It’s human nature to judge and compare right? I know I shouldn’t but I always compare an authors work to their previous stuff. So picking up Red Sister was a little daunting. Prince of Thorns is one of my favourite books and Jorg is a ruthless, determined psychopath who I just happen to fucking adore. My love of Jorg sullied my Prince of Fools reading experience, while its a great book, Jalan is no Jorg and I was hoping for a bit of Jorg like action. Well it turns out I had no need to worry as Red Sister is a complete different world and story. (Yes sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake.) Although I will probably talk about them both as we get into this.
Mark Lawrence has the ability to catch my interest with the first page every single time.
“It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.”
The writing is beautiful, the world is fascinating and the in-depth descriptions bring the world to life. In the Broken Empire series it seemed like the characters were the driving force, whereas with Red Sister it seemed to be all about the world. The harsh inhospitable world covered in ice, a small corridor of liveable land, how can people live and thrive?
Nona Grey; given away by her mother and village, sold to a Caltess, accused of murder and then saved from the hangman’s noose by the Abbess of Sweet Mercy. She trains to be a killer. But even the Sisters of the Convent don’t understand what they have brought into their school. Nona has powerful enemies, demons and so many secrets.
I did find it hard to reconcile Nona’s age with the way she spoke and behaved but her world is harsh, her childhood wasn’t like the other kids, so I guess it’s fitting that she doesn’t behave like a regular preteen.
“‘I’m fine.’ Nona stepped forward. She stopped just before the pipe, her feet black with resin. ‘I’m serene.’ She took her first step. ‘I’m so fucking serene that if I miss my footing I’ll just walk on air instead.”
While learning how to kill, poison and walk the path, Nona is also learning about friendship, loyalty, who she is and who she wants to be.
This book has it all, political intrigue, religion, a school of assassins, corruption and many examples of what lengths a person will go to for the “greater good”. Mark Lawrence always puts his characters into the most difficult circumstances, instead of an adult, he puts in a child and then we are treated to seeing exactly what they are made of. How a broken world corrupts humanity, what behaviour becomes acceptable. I think this aspect makes his books standout in the fantasy world. Also he always mixes a heavy dose of science into his stories. Most of it goes over my head, but it adds a whole new layer to his stories. Plus he is practically a genius, so I have full faith the science makes sense to most.
Like with the other books I’ve read by Mark Lawrence, the characters stick with you and I’m already looking forward to a reread.