Author: Robin LaFevers
Publication: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / April 3, 2012
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
Trailer: Watch HERE.
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 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?
It was long.
It's not that I regretted reading this altogether, its just that I regretted reading it now. It was painfully long and I knew I might get bored eventually (and I almost did) but I had to put a dent on my backlist books. I've had this copy for years and I was compelled to start it, I just wished I've read it last December or something. Because it took me three days to finish it and I was THIS close to DNF-ing. Am also sad to say that am a part of the minority who didn't quite enjoy this one as much as I wanted to.
Ismae is marked my the Saint of Death. Her mother tried to abort her but she survived the poison and her scar is the proof of it. She's forced to marry at a very young age but when her husband found her scar, he hit her. Thankfully, she was saved by a priest and delivered straight to the convent of St. Mortain. When the nuns learned who and what she was, she was trained to be an assassin. She has the ability to see the marque of death on people and then kill them. The convent then sent her to a mission.
The first three hundred pages dragged. Seriously. I loved the politics and all but there were a lot scenes that I felt didn't contribute even a bit of an impact to the entirety of the story. This book would have driven me insane if it was just around the normal length. Well, this is just me who easily gets impatient with ridiculously thick books so don't think the book is any less. But it was painfully long. Ugh.
The last two hundred and forty nine pages made all the difference though. Finally, the story picked its pace up and things started to unfold. Some plot twists were also a little bit predictable like the romance, who the real traitor was and that the male protagonist will eventually be saved but I enjoyed it quite a bit. I enjoyed the last two hundred pages, that is. I wasn't crazy about the world building thinking how much I loved other High Fantasy series out there because there's something lacking. It didn't quite hit what I expected it to hit plus, Ismae bored me to death.
It is truly unfair to compare Ismae to other characters I've read in the past but I cannot blame myself. She's the weakest assassin I've encountered so far. She's so doubtful and naive. It's as if she wasn't trained in the convent for three full years. She's so unsure of everything, even herself and that didn't fascinate me. And how can she even be labeled assassin when the killings are done by her tools? Example, the misericorde. Without it, would she truly be able to kill? I don't think so. She should still be able to kill with her bare hands but she couldn't. And that didn't quite fit her the label assassin.
Then I've worked so hard, so SO hard, to get through this book and what I get is POISON. That was absolutely the last straw. First, I lost the only ship I have for the Duchess and then Duval's poisoned. WTH. I hated it I almost threw the book but I persisted. As expected, HeA. Am not bitter with the ending, though. I believe Ismae and Gavriel deserve to be happy and well, be together. It was longover due!
I wish I learned more about the Beast, de Lornay, Annith and Francois. They are my favorite characters in the story. But alas, I only got glimpses of them. I wanted more and I expected more knowing the book is a beast. Maybe in books 2 and 3?
Grave Mercy is another high fantasy series I think I would have enjoyed so much if it weren't too draggy. I think I would pick up the rest of the series to but anytime soon.
"It is the well-tempered blade that is the strongest."
"What good is fighting if what you are fighting for is lost?"