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
This one kind of missed the mark for me. I had high hopes for Why We Broke up. The concept, a girl leaving a box of mementoes on her ex’s front door aThis one kind of missed the mark for me. I had high hopes for Why We Broke up. The concept, a girl leaving a box of mementoes on her ex’s front door along with a letter explain why they broke up, was something I felt most teens (and adults) could relate to. Sadly, I think the story falls short of living up to its potential.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped let’s start off with what I did like. The concept was great, and something I could absolutely relate to. I had boxes full of mementos for a couple of my high school boyfriends. One of them I still have and another was very ceremoniously tossed in to the garbage not by me, but my now husband, then fiancé when we were moving into our current home. So having a few ex-boyfriend boxes of my own I really like the idea of giving it all back to the guy to let him figure out what to do with it all. The whole concept is rather cleansing, which is the point, because I’m sure Min’s ex Ed isn’t going to read the book of a letter that gets dropped on his doorstep along with all the junk inside. (More on that later.)
The other thing I liked about this book is the art work. Each chapter starts with an illustration of one of the items in the box, and the chapter explains the origin of that particular item and how it came into Min’s position and what it has to do with her relationship with Ed. I feel the illustrations really add to the concept and the story. The book itself is a miniature box containing all the mementos of Min and Ed’s relationship.
Now for what I did not like.
As far as the characters in the book none of them were all that likeable, especially our protagonist Min. At first I liked Min, she was into old movies and that was fun at first because I enjoy old movies myself. Now I’m not a film buff so I don’t know every old movie ever made so when I didn’t recognize the first few movies she referenced I figured they were maybe a bit more obscure than what I’m familiar with. Min, however, continues to reference these obscure films and I realized that these movies are all made up for the story. The author could have easily used real films so at least the readers could connect with Min on a more personal level, because as I said before I highly doubt her ex would actually take the time to read what she wrote.
Another problem I had with this book is that the entire 350 page book is the letter to her ex, which apparently she pens in an afternoon. In addition the impossibility that she could have written the entire story down (which hand written would be much longer than 350 pages unless her handwriting is very small) it’s the way she writes that bothers me. Min will recount entire conversations word for word, I don’t know about you but I don’t think I can recount a conversation verbatim this morning let alone one I had months ago. With that in mind I feel the story would have worked better if (A) the large conversations had been left out and the memories were more generalized and recounted the way people actually talk about the past. or (B) split each chapter in to 3 parts 1. The illustration 2. The letter. 3. The flashback that goes with the letter. Either option would work better than how it’s written now.
I understand that this “letter” or book is a Min’s way of getting over her ex, which as I said earlier I really liked. I find writing is a great way to get your feelings out of your head so you can analyze them. Not to mention dumping the entire letter and the box off at your ex’s to wash your hands of them and very plainly state “I’m done crying over you” is very empowering. The jury is, however,still out on if I believe Min expects Ed to actually read this “letter” she has left on his doorstep. I found myself wondering several times while reading the book if she is actually expecting him to read this, because for the life of me I can’t see Ed (or any teenage boy for that matter) reading 350+ pages about why they broke up. Now if this is just something she drops on his doorstep and never expects him to look at that is understandable, but then I can’t help but put myself in the author’s shoes. I guess what I’m saying is that if Min doesn’t expect her ex to read the book size letter she has written how can the author expect a reader to stick with the story to the end.
I’ll say it again, the concept of this book was great, but it really just fell flat for me which is sad because this was one of those “I have to read this one before the kids get it” books for me. The story however, was just too drawn out and I found myself on more than one occasion contemplating putting the book down and picking up something else instead. ...more