giovedì 17 ottobre 2013

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

Grave Mercy - Robin L. LaFevers
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?
Editore: Andersen Press
Prezzo: £ 6.99


Looking at the cover, you can’t imagine the book you’re going to read is considered as a Young Adult. Thankfully, it’s not only that. Grave Mercy is a skillful blend of historical and fantasy genre , suitable for those who love past stories with a bit of magic . Born from the union of the god of Death with a human, Ismae’s destiny is to become her father servant thanks to her training at the St. Mortain convent. The girl is immune to poison, she lived with an abusive step-father who had sold her as a wife to the equally rude Guillo for a little amount of money. But Ismae managed to escape. After being prepared for three years to the use of most unthinkable weapons and seduction, she has been chosen for a dangerous mission: she has to protect the safety of the Duchess Anne of Brittany , destined to become queen. In hes mission she is aided by Duval - an ambiguous man who does not know whether to trust - and Crunard , the Duchess guardian. Ismae gets to court as Duval courtesan, who happens to be one of the Duchess’ brothers and perhaps the one and only who want to procure her a marriage suitable for her young age and at the same time to safeguard the kingdom from Breton, French and English threats. The court intrigues are well complex, and protect the future queen will mean to Ismae not only to risk her life, but also question the convent teachings and make a choice between heart and reason .
I talked about this bookwhen it was just released in America, and since then I couldn’t wait to have it in my hands. I must say it didn’t disappoint my expectations.
The historical setting is very likely: we are in 1490 France when the Britain Kingdom was threatened by a civil war and the continuing pressures on the Royal Council  from French and English for a decision regarding Duchess Anne marriage - she had been promised by her father to many heirs of the European royal families who were vying for control of the Britain especially for strategic powers. Many of the characters are pure fiction but Anne and her suitors d'Albret, described in a very realistic way as a man debauched and disgusting , intimidating the duchess. Another interesting element is the detailed history of devotion to the old gods became saints for religion ( contradiction of contamination in a pagan religion as austere as the Catholic’s). Ss in the Greek tradition those deities determine and decide the fate of human life and death on Earth. Although the author does not give a defined physical description to her characters, she masterfully describes psychologic soul torments, characterizing them as if they were real characters and allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the story.
I appreciate the original cover for this book, a medieval strong looking girl with a crossbow in her hand and a red dress, while in the background there’s a castle. The Italian version is more "commercial" the volume. I much prefer foreign covers, which mostly reflect the content of the book and its literary value .
LaFevers’ style is eye-catching and simple, never boring though the story pace is highly iridescent . The way of describing the battles is very realistic and detailed as if the field where they are duelling appears to the reader in 3d in every detail, every blow, every wound, various forces deployed. It strucks me - so far only Tolkien and Rowling had succeeded in this aim..
I can’t wait for reading Dark Triumph,the second volume of the series.

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