Monday, August 06, 2018

Book Review: 'Red Sister' by Mark Lawrence

The first book by Mark Lawrence I've read, and going by this one, it won't be the last.

The opening paragraph hooks you in straight away;
"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."
It paints a picture of the world of 'Red Sister'. The world of Abeth, an unforgiving violent place where convents are renowned for their training of assassins, as well as for their spirituality.

'Red Sister' follows Nona, an 8 year old girl, falsely accused of murder, escaping the gallows to now find herself at the Convent of Sweet Mercy. There she becomes a novice and is enrolled into Red Class and educated in the many paths on the way to taking holy orders, honouring and keeping the faith of the Ancestors, becoming skilled in espionage, stealth, poisons, armed and unarmed combat, and being able to walk the Path and manipulate threads.

As Nona progresses through the classes, over the three years the book covers, her skills increase and so do the dangers that have followed her. She also reluctantly comes to terms with her troubled past to become the deadly assassin she was prophesized to become.

It's a story that uses the well worn 'Chosen One' trope, and although it's similar in some ways to 'Harry Potter', here it's written in a way that twists and turns your expectations. I enjoyed Nona, Ara, Hessa and the other cast of characters. They were really compelling and engaging, each with different personalities and some good progressive character development, making you care about their fates as the story progresses.

Although mostly set in a Convent, the world building here is pretty good as well. We learn about the world of Abeth through Nona and her classes, as well as being explored through flashbacks and stories told by the characters. I hope in the second book, 'Grey Sister', the world is explored much more, as it sounds like a world I want to see more of.

It's a really enjoyable read, that focuses on friendship, trust and faith and leaves you wanting more from Nona and the Sisters!