I am so in love with this book! I devoured this book in a day and couldn't put it down. Every single moment of the book had me hooked and even with how big the book is, I read every single word and LOVED IT! I know that some people were slightly disappointed that there wasn't much "assassinations" happening in the book and it was mostly political scheming and plotting, however i have a faint heart and I am so glad that even the killing scenes weren't graphic! Also I loved the political talk in the book and while some people did find it confusing, Robin had two pages at the beginning of the book of all the names and their positions so you wouldn't get too confused. I have to admit that I flipped back and forth several times, but I was never lost, in fact I was fascinated that Robin could create such a complicated and strong plot.
The story is set in the late 1400s and revolves around Ismae, who you will know to be a handmaiden to Death. She escapes an cruel arranged marriage and is put in the St. Mortain convent and taught to be an assassin. Her targets come from the god of Death Himself through a marque on the victim. On Ismae's third mission, she ends up traveling with the mysterious Duval to the high courts of Brittany, where she needs to keep close watch for any traitors to Brittany. This is when the scheming, plotting, and political backstabbing starts, and oh I ate it all up! I am especially fond of plots with these themes because I find them to be suspenseful, exciting, and just original. You discover many shocking secrets and have to grip the edge of your seat while your heart is pounding 5 times faster trying to read as fast as you can to find out just what happens next.
I loved Ismae, she was smart, caught on to things pretty quickly, rational, and wasn't smitten with love the first chance she got to experience it. She began to question her knowledge of her covenant and her teachings at the right times so I didn't have to pull my hair and start one of my yelling sessions, good thing since i was reading it in the middle of the night and didn't want to wake anyone up! As for the romance in the book, I feel that this was what softened Ismae's heart and caused her to question her beliefs and heal some of her emotional scars. Duval was such a gentleman and I loved how loyal he was to his duties and how gentle he was with Ismae. To sum it up, I am totally in love with Grave Mercy and will be raving about it for a while until I get more people to read it and discuss it. Robin LaFevers delivered a strong debut, one that is going on my all time favorite books of 2012. The only downside to all of this is that now I have to wait a full year for the second book!