Grave Mercy, the first book in His Dark Assassin series, is told from the point-of-view of Ismae Rienne, a turnip farmer’s daughter who was sired by the saint, Mortain, God of Death. When she is rescued by a local priest after her wedding to Guillo, a detestable man, she attends the Convent of St. Mortain, where she learns the skills and arts of Death.
Ismae’s first large assignment is to travel to Guerande, the Duchess of Brittany’s current residence, with Gavriel Duval. Admist court intrigue, battling her love for Duval, and protecting the Duchess at every cost, Ismae realizes what it really means to be a Handmaiden of Death.
I loved it. Perhaps it is the court intrigue, which I love. It was reminiscent of the Tudors. Ismae’s development of character is thorough and realistic. Told in first person, the reader sees how she grows as a girl, and an assassin.
The romantic aspect was well written. The main male character, Duval, falls under suspicion immediately. Throughout the entire novel, Ismae (and Duval) must figure out how she feels about him. When she finally gives into her feelings, the reunion between them is sweet. It’s not drawn out, but it’s completely sexy. I enjoyed that the romance between the two wasn’t the main focus of the plot. This is definitely a character driven novel, and it’s hard not to love Ismae.
This is another of my Summer of 2012 Picks. I thought it was a great read (if a little thick – 549 pages!), but it goes quickly. The story’s engaging and it’s hard to put the book down.
Recommended For… Anyone who likes medieval fiction. There’s a slight element of fantasy/paranormal, but it’s written as mostly background information and appeals to those who don’t generally like this genre of writing (like my dear friend Katie).
DARK TRIUMPH will be released in Spring of 2013. It will focus on another assassin, Sybella (who has a role in Grave Mercy). I’m glad that Ismae’s story is told fully and finished at the end of Grave Mercy. I’m excited to dive into the worlds of the other assassins of St. Mortain.
Rating… 5/5 stars!