Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

This is the first Mark Lawrence book I’ve ever read, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, or if I even wanted to read his books. Sharade happened to suggest Red Sister as a buddy read book, and it also happened to be on sale, so I thought, why not, let’s try it out.

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…

Setting

Red Sister is set in a world where the sun is dying. It’s cold, and harsh. Most of the world is unliveable, and a small corridor around the equator is all that’s left unfrozen. The moon focuses the sun, and in the dead of night heats up the world. Ice melts, and in the middle of the night the world turns murderous to anyone unfortunate enough to not be inside.

Mark creates a very interesting dying world scenario, and I would love to hear more about the world, its history and what will happen to it in the future.

Characters

Nona Grey is an interesting main character. She’s a very strong young girl with magical powers, who cannot catch a break. When she arrives at the Convent of Sweet Mercy, she’s never really had friends before. She quickly becomes fiercely loyal to her new friends, doing whatever she can to protect them. More often than not, Nona ends up in the most dangerous situations she can find. Naturally this leads to conflict and helps make the plot interesting.

There are a lot of other characters in the book, the sisters of the convent, and Nona’s fellow students at the convent to name a few. Overall Mark creates a very diverse cast, with a lot of well written characters throughout the book.

Plot

Mark creates a very interesting plot. A lot of them plot stems from the growth of Nona. Beginning with her life as a child in a small village, to how she came to the convent, and her time there learning to be a sister. I loved watching Nona throughout the course of her training, as she learnt more about herself and her powers.

Other Thoughts

Mark’s writing is very quotable. There were one or two points in the book where I wondered if the whole page was there just so Mark could put a very quotable line in, but I did enjoy the quotes, so I didn’t really mind.

Red Sister was a great book, which I really enjoyed, and recommend you read. Book 2 (Grey Sister) is due to be published in April 2018.

Hiu’s Thoughts

In contrast to Tam, this isn’t the first Mark Lawrence book I’ve read. Having read both the Broken Empire and Red Queen’s War trilogies, Red Sister is noticeably lighter in tone. Nona, in comparison to Jorg and Jalan, is extremely likable right from the beginning. You really feel for her as she talks about how badly she wants a friend, and yet that vulnerability does not come at the expense of the usual confident competence that Lawrence’s characters usually share. I maybe didn’t enjoy her quite as much as Jorg and Jalan… but then, there is still 2 books to go.

Audience

This book is probably best for people who like:

  • Single POV
  • Female POV
  • Grimdark
  • Coming of age
  • Magic school
  • Dying Earth
  • Fight Scenes

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