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Grave Mercy

(His Fair Assassin #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  103,629 ratings  ·  9,225 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)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Ema-Lilly Dream Keep reading the series, he is mentioned more later.

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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, th
Wendy Darling
4.5 stars Absolutely spectacular, and everything you'd expect a historical YA novel about assassin nuns to be. Love love love!
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
♛ may
i finished this book in less than a day bc it was so bloody good and im offended that it doesn't get the recognition and hype it deserves (yes im well aware that it was published in 2012 BUT STILL)

- i dont even know where to begin, this book was a ride
- it starts off with a young girl about to be sold by her father into a marriage with this gross monster of a man, but nah this girl ain't having it
- anyways she manages to get saved from that hell of a future and begins her life at a convent where
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
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
“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 y

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
Maggie ☘
*4,75/5 stars*

“When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice.”

Grave Mercy was such a lovely surprise! It is surely one of the most memorable Historical Fiction YA books with fantasy elements there is. I cannot recommend this series highly enough!


Ismae is not your typical young adult heroine. She lived her whole live under care of her brutal father, and if not for the convent of St. Mortain, she would live the rest of her life with abusive hus
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Upon starting Grave Mercy things were going swimmingly . . .

“You would not expect a queen to wash her own clothes or lace her own gown, she has handmaids for that. And so it is with us; we serve as handmaids to Death. When we are guided by His will, killing is a sacrament.”

My inner bunneh was all like . . .

Houston commercial photography

But then the MC was given the assignment that I thought would be the driving force throughout the book, only to find out
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
me halfway into this novel: wait. this isn't a fantasy?

this is historical fiction. mixed with fantasy. and it's pretty dang great. the main character is an actual assassin who actually kills her assignments (shade), but the plot is mainly about political intrigue, complicated alliances, and preserving a nation's independence. there's a really nice romantic lead, too!!
Robin (Bridge Four)
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sale Alert 3May21 Kindle Deal $1.99

I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed the political intrigue and different heroine. This one is more Political while the next in the series has a lot more action. Still Assassin Nuns are always interesting.

Original Review:
This is an interesting YA novel as it is set in the 1400s so it is somewhat historical but at the same time fantasy. There is royal intrigue, plots, strange customs and dangerous women.

Ismae has been marked since birth. She is a daug
Kayla Dawn
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
This was a pretty basic but decent YA fantasy story.
Unfortunately a little too romance heavy for me but I liked the characters most of the time and I enjoyed the banter between Duval and Ismae.
I hope I'll get a little more world building in the sequel!
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
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
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

One Word:


I freaking loved this book and I am buying it for damn sure!

This is a long drawn out book and I wasn't bored not one time...NOT ONE TIME!!!


Ismae's mom tried to rid her in the womb with poison from a herbwitch and all of this did was give her a scar and make her a daughter of St. Mortain..the god of death!

When she is older her dad sells her to a horrible man who was trying to make her do her wifely duties, but once he saw her scar, he was terrified.
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

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
Update 11/27/18

So, this one is a double DNF I guess. When I saw Kirkus give a starred review to the 4th book in this world and make it sounds so enticing, with all the court intrigue and assassinating, I got super excited and thought maybe this would be the case when I try an old DNF and love it and have a whole new set of fantasy books to gush over and look forward to. But NO, "Grave Mercy" is still too shallow and pedestrian for my taste. Absolutely love the premise, which reminds me a bit of
booksnpenguins (wingspan matters)
“This is what I want to be. An instrument of mercy, not vengeance.”

This book is so beautiful I wanna cry😭😭😭


Professional Reader
10 Book Reviews
Reviews Published
Lea (drumsofautumn)
Definitely 4.5 stars! I WANT TO give this 5 stars but I feel like the sequels are gonna be EVEN BETTER, so I wanna leave some space for that!

“It is this kindness of his that unsettles me most. I can dodge a blow or block a knife. I am impervious to poison and know a dozen ways to escape a chokehold or garrotte wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.”

Now I absolutely cannot believe that it took me four years to get to this book. As soon as I heard this book exist
Kezia Duah
Oct 29, 2021 rated it liked it
This book had so much potential to be really good, but I don’t know. It was just lacking some oomph. I will definitely be reading the next book.
Natalie Monroe
"I am a handmaiden of Death. I walk in His dark shadow and do His bidding. Serving Him is my only purpose in this life, and I have let my annoyance drive that duty from my mind. I will not let that happen again."

Like Truthwitch, Grave Mercy is a book I should have loved. It's got an interesting historical background and assassin nuns.

Assassin. Nuns. I'll just let that sink in.

Unfortunately, the premise doesn't hold up. The beginning is the best part. We open with Ismae being married agains
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, ya, fantasy
this was a really fun, and suprisingly quick read! i may (or may not) review it soon!
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
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
Norah Una Sumner
3,5 stars


Such an interesting read.I love the story and the main character.Seems like a start to a great trilogy.I enjoyed reading about Ismae's adventures and I love how she developed as a character.There's action,there's a bit of slow-burning romance which I definitely liked,there's a lot of scheming and there are many interesting historical facts.The supporting characters are very interesting - Duval,the Duchess,Sybella etc.Yes,the writing and the world-building aren't perfect but I really con
Gail Carriger
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, coop, historical, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Obida
Buddy reading with Kelsey My Dec tbr twin

This is really going to be a short review, based on the fact that 3 stars review are just so hard for me to write most times and also I didn't enjoy this book even though it was okay.

As glad as I am that I enjoyed this book, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. The book lacks action, in depth depictions of things that happened in the book,some things were just too rushed for my liking.

I love the politics and scheming in the book, even though I
Sara Rebotim
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was so easy writing and enjoyable to read and I can say I’m not a fan of slow books but I felt a connection with the characters, specially Ismae she’s strong and loyal ! The story was engaging from the beginning till the end
Definitely 4 starts!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Other books in the series

His Fair Assassin (3 books)
  • Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)
  • Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Individually, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows are three authors who write fantasy and paranormal novels for young adults. Together,...
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“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?” 449 likes
“Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours....” 293 likes
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