RED SISTER (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence
Published April 4th 2017 by Ace
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…
To say that Red sister is a big book is one hell of an understatement. This book is so long and daunting, but still I managed to read it in two days! It shows rather than tells how the main character, Nona Grey, developed and grew up from being a rabid child in the wastelands of the empire to being a Red Sister, a fighting nun, of the Sweet Mercy Convent. However, this book only encompasses the first two levels which she must undergo in order to become a fully-fledged nun of the order and already it has managed to be a 400+page book. Not that I’m complaining. Despite it showing the daily routine of the novices in the convent, I never got bored or felt that it was too slow for me. A lot of things happened that were really necessary in developing a strong foundation for the character so that she doesn’t become flat for the reader. The plot was like the life cycle of an avalanche! Every little event grew to affect and instigate others and then eventually grew into a hulking mass of excitement that all tumble down into one massive action-packed ending featuring a whole lot of blood and gore and plain badass-ery.
There were a multitude of interesting characters, from the nuns, the officials, and other novices, that were vital to the plot, although I did have some trouble keeping up with all of them. The main character herself seemed to contain traces of the “chosen one” or the “special snowflake” trope, however, the book presents many challenges to that observation because she often got beat up and because of other twists which you should definitely find out for yourself.
Red Sister’s winning touch for me was definitely the world building. I was literally jumping with glee at the idea of a dying sun, a flat moon that acts as the sun, an impending ice age, and the possibility of *gasp SPACE SHIPS! Abeth, their planet, is so genuine that I could almost feel the Corridor wind peeling of my skin with its sheer temperatures. And their culture, although heavily based on 14th to 15th century times when the church was the mostly governing body, had its own interpretations of the faith. There is a bit of mystery surrounding their world and I badly want to know everything about it. However, I noticed that their empire seems to be lacking a name, but no matter, I find myself wanting to go there despite the ice waging war on their ways of life.
I realized that I’m ranting now and that this feels a whole lot like Nevernight. No biggie! I’ll be featuring both on a Venn diagram of sorts which I will post soon.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Rating: 5 stars