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Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  44,609 ratings  ·  5,391 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
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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)
Samantha I just finished the second in the series and I loved it! Even better than the first and the same characters reappeared!

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
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
Gail Carriger
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
"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 s
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
"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
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

You'd think a book about assassin nuns would make for exciting reading but this was one of the most boring books I've ever had the displeasure of reading.
Ismae was such a dull heroine. I didn't care about her shit childhood, I didn't care about her being forced to marry a giant douche and I didn't care about her being empowered by joining a bunch of not-so-badarse nuns who mete out justice or some shit. She had no personality, no charisma and not a single interesting thought — she was b
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
**Audiobook edition**

*DNF at 40%*

Well crap.

Another book that most people love that I hated. I'm being generous and giving it two stars on the off chance that it improved after where I left off.

This book annoyed the bejesus out of me. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, more annoying than a bad audiobook!! (That can't be an exaggeration because I never exaggerate... never...) First off all, audiobooks are freaking expensive so when I invest in one, I want it to be awesome. Secondly, they take
Jan 22, 2012 Rae marked it as to-read
Soooo looking forward to this one. Already has a couple of starred reviews. And that cover!!! I wish more publishers would do covers like this. I'll explain: 1) She is not a waif. 2) She's holding a weapon. 3) Instead of inexplicably dressing the protagonist in modern haute couture, they gave her an outfit both beautiful AND appropriate to the narrative. 4) The tagline is awesomer than awesome.

I will be buying this in hardcover just to support the packaging.
Mar 02, 2012 Tatiana marked it as abandoned
Recommends it for: fans of Maria Snyder and Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart
Recommended to Tatiana by: Kirkus
I don't know, for a book that received so many starred reviews it is oddly superficial and immature. Maybe too much of a romance? Not interested in finishing.
I loved the beginning of Grave Mercy. It’s harrowing, emotional, intriguing and grabs you from the start: horrific, yet emotionally compelling back story. Mysterious night trip to a nunnery on an island. Assassin nuns. Boarding school intrigue. Poisons. Masterly constructed weapons and gadgetry. Secrets and oaths.

Here I was all primed for a kick-ass medieval assassin, and as soon as Ismae is unleashed in the world... things sizzle right down. Instead of being a wild, brilliant sneaky little assa
I have very mixed feelings about this book. For the most part I enjoyed it but there were a couple parts where it nearly hit rock bottom. This book is a mix of history with a few new characters tossed into the mix to add some unique spice. Mostly positive thoughts on this new series so far.

Ismae is a very strong young woman and is an easy character to admire. She rises above a harsh childhood and is rescued from a contemptible marriage and moved to a convent where the women there serve Mortain (
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I've got to give it to Robin LaFevers: it takes an immense amount of talent to make a book about assassin nuns boring. Grave Mercy was the type of book that started out with a BAM! It was interesting, compelling, and I thoroughly enjoyed the historical setting. Ismae, the protagonist, was a deep and tortured character who I was expecting a lot of and the premises of the story seemed designed for success. Unfortunately, I was very much wrong. Grave Mercy took a turn for the wors
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Also publishes under Goodreads Authors R.L. LaFevers
More about Robin LaFevers...
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2) Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)

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“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?” 356 likes
“Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours....” 259 likes
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