Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Red Sister
The Ancestor #1
Mark Lawrence

Ace Books
April 4, 2017/ ISBN 9781101988855

Reviewed by Jan Fields


The world of Red Sister is very different from our own. This is a world of ice and suffering, where the most valuable thing a peasant can be is deadly. At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, nuns are trained in magic and in murder. And there are few things more dangerous than a Red Sister, a nun who has chosen the warrior path. It is at this convent that young Nona Grey learns often painful lessons about trust, deception, and about who she is. Nona is a dangerous child, but a fantastic main character. We come to see the pure heart of her. She's been through a lot, but she hasn't lost her core nobility and I like that. As I read this book, I was sometimes reminded of the magic school in another (very famous) series and how life there too could be very dangerous, but if I had to choose, I believe I would choose the Convent of Sweet Mercy. The nuns were a wonderful combination of tough and kind, pragmatic and hopeful. And the blade path has to be one of the great challenges I've seen in any magical school. I also like the way there is no point in the novel where a single female is looked down on for being female -- it simply isn't a "thing" in this world. There is class inequality in abundance, and you might be looked down on for being small, but men and women basically have the same options and demands, and it's presented smoothly and without comment. Of all the things I love about the book, that might have been the one I love most. Violent, gritty and enormously satisfying as a series opener, I would recommend it heartily.

Reviewed 2017