- Series: Book of the Ancestor (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Ace; First Edition, First Printing edition (April 4, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1101988851
- ISBN-13: 978-1101988855
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 317 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor) Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Charged with attempted murder, young Nona is saved from the noose by a nun. Taken to the Convent of Sweet Mercy to be trained in the Path, Nona learns that she belongs to the hunska, a "tribe" known for speed. The nunnery is home to students from four tribes. These young women each have special talents according to their tribes and bloodlines; however, those who are most valued display traits from other groups. Much like the pupils at Hogwarts, Nona forms strong friendships, but her life is constantly under threat because of the powerful man she tried to kill years ago. Relying on her friends and her wits and power, Nona survives to continue her education in the next installment in the series. Fantasy readers love underdog stories, and Lawrence, best-selling author of the "Broken Empire" trilogy, has cast Nona as the typical female epic fantasy hero. She's strong, smart, stubborn, and still quite young in this novel, although the book isn't for younger readers. Violence and gore abound as the Red Sisters, those trained in combat, protect Nona, her classmates, and holy objects from the greedy emperor's family. VERDICT Perfect for readers of Robin LeFevers's Grave Mercy and Kristin Cashore's Graceling.—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL
Praise for Red Sister
“Dark, passionate, tense, with a female hero anyone could relate to—I was utterly fascinated! This is no pretty, flowery tale, but one of vastly different people struggling to survive when a hostile government comes to power.”—Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Battle Magic
“The lyrical excellence of previous books is present in full force here and it’s fair to say that Mark Lawrence has evolved into a master of his craft. In Red Sister he has produced a novel that is as thought provoking as it is entertaining, and as poignant as it is ferocious. Highly recommended.”—Anthony Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Waking Fire
“In this stunning, action-filled series launch, Lawrence ('Broken Empire' trilogy) establishes a fantastic world in which religion and politics are sharp as swords, with magic and might held in the hands of wonderful and dangerous women. Impatient George R.R. Martin fans will find this a pleasing alternative until the next installment in his “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga arrives.”—Library Journal, starred review
Praise for the novels of Mark Lawrence
“Different than anything I have ever read.”—Terry Brooks, New York Times bestselling author
“An amazing series, and I eagerly anticipate Lawrence’s next literary effort, whatever it may be.”—Peter V. Brett, New York Times bestselling author
“It’s not like anything I’ve ever read before.”—Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Dark and relentless...A two-in-the-morning page-turner.”—Robin Hobb, New York Times bestselling author
“Epic fantasy on a George R. R. Martin scale but on speed.”—Fixed on Fantasy
“Mark Lawrence’s growing army of fans will relish this rollicking new adventure and look forward to the next one.”—Daily Mail
Top customer reviews
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Beyond all that, I simply liked it. The characters are worth loving, my head is filled with a dozen memorable scenes, and the world-building itself was good enough to have saved this book even if the writing wasn't quite so good. I am keeping this vague. I usually do, since I like to be surprised as a reader and the details of the plot or world hardly ever matter, not really. I'm giving you what I would want. Who does the reviewer usually read, am I going to eye roll at the writing, and does the reviewer have any reservations to share. So, that's what you have here. No reservations from me, just endorsement.
I like Mark Lawrence's books; I would consider myself a fan and have read virtually everything he has put out. Red Sister had the potential to be his best novel thus far - the world building is excellent, most of the character development is similarly well done, and this novel contains the unique perspective and flawed protagonist that has characterize Lawrence's previous books.
But damn, it could have used another edit. Certain things just bugged me throughout the book - the main characters, generally female, are simply too young (ages 9-11, mostly) to make the narration believable. Make them teenagers and it would be easier to buy. The book is also pretty trope-y; it is basically Harry Potter in a convent, with Wolverine and ninjas thrown in for good measure. Dumbledore/Abbess Glass are cut from the same mold, for example. As much as I enjoyed Red Sister as a read, it was difficult not to notice the obvious parallels in story arc and characters to other novels in the genre.
There were also a glaring number of too-easy get-out-of-jail free cards used in the book - one example: our protagonist group has rendered an adversary unconscious in essentially a cave, and must drag her out via a narrow passageway. They get her stuck. One of the novices, however, just happens to have a pot of grease in her pocket (with no real explanation as to why), which allows them to squeeze the body out. Irritating. And there are several other too-convenient situations like this.
I am ranting about these silly things because otherwise this is a well written novel, and they detracted from an otherwise excellent and entertaining read. Lawrence, a male writer, even pulled off writing about prepubescent girls bathing together without sexualuzing the situation or coming across as creepy.
Summation - well worth the read, but be prepared for the occasional howler.
My favorite part of Red Sister is the level of detail that Lawrence uses to create the world. There is a feeling of completeness and authenticity to everything from the training path that novice nuns follow as they develop into the warrior priestesses of the Sisters of the Convent of Sweet Mercy. The main character, Nona, is complex and dark. Her backstory is written, but there are missing pieces that I can only assume will be addressed in later books. The evolution of Nona from starved product of an impoverished region into the talented, thriving member of the Sisterhood is well charted. It's interesting to read a maturing girl being written by a man. Lawrence does a good job from what I can tell.
There are plenty of interesting characters to both admire, distrust and loathe. I appreciated Lawrence avoiding some of the truly disgusting aspects of a time/place that the story is set in. I didn't need to read about how horrible abused many of the young children would be in a dying, starving world.
This is a series that fans of gritty Fantasy will love. It's harsh, it's a little bit mean and there are plenty of twists and turns to the plot to keep you interested in watching Nona grow up. Can't wait to read the next one.