Hello humans! Today I’m delighted to be reviewing a five-star read, I feel like lately, I’ve read some really good books but none of them has had that something that makes a book five stars for me. I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to read Mark Lawrence’s Grey Sister and to share my thoughts with you!
Warning, potential spoilers for Red Sister but not for Grey Sister
In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of Sweet Mercy Nona must choose her path and take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.
All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the ambition of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a blade, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.
As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she has sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pull of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.
And in all this only one thing is certain.
There will be blood.
Content warning: Violence, torture
I listened to Red Sister on audiobook and, while I think the audiobook is excellent, I was extremely grateful for the short recap at the beginning of the book which, not only brought me back up to speed with anything I had only been half listening to but also let me know how all the character’s names were spelled. I think I enjoyed the book more than I did the audio-format but I think that’s just my preference for visual rather than aural if you like audiobooks I would recommend these titles. But, to answer the question ‘can I read this book without reading the first book?’ I would say that it can be done, but you will get so much more out of it if you read both.
My favourite part of both of these books has been the characters. In fairness, I could have predicted that I would fall head over heels for a whole abbey of murderous nuns, that’s just my way. But there are so many characters in this book that it would be easy for some of them to become lost or to feel insignificant, particularly since this isn’t multiple POV (at least not in the Game of Thrones sense of the word, it certainly doesn’t just follow one character), but Lawrence manages to create a whole cast of characters all of whom have fairly distinct personalities. Abbess Glass is by far my favourite, with Nona a close second, for anyone who is wondering.
In a lot of books, I have read that have excellent characters, the setting normally falls by the wayside. I must say that this isn’t the case with Grey Sister. I love the idea of people living on a world orbiting a dying star. I must confess I have no idea if any of the physics of the moon/mirror that melts a corridor of ice is accurate and, honestly, I do not care. I think it makes for such a clever means of generating conflict and it’s also interesting to read.
The thing I very much enjoy about these books, Grey Sister is the way that Nona problem solves. Time and time again she is set with a supposedly insurmountable task and she has to find a creative solution. I enjoy this set up so much, possibly because it takes me back to the kind of book I loved when I was a bit younger, possibly because it is just really satisfying to see a character succeed! I can see how this might feel a little repetitive, but I feel as if the book is balanced enough between these small successes and the wider ‘big picture’ plot.
I did have a moment or two where I thought Nona was succeeding a bit too much, that nothing was ever going to beat her. But then I realised that it’s one of the strongest aspects of both this and Red Sister, that when Nona does fail it is so much more heart-breaking and you feel for her so much more. I seriously have more feelings about this book than I ever thought I would going in.
Should you read this? If you like this kind of fantasy setting then I would say definitely read this. Go and grab a copy or treat yourself to an audiobook, you won’t regret it!
My rating: 5/5 stars
I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Have you read Red Sister? Let me know in the comments below!