Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

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Ostracized by her family and village, Ismae is forever punished for her mother’s dalliance — with Death himself. A daughter of Death, Ismae is given special, if morbid, gifts which are feared by the world around her. Sold into marriage to an abusive husband, Ismae flees to the convent of St. Mortain where the sisters carry out Mortain’s (god of Death) wishes. Leaving her old life behind, Ismae is trained as a deadly assassin and sent to avenge traitors to the country. But, as satisfying as her new life is, Ismae soon learns that Mortain’s wishes are not always easy to decipher. What’s more, lies and deception plague Ismae’s most important mission, causing her to question everything she thought was true.

I really liked this one. It has a female character taking over her own life, making her own decisions, developing serious ninja skills — it’s awesome. Unfortunately, I read Throne of Glass before I read this piece, and the two are almost exactly the same. The one difference is that Throne of Glass is way better. Though it’s not a bad story, Grave Mercy is a historical fiction as well as fantasy, and the time period LaFevers chose is rough. Politics of 15th century Britain aren’t always easy to follow, and what would pass for normal happenings in society back then (i.e. a twelve-year-old getting ready to marry) are hard to believe now. If you like historical fiction and you like action, give this one a shot. It has some interesting views on religion/theology that Throne of Glass does not tackle, and I truly enjoyed reading those themes. I liked it enough that I will probably read the companion novels.

This one has a great book trailer!

Rating: 3/5 

*School Library Journal, Best Books of the Year, 2012

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

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