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. But the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand the trouble the eight year old Nona Grey brings with her. 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…
Red Sister is set on a new world of Abeth where there’s only a small strip of land around the equator that isn’t covered in ice. Lawrence wonderfully sets up the world in Red Sister as the start of his new trilogy of fantasy books. I’m so intrigued about so many different things within this world. I want to learn more about the people who live on the ice. I kind of want to learn about how the world ended up only as a strip of habitable land. Plus I just really want to know more about the characters.
One of the amazing things about this book is that all of the main characters are strong female characters. We spend most of the book at Sweet Mercy convent and in this series, Nuns are badass. They are tough, independent and most of all fleshed out properly. Each character has their own attributes and personalities and they are not all templates of a YA sword wielding female. As far as a I know this is Lawrence’s first book with a female MC and I think he’s really written Nona and the other sisters really well without falling into cliches.
My one issue is the slow pace of most of the book. As I mentioned above, most of the book we’re at Sweet Mercy convent. This means the majority of the book is watching Nona being trained. This meant up until near the end it was very slow to read, and the book felt much longer than it actually was. But it is a really good set up for the rest of the series as the world and characters have been built up so extensively throughout the training.
I loved the magic system in this world and can’t wait to see more of it. The ‘Path’ and how it’s used is really interesting to read about from Nona’s perspective, and also the other sisters who use it and use it differently. I’m really intrigued into how much more learning there is to come in Grey Sister about this. Along with this, I want to learn more about the shiphearts that are buried and how these are connected with the magic in this world.
One of my main positives for this book is that it is not a ‘Chosen One’ story. It’s really pushed by the characters in the book that prophecy’s aren’t real, and that the faith in prophecy’s is usually what causes them to become true. It’s also emphasised that it’s not always who you expect to be the chosen one, and there’s a lot of political intrigue and manipulation around this. Sister Glass in particular is of interest as we’re not really sure what she has to gain or lose and why she’s playing the game the way she is.
+ Wonderfully vivid world building
+ Loved the magic system
+ Not a ‘chosen one’ story
+ Strong mostly female characters
– Slow pace
Overall, I am really excited to read Grey Sister the next in the series! I received Red Sister* by Mark Lawrence from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an unbiased and honest review.