Title: Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor 1)
Author: Mark Lawrence
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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…
welcome to my review of Red Sister, by Mark Lawrence. This is the first time I read a Mark Lawrence book, and i have to say that I loved it. However, it is a very dark fantasy, which features violence and gore, so beware. Overall, I gave it 4/5 stars, and, without further ado, here is my review.
- Plot: first of all, this is a character-driven book. At first the story might seem confusing, because the author does not explain in detail the background of the story, nor the construction of the world. These elements will be pieced together as one reads, learning them from what the protagonist herself learns. Because of this, one needs to pay closer attention to the story, because every detail can be a new element to add to the plot and the world-building, so it is on the slower side. However, this first book only scrapes the surface of the world in which it is set, and overall the plot unfolds beautifully by the end of the novel.
- Characters: the characters are the strong asset of this novel. The protagonist, Nona Grey, is a mystery to me. She is vulnerable and values friendship above all else, however, she is also ruthless, violent, and isolates herself to keep her secrets. Every sister is also well flashed-out, as well as all the novices. every one of them has their own peculiarities and their fates are beautifully woven.
- Writing: the writing is very lyrical. It is a style that I have not encountered often before, especially in fantasy. One is never sure about the truthfulness of what they are reading, because so many things are kept from the reader until the very end. Descriptions of the world are extremely evocative, and the dialogue well written. One element that I particularly appreciated was the questionable ethical system of the book, in which violence and killing are treated in a very peculiar way. Overall, the writing is great, even though slow paced at times.
These are all my non-spoilery thoughts about this novel. If you have read it, please let me know in the comments. If you have not read it, and are looking for some good new fantasy to tackle, I would definitely recommend this one.
Until next time,
**SPOILER-ALERT** SECTION – Do not read further if you don’t want to be spoiled.
I must admit, I had no idea that Zole was the Chosen One. At one point I was sure that Nona was, and Ara was the shield. But it turns out I was wrong! I had also pieced together that Clera would be the one almost killing Ara in the future, and that Clera would betray Nona. There were too many elements that led me to think that, and still, I could not despise Clera. I think Lawrence does an amazing job at entering Nona’s mind, and make the reader understand her thought-process. The last portion of the book was really good, and I look forward to reading the second one. The last depiction of Nona as Sister Cage, with black eyes and “no soul” was so interesting, and it is fascinating to see the character development. However, I really like Ara, and I hope she is not dead.