I was very surprised. Grave Mercy was good. It wasn’t over-the-stars amazing, but it was good.
I had two big fears before I started reading this book.
1. That Ismae would hate killing people. Let’s be real if we pick up a book about an assassin we want to see some assassinations. We don’t want to be preached at about how killing is morally wrong and how it is destroying their soul every time they do it. If that’s how you feel you, have picked the wrong profession, get out and stop whining.
Ok, so Ismae’s kill count isn’t something that is going to drop your jaw, but she does assassinate a few people, and she can take care of herself in a fight. Good enough for me.
2. That Ismae would spend the whole book deliberating about killing the guy she falls for. She doesn’t, or at least she does in a way that is tolerable and in the background. She never explicitly gets the order to kill her love interest, she just spends a lot of time wondering if they are on the same side and if she will eventually have to kill him. It’s a small difference with a big effect.
I also appreciated that this author does not run away from sexuality, whether positive or negative encounters, and she doesn’t throw it in your face either. Sexuality is a part of the characters and their world in way that you would encounter it in everyday life. And another plus, the only thing off with her descriptions of the love interest was that his body seemed to run at the temperature of the sun, for all the heat she can feel radiating off of him. It could have been waaay worse.
The historical aspects were well done, the author knows what she is talking about. Politically, is Grave Mercy another Game of Thrones? Erm… no. It’s not, but its political aspects work to add a strong layer of interest and some tension. My only complaint about that political stuff was that it got wrapped up a little hastily at the end.
Finally thoughts: I was surprised at the amount of personification we get of the God of Death. He is an actual force in the world, rather than just something the characters make real through their metaphors and belief. I would even appreciate meeting more Gods in the next books.
So if you’re looking for something that’s got a solid interest factor and some decent characters Grave Mercy is for you. And, as a little carrot, the next book looks to be even better.