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Casual Book Review:
Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence
I’m going to try and do more reviews like this, rather than on Goodreads alone, and a good start has to be Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence. My reviews will stay the same: me waffling on excitedly – or not – about books I’ve read or, in this case, listened to on Audible.
Fantastic narration on Grey Sister – check current Audible price out here.
I don’t go into pace or structure or prose yada yada (that’s just not me), but I do try to convey how a book’s made me feel, what got me excited, or not, and what I liked/disliked.
Simple. Punchy. To the point. Casual Book Reviews.
Grey Sister follows on from Red Sister and is the second book in the Book of the Ancients series. It’s set on a different world to Mark’s previous two trilogies and benefits from creative world building that is both familiar, yet fresh, intriguing and exciting. At least to me, anyway.
A strip of narrow land surrounded by huge (understatement) polar caps, anyone? Pretty new to me, that’s for sure. There’s similarities to our own histories regarding political structure etc. (hard to find a fantasy that hasn’t, in some form or other) and this setup worked very well indeed. It feels like a real setting, a real world and a real population. Big tick from me.
Mark’s previous two trilogies, The Broken Empire and The Red Queen’s War were set in a fantasy-familiar medieval setting (with a twist) and I adored it (medieval Europe is my favorite historical time and place). I highly recommend you start with Prince of Thorns if you haven’t read Mark before, before moving onto The Red Queen’s War: (my favorite trilogy of his) Prince of Fools. However, as mentioned above, Red Sister and Grey Sister are not linked to those that came before, so there is no need to read the first two before embarking on this journey (I just highly recommend them).
Anyway, I digress. Back to Grey Sister! If you’re reading this, there’s a high chance you’ve read Mark before and want to know about the book in the title of the blog. Of course you do.
World building = check! Mark expands on this fascinating world in both its geography and it’s peoples. Red Sister hinted at more, both to do with the land, the families/houses and what hangs above them. Some questions are answered or revealed in part in Grey Sister, whilst more questions are asked by us, the readers. I like that. It keeps me wanting more! Can they control it, or can’t they? I can’t wait to find out for sure, and hopefully witness it happen.
The character development satisfied me too. We were treated to a lot of training in Red Sister, which I’m not normally a fan of, but I liked it in the first book f this series. In this book, we venture out of (and under – excellent part of the book) the convent more and see said training put to practice – in some spectacular ways! Think, Boom! Smash! Crash! ARGH!?!?!?! You know, that kind of thing. There’s more training, of ‘different’ kinds, which ties in well with the story, its history and where it’s going, and there’s the cool ‘connection’ between Nona (main – fantastic, kick-ass novice nun – character) and, well, the thing – you’ll have to read to find out. Between you and me, I loved that ‘connection’, be it Nona’s inner war or the conversations had between the two. I’m being cryptic I know, but I don’t like spoilers so won’t offer any here, sorry.
The other characters, be them nun or noble, pit fighter or priest, are full and ‘real’, funny and grim, heroic and vile. They work well and entertain. There’s the good, the bad and the ugly; the moral line is blurred for most of the characters which adds to the realism.
More ticks for action, for there are plenty of intense scenes.
You guess at what will happen, a bit like a thriller, and cheer at the revelations and coming together of story threads. I did, at least.
To wrap up, I’m going to be honest and say The Red Queen’s War trilogy is still my favorite trilogy of Mark’s so far (although I’m excited to tell you he’s working on a scifi! Cannot wait). Despite that, I’m thoroughly enjoying this new world and its characters, and the plot, and give Grey Sister a well deserved FIVE STARS! The writing is superb, the characters full and ‘real’, the world building fascinating and the suspense and action intense. Hat off to the Lawrence yet again. I look forward to the next installment.
(Excellent narration in the audio edition and another great set of book covers)