Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Whats it about?

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…


It doesn’t matter what type of book Mark Lawrence writes he seems to be in a class of his own when it comes to making complicated scenes and situations easy to digest. This has never been more evident than in Red Sister.

The story is very focused around Nona. There isn’t too much interruption from outside of Nona’s immediate circle which really helps immersion. The focus is very much on the growth and path of Nona and her small but motley group of friends. You feel like you are riding along with them as they navigate the events that take place rather than being dragged along as they are punched and kicked from one crisis to the next, though there is an awful lot of punching and kicking too!.

There is a definite Harry Potter feel to the proceedings, I mean, that’s almost always going to happen when you have a school of magic right? But I feel like it goes even deeper than that in Red Sister, I grew up with Harry, Hermoine and Ron and my love of reading originates with Rowlings series so I don’t say this lightly but there were certain points in this book that gave me that same fond feeling of camaraderie and adventure that i honestly don’t think i have experienced on that same level since.

The book gets off to a pacey start, there’s little to no settling in on this one and its glorious, I feel like when you suggest a book to someone these days more often than not you find yourself suggesting that they need to give it a good hundred pages to get into it but there is no such issue here. Things do slow down in the middle section, there is a lot of moving certain pieces into position but you do sense that something important is on the horizon and get a nice build up of anticipation from it. The last quarter of the book delivers on that promise with a wonderfully staged crescendo which with Lawrence’s fantastic style almost makes you feel like you are watching an action anime.

This is a 5 star read. Its well balanced, its intriguing and when all is said and done it does everything you want a coming of age fantasy novel to do. Onto Grey sister.

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