Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
That’s the first line of the prologue, and I was instantly hooked! I needed to know more about these killer nuns that needed two hundred men to kill them… And I was not disappointed by what I learned. Nona’s backstory unfurled throughout her training, truths building upon lies that she told to protect herself. She learned more about who she was meant to be and made some lovely friends along the way. (And a shitty one… Seriously, that betrayal was so obvious and all the novices and sisters were oblivious for way too long.)
I really enjoyed the structure and pacing that provided an awesome framework for the plot. Nona’s progression through her studies was broken up with epically mysterious flash-forwards and some flashbacks of Nona’s. Her classes and days at the convent were quite slow and descriptive and were clearly building up to the points of action that happened along the way. The action-packed scenes were amazing! There were many secrets to uncover and enemies to evade. Learning about the world and the ways of the nuns alongside Nona was great. The writing style was so awesome and fit this story perfectly!
Your death has not been waiting for your arrival at the appointed hour; it has, for all the years of your life, been racing towards you with the fierce velocity of time’s arrow. It cannot be evaded; it cannot be bargained with, deflected or placated. All that is given to you is the choice: Meet it with open eyes and peace in your heart, go gentle to your reward. Or burn bright, take up arms, and fight the bitch.
The character development was so good, but it took me forever to remember who was who. (Thankfully there is a list at the beginning explaining the world and characters for easy reference.) There are way too many characters to talk about them all, but my favourites aside from Nona were Ara, Sister Kettle, and Hessa.
One of my favourite things was the way fight scenes were described. I felt like I was really watching Nona slow down the world around her and move super quickly thanks to her hunksa blood. Another thing is how much information Nona (and therefore the reader) is missing because of what she still has to learn, and also what is deliberately kept from her. Lastly, the dope writing in the flash-forwards. Like the epilogue, seriously:
It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient bravery. For when Sister Cage of the Sweet Mercy Convent steps onto the battlefield courage is often found to be in short supply.
Reasons to read:
> Killer nuns and magical nuns training young girls in their combative and mystic ways
> Boarding school vibes with higher stakes and more punching & poisons
> Girls (and boys, but whatever) with kick-ass abilities thanks to special blood inherited from their ancestors
> A vague prophecy with uncertain origins (do we believe it or not??)
> Sneaking, lying, plotting, and betrayal
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