Thursday 9 May 2019

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Book Title: Holy Sister
Author: Mark Lawrence
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Review Copy (but I own the entire trilogy in paperback as well as e-books.)

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Goodreads Summary of the FIRST book Red Sister: 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…
This is the third book in a series, and as you know I don't like to talk about plot too much because of spoilers. I will review the series as a whole, and highlight what I liked and perhaps didn't like as much in the third book, careful not to spoil anything.

Red Sister Review can be found here.
Grey Sister Review can be found here.

What did I think?

"It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men."

This is how Red Sister starts, and I fell in love almost immediately. Mark Lawrence's writing is beautiful, almost poetic. He writes the point of view of a lost, scared, hot-headed, stubborn nine year old that slowly grows with much care. Lawrence pays a lot of attention to detail, and you can tell he chooses each word meticulously. 

Let's talk about Lawrence for a moment. He wrote a grimdark trilogy called The Broken Empire which may as well be written by a different author. The tone is so very different, I wouldn't guess they're written by the same author if I didn't know. In fact, I'd ask, "Are you sure?" He's also brought out a science fiction novel which dabbles in time travel this year, called One Word Kill, and again, the tone is completely different. He's a bit of a chameleon and hence on my list of 'will always buy.'

Red, Grey and Holy sister form the Book of the Ancestor series. It's a dark story. It says it right there in the premise, of course: a convent where young girls are raised to be killers.

But it's a beautiful story. The themes are mostly loyalty, friendship, forgiveness and second chances. At no point is the violence excessive.

The protagonist is a young girl, Nona. She's a terrific character and not only feels real but is well developed and someone I could immediately connect with. She's damaged, but fiery and passionate and fights for what she believes in. She's filled with energy and witty. She's often unpredictable, but intelligent and one of my favourite fantasy protagonists despite her young age. She grows throughout and turns into a young lady I wouldn't mind being friends with. Especially while encountering a bandit late at night.

A very important aspect of the series is how to overcome your inner demons, and how your friends can support you while doing so.

The magic system and world building are both mesmerising and full of potential and possibilities. It's a captivating world. A dying world. Ice is closing in from all sides and not much more than a corridor is left.

Now, I will not lie: I wasn't as enamoured with the third book as I was with the other two. A character I loved and cherished died off-screen. Something, I don't think any character deserves. It's hard to end a great series in a way that every fan is happy, and for the most part I was happy.

I can't recommend this trilogy enough. This is well worth your time, especially because in today's world the message of friendship, loyalty, second chances and forgiveness is an important one. Finding the light in the darkness and being brave enough to give each other another chance.

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