Author: Robin LaFevers
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Book Blurb:Series: His Fair Assassin Trilogy
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?
Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Series: Throne of Glass Series
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.
Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Umm…yeah. I’m not proud of it, but I was binge reading some super fantastic fantasy novels while I was away. Grave Mercy and Throne of Glass share deliciousness in their commonalities, but they have a unique flavor unto themselves as well. I. Could. Not. Get. Enough.
Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers immediately jumps into action with Ismae escaping a husband that’s devoured one-too-many cream puffs. She finds herself harbored by a convent that trains her in the lethal arts of assassination. Ismae, for once, is a highly believable character; she starts out as over confident with her training, then questions herself and her morality as the story unfolds. And she’s smart. It’s starting to become difficult to find that type of perception in a YA novel female lead. The fact that she would totally dominate in a cage fight doesn’t hurt, either.
What completely blew my mind, however, was the skillful way LaFever wove her story with multiple characters—but not so many that the reader was confused and had to depend on a character chart. There was action, romance (NO LOVE TRIANGLE, thank god!), and intrigue, which again, many recent YA novels lack. She sprinkled spicy plot points throughout her story that gave me a hunkering for more, which she delivers in the second installment, Dark Triumph. Both are well worth the read, and I’m anxiously awaiting the third installment, Mortal Heart, due in 2014.
As I sat back wiping the powdered sugar off my face, satisfied from that appetizing novel, I spied yet another compelling cover delivering an enchanting aroma from the bookshelf. I tried to resist, but once I was past the opening page, there was no turning back from this mouth-watering adventure. The character of Celaena has been hardened by her life as an assassin and prisoner in a brutal mining camp. Her battle back from the brink of death while still maintaining her steely exterior and dignity was impressive, and again, the court scheming opened a significant window of Celaena’s street savvy and strategic intelligence that gives the reader a crisp, refreshing breeze. Although this story does have a love triangle, it was layered in circumstances, personalities, and outcomes that were surprising and not syrupy-sweet in the slightest.
Maas is an engaging writer for fans. She dutifully published several backstories of early assassination assignments and adventures for Celaena, while the author’s readers patiently waited for book two of the series, Crown of Midnight, recently published in August, 2013. This is another series that I will gladly belly up to the buffet and finish. Round two of binge reading, commence!
4.5 Squares Grave Mercy
4 Squares Throne of Glass