GRAVE MERCY was a well-written fantasy novel that sees a young girl grow from abused peasant woman to educated and accomplished assassin. After being sold by her father to a brutal man, Ismae is rescued and sent to the convent of St. Mortain where she is enrolled as a student whose task is to learn all the ways she can serve her saint who is one of the ancient gods—the god of Death. She learns about weapons and poisons. She learns about society and seduction (though she usually ducked out to spend more time with the sister making potions during the seduction part).When she is seventeen she is chosen to perform a mission that takes her to the court of Anne of Brittany and involves her in complex plots that she wasn't trained for. She is set to spy on Gavriel Duval who is the bastard son of the previous Duke and the older half-brother and protector of the 12-year-old Duchess. Anne is struggling to keep her country from being taken over by France. She has to deal with all sorts of marriage plans including one which would see her married to one of her barons who is a crude, brutal man old enough to be her grandfather and who has already buried six previous wives. Duval is trying to find a better solution for her that will let her protect her country and find a marriage that won't be so distasteful. Ismae doesn't know what to believe. The Reverend Mother of the convent is telling her one thing but her eyes and her heart are telling her something else. Ismae needs to decide for herself and has to figure out her own relationship with St. Mortain. She has to grow up, make decisions, and make choices she can live with. Watching her figure this out and fall in love with Duval made the story very engaging. This one sat on my TBR stack for nine months because I was intimidated by the size of the book. However, even at over 500 pages, this was a quick and fascinating book to read. Fans of high fantasy will enjoy this. So will readers who want to see their main character change and grow in a realistic way.