Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

April 4th, 2017 Kimberly Review 54 Comments

4th Apr
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Red Sister
by Mark Lawrence
Series: Book of the Ancestor #1
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

2017 fave EPIC fantasy Kick Ass Heroine magical

“A long blade, thin, carrying a slight curve, its edge cruel enough to cut silence and make it scream.”

RED SISTER by Mark Lawrence intrigued me, and I was thirsty for a dark fantasy featuring a kickass heroine. This was my first experience with Lawerence and I quickly found myself wanting to savor this character-driven tale with its dying world and magic. Fans of GRAVE MERCY and the Fair Assassin’s series will find themselves slipping quickly into this world.

It will be difficult to do this tale justice and I am going to deliberately be vague. This world and its characters are best left for the reader to discover.

We meet our protagonist, eight-year-old Nona Gray as she awaits the hangman for killing a man three times her size. Fate steps in and Nona is saved when, Abbess Glass, the manager of the Sweet Mercy Convent offers her the chance to train as a Novice.  Nona is a hunska, and you will learn more about this ability and others at the school. This magical school trains young woman on the path, blades, poison, physical combat and more. The magical elements are brilliant from what each girl possessed to what she can achieve.

I loved attending the Convent.  If magical schools thrill you from lessons to boorish teachers, you will devour RED SISTER.  Most of the setting takes place within its walls. From spells to training I was enthralled not only by the skills, but the worldbuilding, hierocracy, and political maneuvering that Lawerence developed within this world. A lot of what we learn is threaded throughout the tale, from lessons to conversations. Thus avoiding the need for information dumps, and while not entirely understood the magical elements hint at more to come.

The world is on the verge of collapse, and their civilization has been pushed into this tiny corridor whose fate is dependent on the moon, which we are told keeps the ice that covers the remaining world at bay. Lawerence revealed a brutal world where the church and rulers have power. There are layers of plots as we devel into the social hierarchy, meet indentured humans, and learn that the blade rules.

Written in third-person, this tale can be dark and brutal at times, but Nona and other characters offer balance as they pull the reader into their daily life. Prophies, villains, and uncertainty had me flipping the pages and eager to learn more. Lawrence cleverly added in flashbacks concerning Nona, and I thought they were well placed.

On a side note. Skip the prologue. I am not going to lie, I read it twice!  All I could think was, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?’ Nevertheless, I continued, and yeah, I still don’t understand it. Well, I do NOW, but trust me, read it at the end.

“It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men”

RED SISTER wrapped up brilliantly while setting us up for the next installment. Nona is a compelling and complex character whose strength and sheer determination has me counting the days until I can reenter this world. RED SISTER is a book you will want to add to your bookshelf.

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About Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence was born in Champagne-Urbanan, Illinois, to British parents but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. He says he never had any ambition to be a writer so was very surprised when a half-hearted attempt to find an agent turned into a global publishing deal overnight. His first trilogy, THE BROKEN EMPIRE, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy. Following The Broken Empire comes the bestselling RED QUEEN’S WAR trilogy. The BOOK OF THE ANCESTOR trilogy, in an entirely new setting, commences with RED SISTER in 2017. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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54 Responses to “Red Sister by Mark Lawrence”

  1. Melissa

    I was going to say that the synopsis sounded a lot like Grave Mercy and then you did in your review. I need to finish hat series…but this sounds like it is different enough to be worth the read.

  2. Danielle Nolan

    Such a deserving and well written review! I think I am easily predicting this will be in top 5 for 2017. Currently in my top 2. Nona is so raw and powerful! Lawrence’s world building and character development is phenomenal!

  3. Sophia Rose

    Holy Snikies! I was having a Grave Mercy moment when I read the blurb and then there it was in your review. But by your description this one is an animal of a different stripe. It sounds fantastic and I love the idea of the school and the dying world and adventures there.

    Nice tantalizing review, Kimberly!

    Sophia Rose recently posted: Review: All You Need by Lorelei James
  4. Angie

    I keep checking out this book, but I haven’t had the courage to dive into a full fantasy world yet. This one does look like a good place to start. And the snippet you shared was very intriguing.

    Great review!

  5. Kim

    I am so very excited to receive my copy in the mail (hopefully, today because I’m extremely impatient, lol)! This will be mark first read with Lawrence and I can’t wait to try his writing. Gorgeous review – thanks!! 🙂

    Kim recently posted: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
  6. Debbie Haupt

    Ah Kim you’ve found one of my very favorite Fantasy authors and people in general. I’m just starting this story and can’t wait to finish but didn’t hesitate reading your review knowing I could trust you not to give too much details. I first discovered Mark when his very first Broken Empire trilogy came out with Prince of Thorns and I urge you to give that a try as well. I’ve read and immensely enjoyed every thing he’s written.

  7. Adriana

    Wow! This does sound like Grave Mercy. I loved that world so I wouldn’t mind getting into a similar one. You have me totally hooked. And that cover? Awesome.

    Adriana recently posted: Missing Books