Ismae has been marked by Death since before she was born. She is sold by her father then abused and abandoned by her husband. She is taken to the Convent of St. Mortain to train with the nuns there. Her training consists of poisons and ways to kill a man. Her first assignments put her in conflict with Gavriel Duval and she is soon sent to court with him to pose as his “cousin” (read mistress). The court of Brittany is full of intrigue and danger. The Duchess Anne is besieged on all fronts. France doesn’t want her crowned and is trying to control who she marries, she has been betrothed to just about every possible ally and her friends and allies are dwindling as her enemies get closer. Ismae and Duval must work together to help Anne and keep their country independent.
This book was recommended to me and I was intrigued…assassin nuns, 15th century Brittany, death gods…sounded awesome. And for the most part it was. I really enjoyed reading the story of Ismae, Duval and Anne. They are wonderful characters from a time and place in history that I really didn’t know much if anything about. I love the thought of these nuns worshiping the old god of death, Mortain, and training to do his bidding, which basically means killing people. I wish there was more in the book about the training. Basically Ismae’s time at the convent is skipped over and that is a shame. I think her training in all the assassin arts would have been fascinating.
But really this book is less about the assassin nuns and more about the court intrigue and that is where the plot really takes off. Once Ismae and Duval get to court and become embroiled in the politics of Anne’s betrothal and crowning things start to pick up. You never really know who is on whose side. There are so many things going on and so many people trying to get their way (just like I imagine court life would be). Unfortunately, even though a lot happens in this book, one of my critiques of the book would be that we are told about the action instead of shown it. Since this is my first LaFevers book I don’t know if she always does this or if this book is not her norm. But I could have used a few more actual action scenes instead of just being told about them. And the language used in the book is a little repetitive. However, the book sucked me in and I loved it. I love the characters of Ismae and Duval, especially Ismae. I loved watching her growth through the book as she started to question her teachings at the convent and really came to know her god and find her place in the world. It was a treat to read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this fascinating series.