It's been a while since I picked up an historical fiction novel set in the medieval/renaissance period and boy did I forget how much I LOVE all the drIt's been a while since I picked up an historical fiction novel set in the medieval/renaissance period and boy did I forget how much I LOVE all the drama that goes along with a royal court. I mean the plotting, deception, and intrigue of that world. *love it* Not to mention all the finery and chivalry that one will often find in that type of setting that just isn't in our modern day world, and Grave Mercy has it all.
The historical setting of Grave Mercy based in truth. The court Ismae must infiltrate is the real court of Anne Duchess of Brittany, and many of the people at court were real as well. As with any historical fiction the author has taken liberties and created charters to enhance the story she is trying to tell. If you are interested in the history behind the book (a I was) the author has provided a wonderful "authors note" on her website.
This story however is not strict historical fiction, it's historical fantasy, and the mythology created for this world is pure magic. The Brenton gods have been refashioned by the Catholic Church as saints. It was common practice for the Catholic Church to incorporate pagan beliefs into their own traditions to make it easier to convert people to Christianity. In the world of His Fair Assassin these gods, now saints are more than just myth they are real. Ismae being a daughter of Death himself has been given special gifts that make her an adept assassin.
Right from the beginning of the book we learn about Ismae's struggled pass. She has a large red stain with welts and scars on her back, marks left by an herbwitch's poison her mother took to expel her from her womb. The fact Ismae survived, the herbwitch said, was proof that Ismae was a daughter of death himself. As young woman Ismae barely escapes a terrible arranged marriage and finds her self at the Convent of St. Mortain where the nuns still serve the the Breton god of death. Ismae spends the next three years training to be one of Death's handmaidens and is currently serving the convent as a novice. Ismae must prove she is ready to take her vows and be come a full sister of the convent and devote her life to doling out the vengeance of Mortain. To do so she must complete her first kills, but things get complicated when her assignment to follow Gavriel Duval a Brenton noble causes her to question the true intentions of the convent. Even worse is that she just might, maybe be falling for him.
Really I can't blame Ismae one bit for falling for Duval, because I pretty much fell for him myself. Maybe its the whole historical setting, I'm pretty much a sucker for period guys. Not to mention that Duval isn't your typical YA love interest (that being a teenage boy, which I don't tend to fall for because, I'm not a teenage girl.) I wouldn't exactly say he was charming, but he is very much a gentleman, chivalry can go a long way. There was also his devotion to the duchess that totally won me over. As Ismae fought over her growing feelings for him I found my self hoping he was truly what he presented himself to be, not only for her sake, but because I was falling hard for this fictional guy myself.
I would recommend this title to anyone who enjoys historical fiction as well as fairytale fantasy books. Over all I think girls will enjoy this book more, but I believe there is enough action (she is an assassin after all) to keep a guys interest as well. The romance isn't too over powering to turn a guy completely off, but the tension between Ismae and Duval will satisfy romance fans.
I truly enjoyed this book and wish I didn't have to wait a year for Dark Triumphthe second book in the trilogy to come out, but so is life. I'm sure I'll find plenty of other stories to fill the gap. ...more