Red Sister was a marvellous conglomeration of all that is stabby, bloody, and nunnery.
How is that for an introduction, eh?!? This was just such completely a Cait Book™ that I’m so happy I had the opportunity to read it!! I will note though that this is an adult epic fantasy, and I generally review YA here, so juuuust so you know. But I’ve been reading much more adult fantasy lately and I LOVE IT. * My smol villainous heart is pleased.
This is by the same author as Prince of Thorns (which I adored!) so I do admit I thought Red Sister was going to be darker than it was. I’ll try not to be…disappointed so you can maintain the illusion that I am a well-adjusted and normal young human creature who doesn’t delight in dark epic fantasy. *
* There’s surprisingly less romance in adult epic fantasy. So more romance + more stabbing = why wasn’t I reading more of this sooner.
** Which is, obviously, a complete lie. I live for dark epic fantasy.
CHECKLIST OF ALL THE AWESOME RED SISTER CONTAINS
- assassin nuns who have no chill
- will smite the patriarchy if needed and have 0% regrets
- trains young girls to be warriors, with and without blades
- also features 90% female characters
- SO MANY FEMALE CHARACTERS IT’S JUST AMAZING AND EXCEPTIONAL AND I’M SO PLEASED
- also female friendships! There is competition, but there is more banding together and strengthening each other!
- also stabbing
- dark inner monsters
- literal inner monsters, okay
- complicated and intriguing magic systems
- #more #stabbing
- smol girls with knives
- a protagonist who believes: food > everything else
I really adored reading from Nona’s perspective.
She starts off the book quite young, so the story grows up with her as she rises through the ranks of the nuns. She’s badass but also quiet and easily embarrassed. My only quibble is that Nona seemed to be forced into all the action of her tale. She rarely instigated anything, so it seemed like the plot always propelled her instead of the other way around. Buuuuut, she was stubborn and feisty when needed and SO LOYAL. I swear she’s a stabbtastic Hufflepuff.
The story is all about weapon training and schools. I really enjoyed the beginning as Nona got introduced into the nuns and caught up in accidentally helping the head nun rearrange the power system. #nice But the interesting subplots didn’t kick in until like 60%. I would’ve liked to see less geography lessons and more action. I also missed the sass that was so prevalent in Prince of Thorns!! I really expected a spicy and darkly wickedly humorous novel and…not so much. Not a fault particularly! Just my misguided expectations.
The magic system was COMPLEXLY EPIC. I love how there are ancient magic people and the girls in the nunnery would be descendants of them with various magical strengths. I would’ve liked more detail about “the Path” though. Like still no clue what was going on there. I entirely plan to reread before book 2.
SMALL LIST OF QUIBBLES
- it was pretty slow
- lack of sass
- lots of characters and I was a little fuddled (but then I don’t even remember my own nieces’ names so…take that as you will)
- not nearly as dark as I’d hoped it was going to be! the end was plenty badass but I wish there’d been less lessons and soooo much more action
Red Sister is a powerful series starter of badass nuns with knives and magic!
I adored the epic and destructive ending and I’m so intrigued about Nona’s monstrous side. I’m also keen to find out what happens next!! And the twist on the Chosen One trope was very nice. Basically, please be cautious of nuns, they do not like to be messed with. And I’m forever pleased that a book that focuses SO MUCH on Girl Power exists!!
THANK YOU TO HARPER VOYAGER AND THE AUTHOR FOR THE REVIEW-COPY. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is published April, 2017.
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…