{Liza Reviews} Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Posted February 8, 2018 by Liza in Reviews / 3 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, language, and/or violence.
{Liza Reviews} Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)

by Mark Lawrence
Pages: 469
Published on April 4th 2017
by Ace
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | BookDepository | Goodreads

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

5 Stars

Wow! Red Sister is my first book by Mark Lawrence and it was full of awesome!  There are so many things that I love, that I shall try to keep my list to a manageable length 🙂

  • Nona, is our main character and she’s eight at the start of the story. She’s had a hard life, always being an outcast due to her looks and almost feral attitude.  She’s rescued by the Reverend Mother from hanging after attacking the member of a very wealthy and powerful family and she becomes a red novice. Friendship is everything to Nona and she values her friends above all else.  She learns SO much in a short time.  She’s so complex, so strong, so smart.  Oh, and she likes hot baths and food.  I loved her!
  • There is magic!  This magic world is so different! It depends on your blood, and might give a person speed, the ability to walk the Path, to control shadows, understand poison, and more…
  • The world building is incredibly detailed and intricate.  It’s sometimes not easy to remember it all, but I managed.
  • There is an incredible host of characters. The main setting is a school/church called Sweet Mercy and most of our cast is female.  From the kick-a teachers to the novices of various ages and skills.  So many awesome, varied, diverse characters.
  • Assassin magical nuns
  • The writing is – pardon the pun – magical.  Words are strung together in such a way that they convey feeling, movement, suffering, pain, happiness, in a lyrical way.  Nona is often snarky, her thoughts are honest and fun.  Need proof?  Read the quotes at the end of the post!


There isn’t much that I can say in this section, except for these two things and they are particular to my reading experience:

  • I wish I wasn’t reading an eBook.  Why?  Well, there is a really nice section at the beginning of the book with a glossary of terms and such that would have been very useful.  The problem, at least with me is that going back and forth in an eBook is not easy.  I wish I’d had a physical copy of the book (I will probably get one!)
  • The pace is slow.  If you start reading and feel like you cannot get past the detailed worldbuilding and the story seems to drag, stick to it.  Believe me when I tell you that it’s worth it. It gets SO good, with insight, action, friendships….


Red Sister is a story of a world that is narrowing due to an unexplained cold, a world undergoing change, a cruel world that values and fears magic.  This is a story of friendship and betrayal, of the power of learning and understanding ones own powers and capabilities.  It is SO good and I can’t wait to get my hands on Gray Sister, to be published in April.

“A book is as dangerous as any journey you might take. The person who closes the back cover may not be the same one that opened the front one. Treat them with respect.” 

“Truth is a weapon and lies are a necessary shield.” 

“There are some things that must be done quickly or not at all. If someone asks you if you love them you cannot hesitate. There are some paths that must be taken at speed.” 

“I was born for killing—the gods made me to ruin.” 

“A long blade, thin, carrying a slight curve, its edge cruel enough to cut silence and make it scream.”


About Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence was born in Champagne-Urbanan, Illinois, to British parents but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. He says he never had any ambition to be a writer so was very surprised when a half-hearted attempt to find an agent turned into a global publishing deal overnight. His first trilogy, THE BROKEN EMPIRE, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy. Following The Broken Empire comes the bestselling RED QUEEN’S WAR trilogy. The BOOK OF THE ANCESTOR trilogy, in an entirely new setting, commences with RED SISTER in 2017. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.


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3 responses to “{Liza Reviews} Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

  1. czai

    You had me at “Assassin magical nuns”, hahaha
    But really, I’ve been eyeing this one. I’m not the biggest fan of high fantasies but I’m really hoping to try this or maybe any other book by Mark Lawrence.

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