Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: Review and Casting

GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers

His Fair Assassin, Book 1

This is a young adult novel that takes place in Europe around the time France is trying into what used to be the duchy of Brittany. Christianity has come to this part of the world, but while Brittany embraces the Catholic Church, it also tries to remain devout to their 9 original pagan gods, now referred to as Saints. The god of Death, Saint Mortain, fathered the main character, Ismae, with a human women. St Mortain’s daughters usually go on to become his handmaidens and they have the power to predict death and commune with the souls of the departed. A special convent dedicated to the worship of Mortain trains some of the daughters to become assassins, including Ismae. After her training, Ismae is assigned to protect the young duchess who is to become crown regent of Brittany. She is also assigned to assist the duchess’s half-brother, Gavriel Duval, in discovering who is plotting betray the duchess and Brittany to the French.

I generally like books with strong, kick butt female leads. That’s why I’m a big fan of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, and pretty much anything by Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, or Ilona Andrews. As a YA novel, Grave Mercy is refreshing because it isn’t overly romantic or angsty. Ismae has a good head on her shoulders, although there was one plot point with some poisoning that I thought was pretty obvious and wondered why she couldn’t figure out the culprit sooner. Duval is a nice male lead in that while he starts out sort of jerkish as most dudes seem to in YA books, he quickly becomes likeable and a good partner for Ismae. I have the next book in this series at home and I haven’t started it yet, but I’m eager to.

The story is told from Ismae’s point of view and she is never quite comfortable with her own skin, so I think that lends to why she never thoroughly describes herself. She’s 17 when most of the book takes place and she has a horrible scar on her back from when her mother tried to her abort her from the womb with poison. I get the impression that while Ismae is not a devastating beauty, she’s still quite attractive. Also, there’s the picture on the cover to give us a hint.

For this role, I nominate Kristen Stewart

NOT!! I had you going there for a second, though, didn’t I?

I’m going to go with Dakota Blue Richards who played Lyra in the Golden Compass movie (which is one of my most favorite book series, ever, but the movie failed it miserably).

My other choice would be Emily Browning who starred in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unortunate Events and in Sucker Punch, which was a very Squee movie based on a graphic novel.

Ismae’s partner and romantic interest is Gavriel Duval, a big guy who she mistakes as an “Oaf” the first time she sees him. He is in disguise, of course, but later she describes him as “not as pretty as DeLornay, or as easy to be with as Beast. His brother has more charming manners, and yet…”; “This man is much taller than the baron, and where Lombart had gone to fat, this man is all lithe muscle”; and “The man’s eyes, as dark and shifting as storm clouds.”

Immediately, Benjamin Walker comes to mind. He starred as Abraham Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. In fact, he reminds CDSquee and me of a young Colin Firth, which is never a bad thing.

Beast, aka Benebic de Waroch, the Beast of Waroch and knight of the realm: “His face bears the roughened texture of pox-scars; his nose – broken at least twice – is a lumpen knob. His hair is shaved close to his head, and his eyes are creased a permanent squint.” However, he has a reputation for heroism and selflessness. He is brave and ferocious on the battlefield, but sort of a gentle giant off of it. He is unquestionably loyal to Duval, the duchess, and Brittany.

For Beast, I’d cast Ray Stevenson, who is not a bad looking guy at all, but with the right haircut and make-up, I think he could pull it off. He has played the big tough guy brute in several other movies including Thor , King Arthur, and The Three Musketeers.

If not him, then maybe Kevin Durand, who is a great character actor and a big dude. He’s been in Lost, Legion, Real Steel, Smokin’ Aces, Wild Hogs, X-Men Origins, and a million other things. Again, not a bad looking guy, but he doesn’t mind doing ugly if a role requires it of him.

Raoul De Lornay, a knight of the realm. The third in Gavriel Duval’s three musketeers. “He is perhaps the most beautiful man ever – fair of feature and graceful, he looks like an archangel who has fallen from heaven.” Pretty men who are just pretty are a dime a dozen. I like casting Beast better, because his face has character. I hate to even attempt to cast this role, because so many young British/Hollywood types could do it.

For Instance: Alex Pettyfer from Magic Mike and Beastly


Kevin Zegers from the new The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie


Max Irons from The Host.

Etc. etc. etc.


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