Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence

“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…

How did I get the book? Received from Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Genre: Fantasy

Review: I am not a fantasy reader, especially not when the stories arrive in “brick” form (i.e. 500+ pages) and trilogies. So the fact that I ordered Grey Sister before I even finished this book speaks volumes.

Red Sister is filled to the brim with storytelling, thorough and well-crafted world-building, and of course detailed characters. The fact is that there are so many characters that at some points I felt a little overwhelmed, especially because they all matter. I would dismiss someone only to have them reappear 6 chapters later, even if only briefly. But long enough for me to now wonder if they will play a role in the next 2 books.

What I loved about Red Sister is that is a really engaging fantasy story. The writing is captivating and you can easily forgot the world around you.

Nona is at the centre of the story. She is naïve and her questions are what leads to the reader learning much about the world, politics and magic of the world she lives in. While Nona might be at the centre of the story she isn’t the only character to focus one. As I’ve mentioned there are many, I think each reader will find their own. I was intrigued by Ara, loved Hessa and continue to wonder about Zole. These are just the novices, I shall resist talking about the rest.

Red Sister focuses on Nona’s childhood but you have glimpses of the future. This, along with all the enjoyment you have of reading the first book, entices you to continue with the trilogy.

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