What It's About
The first book in the Book of the Ancestor trilogy, this series follows young Nona taken from her village and sold as a ring fighter. Accused of the murder of a noble, the nine year old girl is set to be hanged when she is rescued by Abbess Glass who brings her to the convent of Sweet Mercy. Here, for the first time, she is given a warm bed, food to eat, an education...and training in the arts of death. But an entire convent of girls training as killers is not without its tension, and noble families do not forget when justice hasn't been served.
What I Thought
A few years back, I picked up one of Mark Lawrence's earlier books, Prince of Thorns, to see if it might be of interest to a loved one. It was really easy to get through, but I felt the writing style was a bit juvenile, even if the subject matter was gruesome. Because I didn't have any real investment in the matter, beyond the brief analysis of it for another, I read several chapters and then put it down.
When I heard the synopsis of Red Sister, I was instantly intrigued. I mean, warrior nuns? It sounds both a little too weird, and also really cool at the same time. I picked it up - and thank goodness I did! I can thankfully credit this book as getting me out of the horrible reading slump that I've been in. Now, I'm still not going to say I'm reading a lot, or quickly, but I sure did read this one faithfully!
The writing style was still a bit juvenile at times, and at other moments it seemed like Lawrence tried a bit too hard and therefore lost some of the meaning from words altogether, but overall it flowed decently. The concept and storyline though, were wonderful and what kept me engaged the entire time enough to happily keep at it.
The violence can get pretty graphic, so if you're squeamish at all, I would stay away. Now, I don't know if I wasn't paying the best of attention, but there are some plot points that felt very unclear while I was reading. Some things were over explained, and other things...well, I either didn't get answers, or got them so late in the book that I had truly thought I was never going to get them. There wasn't much of a reminder that these things were mysteries, and instead it just felt like Lawrence forgot to explain them. I'm currently on the second book, and finally have some answers, so I am hoping this was intentional and not just the work of a strong editing team giving him a reminder.
If you need a diverting piece of fantasy with a cool new concept that isn't too tricky of a read, then I would absolutely recommend this one. It was very enjoyable and I am hoping to finish the trilogy.