TITLE: Red Sister
AUTHOR: Mark Lawrence
TRIGGER WARNING: death, gore & fighting, animal abuse in one scene.
WHERE DID I RECEIVE THIS?: HarperCollins sent this to me!
“It is important, when killing a nun, to bring an army of sufficient size.”
“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…
wow Red Sister, what a ride. I never actually anticipated reading this, I didn’t even know it existed! that was until HarperCollins NZ posted a picture of it on their instagram and I commented on it because honestly, who doesn’t think killer nuns are awesome? And then, low and behold, four days later Red Sister turned up on my doorstep and I am so amazingly thankful for it.
Red Sister is a adult high fantasy novel that follows a young girl ( shes 8 at the beginning, alot younger than many main characters but I believe in the main story she is around 14 at the end, and then an adult in the epilogue ) named Nora Grey. It has alternating time points which I normally find confusing, but in this case were pulled off effortlessly, leaving me wanting to know what was happening in the future scenes, and then craving to find out why it happened. There was also a cast of characters that ranged in motives and thoughts. So this story begins with Nora’s beginning, being sold by her mother and town to a man, and ends, with her a young woman, on the face of war with one friend injured and another pointing a sword at her. YES, it’s that kind of book.
An interesting point to talk about in this novel, is that it is set on a world that feels similar to ours, in the future. The sun has began to lose its power & the ice caps have begun closing in, leaving a meager 50 mile wide stretch of land known as the corridor. This is the world of Abeth. Yet the problem still persists, if the moon falls from it’s orbit? the corridor will close in. If the sun looses to much more power? The corridor will close in. This is humanity on the brink of extinction.
The first thing I want to talk about is the magic system because that was something I never expected to be in this story! There are your normal people who have survived the freeze, but also the four bloods who came from the corners of the earth. Gerant, Quantal, Hunska & Marjal. People can often have a touch of one blood, maybe even half! but more than that is very rare. And even rarer? Someone who carries two bloods, impossible to see a three blood & only one carries the four bloods and is known as the savior. Now all of these ‘bloods?’ they all help do different things and I loved that alot, Gerants were large people, towering at 8ft, they can really takr a beating and make good soldiers. Hunskas? They were fast, so fast infact that they could watch a spear come at them in slow motion and play with time. Quantals can walk ‘the path’ which isn’t really described well as a thing, but to put it in perspective, when someone comes back from the path ( it’s sort of like the energy of this world—— not a physical path!) they come back swinging and full of power that while it doesn’t always last long, it packs a punch! Marjal’s unfortunately are the ones I know the least about but they have ‘superhuman powers’ for example, some can wield the elements, others can pick apart your mind.
Another thing to mention? THE MAIN CHARACTER IS BI! AN IMPORTANT SIDE CHARACTER IS DISABLED!!!! yes there of course could’ve been more diversity but honestly? I’m really glad that there was these two characters because they fitted so seamlessly and it didn’t MATTER that she was Bisexual, or the other girl, injured. AND? to top it off, this was a female driven book, with KICK ASS females, and females who just wanted to help heal people, it was so amazing to read about a nearly fully female cast & it made me feel so much love for this story.
Now to how the story was written, I will admit, in the first 100 pages, I had a hypothesis on what would happen. 100 pages later? and I had a different one. By the end of the book? Every trope I expected had been thrown on it’s head and instead stood a glorious story that had been crafted from those ashes. Often in fantasy books I find it too easy to predict everything, but only one singular prediction of mine was correct and everything else was so far from it that I couldn’t help but grin —— well done Mark Lawrence!
I WILL ADMIT, I’m left with ALOT of questions, Where did Abbess Glass go? What is Zole going to do? Did they reach the destination, or did the sisters come running to save them? What happened to Clera? how did their world come to be that way? what is the war really about? Mark Lawrence, if you’re around, mind answering a few of these?
I’m genuinely in a state of disbelief! High fantasy like this has never been my FAVORITE but now I am tempted to claw the edges of the earth to get my hands on an ARC or the sequel because that ending left a foreboding tale, of the world zooming out from the small walls of Sweet Mercy, to the wide world of war.
I’m sorry that this review isn’t clear & cut & doesn’t explain everything but I am still a ball of emotions every time I think about this book, and I finished it a week ago!
Either way, I think if you like fantasy this is a MUST read,
I have no idea when the sequels coming out but you bet I will be watching like a hawk for it & any ARC’S!
Until next time,