Book: Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor 1) by Mark Lawrence
Release Date: April 4th 2017
Tags: Adult / Fantasy / Nuns / Assassins / Magic / Coming of Age / Friends / Making Your Own Family / Disability / LGBTQ+ / Bisexual
Trigger Warnings: Animal Cruelty / Animal Death / Child Cruelty
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are raised to be killers. In some few children the old bloods show, gifting rare talents that can be honed to deadly or mystic effect. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls.
A bloodstained child of nine falsely accused of murder, guilty of worse, Nona is stolen from the shadow of the noose. It takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist, but under Abbess Glass’s care there is much more to learn than the arts of death. Among her class Nona finds a new family–and new enemies.
Despite the security and isolation of the convent, Nona’s secret and violent past finds her out, drawing with it the tangled politics of a crumbling empire. Her arrival sparks old feuds to life, igniting vicious struggles within the church and even drawing the eye of the emperor himself.
Beneath a dying sun, Nona Grey must master her inner demons, then loose them on those who stand in her way.
If it hadn’t been for some of my friends (coughJolien @TheFictionalReadercough) raving about these books, I might not have picked them up. Mark Lawrence was not an author I really had that much on my radar, and reading about nun assassins didn’t seem all that appealing. But he certainly is now. And boy was I wrong about those nuns.
It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size
Red Sister throws us into it all with Nona, a young girl sentenced to death for almost killing a man at the age of nine. She is ‘saved’ from the execution by a nun who takes her to the Convent of Sweet Mercy. Not just a mere place to learn to be a nun. A place where she is trained in the art of fighting, poison and the mind.
If that seems a little unlikely, that is what I thought at first. However I think a lot of things are build up so nicely that it works. It doesn’t seem weird that a nine year old girl was almost able to kill a brick of a man. A lot of that lays in the small world building that is laced through almost every scene. The idea that there used to be four tribes with special abilities is very intriguing. A lot of the girls at the convent are descendants from those, some having mixed heritage of two or more, though that is rare. Mark Lawrence managed to build this world slowly up without me ever having to question too much.
What grabbed me about this book the most however is the friendship and family that is present throughout this whole book. Nona was such a young thing with little loyalties when she comes to the convent, but once she decides you are her friend, you are it for life. She doesn’t care about the ancestor or religion. But she cares about the people in it. The growing relations between her, Cresa, Ara, Hessa, and some of the sisters is incredible to see and my heart goes out to all of them. The women in here are fierce. Most of the men are pigs. I love it. #sorrynotsorry
The one reason I am not rating this 5 stars is because of the prologue, intermission and epilogue. While I can see how that might draw some people’s attention and will get people to theorize it just drew me away from what I felt was important. Also the scene are confusing, and I know they are meant to be, but dangit, I care about these girls and you can’t do this to me.