Monday, 22 April 2019

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Review: Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Published: 4th April 2019 | Publisher: HarperVoyager | Source: Publisher
Mark Lawrence's Website

They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.

Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.

Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.

The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.

A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.
From Goodreads.

Book Depository | Wordery | Goodreads

My reviews of the Book of the Ancestory trilogy:
Red Sister | Grey Sister

I received this eProof for free from HarperVoyager via NetGalley for the purposes of providing an honest review.

WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.


Trigger Warnings: This book features war and descriptions of dead bodies.

I absolutely adored the first two books in the Book of the Ancestor trilogy by Mark Lawrence, Red Sister and Grey Sister, and getting to know the violent buy fiercely loyal Nona, and the story of  the nuns of Sweet Mercy, Abeth, the corridor, and the moon that is failing to hold back the ice. I was beyond excited to read the final book in the series, Holy Sister, and it did not disappoint. It was bloody epic!

What's really interesting about this story is that we have two time lines. One, where Grey Sister left off, with Nona, Abbess Glass, and the novies and nobility others have just escaped from Sherzal's clutches, and the other three years later, back at Sweet Mercy. The first time line has Nona and Zole splitting off from the main party with the Noi-Guin shipheart, knowing they would draw the Scithrowl and the Noi-Guin to them by taking the shipheart out onto the ice, allowing the others to make it back home safely. The second time line, present day, has Nona trying to fulfil a promise to Abbess Glass, planning with her friends Ara, Jula, and Ruli to steal a forbidden book the Abbess believes gives instruction on how to control the moon. Meanwhile, the ice is growing and ever narrowing, and the Scithrowl and Durn people have brought war to the empire, as the ice is taking over their lands. It won't be long - weeks? days? - before the sisters of Sweet Mercy will be called on to help fight the war and protect the empire.

There isn't a huge amount I can talk about in regards to the plot of this book without spoiling things. The inevitable war is happening, with Queen Adoma of Scithrowl bringing an unbelievably huge army to the walls of Verity, and with her, very little hope for the empire. The odds are exceptionally poor, and outlook is definitively grim. I don't think I've read war quite like it; not only are we in the very thick of things, but Lawrence doesn't shy away from the real and bloody realities of war, without sensationalising them or shoving them down your throat. What's more, through Nona, you care. Neither reader nor Nona may know the dead that are surrounding her, but she is affected nonetheless by what she sees; these are not just the nameless dead, they were people, with their own individual lives. When fighting, Nona can be fierce and calculating, almost cold, but that doesn't mean she's heartless. She doesn't need to know these people to care about the loss of life - the loss of their lives - and as a reader, you can't help but be affected by what she sees and feels. It's a war of epic proportions, and one not without it's casualties. This war is going to hurt. But for Nona, it's not quite as simple as fighting the enemy, but also trying to keep those she loves safe, and her loyalties are divided.

But my god, this book is just so clever! So many twists! It's so well plotted! And that Abbess Glass, man, she is just incredible, and I love her and her mind. But it's the final book in the trilogy, which means we finally get some answers. Not all the answers, but enough to give the story a satisfying conclusion. Answers to questions like, is there really a chosen one? What are the powers of the shiphearts? And how do they relate to the Ark? And many other questions that I can't put words to without hinting at spoilers. But mate, it's just so clever! Aspects of it are a little weird and disturbing, others are astounding, and seeing it all play out, and seeing Nona grow as it does. I can't tell you just how wonderful this final book is. And I really just want to start from the very beginning, because the foresight! And now, I want a prequel series that give us the origins to this world, because it's just so fascinating, and I want to know more!

The only negative I have is that I wish the book was a little longer, and at the beginning we got to see some of Nona's classes again. There are things that happen in this book - big, important things - relating to certain characters outside of Nona's immediate friend group, and I just would have liked to have seen those characters get more page time. I can't explain more without spoilers, but yeah, I just would have liked to have seen more of certain characters in this book. And because of this, I think it would have been better if I had reread Grey Sister immediately before starting Holy Sister, just so I have those characters fresh in my mind for this book.

Holy Sister is a clever, epic, heartbreaking, emotional, hopeful end to this trilogy. The Book of the Ancestor trilogy is just incredible, really, and it's because of this that I don't want to say goodbye. But Lawrence is a high fantasy genius, and I have already bought Prince of Thorns, the first book in his Broken Empire trilogy, so I can read more epic stories. If you loved Red Sister and Grey Sister, Holy Sister will not disappoint.

Thank you to HarperVoyager via NetGalley for the eProof.

You might also like:

Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Over to you graphic

What do you think of darker, more violent high fantasies? Or high fantasies where war is a prevalent element of the story? Any that are similar that you can recommend? Have you read the first two books in the Book of the Ancestor trilogy? Will you be reading Holy Sister? Let me know in the comments!

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