Grave Mercy Robin LaFevers
Ismae has a horrible scar down her back from the poison her mother drank to end the pregnancy. The fact that Ismae survived marks her as the daughter of St. Mortain. The daughter of death. It means she's feared and ridiculed in her small Breton village.
But then she's rescued and taken to a convent where she's taught to serve St. Mortain and to be his instrument. It is in this role that she finds herself thrust into court life of Brittany. The French wish to consume the duchy. The duke is dead and the duchess is 12*, and cannot be crowned, according to the French. Her hand had been promised to many men and threats are all around, including in the middle of her Privy Council.
Holy court intrigue batman! Although I figured out the true bad guy before Ismae did, it was near the end, and even though I didn't know if Ismae would be able to convince everyone else that the bad guy was, well, the bad guy.
I love the way LaFevers paints the place and time (middle ages) and I love how the 9 Saints of Brittany are actually old Gods, folded into a new religion. I love how Ismae struggles with her realizations that her convent, while not bad, is also not infallible.
I loved that there was NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Or insta-love. I loved that Ismae kicked ass without seeming like an anachronism. I liked that people liked her because she kicked ass, not in spite of it.
There is a slight paranormal tinge to it (being a daughter of death comes with some privileges) but just a little. Mostly, it's just a great historical fiction/court intrigue/adventure. Pretty damn awesome. Mostly, I loved the intrigue and mystery and just really adored Ismae.
ALSO! Yes, this is the first book in a trilogy, but it could easily stand alone. Based on the paragraph teaser for the next book (due out next spring) it looks like it's more of a companion novel instead of a straight sequel, which is a trend I can get behind.
My only wish was for an author's note, explaining what part of the politics of Brittany v France was true, and what wasn't. That may be in the final version. It's not in the eGalley that I read, so I lost of a lot of time getting lost in various wikipedia articles (being a history nerd is really fun sometimes.)
*Although I pictured her as closer to 16/17. And then it's her birthday and she turns 13 and I was like "wait, what?!"
eGalley Provided by... publisher, via NewGalley promotion
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