Gritty, intense and downright awe-inspiring are only a few of the words I have to describe this book. A book that I fell in love with after reading only a few pages.
Ismae is a young woman of only seventeen. who is forced to marry a man she doesn't want by a father who reviles her. Only on her wedding night things go terribly wrong and it leads her down the path to a life only few women of medieval times can imagine. She becomes a Death maiden - a woman feared by most and held under suspicion by many others. After becoming trained, she, under the orders of convent, ventures out to kill anyone who bears the 'mark' of treason. It is only when she is at court that she finds that all is not what it seems and that the closest allies can be, in truth, a harsh enemy.
This book was simply incredible and so unusual that I was hooked from the first few pages. The story of how a young woman could become a force to be reckoned with appealed to me - especially given the era. There was just something so fascinating about a girl who was trained in poisons, weapons and even in court life. The imagery of this book was wonderful and it sucked me into a world of words that was only heightened by my sense of imagination. Not to mention that there was a realism to the book that didn't shy away from deaths. The innocent died in this book. Characters, that I didn't think would, died.
Ismae was a character who grew from strength to strength as the book continued. She began to question everything she knew even as she struggled to keep to her 'Saint's' desires. She was cast as a dark character, but I couldn't help seeing her as a lighter one. I loved how she became more knowing of what surrounded her and started believing that there was a better way or even that people deserved second chances instead of just being blindly killed.To help her with this was Duval, half-brother to Anne, the Duchess of Brittany. Duval had a loyalty to his sister that just couldn't be faulted. He also had a ways of making Ismae think even while she tried to get the better of him by following him around. He was a clever and intriguing character - one I couldn't help but love. He taunted and teased her.
And one of the things, I absolutely loved about this book was how the relationship between Ismae and Duval was taken slow and easy. It was lovely to read about them falling in love - almost against their will. There's just something about this kind of romance and gives you a warm squishy feeling, almost as if you are falling in love at the same time they are - which you are and with the characters themselves. I have to laugh at myself when I think how sappy I am over this part of the book.
Each secondary character almost seemed necessary to the book. Even the ones who are only mentioned very briefly. They all add to the mystique of this book. I don't think there is anything that I can blatantly pick out as being annoying or that grated on my nerves. I think I was too fascinated by the idea of a female assassin in medieval times.The pace of the story was enjoyable, even if at times a little slow. But because the story line and the characters held my interest the pace didn't bother me one bit.
I would recommend this book to everyone. I don't think I've ever done that before, but I will for this book, because I just loved it that much.Now for my rating:- five out of five stars.