Sunday, 4 June 2017

Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister by Mark LawrenceNetGalleyRed Sister by Mark Lawrence (eProof) - It's not until you're broken that you find your sharpest edge

A brilliant new series from the bestselling author of PRINCE OF THORNS.

"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…
From Goodreads.

After finishing a high fantasy novel two books ago, I was eager to read more high fantasy. Over the last few years, YA has been primarily what I read, but high fantasy is the genre that got me reading, and I was eager for more after finishing an incredible series. So I picked up Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. And it was so good!

There's so much to this story that it's difficult to know where to start without spoiling things. Nona has a dark history, one we only get to learn in fits and starts, trickling in as the story goes along. And for such a young girl, it's terrible that she has known, been involved in such violence from such a young age. The world building was incredible though, reading about the four different tribes, and the magical abilities - super speed, the ability to weave shadows, the ability to walk the Path, and growing to a huge height and strength -  they have that have, for the most part, been lost over centuries, but sometimes appear in people every now and again. It's these abilities that make children with them sought after, to grow and be trained into ring-fighters, or by the priests of the Church, or by the nuns of Sweet Mercy Convent, where Nona ends up after being seconds away from being hung for murder.

I absolutely adored Sweet Mercy and it's lessons. Lessons in Blade - learning to fight with and without weapons; lessons in Shade - learning to make poisons and antidotes, and, eventually, espionage and shadow-weaving; Lessons in the Path - learning Serenity, Clarity and Patience in order to walk the Path (which I'm not even going to attempt to explain because it's seriously complex); and then lessons in Academia, which focuses, for this book, on Geography, and then lessons in Spirit, learning about the religion and the Ancestor. With the lessons and strong emphasis on friendship, and those friends getting caught up in dangerous things they shouldn't get caught up in, there was a strong Harry Potter feel for me. Don't misunderstand me; do not pick up Red Sister expecting Harry Potter, because that's not what you are going to get. But with the friendship of young girls and the things they get up to, plus all the lessons, it just felt familiar and it was lovely. And those Shade classes in poisons? I got a strong Potions class from them, though Sister Apple is not really anything like Snape, even if she does occasionally poison the novices. But don't let the talk of Harry Potter familiarity get you thinking this is a nice fantasy of fighting the bad guys with magic, because it's not. Not entirely. The novices are taught how to fight properly, with fists and feet, and latter, blades. Seriously, this book is full of violent pre-teens who are becoming experts in their field. And it's exciting, and so, so cool.

But it's not all schooling. Nona has enemies due to escaping the noose. There are those who want her dead, those who will go to any lengths to try and make that happen. Plus there is the prophecy of the Chosen One, who people believe the Chosen One is and their desperate attempts to control them. The overarching story is, primarily, Nona learning and rising through the classes at Sweet Mercy, and surviving when people want her dead, but there are lots of smaller sub-plot stories throughout, so there are multiple, small climaxes to each, and each sub-plot affects the next, and all affect the overarching plot. These smaller stories, these sub-plots, are part of creating the world of The Book of the Ancestor Trilogy, and make Red Sister have a setting-up feel to it, but without making it feel like a book that is all setting-up. Red Sister has it's story, and it's exciting, and intriguing, and that final climax was so epic! And I'm just so annoyed the second book isn't available for me to read now, because I'm desperate to know what the ending will mean for Nona generally, but more specifically, what it'll mean for her life at Sweet Mercy. And I just want to learn more about her, the magic she has, and who she will become. The second book is just going to be so incredibly epic, I can feel it. Red Sister is an incredible start to the trilogy, and I'm so excited to continue reading it.

Thank you to Harper Voyager via NetGalley for the eProof.

Add to Goodreads

Published: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Mark Lawrence's Website

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4 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this! I'm looking forward to reading it myself. :)

    Stacy Renee @ Lazy Day Literature

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  2. I am going to be reading this soon and I cannot wait because it seems so good and I really loved Nevernight which I have heard is similar! Thank you for sharing! <3

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

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  3. I hadn't heard of this book until now - that blurb sounds intense! I was glad to read you liked it cos it seems like something I would really enjoy.

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  4. This sounds wonderful! Thanks for linking up to the British Books Challenge x

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