Grave Mercy (Book I)

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Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

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?

Curriculet Details
106 Questions
109 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 7th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining simile and metaphor, historical references and theme. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about personification and symbolism. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of figurative language, character development, and plot comprehension. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter One

The speaker is alive but still unwanted. Her survival is now associated with the god of death. 
Why is Guillo so enraged by the scars?  
Brittany or Bretenge is located in northern France. Brittany is labeled on the map below in red.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain the unease described in this statement. Connect the speaker's scars to her arrival at St. Mortain. 

Chapter Two

A wimple is a headdress made of cloth. See the image below.  (This annotation contains an image)
How does the abbess's perspective affect Ismae?  
Take notice of how the author uses figurative language to bring each description to life. This statement includes a simile, which is a comparison using like or as.  (This annotation contains a video)
How does Ismae's childhood influence her decision to serve the god of death?  

Chapter Three

What changes Sister Seraphina's attitude regarding Ismae?  
Notice how Ismae is being treated at St. Mortain. This treatment will help Ismae grow and thrive in her new home. 

Chapter Four

"She leaps gracefully as a young deer," is an example of ______________. 
The author uses vivid descriptions to create a picture for the reader.  
A stiletto is a long, sharp knife. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe how Ismae feels about going to Sister Serafina's workshop. How do you think this reaction will affect Ismae's life at the convent? 
A peahen is a female peacock.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter Five

Compare and contrast Ismae's friendship with Annith and Sybella. Use text evidence to support your response.  
This statement is an example of a metaphor.  

Chapter Six

What connection is Ismae making between the month and the timing of her assignment? 
Ismae compares her first assignment to a bird attempting to fly. How does this influence your thoughts as a reader? 
Explain how living in the convent has influenced Ismae's confidence and purpose in life. How is this different from how Ismae acted in the beginning of the novel? 
Ismae is referring to the dark smudge she is able to see on people. This smudge reveals how the person will die and is a symbol of death. Please watch the video below to learn a little more about symbolism.  (This annotation contains a video)
What does Annith not know about Ismae based on this statement? 

Chapter Seven

Why is Ismae so shocked to see a man in the office? 
Brocade is a heavy fabric that is beautifully designed and stitched. See an example below. (This annotation contains an image)
In the highlighted section, Sister Beatriz means that Ismae looks pale and sickly in the dress.  
Why is Ismae having a hard time with the idea of wearing a fancy dress? 
What is the meaning of Sister Vereda's warning? 
Notice the change in Ismae's sight and awareness. 

Chapter Eight

How does killing Martel affect Ismae in an unexpected way? 
Ismae has been warned of the perils involved in her mission. Is being able to feel the soul part of that warning? 
Notice how Duval can see through Ismae's disguise.  

Chapter Nine

What does Crunard mean by calling Duval a "big fish?" 
How has Ismae's most recent assignment  affected her perspective? 
Duval's information is also beneficial to the Reverend Mother and Crunard.  
How has the Reverend Mother created a beneficial situation from Duval's complaints of Ismae's interference? 
To say someone is green is referring to their inexperience.  
How does the abbess's last warning influence how Ismae approaches her new assignment? 

Chapter Ten

Ismae is realizing that she is a tool for the convent and not as special as she assumed.  
For the first time, Ismae is not looking forward to her assignment.  
What does Ismae assume about Duval?  

Chapter Eleven

Keep track of Ismae's interactions with Duval. Their dislike for each other creates tension in the story.  (This annotation contains a video)
Summarize what Duval thinks of Ismae's past and now future. 
Since receiving the Tears of Mortain how has Ismae's sense of the world changed? 
Ismae has the gift of seeing death, deliver a person to death, and now the ability to interact with a soul.  
Ismae may have these gifts but they do not come without physical and mental consequences.  

Chapter Twelve

What is changing between Ismae and Duval? 
Notice the change in spelling of marque to mark. Duval is not aware of Ismae's sight and he is referring to a different type of mark. 

Chapter Thirteen

How does Duval's revelation about Runnion affect Ismae's idea about her assignments and Mortain? 
Notice how the use of imagery results in changes regarding tone and mood. The author is able to convey emotional changes through description. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Ismae immediately like about Beast? 
Do you think Duval is aware of Ismae's intentions or is he underestimating her motivation? 

Chapter Fourteen

What is de Lornay implying in this statement?  
What are Duval and Beast trying to figure out about Ismae? 
Dregs are the sediment or particles that sometimes sift into wine. Dregs is like having dirt or sand in a glass of water.  
Tapestries are like woven paintings. These works of art depicted stories while also keeping rooms warm.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how Duval's statement relates to Ismae's assignment. How will this news change Ismae's view of Duval? 

Chapter Fifteen

Ismae is connecting the dots and making sense of Duval's status. What is she realizing in this statement? 
Keep track of how Madame Hivern's presence affects Duval and in turn his treatment of Ismae.  
Although Madame Hivern and Duval are related, Duval's warning implies violence and danger.  
How is spending time with Duval affecting Ismae's view of him?  

Chapter Sixteen

Apply the idea of "our enemy's enemy often makes a good ally," to Ismae's current situation and explain the meaning of the statement.  
What guess can you make to why Sybella is with Count d'Albret.  
Keep track of how Ismae is affected by each person she kills based on the weapon she uses.  
Why doesn't Ismae react to the mention of poison with fear or worry? 
Note that Ismae still doesn't trust Duval enough to reveal any of her secrets.  
Why do you think Ismae is so quick to assume Duval's actions towards her are an act and not sincere? 

Chapter Seventeen

Ismae's training is still new and appealing to test, yet she needs to be wise in who she decides to challenge.  
What is the motivation behind Duval's plan to present Ismae at court? 
Do you think Ismae to too green for her assignment or is she doing exactly as the convent hoped? Keep an eye on how this unfolds.  
Why does Ismae feel victorious? 
What makes Ismae doubt herself and her capacity to fulfill her mission? 
D'Albret isn't interested in love, only power. 
Although she doesn't trust him, Ismae can't help enjoying Duval's company. This may become difficult if Duval does prove to be unworthy of her trust.  

Chapter Eighteen

How is Ismae's reaction to her appearance related to her self confidence? 
Why does putting the misericorde on comfort Ismae? 
The use of the simile in this statement allows the reader to visualize what is what like for Ismae walking into court. In this case, Ismae is the prey.  
The tone of this statement is sarcastic. Duval has irritated the two men and was not subtle in his approach or purpose.  
How has meeting Count d'Albret affected Ismae's view of him? 
Chapters 1-18 Quiz 

Chapter Nineteen

Serving the future duchess is a highly regarded position but for Madame Dinan it is difficult to take orders from a young girl.  
Why does Ismae doubt Mortain's desire to see Anne married to d'Albret? 
Notice how Ismae takes in the conversation as a joke or jest but still has doubts of the true meaning.  

Chapter Twenty

When marrying off daughters a dowry was also included to make the offer more appealing to other families. Marrying Anne comes with a kingdom which allows for a better range of important men.  
How are Ismae and Anne similar in how their fathers decided on their marriages? 
Ismae has been fighting off any feelings regarding Duval since she met him. Keep track of how Duval's presence influences Ismae and changes how she thinks and acts. 

Chapter Twenty-one

Why is being treated with kindness hard for Ismae to manage? 
What is Ismae's motivation to find out what Duval is up to? 
The messenger has chosen Duval because he is related to Anne.  
Predict why is Madame Hivern at Duval's door. Do you think Duval told her of the meeting? Explain your answer.  
By acting innocent and unaware Ismae is able to trick Madame Hivern into thinking she is not a threat.  
What does Madame Hivern's explanation of Ismae's presence reveal?  
Notice the use of imagery in this sentence. The reader is able to visualize Duval's reaction. 

Chapter Twenty-two

What was Ismae expecting in the letter?  
Ismae has seen Sybella but Annith is not aware of this. Why do you think Sybella's assignment is so secret? 
Anne is clearly not pleased with her arrangement with d'Albret and is unable to mask her feelings from Ismae's keen eye. 
What is the duchess trying to communicate to Ismae? 
Duval's mother has no shame in openly flirting in front of her sons. She is aiming to gain power and will do whatever she finds necessary.  
What has Gisors just revealed to Ismae? 

Chapter Twenty-three

Explain how Duval's idea of a truce will affect how Ismae approaches her assignment and her loyalty to the convent.  
This statement is an example of personification. Personification gives human like qualities to non human things.  (This annotation contains a video)
Dappled animals have spotted coats. The image below is an example of a dappled mare. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Ismae only bad at applying her skills in seduction to Duval?  
What does Ismae mean by this statement?  

Chapter Twenty-four

Vambraces are protective arm shields.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how this statement illustrates Ismae's emotion growth. How will this freedom allow Ismae to mature even more? 
This is an important moment for Ismae. In seeing her father she is able to set herself free of her past and move forward.  

Chapter Twenty-five

Oriel windows jut out from the building providing space for the group to talk privately.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is Ismae realizing about life as a duchess through her interactions with Anne? 

Chapter Twenty-six

Lord d'Albret speaks of fighting off the enemy but to Ismae and Anne, d'Albret is not the hero but rather the problem. 
Lord d'Albret threatens Anne with _____________ if she refuses to marry him.  
Why does Crunard dismiss Duval's loyalty? 
Crunard does not share Ismae's view of Duval. Although Ismae is unaware of the reason for Crunard's mistrust, her own judgement keeps Duval in high favor. This reveal moves the story forward.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Twenty-seven

Anne is letting her guard down and revealing her true feelings about marrying d'Albret. Her fear will aid in Ismae's plan to find a new suitor. 
Ismae realizes she must make an opportunity to meet with d'Abret to _________. 
What can you conclude about d'Albret based on this statement? 
D'Albret reveals his little respect of women as he compares them to animals with the only purpose to reproduce. 
If Duval is being dishonest with Ismae, how would he benefit from tricking Ismae into trusting him? 

Chapter Twenty-eight

The marriage is a business transaction that will result in benefits to both the kingdom and Anne. Not only will she be happier but she will be safer with Nemours. 
François is intriguing to Ismae because he is similar to Duval but also has the capacity to fight for more power by betraying his sister.  
What is François inferring with this statement? 

Chapter Twenty-nine

François may have distracted Ismae on purpose, yet he may be unaware of the situation. Duval doesn't have enough information to know for sure.  
What does Duval assume about Ismae's involvement in Nemour's death? 
Ismae is a servant of Death and is received like a daughter.  
What does Ismae's reaction to Duval's touch and care reveal about her character? 

Chapter Thirty

Explain the meaning of d'Albret's statement.  
By keeping Ismae with her, Anne is denouncing Madame Dinan's place as less important. To Madame Dinan this is offensive and she resents Anne for it. 
Although she has been dismissed, Madame Dinan does not wander very far. Her quick arrival may push Ismae to not trust their privacy. 
Compare Ismae's interaction with Nemour's soul to the others she has felt earlier in the novel. Use text evidence to support your response. 

Chapter Thirty-one

Ismae's instincts are enhanced through drinking the Tears of Mortain.  
How do you think experiencing the hostility of the souls she releases will affect Ismae as she becomes more experienced? Explain your response.  

Chapter Thirty-two

Ismae alters her relationship with Duval to remain at a safe distance. How will revealing her scars to him change this? 
Ismae has only experienced fear and misery when exposing her true self. Duval, like the abbess, is an exception as he accepts Ismae for who she is.  
One theme that is emerging is Ismae's sense of self and her purpose in life. How will being treated positively aid Ismae as she moves forward? Watch the clip below for tips on what to look for. (This annotation contains a video)
This simile illustrates a striking character trait in Duval. Explain the reasoning behind Duval's consistent composure and why he feels the need to present himself that way. 
Explain the "madness" that Ismae is experiencing.  
Keep track of how this statement blossoms into a real problem for Ismae. 

Chapter Thirty-three

Explain why Madame Dinan would be cheerful and happy when the duchess is clearly in distress.  
Rank does play an important role to the hierarchy of castle life. By paying special attention to Ismae, the duchess is ignoring girls who rank higher in terms of lineage and wealth. 
Physicians used leeches to remove blood from patients during this time period. They believed that by removing the tainted blood the patient would get better.  
Who is Madame Dinan truly loyal to? 
Sybella's message to "trust no one," is perfectly timed to create tension and doubt in Ismae.  
How does Duval plan and scheme without risking being overheard? 
What is Duval referring to? 
Ismae made an offer at the church during their last visit as a cover for her presence.  
This is an important transition for Ismae. For the first time, she is not happy with her obligation to the convent. This ties into the theme of Ismae finding her voice.  

Chapter Thirty-four

Apply Mortain's response to Ismae and Duval and explain the parallel message being presented.  
Summarize how Duval plans on getting Anne out of marrying d'Albret.  
Ismae is sensitive to greater forces after drinking the Tears of Mortain. What does her feeling of foreboding hint at? 

Chapter Thirty-five

Why does being sent away affect Ismae so severely? 
What other reason could there be to explain why d'Albret does not have the marque on him? 
Madame Dinan has shown her true allegiance and it is not to Anne. 
Compare Anne's point of view regarding Duval's care of her to how François feels about his brother's allegiance. Use text evidence to support your response.  
Anne finds another reason that supports the matching of Duval and Ismae.  
How does this revelation counterbalance Crunard's hard view of Duval being an oath breaker? 
If word does get out of the assault, Anne's reputation will be ruined and she will not be able to find a husband.  
What does Duval mean by this statement? 

Chapter Thirty-six

Explain how the statement is true and apply it to another example that illustrates it's meaning.  
Chapters 19-36 Quiz 

Chapter Thirty-seven

What purpose does the convent have in following d'Albret if he does not bear the marque of Mortain? 
What if Madame Hivern was more involved in d'Albret's downfall than anyone has assumed? 
What outcome would result in having Anne assassinated? 

Chapter Thirty-eight

Not all souls present equal access to information. Duval is insinuating that because this man is an assassin, his soul might present more dangerous barriers.  
Compare Ismae's reaction to feeling the assassin's soul compared to her earlier experiences. How is this time different? 
Crunard doesn't fight for Duval during the council meeting and allows the members to vote for his removal. What does this reveal about Crunard? 
Duval is quick to defend Crunard and deflect from his own situation. Ismae is more tuned in to the lack of support from Crunard. 
Explain the significance of the white queen chess piece. Use text evidence to support your response.  
Ismae is wary of these men due to their lack of follow through and support following the attack. 

Chapter Thirty-nine

Explain the magnitude of Ismae's thought of Crunard being the traitor.  
Do you think all of Ismae's letters are reaching the convent? Who would benefit from intercepting them? 

Chapter Forty

Ismae is trying to find a way to ease her guilt in killing Duval's mother. She thinks if she gives Madame Hivern a painless death she will be relieved of some hatred from Duval. 

Chapter Forty-one

Why does Ismae assume that Crunard is involved in her assignment to kill Madame Hivern? 
Explain how Madame Hivern's speech affects Ismae.  
Ismae can relate to Madame Hivern and through that feeling she finds herself sympathizing for the enemy. This change also illustrates how Ismae's character is evolving. In changing her thinking and actions Ismae becomes an example of a dynamic character.  (This annotation contains a video)
What information would Ismae have gathered if the marque had disappeared from Madame Hivern's neck? Why is this important to Ismae's plan? 

Chapter Forty-two

Why doesn't Ismae want to reveal that the idea was hers? 
Explain how seeing the marque disappear supports Ismae's decision to spare a life.  
Keep track of how Ismae emerges from this conflict. Through this tension Ismae will be challenged but also tested on her character and will.  

Chapter Forty-three

Ismae has allowed herself to be open to her feelings for Duval.  
What would motivate someone to poison Duval? Who would benefit from his death? 

Chapter Forty-four

The chessboard parallels the conflict taking place in the palace. Each piece represents players from both sides as they fight for the throne. Conflict is presented internally and externally repeatedly. Ismae battles her thoughts and instincts internally. The tension in the castle presents external conflict. What other examples can you think of? (This annotation contains a video)
Summarize Ismae's reasons for thinking Crunard is behind all of the attacks and betrayal. 
How does this letter represent Ismae's character growth? 
Notice Ismae's relief and the physical release of the stress that idea carried for her.  
Ismae is relieved to find out of her mother's true intentions. The her witch's story also explains why Ismae's father hated her. 
How did the witch hold up her agreement to keep Ismae safe? 
Ismae is challenging herself to stay true to her heart while also abiding by the wishes of Mortain. 

Chapter Forty-five

To hide the fact that he is unaware of the newest developments, Crunard reacts with ________ to deflect his loss of control. 
What purpose does the attacker have in slowly poisoning Duval? Does the attacker want Duval dead or just out of the way? 
This could also help Crunard as his peers never think of him being capable or motivated of such a betrayal.  
If Duval appears to be in better health after staying with Ismae, what does that reveal about how he is being poisoned? 

Chapter Forty-six

Signet rings were used to seal letters with the intention of securing the contents of the letter. The ring was pressed into hot wax to seal the letter and to let the receiver know who had sent it.  (This annotation contains an image)
Who can we infer already knows about the arrival of the French army? 
Explain how Crunard's plan will change if the duchess leaves the castle. 

Chapter Forty-seven

Dicing is a gambling sport where dice are thrown and bets are placed on the numbers that are rolled.  
The men do not know Duval has been poisoned and cannot move because of it.  
What does Ismae assume the convent will ask her to do? 
Ismae has allowed herself to love yet she is caught in a situation where that love cannot last.  

Chapter Forty-eight

What implications will Ismae face now that she knows Crusard is staying back and not traveling? Use text evidence to support your response.  
Like Madame Dinan making excuses in the hallway, Crusard covers his intent with explanations that are not expected behavior. 

Chapter Forty-nine

Why is Dunois still unsure of Crusard's guilt even after hearing of all the evidence? Explain why he may feel this way.  

Chapter Fifty

Now that Anne knows the truth about Crusard, the course of her decisions will be based on this knowledge.  
The marching troops are wearing d'Albret's colors. What does this reveal about the plot against the duchess? 
We do not know what Sybella's assignment is but throughout her journey following d'Albret she has remained loyal to keeping Ismae safe.  

Chapter Fifty-one

Keep track of how Duval is able to recover from the poison.  
Explain how this revelation illustrates character growth for Ismae. Use text evidence to support your response. 
How has falling in love and attaching herself to the duchess affected Ismae's point of view regarding her position as a daughter of Mortain?  
Ismae has been released from her obligation to the convent and is able to move forward without guilt.  
Explain Ismae's thinking and motivation as she rushes back to Duval.  

Chapter Fifty-two

One major theme that has blossomed through Ismae's journey is her quest to find her voice and purpose. In meeting with Mortain Ismae is given the guidance and courage to see herself clearly and set forth with her own purpose.  
Ismae ________ the poison out of Duval. 
Do you think the convent is unaware of this ability or did they purposefully not tell Ismae as a test? 

Chapter Fifty-three

The chess pieces have played a complex role in the outcome of this conflict. The pieces were used to represent the actual conflict and poison Duval. 
What makes Crusard's betrayal even more despicable for Ismae?  

Chapter Fifty-four

Why does Ismae react so intensely to seeing the abbess? 
The arrival of the abbess is a surprise and also a shock as Ismae is not ready to face the repercussions of her actions.  
Why is the abbess so angry with Ismae's observations?  
The abbess is jealous of Ismae's meeting with Mortain. Not every sister is gifted with meeting him.  
Chapters 37-54 Quiz