Title: Grey Sister
Series: Book of the Ancestor #2
Author(s): Mark Lawrence
Publisher: Ace Books
Release Date: April 3rd 2018
Previously in the Book of the Ancestors:
There is a lot to appreciate with Grey Sister. It is not only a testament to Mark Lawrence’s expertise in storytelling, but also a product of his complex and multilayered imagination. Drawing upon his exquisite writing skills and his natural ability to reel the reader into a world that only he could fancy, this sequel to Red Sister—a masterpiece in itself—turned out to be a formidable installment in the Book of the Ancestor series.
The events in Grey Sister take place almost two years after the devastating ending of Red Sister. Nona Grey continues her studies at the Convent of Sweet Mercy but struggles in mastering the new arts taught in Mystic Class. While she attempts to progress in her tread-weaving skills and to prove everyone that she is not to be taken lightly, she however finds herself at an impasse in achieving her full potential as vengeance continuously haunts her thoughts and corrupts her motives. Her dwelling in the grey area, where what she wants to do and what she should do are at an eternal clash, ultimately drives this young protagonist into understanding the world in which she lives in and the things she needs to do if she is ever to find solace in her new way of life.
Like Red Sister, the story unfolds episodically whilst pieces of the puzzle are introduced discreetly in their own time and at their own pace. The political conspiracy that overlay the plot add to the suspense and promises a bigger picture through the point of view of Abbess Glass. Chapters dedicated to her predicament are rid with question marks, but her character successfully manages to anchor you into the mystery and seduce you with her wisdom, composure and sharp dialogue. I would be lying if I said that she wasn’t a favourite of mine. Her vision of life and apprehension of the whole Church and secular law makes her a character that you simply didn’t want to mess with. What she is planning in the long run is the root of the tease that will keep readers guessing until the end.
Friendship was a very recurrent and crucial theme in Nona’s development in Red Sister, and I can promise you that it continues strong in Grey Sister. Without having to spend time in building all the relationships that Nona developed in the Convent anymore, Mark Lawrence has his focus on their unbreakable bond and puts it in display as he effortlessly highlights what friendship is all about. To make things even more complex and intriguing, he also introduces us to a brand-new player who goes by the name of Keot. Friend or foe is difficult to determine, but boy is he something! His dynamic with Nona is hilarious and his relentless desire to shed blood makes him such a fun—and dangerous—character to have around.
Although action sequences were sparingly integrated during the first half of the story, they are still present and promises to remind you why Mark Lawrence is one of the best fantasy writers to this day. His way of slowing down time and making full use of Nona’s skills is unparalleled and remarkable. Drawn-out blood-filled sequences that always contemplates death are described with pure perfection but are also complimented with lightning-quick flaw-blade action sequences that only require you to blink for you to miss everything and then see bodies drop like flies the next instant. While straight-forward slashing and stabbing might always seem like the ideal solution to everything, it is the ingenuity of all the alternatives and variations to the art of stabbing contemplated by all the characters that makes every moment in this story so worthwhile.
Even if the story continues to explore beyond the convent’s limits in Grey Sister, the lessons that are learned are ones that will stay with everyone till their last breathing moment. New and old tricks alike, everything that was taught is cleverly put to use throughout the story and utilized in the most unexpected and ideal moments. However, Grey Sister isn’t just about always beating the odds and overcoming every obstacle that is thrown their way. Nona Grey will also have to learn that failure is just as big of a lesson and how she deals with it is what will push her into becoming an even better version of herself. Let it be known that how Mark Lawrence develops his characters is brilliant and truly demands a standing ovation.
It is safe to say that this second installment in the Book of the Ancestor was a massive success that doesn’t follow its predecessor’s footsteps but rather creates its own path to success. What the final book has in store for us is most likely going to be sublime and the wait is also probably going to kill me, but I’m already ready for Holy Sister and all of its glory.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★
Have you read it yet? Do you plan to?
What do you think about Grey Sister?
Share your thoughts with me!
Till next time,