Review: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers

book review

Grave Mercy

Robin LaFevers
His Fair Assassin Book 1
550 Pages


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 trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

My Review:


I LOVE this book! It has everything I love about books and I just can’t stop thinking about it. This past week, I binge read this trilogy. I read Grave Mercy fort he first time about 2 years ago but I wasn’t fond of the idea of the other books not being written in Ismae’s point of view. I eventually sucked it up and decided to continue the trilogy because, well, in all honesty, I already bought all  the other books haha. Anyway, so I read book 2 and 3 and then I just really missed Ismae and Duval so I ended up rereading Grave Mercy in the end haha! Okay let’s get this review rolling! I’ll try – keyword: try – to keep this review relevant and intelligible.

“Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?”

Grave Mercy is the first book I read that covered historical fantasy/fiction, as well as the topic of female assassins. Now if there was a specific female-assassin-genre, then that would be my niche because seeing such powerful, kick-butt women is just so inspiring. So much so, for the longest time, I wanted to be trained under the convent of Mortain (god of Death). I really enjoyed all the I learned from this book. Like I said, it is a historical fiction book and you learn about the duchess Anne and the war with the French. I think that the writing was one of the best things about this book because it made me interested in the history of it all and the politics didn’t bore me like it usually does. I love that LaFevers showed the Ismae’s assassin abilities, instead of just talking about it. I love that Ismae was a dynamic character and you could see just how much she changes from the daughter that was sold off to a drunk abusive husband to the strong, independent, handmaiden of death. (Awesome title by the way, don’t call me an assassin. No call me a handmaiden of death haha). The villains in this book were truly vile. Ugh D’Albret was so disgusting. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I despise him!

“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 garrote wire. But kindness? I do not know how to defend against that.”

Oh my gosh! Okay let me get to my favorite thing about this book! Ismae is amazing. I wish I could be like her! She’s smart, cunning, sassy, ready to fight, guards her heart. Of the three point of views in the trilogy, I definitely enjoyed Ismae the most. Sybella is too wild. Annith is too tame. (Both of which I didn’t have a problem with by the way). But Ismae was in the middle of those two and I loved it. I liked that she thought before she acted. She wasn’t impulsive and she was quick to think of a solution. She questioned things (eventually) and even though she can sometimes be seen as a psychopath because of her willingness to kill, you can also see her mercy and depth of love. I understand her hatred towards men, all the men she’s known have insulted her and abused her. But yes, you see her grow and learn that all men aren’t like her father and her first husband.

“I will sit here but an hour or two, then leave.”

I yawn. “So very long as that?”

When he answers, there is a wry note in his voice. “I do have my reputation to protect.”

Be still, my beating heart for I am in love with Gavriel Duval! He is perfect and spoiler alert: He is perfect for Ismae. They are true soul mates that complement each other real well. He’s another reason why I would love to be Ismae haha. I really enjoyed their relationship and I love that it wasn’t instantaneous. It actually took a while for them to develop a trusting, dependable relationship. He’s the one who caused Ismae to question the convent and made her really think about what she was doing and how she was serving Mortain. I love how protective Duval is and how dedicated he is to the safety of Anne. I like that he was confrontational. He faced his problems head on and didn’t shy from them. He’s very strategic, too… and smart, cunning, just like Ismae.

“You would throw away all that we have given you for a man’s love?”
“Not a man’s love,” I say softly. “But Duval’s. And I would find a way to serve both my god and my heart. Surely He does not give us hearts so we may spend our lives ignoring them.”


TL; DR: If you enjoy historical fiction with a little fantasy and female assassins, pick this up! It’s got all the elements, history, action, romance, plot twists, great villains!


About Anjie @ Love thy Shelf

Hello there -- call me Anjie! I made this book blog where I can put down all my bookish ramblings and talk to those who have the same interests!
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2 Responses to Review: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers

  1. Cate T. says:

    Assassin nuns. How can you go wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

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