Author: Robin LaFevers
Release: April 3rd 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, YA
#1 in the His Fair Assassin trilogy
Companion novels: Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart
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?
This is a hard book to like. I can see why some people might be put off by it, but since I absolutely love fantasy and historical in one book, this was a rare catch for me. I love world-building to the fullest and I appreciate the behind-the-scenes of the world raised within the covers of this book. While others might not and find this story lacking in actual plot or story, though.
Yes. Gave Mercy is, at times, extremely slow and snail paced. The beginning was very hectic and thrilling, gripping me instantly. I liked reading about Ismae's entry into the convent and how her life is led there, but as soon as she begins her assignment at court, the pace stops, and rather, starts crawling forward when, until then, it's been going quite steady and strong. I didn't mind, though, as I already said, but if you mind court intrigue and politics, you better stay away.
There is a lot of work put behind the makings of this world, I can tell. And that is probably the thing that gripped me the most, and is compelling me to try out the other two spin-off/companion novels, because rather than characters, plot or anything like that, it was more the land of Brittany that gripped my heart. Which is kind of tragic, because I am not all that sad that Ismae's particular story is over, so long as I can spend more time in Brittany.
That being said, while the characters did have a life of their own, no one stood out to me. I liked Ismae because she was badass and didn't take shit from no one, but she didn't make a home in my heart. I couldn't help compare this book to The Coldest Girl in Coldtown which I have just read a couple days ago and absolutely loved, and while the male lead in this novel is also named Gavriel, I didn't love any of the characters in this book nearly as much as I did with Coldtown's ones, even though I wanted to. And I tried. But failed in the end. Oh, well.
The writing was superb, very nice and fitting to the setting of a 15th century world, while still fitting to the YA genre as well and being understandable. LaFevers uses a nice portion of her vocabulary and I liked it. Like everything else, I liked it well enough, but it didn't leave a huge impression.
All in all, that is probably the best way to describe the entire book. Besides the world-building aspect, this book was good, but that wasit. It wasn't brilliant, or horrible, but simply an enjoyable, pleasant read to pass the time and nothing more. I will, however, very probably read the spin-off. And I can recommend it to everyone who is looking for an easy, nice read with no strings attached, because I know how hard it is to mourn the loss of finishing an amazing story. That won't be the case with this book, but you'll still close the last page feeling very satisfied.