I was attracted to Grave Mercy through the cover. A girl with a crossbow, I so cannot see her playing the damsel in distress and I was happy that was true.
Ismae is one of my favorite literary characters. Having been belittled and ran down by her father for her childhood left her with a strong will to survive and fight back. Lacking the skills she tried to survive the only way she knew how to by being meek and obeying the men in her life. All that changes when the Covenant of St. Mortain takes Ismae under their protection. Even better despite spending years at the Covenant Ismae's issues with men does not just disappear overnight. Still holding onto her grude against men she accepts her tasks from the Covenant and is pushed into a court full of people wishing to better their own interests.
Even though I was able to figure out a lot of what was going on I was still caught off guard a few times and I loved that. The intricate web of affairs occurring through the court and Covenant was pulled of brilliantly. Everything was tired together in an amazing tapestry of storytelling.
While I was familiar of the story of the young duchess promised to many suitors I had no issues that Robin LaFevers changed history to make it work with the story. Even better LaFevers worked hard to fit everything into a correct time period and I loved how she tied in Old Gods with a new and changing world without making the Old Gods seem out of place.
The love aspect was amazing and done with an air of elegance while adding in some spunk and one hundred totally believable aspects to everything. Having feared men Ismae was not about to open up to any man and thus the romantic interactions show this while leaving me actually cheering for Duval to make progess without scaring Ismae off permanently.
The writing was lovely, elegant, and I could not get enough.
I had a whole range of emotions going while reading Grave Mercy, everything from laughter to tears.
The only downfall for me is that the next book in the series is not about Ismae and I loved her so much I wanted to read more about her.