Author: Mark Lawrence
Title: Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3)
Plot: They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.
The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.
Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.
Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.
The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.
A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.
I received Holy Sister from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
There are some books you highly anticipate, and there’s always the fear that they’ll let you down. Then there are those you highly anticipate, and know full well you’re going to be in for a heck of a ride.
Holy Sister was the latter for me. I’ve been so excited for this book ever since I finished Grey Sister and when the publisher kindly invited me to review a copy, I admit I literally squealed out loud and have never downloaded – and subsequently read – a Netgalley book so fast.
I don’t know where to even start this review to make it comprehensible and not a fangirling squealing session.
I’ll start with the characters. Or, rather, Nona. I love her. This is possibly one of the most rounded, well-balanced strong female leads I’ve read, and that is saying something. Nona is strong, powerful and full of rage. She’s also vulnerable, terrified and will do – and sacrifice – whatever she has to if it means helping a friend. It’s so easy to connect and empathise with Nona and, at the same time, see how she has grown from that scared little girl into a powerful woman who might just have the power to save them all.
At Sweet Mercy they made a weapon of me. They honed every skill into a sharp edge. They put a sword in my hand, because there will always be foes who must be opposed, always violence that must be met with violence. But that was never the heart of Sweet Mercy.
I love how fleshed out the secondary characters are as well. I love Ara, Jula and Ruli in particular in this one: their individual characters shine through even while they are a strong team. Kettle doesn’t have such a prominent role but you understand her importance to Nona.
The plot is divided into two: events that take place directly after Grey Sister, and events occurring a few years later. The two narrations blend well together, giving a consistent pace and elements of tension throughout. There are misleading moments throughout both: information is conveniently left out, revealed at the right instance for maximum impact. Considering this involves not knowing if a main character is alive or dead, that’s no mean feat.
I love how we finally see the beginning – and end – of the fight that has been teasing us since book one. We know that Nona and Clera face each other on the plains outside of Sweet Mercy, but now we see exactly how that comes about – and what the conclusion of that confrontation is. One thing is for sure: there’s no predicting what is going to happen next.
While I had my heart in my mouth for the majority of this book, it also hits you in the emotions. There are parts that made me laugh – mainly the dialogue between Nona and her friends in impossible situations – and this time, it made me cry as well. War comes with casualties, regardless of how much you love certain characters.
I’m not joking when I said I couldn’t put it down: I’m talking under the covers, way past when I should have gone to sleep on a work night!
I could literally go on and on about this book. Instead, I’ll say just one thing: go and read it!