Review: Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor 1)

My review @ Goodreads
Red Sister is book one in the Book of the Ancestor series by Mark Lawrence
Genre: Fantasy with hints SF-Crossover

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.

This story is an ass-kicking story of ninja-nuns wrapped in a melange of opposites: politics & prophecy, magic & technology and most of all friendship & treachery.


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 finished reading the book in record speed despite a slow start with a poetic prologue which made me read every word twice to understand it. But that’s no reason to be put off. The prologue is not only beautiful but at once a foreshadowing of things to come, an epic frame to the story and it raises some expectations that the story then turns around on the reader.
What follows is a coming-of-age story that takes place in a convent of nuns in a doomed empire on a world covered in ice held back only by the power of the moon and the moon, she’s falling down. The main character is a young girl called Nona who grew up a poor outsider in a poor village. Nona had no friends. And then she had a friend and something terrible happened and Nona was sold by her mother and village to the child-taker. She’s a monster. Or so she keeps insisting. But she’s a monster looking for friends. Because above else Nona always believes in friendship. And eventually she finds friends and both Nona and her friends kick ass! And sometimes get their asses kicked in return.

Truth is a weapon and lies are a necessary shield.

There is magic in this world and it came from four ancient tribes: the giant Gerant, the lightning-quick Hunska, the magic-wielding Marjal and the mysterious path-walking Quantal. Those tribes and their abilities have long been lost under the ice. But their blood persists in smaller or larger amounts in people (the classification goes from touch, half-blood, prime to full-blood). Some may even carry two bloods. And of course there’s a prophecy about a chosen one carrying all four bloods. The Chosen One or Argatha will be lifting the secrets of the Ark while the Shield protects her.
But before Nona can ever find out what has happened to her and why, she makes some powerful enemies that will not easily go away even with Abbess Glass’ considerable political meddling.
I liked the convent idea a lot and the story managed to surprise me several times. First with the prophecy and then with the second interlude of Sister Thorn.
The writing is smooth and the intersection of magic (the tribes) and technology (ark, moon and shiphearts) is intriguing, reminding me of Wheel of Time and Dragonflight. I am looking forward very much to further books in this series.

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.