Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I by Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I

byRobin LaFevers

Paperback | March 5, 2013

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"Fiction and history coalesce in a rich, ripping tale of assassinations, political intrigue and religion. . . . LaFevers' ambitious tapestry includes poison and treason and murder, valor and honor and slow love, suspense and sexuality and mercy. A page-turner-with grace." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review &nbspSeventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage to the respite of the convent of St. Mortain. Here she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts and a violent destiny.&nbspTo claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. But how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who has stolen her heart?
Robin LaFevers  has long been fascinated with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in Southern California. Visit her website at www.robinlafevers.com.
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Title:Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book IFormat:PaperbackDimensions:576 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.35 inPublished:March 5, 2013Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0544022491

ISBN - 13:9780544022492

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Didn't enjoy it There was not enough action and it was very slow. There are way better books out there regarding assassins.
Date published: 2017-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really good! I expected great things from this book and I was not disappointed! It was very intriguing and well written.
Date published: 2017-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Great story with accurate historical touches and references. The characters were extremely interesting and the chemistry between the two main characters interested me throughout the whole story. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great novel It seemed as if I were actually in the past in this story-the detail and plot was amazing
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Adventure I enjoyed this one! It provided a really nice blend of Irish mythology and contemporary eras to provide a really great adventure story. I myself didn’t know anything about Irish Travellers so it was a good lesson for me to learn from as well. Not sure what I can say about the romance aspect in the book. Don’t get me wrong, I love Teagan, Abby, Aiden and Finn. Their characters are fun to read and I loved to comedy aspect that was prevalent throughout the book. However I just couldn’t feel the chemistry they supposedly had. I know there’s other books to follow after this one, so maybe I’ll be able to see the chemistry then. One other thing I have to say is, a glossary of the Irish terms would have been helpful. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of every term you came across during the novel. Also a pronunciation guide would have been helpful here too. (We all know Irish terms aren’t read like they look) However, I loved every aspect of this book. The comedy was great, the adventure/questing part was great to read (anyone felt disgusted as I did about the toe part? Omg lol) greatly recommended and I will be picking up the other two novels after this one.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Love the story, I was hooked right from the start and couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Such a good read! Great book in this series of three and dives more into the political tension and action of the country. Great read way better than my lame review writing skills make it sound!
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great story! Great book about the power of women acting as spies, assassins, and political activists. I loved the action and intrigue in this book and the other two in this series and the little bit of romance kept things interesting.
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love this series Robin Lefevers writes an interesting and new series about young women trained to be assassins for Death. Lovely historical fiction with characters youll love!
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read Robin Lafevers weaves an interesting plot with unforgettable characters. A good story line that is interesting and complex.
Date published: 2016-12-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book, Looking forward to the next one. Easy Read...
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ah-ma-zing The romance, mystery, and historical aspect of the book was wonderfully written and reminded me very much of Graceling (one of my favourite books) and the Seven Realms Series (my favourite series of all time). I was very hooked in with the premise and was not disappointed. My only problem is that it was kind of hard to understand and keep up with since it is partly historical and had a lot of things going on. But other than that, this book has come to be one of my favourites.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cool historical fantasy I am a little late beginning this trilogy, but I enjoyed the first book and it probably won’t take me too long to catch up. What I liked: The characters. Ismae is strong of spirit and is very observant and clever. She really developed and changed throughout the book. True, her position as an assassin is ruthless, and often times I questioned her bloodthirst, but she became more merciful and discovered a different path for herself. This part of the book is perfect, in my opinion. I don’t want to give too much else away about this. I also really liked Duval. He had a couple of rough moments, but nothing truly worrisome, and I appreciate that he wasn’t a jerk like so many YA love interests. He was noble and angry and smart and he tried very hard to make things work out for the best of everyone. Plus, he is a good big brother, and who can resist one of those? Another thing I appreciated was the use of actual history and political conflicts. It did make some aspects of the book predictable, but it was cool to think “Hey, I’m reading the dialogue of someone who actually existed.” One of the strongest points, and one that should have been played on far more, in my opinion, was the mythology of the nine old saints. This world building played on existing Celtic and Greco-Roman mythologies, but it was unique at the same time. One more thing I liked: the ending. So squee! What I disliked: Not enough mythology! This was one of the strongest parts of the story and it should have been more present. I was expecting this book to involve more of the supernatural and was disappointed that it didn’t. Also, the court stuff got a bit boring/confusing at times. It could have used some clearing up, and I think Lafevers could have done more to make us care about Brittany and not just the characters because the predicament, bad as it was, didn’t quite feel urgent enough. Also, although I ship Ismae and Duval, I think the love story was a bit too easy. Ismae was not trusting of men because they abused her, and then she spent three years in a convent away from any men. I don’t think she’d fall quite as easily as she did. The romance built slowly enough, but the attraction/stirrings were far too early. Last thing: a lot of telling and not enough showing. I grew a bit impatient/disinterested when Ismae simply stated what she was feeling. It distanced me from the story, I think. Overall, a pretty fresh book. I don’t quite think it deserves all the hype, but it’s worth checking out.
Date published: 2016-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Addicting I started reading this book and I COULD NOT put it down. I desperately needed to know how it was going to end. I feel like the plot could have been a little better and more unique, but it was so well written that almost didn't matter. I would recommend this book to anyone that is a fan of the Graceling series or the Hunger Games. An amazing read.
Date published: 2015-10-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing Grave Mercy was similar to Throne of Glass to me. Not so much in plot, which albeit did have some similarities, but in outline. Badass assassin girl gets sent on a mission to bring down some people, but ends up just wearing a lot of pretty dresses, playing politics she knows nothing about, and ultimately falling in love with the one who "saves" her from the life she was currently living. Don't get me wrong, if done well it can work, but I think the pitfall for Grave Mercy was that nothing really happened. Just like where many other first books fall short for me, it was heavy character development with the plot coming in second and the world building being non-existent. Ismae was so frustrating. She just blindly trusted the covenant and did as she was told. She never questioned anything, which would be fine EXCEPT the only reason she did start questioning the covenant was because they wanted her to kill Duval and his family. So, of course, when a man is involved you don't want to do what you have believed your whole life without question. I personally think it would have been better off that she never questioned anything and just did whatever she was told. I think that would have made for a better story, imo. But at the same time, I did like Duval. Gavriel Duval was a pretty great character, actually. He was loyal and dutiful to his sister and I loved every aspect of that. However, I do think that he was almost TOO perfect. He did everything wonderfully for all the women in his life (save his mother, I guess). I just felt as though everything that he did and had happen to him was too conveniently perfect. And do NOT get me started on how freaking ridiculous it was that [to save him from poision, Ismae had to have sex with him. Like come on. I am all for characters in YA books having sex, but at least give them a good, BELIEVEABLE reason to do so] Their romance was stunted to me. It felt forced upon the reader and I did not think the chracters actually had that much chemistry. Yes, they were in each other's faces some times, but I did not think they were around each other enough or communicating enough to fall in love the way they did. My heart did melt at Duval's quote at the end. But really I didn't see it. I would have said that Ismae could have just as easily ended up with de Lorney or Beast as with Duval. The narrative didn't naturally lead me to believe that the two of them would be together. The world building was a little lacking for me. I know the majority of the history (although I was taught it a long time ago so I am a little rusty on it) but the author's note at the end cleared up some stuff. I would actually suggest reading that first because then you get a sense of what is happening and why the conflict is there. I understand that it is a historical fiction-fantasy novel and it is set in actual events, but outlining that a tad more at the beginning would have helped clear that up for people who don't know the particular history of Brittany. And I don't mean in an info-dump. There was ample opportunity to drop a bit more information than what was given to allow the reader a fuller picture of the time period, the conflict, and what exactly Ismae needed to do. I also want to mention that I understand girls can be bamfs just by demonstrating their feelings or being vulnerable but when the premise is that she is an assassin, I do expect her to assassinate more than three people in a book. #sorrynotsorry Overall: 3/5 stars. I was a little disappointed with this one because Iwas expecting an action packed display of assassinations and bamfness. But I did not get that.
Date published: 2015-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GRAVE MERCY This book is amazing, it had everything I loved inside of it romance,vioence,betrayel... It was a non-stop page turner, I actually woke up at 1am just to read 3 chapters So I sugest to anyone who wants a great read and wants to ger lost in the weldof the midevil times
Date published: 2015-07-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not worth it. Picture assassins. Picture deadly nuns. Picture intrigue and political games worthy of Game of Thrones. And then stop picturing it. This is a book for people who thought Throne of Glass was a novel about assassins too. I felt very let down by the promise of this book. It could and did start off great. The characters at the convent are intriguing. The friendship so rarely seen in YA is fantastic. But then the rest of the book kills it. The supposed assassin goes to court to figure out which enemies of the Royal family to kill. She actually spends a good chunk of her time staring around rooms at people in the wild hopes she will just happen to see the "marque" that signifies her God wants her to kill someone. She blunders through investigations and is too distracted by the dashing young courtier she had been assigned to watch to bother noticing obvious clues. The romance is grating and unsubtle. A case of lust being wildly mistaken for love. She almost literally falls for the first man she is around outside the convent she has been in for three years. Which I guess explains her desperation, but still. Have some dignity, woman. The only bright side was the plot twist, which gets resolved and almost immediately, so does everything else. Which was a little took convenient, but okay. I'd pass on this series.
Date published: 2015-04-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great series! I enjoyed the series. All 3 books were well written & exciting from beginning to end. It has been a while since I read a book & couldn't guess what was coming next in the story - but all 3 books have surprised me. Worth the read.
Date published: 2015-02-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! Great concept! Entertaining easy read :-)
Date published: 2014-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Even Better Than The First! I read Grave Mercy last year and I loved it. I was pretty excited for Dark Triumph and when I received a surprise copy for review I was so happy I did a little dance in the street. Don't judge me. Well I finally got to read it and I loved it even more than Grave Mercy. Dark Triumph follows around Sybella this time and there is less politics and more personal story this time. Which I think is one of the reasons I liked this one so much more. Sybella had run away from home and gone to the convent to escape her evil father (is he ever evil) and the convent sends her back to his household to be a spy. Who better than family? Someone who will be allowed free reign in the household. Her father doesn't really trust anyone though, he is of course D'Albert. All Sybella wants is to kill him, he's evil and deserves it, but she never sees a marque on him. She begins to lose faith in Mortain, since he is allowing such evil to live and is debating even going against her god to ger her vengeance. Then there is Beast, the love interest. I can't help but like him. He's a warrior with a soft spot and he make a great team with Sybella when they are travelling. The two of them together are extremely deadly. Once again, Robin LaFevers writes amazing scenes that you can get lost in, characters that you love, others you hate and takes you on a ride that keeps you wanting more. I just love her writing style so much! This is not a small book, about 400 pages, and I found myself tearing through it. I'm slightly disappointed that I have to wait so long for the next book! This is one of the best series that I've ever read and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of historical fiction, or even anyone looking to try something new.
Date published: 2013-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 3.5 stars Meggie highly recommended this book to me and even though I knew she liked historical fiction and I didn't, I gave it a chance because she liked Ismae a lot... and I'm glad I did. I didn't like part that she has a huge scar on her back and can't undress in front of anybody. I mean, the biggest asset you have when you're a female assassin during those times is your body, charm, and beauty. Being a woman is a powerful thing and it would have made more sense if that was the very first thing the covenant taught their assassins. Just batting your eyes, smiling, and giggling can make a guy fall head over heels and not think of you as danger. She didn't even know what she was feeling when Gavriel touches her when in fact, she should have been trained especially in this area. And how can she bed men and spy around when she can't even undress in front of anybody? It was also kind of boring at times and it was a very long read. Definitely not a YA book, as most young adults wouldn't finish it. I kept falling asleep reading the first half - literally two nights ago I couldn't sleep and I was restless so I thought it would be a good idea to read a bit more of this book so I could fall asleep, and I did! There are also times when I had to whip out my dictionary - thank god for Kobo making it easier for me, just highlight the word and dictionary will open up. It was also frustrating when Ismae spent more time talking about all those cool weapons o
Date published: 2013-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breath taking sequel! What a beautiful sequel! I loved Grave Mercy so much I didn’t even bother to read the description for Dark Triumph. So it was a pleasant surprise when I realized I was in for yet another totally unique adventure. Whereas Grave Mercy was the story of Ismae, Dark Triumph turns the lens to Sybella and her adventures. Even though her appearance was rather brief in Grave Mercy (in the grand scheme of things) I found Sybella incredibly interesting. She was broken and angry and you wanted to know why. We come to her in Dark Triumph long after her training is completed. The covenant has sharpened her anger and thirst for justice and turned her into a dangerous killing machine. But then they send her right back to the place it all started. To the man that caused all that damage – her father. Dark Triumph is a personal story. It deals with questions of trust and family and guilt. You’ll often find yourself wondering if Sybella will ever truly be able to move past the sins of her father. I think despite the extreme nature of Sybella’s situation the internal obstacles she faces regarding her perceived guilt and her instincts to distance herself from those who may love her are not unfamiliar ones. They’re themes many people will be able to relate to in varying degrees. Since Dark Triumph is more of a personal journey it takes its time to unfold. It reveals all its twists and surprises when it’s good and ready too. The action heavy scenes – those ones that generally make the pages fly – are few and far between. Though I really enjoyed the sort of slow burn that is Dark Triumph, I have to admit I didn’t lose myself as completely as I did with Grave Mercy. Grave Mercy captured my heart right away and I read it all in one sitting (all 549 pages). Dark Triumph on the other hand took me a couple of days. It’s not a book you can binge on. It’s a book you need to set aside time for and dig into bit by bit. Recommendation: Dark Triumph is yet another example of Robin LaFevers brilliant writing. It’s beautiful and layered. There’s action, deceit, murder and a little bit of unexpected romance. There’s no middle book syndrome here, no useless filler. LaFevers has earned a place on my list of favourite writers for life. This and other reviews at More Than Just Magic (http://morethanjustmagic.org)
Date published: 2013-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flight of Phoenix Great I like these books! (8 year old son)
Date published: 2013-02-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Flight of Phoenix Great I like these books! (8 year old son)
Date published: 2013-02-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Flight of Phoenix Great I like these books! (8 year old son)
Date published: 2013-02-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Flight of Phoenix Great I like these books! (8 year old son)
Date published: 2013-02-16

Read from the Book

Chapter One Brittany 1485 I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb. That I survived, according to the herbwitch, is no miracle but a sign I have been sired by the god of death himself. I am told my father flew into a rage and raised his hand to my mother even as she lay weak and bleeding on the birthing bed. Until the herbwitch pointed out to him that if my mother had lain with the god of death, surely He would not stand idly by while my father beat her. I risk a glance up at my husband-to-be, Guillo, and wonder if my father has told him of my lineage. I am guessing not, for who would pay three silver coins for what I am? Besides, Guillo looks far too placid to know of my true nature. If my father has tricked him, it will not bode well for our union. That we are being married in Guillo’s cottage rather than a church further adds to my unease. I feel my father’s heavy gaze upon me and look up. The triumph in his eyes frightens me, for if he has triumphed, then I have surely lost in some way I do not yet understand. Even so, I smile, wanting to convince him I am happy—for there is nothing that upsets him more than my happiness. But while I can easily lie to my father, it is harder to lie to myself. I am afraid, sorely afraid of this man to whom I will now belong. I look down at his big, wide hands. Just like my father, he has dirt caked under his fingernails and stains in the creases of his skin. Will the semblance end there? Or will he, too, wield those hands like a cudgel? It is a new beginning, I remind myself, and in spite of all my trepidations, I cannot extinguish a tiny spark of hope. Guillo wants me enough to pay three silver coins. Surely where there is want, there is room for kindness? It is the one thing that keeps my knees from knocking and my hands from trembling. That and the priest who has come to officiate, for while he is naught but a hedge priest, the furtive glance he sends me over his prayer book causes me to believe he knows who and what I am. As he mutters the ceremony’s final words, I stare at the rough hempen prayer cord with the nine wooden beads that proclaim him a follower of the old ways. Even when he ties the cord around our hands and lays the blessings of God and the nine old saints upon our union, I keep my gaze downcast, afraid to see the smugness in my father’s eyes or what my husband’s face might reveal. When the priest is done, he pads away on dirty feet, his rough leather sandals flapping noisily. He does not even pause long enough to raise a tankard to our union. Nor does my father. Before the dust from my father’s departing cart has settled, my new husband swats my rump and grunts toward the upstairs loft. I clench my fists to hide their trembling and cross to the rickety stairs. While Guillo fortifies himself with one last tankard of ale, I climb up to the loft and to the bed I will now share with him. I sorely miss my mother, for even though she was afraid of me, surely she would have given me a woman’s counsel on my wedding night. But both she and my sister fled long ago, one back into the arms of death, and the other into the arms of a passing tinker. I know, of course, what goes on between a man and a woman. Our cottage is small and my father loud. There was many a night when urgent movement accompanied by groans filled our dark cottage. The next day my father always looked slightly less bad tempered, and my mother more so. I try to convince myself that no matter how distasteful the marriage bed is, surely it cannot be any worse than my father’s raw temper and meaty fists. The loft is a close, musty place that smells as if the rough shutters on the far wall have never been opened. A timber-and-rope bed frame holds a mattress of straw. Other than that, there are only a few pegs to hang clothes on and a plain chest at the foot of the bed. I sit on the edge of the chest and wait. It does not take long. A heavy creak from the stairs warns me that Guillo is on his way. My mouth turns dry and my stomach sour. Not wanting to give him the advantage of height, I stand. When he reaches the room, I finally force myself to look at his face. His piggish eyes gorge themselves on my body, going from the top of my head down to my ankles, then back up to my breasts. My father’s insistence on lacing my gown so tight has worked, as Guillo can look at little else. He gestures with his tankard toward my bodice, slopping ale over the sides so that it dribbles to the floor. "Remove it." Desire thickens his voice. I stare at the wall behind him, my fingers trembling as I raise them to my laces. But not fast enough. Never fast enough. He takes three giant strides toward me and strikes me hard across the cheek. "Now!" he roars as my head snaps back. Bile rises in my throat and I fear I will be sick. So this is how it will be between us. This is why he was willing to pay three silver coins. My laces are finally undone, and I remove my bodice so that I stand before him in my skirt and shift. The stale air, which only moments before was too warm, is now cold as it presses against my skin. "Your skirt," he barks, breathing heavily. I untie the strings and step out of my skirt. As I turn to lay it on the nearby bench, Guillo reaches for me. He is surprisingly quick for one so large and stupid, but I am quicker. I have had long years of practice escaping my father’s rages. I jerk away, spinning out of his reach, infuriating him. In truth, I give no thought to where I will run, wishing only to hold off the inevitable a little longer. There is a loud crash as his half-empty tankard hits the wall behind me, sending a shower of ale into the room. He snarls and lunges, but something inside me will not—cannot—make this easy for him. I leap out of his reach. But not far enough. I feel a tug, then hear a rip of cloth as he tears my thin, worn chemise. Silence fills the loft—a silence so thick with shock that even his coarse breathing has stopped. I feel his eyes rake down my back, take in the ugly red welts and scars the poison left behind. I look over my shoulder to see his face has gone white as new cheese, his eyes wide. When our glances meet, he knows—knows—that he has been duped. He bellows then, a long, deep note of rage that holds equal parts fury and fear. Then his rough hand cracks against my skull and sends me to my knees. The pain of hope dying is worse than his fists and boots. When Guillo’s rage is spent, he reaches down and grabs me by the hair. "I will go for a real priest this time. He will burn you or drown you. Maybe both." He drags me down the steps, my knees bumping painfully against each one. He continues dragging me through the kitchen, then shoves me into a small root cellar, slams the door, and locks it. Bruised and possibly broken, I lie on the floor with my battered cheek pressed into the cool dirt. Unable to stop myself, I smile. I have avoided the fate my father had planned for me. Surely it is I who have won, not he.   The sound of the bolt lifting jerks me awake. I shove myself to a sitting position and clutch the tattered remains of my chemise around me. When the door opens, I am stunned to see the hedge priest, the same small rabbit of a man who’d blessed our marriage only hours before. Guillo is not with him, and any moment that does not contain my father or Guillo is a happy one by my reckoning. The priest looks over his shoulder, then motions for me to follow. I rise to my feet, and the root cellar spins dizzily. I put a hand to the wall and wait for the feeling to pass. The priest motions again, more urgently. "We’ve not much time before he returns." His words clear my head as nothing else can. If he is acting without Guillo’s knowledge, then he is most assuredly helping me. "I’m coming." I push away from the wall, step carefully over a sack of onions, and follow the hedge priest into the kitchen. It is dark; the only light comes from the banked embers in the hearth. I should wonder how the priest found me, why he is helping me, but I do not care. All I can think is that he is not Guillo and not my father. The rest does not matter. He leads me to the back door, and in a day full of surprises, I find one more as I recognize the old herbwitch from our village hovering nearby. If I did not need to concentrate so hard on putting one foot in front of the other, I would ask her what she is doing here, but it is all I can do to stay upright and keep from falling on my face in the dirt. As I step into the night, a sigh of relief escapes me. It is dark out, and darkness has always been my friend. A cart waits nearby. Touching me as little as possible, the hedge priest helps me into the back of it before hurrying around to the driver’s bench and climbing in. The priest glances over his shoulder at me, then averts his eyes as if he’s been burned. "There’s a blanket back there," he mutters as he steers the nag out onto the cobbled lane. "Cover yourself." The unyielding wood of the cart presses painfully into my bruised bones, and the meager blanket scratches and reeks of donkey. Even so, I wish they’d brought a second one for padding. "Where are you taking me?" "To the boat." A boat means water, and crossing water means I will be far from the reach of my father and Guillo and the Church. "And where is this boat taking me?" I ask, but the priest says nothing. Exhaustion overwhelms me. I do not have the strength; plucking answers from him is like pulling meager berries from a thorny bush. I lie down in the cart and give myself over to the horse’s jolting gait.   And so my journey across Brittany begins. I am smuggled like some forbidden cargo, hidden among turnips or in hay in the back of carts, awakened by furtive voices and fumbling hands as I am passed from hedge priest to herbwife, a hidden chain of those who live in accordance with the old saints and are determined to keep me from the Church. The hedge priests, with their awkward movements and musty, stale robes, are kind enough, but their fingers are unschooled in tenderness or compassion. It is the herbwitches I like most;, their chapped, raw hands are gentle as lamb’s wool, and the sharp, pungent smell of a hundred different herbs clings to them like a fragrant shadow. Often as not, they give me a tincture of poppy for my injuries, while the priests merely give me their sympathy, and some begrudgingly at that. When I awake on what I reckon to be the fifth night of my journey, I smell the salty tang of the sea and remember the promise of a boat. I struggle to sit up, pleased to find my bruises pain me less and my ribs do not burn. We are passing through a small fishing village. I pull the blanket close against the chill and wonder what will happen next. At the very edge of the village sits a stone church. It is to this that the latest hedge priest steers our cart and I am relieved to see the door bears the sacred anchor of Saint Mer, one of the old saints. The priest reins his horse to a stop. "Get out." I cannot tell if it is fatigue or disdain I hear in his voice, but either way, my journey is almost done, so I ignore it and clamber out of the cart, keeping the blanket clutched tight around me lest I offend his modesty. Once he secures the horse, he leads me toward the beach, where a lone boat waits. The inky black ocean spreads out as far and wide as my eye can see, making the vessel seem very small. An old sailor sits hunched in the prow. A shell bleached white as bone hangs from a cord at his neck, marking him as a worshiper of Saint Mer. I wonder what he thinks of being woken in the middle of the night and made to row strangers out into the dark sea. The sailor’s faded blue eyes skim over me. He nods. "Climb in. We en’t got all night." He thrusts an oar at me, and I grasp it to steady myself as I get into the boat. The small vessel dips and rocks and for a moment I am afraid it will tip me into the icy water. But it rights itself and then the priest steps in, causing the hull to sink even lower. The old sailor grunts, then returns the oar to its pin and begins rowing. We reach the small island just as dawn pinkens the eastern horizon. It looks barren in the early, spare light. As we draw closer, I see a standing stone next to a church and realize we’ve come to one of the old places of worship. Gravel crunches under the hull of the boat as the old sailor rows right up onto the beach. He jerks his head toward the stone fortress. "Get out then. The abbess of St. Mortain be expectin’ ye." Saint Mortain? The patron saint of death. A tremor of unease washes through me. I look at the priest, who averts his eyes, as if looking at me is too great a mortal temptation. Clutching the blanket close around me, I climb awkwardly from the boat and step into the shallows. Torn between gratitude and annoyance, I curtsy slightly, careful to let the blanket slip from my shoulder for the merest of seconds. I t is enough. Satisfied at the priest’s gasp and the old sailor’s cluck of his tongue, I turn and slog through the cold water to the beach. In truth, I have never flashed so much as an ankle before, but I am sorely vexed at being treated like a temptress when all I feel is bruised and broken. When I reach the patchy grass that grows between the rocks, I look back toward the boat, but it has already put out to sea. I turn and begin making my way to the convent, eager to see what those who worship Death want of me.

Editorial Reviews

A Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2012(star) With characters that will inspire the imagination, a plot that nods to history while defying accuracy, and a love story that promises more in the second book, this is sure to attract feminist readers and romantics alike." - Booklist, starred review(star) "Fiction and history coalesce in a rich, ripping tale of assassinations, political intrigue and religion in 15th-century Brittany. ? LaFevers' ambitious tapestry includes poison and treason and murder, valor and honor and slow love, suspense and sexuality and mercy. A page-turner - with grace." - Kirkus, starred review (star) "Rich in historical detail, well-realized characters, political machinations, and enticingly prickly scenes between Ismae and Duval, LaFevers's complex tale incorporates magic both sparingly and subtly. This powerful first volume of the His Fair Assassin series should attract many readers." - Publishers Weekly, starred review (star) "The book is well written and filled with fascinating, complex characters who function realistically in this invented medieval world." - School Library Journal, starred review "Readers will immediately warm to Ismae's determination to think for herself despite the powerfl influences of multiple others." - Bulletin "LaFevers is an artful storyteller who has created a strong lead character? .The tale is one of scheming nobles, political subterfuge, murder, and romance-all of the best aspects of a good read. And like any good mystery, the plot is unpredictable." - VOYA "