Book Review – Red Sister by Mark

 

A young girl with unusual abilities is sold off to a fighting operation and ultimately ends up in a convent for warrior nuns…

Red Sister is the 6th book I’ve read by Mark Lawrence.  The first three books I read were the Broken Empire series (The Prince of Thorns).  Then I read the Red Queen’s War series (The Prince of Fools).  This is the first of a new series – The Ancestor.  It is also the first series that is set in a completely different world from the first six books.  Though the characters were completely different in the first two series, they were set in the same world and at the same time.  The characters had incidental interactions with the events and characters from the other series… which was interesting.  This was a completely new and separate world.

It was also the first of his books which featured a predominantly female cast of characters.  Male roles in this story were very limited, and that was an interesting change over the previous books.

I think that Mark Lawrence’s skills as a writer are in his worlds and in the crafting of his stories.  The Broken Empire Series was unrelentingly brutal, dark, cruel, and sadistic, though somehow by the end, I felt sympathetic toward the sociopathic main character, which is not something I expected.  But what really left me in awe was the crafting of the pieces of the story, the way clues were woven in, the way that events which seemed connected in one way, were suddenly, later in the story, revealed to be connected in a completely different way, the way that these events unfolded, and the cruel, dark, mindset of the main character, a man, really, broken, and yet still with a slight ability to acknowledge his own brokenness was fascinating, if at times difficult to read.  Very difficult to read.

His second series featured a, not sociopathic, but very self-absorbed main character who was, for different reasons, also hard to like, and yet, still compelling to read, and by the end, had found some part of my heart.  I felt that, again, the story telling was powerful, though not as awe-inducing as the Broken Empire Series.

In this story, again, I found the storytelling was well crafted, though the events didn’t really start pulling together until the last few chapters of the book.  This felt like it had a much slower build.  While I was interested enough to keep reading, it didn’t pull me in as quickly or as thoroughly as his other books.  However, this was significantly less dark and brutal (which is saying something since it involved torture, death, and murder of children and animals at different points) than his other books.  This was actually kind of a relief.  I found myself less traumatized and more able to simply enjoy the adventure of the book.  The characterization was a kind of a slow build, as were the relationships the characters built with each other, and their growing understanding of themselves.  It follows a group of young girls as they come of age in a convent for magic users of different types.

Like his other books, this world is… post-apocalyptic fantasy…  Magic users and ancient technology exist side by side and there are hints at an interesting backstory in how this world and the existing technology came to be.

I am left feeling very much that this was a platform story from which the real action of the story arc will launch in the next book.  I’m hoping so.  I found this book pleasant and interesting enough to keep reading, but not strongly compelling as I’ve come to expect from Mark Lawrence, but the promise left for the next book is enticing and I will read it when it comes out.

 

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