“It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size.”
— Mark Lawrence, Red Sister
Dear Mr. Lawrence—can I call you Mark? I’ve heard a lot about you and the books you’ve written. The Broken Empire trilogy as well as the Red Queen’s War trilogy have known nothing but praise. It’s hard for someone to look away from something that shine’s like a diamond on a sunny day, even if it’s miles away. While I’m itching to dive right into them, I also managed to get my hands on your latest masterpiece. Yes, I must say it is a masterpiece. I’m not one to boost the ego of people just because I can, but Red Sister is the beginning of something extraordinary. I might not have read everything you’ve written yet, but boy can you write. Your book has the power to steal a reader’s soul and compel it to follow a path filled with peace, patience and serenity. It brings readers to transcend time and space in order to live a whole new life through the eyes of a child. This isn’t just a story that offers you the choice to go somewhere far and beyond our imagination. This is a story that imposes you to welcome its world and all of its elegance. Walking into the worlds you write makes us glow with bliss and forget about our own stresses, problems and responsibilities. This is a story that makes you feel warm, invited and belonging to a convent. Mark, you’ve given us an epic fantasy story that will enthrall its readers to characters, settings and a lore that have never been done so meticulously, and with so much perfection. Red Sister is the next book that anyone and everyone should read.
You’re going to wish you could go into the future and get your hands on the next two books in this series. Mark Lawrence builds his world with the utmost confidence and creativity. His mere craftiness paves the way for one of the most original and dazzling world out there. From the four major tribes to the different holy paths that a novice can aim for, Red Sister presents us with an impressive and impeccable narrative. Not only is it engaging, it completely immerses you and has you mesmerized by the prose. Cracking open this book is just the beginning of a reading experience like none other. Split into two sections, the story also uses flashforwards as a beautiful device to keep the suspense and intrigue high above your heads, yet still hidden in the unreachable shadows. In fact, at the beginning of each part, Mark Lawrence teases readers with a bloody and devastating future that seems to only promise tremendous agony, pain and chaos. The story also interweaves flashbacks within the narrative that throws us back in time in order to gain even more depth and insight into one of the most fascinating and genuine characters out there.
But who’s story is Red Sister? From the moment you read her name, you’ll find your soul connected and inseparable with this child’s destiny. This is the story of none other than Nona Grey. Falsely accused of murder, Nona is bought by the Abbess of Sweet Mercy Convent to be raised as a Red Sister in the art of killing. Orphan, her future remains a grand mystery until her arrival at the Convent of Sweet Mercy. As she acquaints herself with other novices, the nuns and all their stories, Nona is thrown onto a path of self-refinement that will not only hone her skills, but also her blades. This convent will quickly draw you in and make you feel at home. If you rolled your eyes at the thought of nuns raising an orphan, leave it to Mark Lawrence to have you flailing in a desire to be raised under the same roof. These nuns are wiser beyond their years, much more deceptive than their plain habit would indicate and far more deadlier than a hyena in its natural habitat. Do not take these words lightly as these nuns will continue to impress you in ways you never thought possible. As the story unveils how they master their own respective arts, their interactions with all the novices and Nona make Red Sister such a beautiful piece of literature.
Nona Grey is by far one of the most amazing female lead characters ever. She is exactly what you’d expect from someone who’s being sold and bought left and right in some of the most despicable areas of Abeth. Strong, yet flawed, she is not the type of character who will never fall down and will always see a happy ending to every problem she’ll encounter. She is one to fight for what she believes in and to never give up when the stakes are high. Nona is nine when her life spirals into a whole new universe she never would have thought she’d be embracing. She’s always discovering something new about the people around her, and even more about herself. It is this last part that keeps feeding the readers appetite for more stories, more action scenes and more plot twists. However, young as she is when the story begins, she’s an individual who strongly believes in friendships and keeping promises. She sees these bonds far more sacred than anything a religion could give a person. Through the relationships she builds with some of the other novices, you just can’t help but applaud at the authenticity in every single interaction you find in this tale. To make things even more exhilarating, Mark Lawrence integrates powerful enemies who seek Nona for various suspicious reasons. Things will only seem to culminate into a mountain of danger and death as you progress through the first Book of the Ancestor.
Everyone has their own secrets and their own story in Red Sister. Unveiling the unknown, like unsheathing a blade, leads these characters into events that no one will see coming. This is my first book by Mark Lawrence, and it is far from being my last. When you run into an author who’s writing is so lyrical and beautiful that you just can’t look away, you’ll find yourself in a state of absolute mercy. Mark Lawrence has the power to make action sequences look like a graceful ballet performances. He stretches seconds into ages and pulls you into a timeless state where every single instant feels immortal, infinite and exquisite. Lets just say that this book will stress your imagination and make you fancy one of the most fascinating worlds that has ever been written and leave you astonished before one of the most intriguing magic system in fantasy novels. The beauty that bleeds through these words is enough to keep me glued to my chair, even if Death were to stare me in the eye. Coupled with characters who have their own voices and authentic personalities, as well as a setting that is brought to life with its own traditions, history and dark secrets, Red Sister is a relentlessly fun and mesmerizing beginning to a trilogy.
Mark. If there’s anything you shouldn’t do, it’s to stop writing. You keep on doing what you do best. Blow our minds away.
THANK YOU TO PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA AND MARK LAWRENCE FOR SENDING ME AN ADVANCE COPY FOR REVIEW!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★/