Maja (The Nocturnal Library)'s Reviews > Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
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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 and taken to a convent where she is told that she is a daughter of Mortain, the god of death. She is to be trained to carry out Mortain’s will and kill those he has placed his mark upon.
Ismae is reborn in the convent, determined to make the absolute best of the second chance life has given her. She is a good and dedicated student. But when the abbess orders her to go to duchess’ court and do her best to protect her, Ismae is not very comfortable with her orders. At 17, she is highly trained in every skill she might need and she has no trouble killing any traitor the convent tells her to, but the only way to get access to everyone important is by posing as Duval’s mistress, and that is very unsettling. Duval seems to be loyal to the duchess, he is her half-brother after all, but Ismae is under orders to investigate him. It doesn’t matter that she finds him attractive, slightly infuriating, but most of all trustworthy. Mortain’s will always come first.

What can be more fun than nuns who turned You shall not murder into You shall murder only those we order you to and You shall not commit adultery into You shall seduce for information, but not for love? Everyone, including myself, was thrilled by the idea of killer nuns, but that part proved to be just a little bit disappointing because these nuns had very little in common with actual nuns. I expected more conflict between their religion and their actions, but LaFevers chose another direction altogether.

I really admired Ismae. Getting to know her was my favorite part of this book. I liked her spirit and her intelligence, and I felt that her actions were pretty consistent, a sure sign of a well-built character. It didn’t take long for her to abandon the victim mentality and accept that she’s the one with the power, and that she earned that power by working hard for three whole years.

While I had a lot of fun reading it, Grave Mercy was by no means perfect. People with little patience for political intrigue will probably find themselves bored from time to time, especially around the middle. There is also the small issue of predictability: I knew who the traitor was about ten seconds after he showed up and it left me disappointed because I loved everything else so much.
Aside from that, I really wish Duval’s poisoning was handled differently. (I have to be extremely vague here lest I spoil things for some poor, unsuspecting reader, but those of you who have read the book will know exactly what I’m talking about.) I don’t mind what happened at all, I wish there was more of it, but the way it happened, under those circumstances, felt a little like a cop out to me. It’s like the action needed to be justified by a life or death situation, which I thought didn’t fit well with the overall tone of the book.

Grave Mercy was much more fun than I expected it to be. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.
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Reading Progress

03/27/2012
26.0% ""The master of more plots than a whore has lovers has been neatly caught in someone else's." Ohh, I'm loving this!"

Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

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Bonnie Oh I hope you like this Maja...


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I'm loving it so far, Bonnie. So much fun!


Bonnie Yay! :)


message 4: by Lyndz (new) - added it

Lyndz I will keep an eye out for your review. I thought this one looked exceptional


♥Rachel♥ Oh I'm so glad you liked this one too! It was a lot of fun. :)


message 6: by AH (new) - rated it 5 stars

AH Yay! You liked it!


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) It was so much fun, ladies. Not my genre of choice, usually, but I'm so glad I picked it up!


Kelly I guessed that traitor too, but (view spoiler) that it didn't really bother me. ;) And I do agree on what you say about the poisoning too.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) That's the only thing that really didn't sit well with me (Duval's poisoning, I mean), and since it was towards the end and I really loved everything else, it stood out even more. It seemed a bit naive and silly to me.


Kelly Yeah, and not even the (view spoiler) part but the (view spoiler), which is a trope that is getting annoying and I would not have minded if (view spoiler).


message 11: by AH (new) - rated it 5 stars

AH The way I saw it - it felt like a minor irritant when I compared it to the whole book. I really enjoyed the story and found it like a Game of Thrones lite. Can't wait to read Sybella's story. She struck me as the really interesting character.


Kelly I agree on that too--it was annoying but in my case it didn't even make it into my review, because everything else was so much fun! Game of Thrones lite is a good description. I also thought of the Kushiel books, without all the sex obviously, but with the politics and the tweaked religion. And Sybella is great, and I think her guy is (view spoiler), whom I absolutely adored.


message 13: by AH (new) - rated it 5 stars

AH Kelly wrote: "Yeah, and not even the [spoilers removed] part but the [spoilers removed], which is a trope that is getting annoying and I would not have minded if [spoilers removed]."

Yup. Agree. Still, in the big scheme of YA novels out there, this book managed to stand out.


Catie Hahaha, I love that your kindle has a name. It's like a member of the family so why not? I think I might call mine Fred. :) Great review Maja! I completely agree with you about the Duval/poisoning ending. I wish that the...action there...had happened earlier and not under duress.


Kelly My Kindle is Irene. :D


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Catie, there was a contest at The Library when I was trying to name my Kindle. In the end, Nika named it accidentally, hah. He might be dressed like a girl, but he's definitely a boy.

Kelly, I completely agree with you, that's exactly what I meant. Magic didn't bother me at all since there was plenty of that from the beginning, but the other thing should have happened sooner, later or not at all. Just not with that excuse.
However, I adored this book from start to finish and I only mentioned that minor thing to bring some balance into my review. It's just a little thing that made me frown, nothing more.

AH, ohhh, I do hope so! Both of them need a happy ending, and now he's in there and she's in there and that sounds SO great. :D


message 17: by Lora (new) - added it

Lora You named your Kindle Ferguson? That's hilarious!

Great review BTW:) I've got this on hold at my library; I'll be sure to give it a try when I get it.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I have a feeling you might enjoy this, Lora. It's really a great story.
And yep, Mr. Ferguson Kindle is his name. ;)


Catie Kelly - is your kindle named after the Queen of Attolia? Is it?! :D


Kelly Irene Adler, actually, but I have been meaning to read the Attolia books for a couple of years now. :D


Catie From Sherlock Holmes? Very cool!


Kelly Yup. I'd just seen the latest movie when I got it, and the first thing I did with it was go on a rereading binge of the original stories, so it just seemed to fit. Plus it has the added bonus of fitting my overall tradition of giving my electronics names from Greek myth; my laptop is Pandora, for instance, and my old desktop was Persephone and I got really annoyed when it wouldn't let me rename the recycle bin to Lethe.


Catie LOL, Lethe! Isn't that the river that you drink from in the underworld to erase your memories and start again? Am I just making that up?


Kelly Yup! I really wanted to throw things there instead of the Recycling Bin! I had named a bunch of other folders after places in the Underworld and so the inability to rename that just irked me.


Catie P.S. I could pretend that I'm all intelligent and up on my Greek mythology but the reality is that I'm 90% sure that I'm actually remembering that from one of the Percy Jackson books. Ha!


Kelly I only read the first two Percy books, but I actually remember them being pretty decent on the research. There was a little bit of dramatic license but overall he did his homework.


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