Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)” as Want to Read:
Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  52,094 ratings  ·  6,137 reviews
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 tr
Hardcover, 549 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Grave Mercy, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Natalie All three books are from the perspective of the different girls: Ismae narrates Grave Mercy, Sybella narrates Dark Triumph, and Annith narrates Mortal…moreAll three books are from the perspective of the different girls: Ismae narrates Grave Mercy, Sybella narrates Dark Triumph, and Annith narrates Mortal Heart. Though I haven't read the third book yet, I have read the second one and I think that it's even better than the first. Ismae and Duval still show up in Dark Triumph, but the story focuses more on Sybella and Beast. It may be darker than the first, but it's also very powerful and gripping, and I love how the relationships between Sybella and the rest of the characters (especially with Beast, Ismae, and the Abbess) are shown. So I encourage you to go ahead and read it! (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Annie Keep reading the series, he is mentioned more later.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

‘‘So,’’ she says, looking back at me. ‘‘You are well equipped for our service.’’
‘‘Which is?’’
‘‘We kill people.’’

Everything in this fantasy book approaches perfection.

Maybe I have been bewitched, compelled, but, when I think of this novel, the word ‘‘masterpiece’’ is the first one that comes to my mind. Historical and fantasy make delightful mélanges when the two of them are present in a novel. The story may not have been of the same rare quality as Clockwork Angel, for example, but ther
Wendy Darling
4.5 stars Absolutely spectacular, and everything you'd expect a historical YA novel about assassin nuns to be. Love love love!
Mar 12, 2012 Catie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Catie by: Jo
3 1/2 stars

I may have a few mixed feelings about this book, but I know exactly who to recommend this to. Do you love historical mysteries? Court intrigue? Romance? Very light fantasy? Do you love Juliet Marillier? Sherwood Smith? Do you wish that The Queen’s Thief series read a lot more like a romance novel? Then this book is absolutely for you.

Ismae is a young teenager when she’s sold in marriage to a much older man. Her father is happy to be rid of her, but her new husband doesn’t know that sh
Emily May

This book is like small dashes of awesomeness randomly sprinkled throughout long stretches of boredom. Perhaps I would have been far less bored if I cared more for fantasy/historical fiction that focuses most of its energy on the romance story. Perhaps I would have been less bored if the romance had been the kind to creep up on you, so that you're inwardly pleading that the characters will get together long before they even acknowledge their attraction for one another. Perhaps.

However, the r
Rick Riordan
hooked me with a great premise: medieval nun assassins who serve Saint Mortain, the god of death. The novel is set in an alternate realm of Brittany, where the local gods have been subsumed by Christianity and renamed saints. The old ways live on, however, especially among the daughters of Saint Mortain, who serve as the realm's assassins, killing those who need to be killed.

Our lethal heroine, Ismae, escapes a life of poverty and abuse by joining the convent. Soon she is plunged into a game of
“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Well, I thought I was going to hate that... quite the opposite.

High Points.
Ismae. Breton courts. Nuns. The coolest convent EVER. Saints. The genre (my first historical/fantastical adventure… very exciting). Death’s handmaidens. 13th century gadgets. Poison. Saints. Horsies. Beast. Anne. Secret passage ways. Traitors. Secrets. Corruption. A kiss can be deadlier if you
Steph Sinclair
Actual rating 2.5 stars

Grave Mercy started out very strong for me with its historical roots. I instantly loved Ismae and could empathize with her bleak outlook on life. The novel had strong characters, a good plot, and political intrigue. I mean, c'mon! An assassin nun?! A badass premise like that is just begging to be read and loved. So what in heaven's name went wrong for me? Why am I only giving this book 2.5 stars?

Well, I'll start with what I actually liked first. I did like all the charact
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
What a pleasant surprise this was! Grave Mercy won me over in chapter one and I was unable to put down Ferguson, my Kindle, until I finished it. I always have troubles getting through the middle part of a book, but that was not the case here at all. I stayed up very late to finish it and I didn’t regret it for a second.

After being abused for her entire life by her vicious father and then married off at fourteen to an equally vicious husband, Ismae is saved by a hedge priest on her wedding night
Anzu The Great Destroyer

Ugh I couldn’t finish this. I tried and tried so far but eventually the inevitable happened.

I may be harsh (I don’t consider myself harsh), I may be an asshole (I don’t consider myself an asshole), I may be a hater (I’m totally a hater) but I DNF’d the bitch! And it felt so damn good!

I was fair though. I gave it a 100-page trial, stuck to it like the good little girl I am and couldn’t even handle it. And to think page 100 was like 35% or something inside the book. 35%!!! Imagine how much left un
Dec 04, 2013 Arlene rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Arlene by: Street Corner Bookers - Group Dessert Pick March
Five Solid Stars!

When I was reading Grave Mercy, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the life lessons I learned from the nuns I went to Catholic School with. Now keep in mind, they weren’t the skills Ismae was exposed to at Saint Mortmain's convent, so maybe I should start off with a brief comparison.

See, I was taught:
To walk like a bird, not like an elephant.
Keep my ankles and knees together when I sit.
My school tie is not to be used as a napkin.
Keep plenty of room for the Holy Spirit betwee
Marg K.
First thing's first. I must admit that I skimmed this book. I skimmed it hard. I was also only semi-consciously reading certain bits, and I may have fallen asleep with eyes wide open a few times. In my defense, however, this book was not at all what I was expecting. Plus, it was long...and draggy...and soooo incredibly boring (in my personal opinion of course). Truth be told, the only reason I continued reading Grave Mercy through to the bitter end was because I've been DNFing way too many books ...more
Kat Kennedy
Grave Mercy is the improbable tale of an assassin-y murder-nun, Ismae, on a mission to rescue the Duchess of Brittany from a fate worse than death – a really disgusting old, pervert man. She’s joined along the way by a studly lord-type person, Duval, in order to defeat evil (the French), crown the Duchess, and get laid.
So on the positive side there’s court intrigue, crossbows, britches untied and skirts hitching and all those kinds of shenangians. And given those facts, you would be forgiven for
Rachel ♥Reads Ravenously♥
“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”

Battered and abused for the majority of her life, Ismae is saved right after her wedding ceremony from a disgusting man and sent to a convent of Mortain's, the God of Death. There, she is schooled in the art of being an assassin and dedicated to carry out his work. For 3-4 years she is trained in many different ways to kill a man, and when she becomes 17 she is sent on her first assignment. F
Alienor ☠ is stuck on the Jellicoe Road ☠

Book 2 : Dark Triumph

This is the kind of book you eat and forget most of the details just after reaching the last page, because if there's a new event at each chapter, you quit on the feeling that nothing happened. Actually if Grave Mercy is by no means a bad book, I wasn't impressed either. What surprises me the most is how an original concept as Assassin nuns can lead me to feel slightly underwhelmed.

I guess that expectations are everything.

"So," she says, looking back up at me. "You ar
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
Mar 11, 2012 Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker Queen of the Undead rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone that loved Poison Study and/or Graceling.
This book was outstanding. You have all the fun elements- a young "kick-ass" female assassin gifted by the God of Death, a potential love interest, court politics, revenge, mistrust, and so on.

In addition, you have a beautiful tale of a girl’s personal growth. Watching Ismae go from a naive young girl, who blindly follows, to a smart thinking young woman, was the best part of the book.


I was going to write more for this review but I am going to just roll with what I wrote originall
Don't you love when by some weird luck you discover a book that manages to surprise you? And it is not even kind of a book you would usually read? That is exactly what happened to me - first two books of His Fair Assassin trilogy were available on NetGalley, I saw both countless times on my friend's blogs or social network's profiles and I just couldn't miss an opportunity to read them myself.

The story. Young girl escapes from unwanted marriage just so she would become professional assassin tr
Stacia (the 2010 club)
Jul 02, 2013 Stacia (the 2010 club) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Stacia (the 2010 club) by: June read for Rated YA-MA group
A history of (paraphrased) reader responses to Grave Mercy.

Oooh...assassin nuns!
Love the historical setting!
Yawn. This is boring.
The romance is a nicely handled but I wish there was more.
I hate that there's even a romance in this book.
No, really? Is this book still going?
I could eat up every single word on the pages!
Maybe there's a few parts which drag but I'm still really liking it.
Forget this. I'm done.

Polarizing books are nothing new. In fact, I'm almost wary of a popular book if there isn't
Gail Carriger
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Grave Mercy is a fantasy novel that feels like historical fiction. Our heroine is a young woman in 15th Century Brittany who has always been cast in the role of victim, until she is delivered to the Convent of St. Mortain, the God of Death who masquerades as a saint to appease the newer Christian church. Now she is the wolf instead of the prey. Ismae is believed to be the daughter of this god, since she even survived being poisoned in her mother's womb, although she is forever physically scarred ...more
Assassins. NUN assassins. Who is not immediately intrigued by this premise? I sure was. It started with a bang too. We are introduced to our feisty protagonist, Ismae; with a bitter childhood and a somber future, she is sent to a convent where she will train to do Death's bidding. With this great main character and exciting plot, I obviously enjoyed it, my problems lay with the historical/political stand-points where I found myself getting confused and disinterested.

I have enjoyed historicals i
OMG THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!! I did not expect that. It has a 'Throne of Glass' feel to it. Its pure awesomeness!!

Ismae is a really amazing character,not your usual 'assassin',but an emotional girl,with a dark complicated past and future. Her relationship with Duval was gold. The whole plot, and twists,conspiracies,betrayals,love,lies and constant suspense was breath taking!!

I lost several hours of sleep reading this and i regret nothing!! Off to the next book!!! :D
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

4.5 stars!

I loved this book. I was totally sucked into the story and could have easily read it from beginning to end without stopping. Unfortunately, my life dictated that I had to take breaks for things like sleep, work, and children. It seemed so unfair to be stuck at work while I had a book begging me
Hailey LeBlanc (HailsHeartsNyc)
this was a really fun, and suprisingly quick read! i may (or may not) review it soon!
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Apr 14, 2015 ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) marked it as sorry-but-i-just-can-t-do-this  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) by: Liz*
Updated April 14, 2015: bye bye YA, I'm done wasting my time with you. Won't be reading this one despite the assassin nun attraction.

Don't look at me, this is all Liz' fault.

And because assassin nuns.
"I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch's poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb. That I survived, according to the herbwitch, is no miracle but a sign I have been sired by the god of death himself."

A History

Escaping her father’s rage and brutal arrange marriage, Ismae took shelter in a covenant that serve Mortain, the saint of death and the nuns running the place was no ordinary ones. Soon Ismae learns
Mar 20, 2012 ♥Rachel♥ rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Graceling and Poison Study
Shelves: netgalley-e-book
4.5 Stars

I didn't expect to like this story as much as I did. I'm not a huge fan of historical novels but this one definitely sucked me in from the first page. This felt like a cross between Graceling and Poison Study. I think any fan of those stories would definitely enjoy this story.

Ismae has had to endure the horrible treatment of her cruel step-father for years. When we come into the story, she is being forced to marry some revolting male, by her step-father. Little does this disgusting man
I guess even assassin nuns can be boring after all.

Also called "daughters of Mortain", the god of death, often rescued from terrible living conditions - like our Ismae - this particular kind of nuns are trained and educated in a convent in honor of the god, and they dedicate their lives to the fulfillment of Mortains' will by killing people who carry the "marque" and who are guilty primarily of treason against their country.
Ismae has just been sold to her future husband - a brute man - by her fa
*4.5 stars

17 year old Ismae has been raised St. Mortain's covent. St. Mortain is the god of Death, and she has been raised to not only worship the god of death, but to serve Him as well. Then, she gets a special assignment to protect a duchess. To do so, she must live with the noble families of court.

This book was really good! It was great, actually! I stayed up late reading it. It's definitely a page-turner. The characters!! They were all perfect! I don't think I can write more without spoilin
3.5 stars....

Okay, I really liked this one....while I read it, but after the ending it was kind of lacking.....I feel like there was a lot that wasnt answered.....and some stuff that wasnt fully answered, and some stuff just wasnt explained very well. I liked Ismae, and I really really liked Gavriel. I like how their dislike and distrust of each other morphed into friendship, but I felt kind of went "I hate you....just kidding" almost too quickly.

I DONT KNOW, I cant...wrap my head aro
"Who are you to say what the god of death needs or doesn’t need? Mortain is an old god and has no desire to be forgotten and fade from this world, which is why he chooses to bestir Himself in the affairs of man. [...] He will ask for sacrifices, but it is not your role to question. Only to serve with love and obedience."

Before starting this review in earnest I believe I have to come clean concerning three facts:
1. Although I have consumed some very fine specimens historical fiction is usually no
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)
  • Scarlet (Scarlet, #1)
  • Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3)
  • Dragonswood (Wilde Island Chronicles, #2)
  • Ripper (Ripper, #1)
  • Vessel
  • Scent of Magic (Healer, #2)
  • Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #1)
  • The Unfailing Light (Katerina, #2)
  • The Traitor in the Tunnel
  • Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)
  • When the Sea Is Rising Red (Hobverse #1)
  • The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles, #2)
  • Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2)
  • Sacrifice (Legacy, #3)
  • Shadows on the Moon
  • Torrent (River of Time, #3)
  • The Wicked and the Just
Also publishes under Goodreads Authors R.L. LaFevers
More about Robin LaFevers...

Other Books in the Series

His Fair Assassin (3 books)
  • Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)
  • Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2) Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3) Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Throckmorton, #1)

Share This Book

“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?” 378 likes
“Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours....” 274 likes
More quotes…