Book Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

“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.

I picked up this book after seeing it talked about on Twitter as an example of a great first line (I’ve no idea who mentioned it now though). They were right, it does indeed have a great first line – so good in fact that I bought a copy of the book based on it.

I’m pleased to say that the writing continues to be just as gripping for the rest of the book. Nona is a complex character who we gradually get to unpick – a bit, I suspect there may be more to come – over the course of the book, both through her interactions with ethe other trainee’s and through flashbacks to her earlier life and the events that led her firstly to the hangman’s noose and from there to the Convent.

Nona’s fierce loyalty to friendships and her uncomfortableness reading people and trusting them make for some interesting situations and help shape this fierce little girl into a character that although isn’t always ‘nice’ is someone you absolutely find yourself rooting for.

The narrative is very clever with Nona as the readers gateway into the world, we learn as she does. As Nona is from a poor background it makes perfect sense that she wouldn’t know much geography or politics so having her learn these things so we the reader can, doesn’t feel at all out of place.

Seeing Nona grow as a person and into her talents made for a great read. The action sequences were full of pace and the quieter moments helped to build the overall feel of place and being.

A great start to a series and one I’ll definitely be continuing with.