have in her position. When she begins to feel doubts she is determined to do what is right, but is still completely loyal to Mortain, and she takes great risks to do this.

Speaking of risks, the romance part of the plot was quite delicious, as was the object of her affections. I appreciate that the tension in their relationship was not because of their neuroses, but mostly due to outside forces. One can only stand so many characters who seem determined to make themselves miserable.

Erin Moon's narration is pretty stellar, the distinctions between characters clear but not exaggerated. She was also the narrator of Dreamland Social Club, which was fraught with accents I found a bit annoying, so it was nice to hear her talents shine through here.

Grave Mercy is first in the His Fair Assassin series and although I'm curious about where the story leads, I'm not sure I will follow. I liked the book a lot but I have many other books I want to read, so a taste of this series may be enough. But I'll keep it in mind for the future anyhow. You never know.

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