Book Reviews

Book Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

I am currently in the throes of book-hangover; it hasn’t been twenty-four hours yet* and I miss the characters desperately. I am holding off picking up Grey Sister until I write this review. It’s agony. Let’s get on with it.


Nona has a past which is apt to wriggle away under scrutiny. She ends up at the Convent of Sweet Mercy, where she undergoes training. She has a lot to learn to become a Red Sister; but plenty more to learn about friendships, trust, the threads that hold these together, and herself.

I’m sure you’ve had plenty of people tell you how fantastic Red Sister is; 6,109 five star ratings on Goodreads** speaks volumes in itself.

So why is it so good?

First and foremost, Mark Lawrence is an incredible story teller. It’s a feast of a novel; a slow burning plot to savour and take your time with, paired with some truly delicious prose. His style and tone wraps around you for an immensely immersive experience. I still feel I’m in that world. I know many consider “Dr Grimdark” to already have a grim and dark hallmark, but for me his hallmark is quickly becoming his evocative, immersive prose. He is the master of “show don’t tell” and can draw you into a scene as effectively than Hessa.

Speaking of characters, second on my list of What I Loved Most About This Book is his in-depth character portrayal. His characters are complex and diverse; easily relatable and so human in their intricacies and flaws. I truly felt like I connected with Nona, Area, Hessa. My concern for them was sharp, distinct; their joys and sorrows were important to me, I have to keep telling myself they’re fictional.

As I mentioned above, the plot is a slow burner; yet despite this it’s an involved plot, with plenty happening on different layers. It builds in a crescendo to a wonderful satisfying resolution, yet leaving just enough left unanswered to leave you anticipating the next installment.

Finally, it features the kind of fascinating and imaginative world building you come to expect of Mark Lawrence. A well balanced magic system that explains enough to keep the magical engineering theorists happy, whilst still retaining an element of mystery (thereby keeping people like me happy!). As always, I try to keep my reviews informative without ruining too many details of the story, but I found the concept behind Lawrence’s world absolutely fascinating. There’s so much scope here to explore!

In conclusion, the hype for Red Sister is absolutely deserved. Now I’m orf to read Grey Sister!



*when I wrote this, not when you’ll be reading this.
**again, when I wrote this (30/05/2018). Out of a total of 12,196 ratings; the five star ratings counting for 50% of overall ratings.

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