Book Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

red sister


At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are raised to be killers. In some few children the old bloods show, gifting rare talents that can be honed to deadly or mystic effect. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls.
A bloodstained child of nine falsely accused of murder, guilty of worse, Nona is stolen from the shadow of the noose. It takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist, but under Abbess Glass’s care there is much more to learn than the arts of death. Among her class Nona finds a new family—and new enemies.
Despite the security and isolation of the convent, Nona’s secret and violent past finds her out, drawing with it the tangled politics of a crumbling empire. Her arrival sparks old feuds to life, igniting vicious struggles within the church and even drawing the eye of the emperor himself.
Beneath a dying sun, Nona Grey must master her inner demons, then loose them on those who stand in her way.


This series has literally taken over the fantasy readers community by storm and I heard so many of my favorite bloggers and booktubers gush about it, that I thought I would give it a try. I really love reading about female assassins, so Red Sister already that going for me; but it’s also on a more darker side than I usually read, so my expectations were reasonable. I have to say that this book really surprised me in places, while not holding my attention for parts – but I will try to articulate what I actually thought about it.


The writing took some getting used to. I haven’t read any of the other popular series by the same author, so his writing style and way with words felt unfamiliar and I had to reread sentences sometimes to get the gist of it. However, the story also has one of the best / most memorable opening sequences and I just knew I had to read further. The world is also not fully realized from the beginning – we only get to know tidbits about the empire, it’s history, it’s enemies and the power hierarchy through some conversations and incidents that occur. This makes me feel like I still don’t know much about this world but I’m sure the author will expand it in the next one. We do however get a lot of information about the four tribes which practice magic and I’m quite excited to see more displays of the power in the series. The story also mainly features the training that occurs within the Sweet Mercy convent – which involves a lot of lectures on religion, spirituality (or the Path as they call it), hand to hand combat and other forms of fighting and academics – but it takes up almost 70% of the book, so it felt quite repetitive and sometimes maybe even boring.

What makes up for the slightly repetitive story is the eclectic group of women in this book. Nona is probably around the age of 10 when the book starts, but we already know that she is a survivor and has seen too much for her young age. We see flashbacks from her earlier life and we realize why she doesn’t think that she deserves love or acceptance, because she considers herself a monster. This makes her very very secretive, keeping everything very close to her chest, only divulging them when the time is right. However, despite being sold as a child and then almost executed for murder, she is truly very loyal and considers the bond of friendship sacred. The convent is full of other young women, some allies, some rivals, some bullies – everyone training together and when anyone attacks their faith from the outside, they all fight together too. Their teacher nuns are also a diverse group – caring to indifferent to maybe cruel to even fanatic – but the one thread that holds everyone is sisterhood.

The essence of this book is the strength of sisterhood, friendship and found family. All of these women – young and old – despite their differing ideas or alliances, will always stand by each other and that comes through in every interaction. And that’s why one particular instance really came as utter shock and I can’t wait to read more about the repercussions. The world is also casually diverse and it’s not made a big deal about – we have one f/f couple among the teachers and Nona is hinted at being bisexual, so it would be nice to see this explored more in the next books.

Everyone seems to love this book a lot, so I don’t think I need to recommend this one. It has strong characterizations, the absolute best opening, middle and ending action sequences and the plot is interesting enough to make me want to read the next book. However, I got a little bored in the middle and I would have loved to know more about the world. Let’s see what Grey Sister has to offer.

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18 thoughts on “Book Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

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  1. Great review! It definitely took me a while to get into this one but I wound up loving the girls and their relationships so I’m definitely going to continue! (I also loved the poison teacher actually got to poison students. I couldn’t help think how jealous Snape would have been.)

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    1. Wow I love your idea that Snape would be jealous 😂😂😂 it’s definitely a very interesting story and I’m all for the found family of the girls… I’ll mostly be continuing too 😊😊


  2. I think I should give thid book a try, I heard so many good things! But maybe read it when I really have the time and focus for the new writing style ! (I’ve also never read anything from him before)


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  3. I have only heard positive reviews about this book – definitely a 2019 priority given the whole series is finished (I think?!) It had me at female assassin 😂 But even more excited after reading from your review this book is about sisterhood, found family etc. (which I just love!!) Thank you for such an honest review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Carly…. the sisterhood feeling in the book is definitely very strong… I think the last book in out next month or so, hope you get to read all of them together and enjoy them 😊😊😊


    1. I really had no plans to read it too but I’ve heard not a single bad thing about it and was going crazy, so gave it a try… it was just enough on the interesting side to make me want to try the next one… maybe someday 😁😁😁 Maybe you’ll enjoy it too 👍👍👍

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you liked this Red Sister! I loved it, but I completely understand what you mean about it being slow-going in places. I think I gave it 5 stars, but to be honest, I think I either give 5 stars or 1 star hahaha, there doesn’t seem to be an in between for me!! Great review!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha… I understand the feeling of giving 5 or 1 star… some books give me that feeling too… but I stick to the average a lot when it’s not too bad but it’s not great either 😊😊😊 Confusing job this rating books 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

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