Book Review: Holy Sister – Mark Lawrence
Blogmas Day 18
Title: Holy Sister
Series: Book of the Ancestor #3
Author: Mark Lawrence
Published: April 9th, 2019 (Ace)
Synopsis: 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.
Holy Sister is narrated in two timelines. One picks up immediately after the ending of Grey Sister, following Nona’s escape from the Tetragode, as she and Zole head for the ice to keep the shipheart safe with the enemy in hot pursuit. The other is in present day, three years after these events – the Corridor is narrowing fast, the Empire is under attack from all sides. Nona has nearly completed her training and is taking the tests to become a full sister, but the final battle is approaching faster than expected, and it may be the biggest challenge of all.
Any issues I had with pacing in the previous two books were non-existent here. It’s non-stop action from the very beginning, with the escape from Sherzal’s guards in one timeline to the present day timeline three years later where Nona is ready to become a full sister. This timeline is finally building us up to the events of that epic line from Red Sister: “It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure you bring an army of sufficient size”, the conflicts between Sister Thorn and Lano Tacsis’ men.
The two timelines were never confusing, and in fact made it much more interesting. Crucial facts are revealed, but the reader has to wait for the past timeline to catch up and explain how it happened which creates a great sense of anticipation throughout. Nona is the only POV we get in this book unlike previously. She’s always been an interesting character, but in Holy Sister, it is evident just how amazing of a heroine she has grown into. Her character growth is wonderful as she has gone from a scared and lonely child to a skilled warrior (if still hot-headed), whose greatest strength is in her bond with her friends.
It became evident in Grey Sister that Abbess Glass has been playing a long game, but we get to know just how long that has been only here as her masterplan is finally revealed. There were plenty of unexpected twists, Mistress Path’s in particular, and it was all just so perfectly executed. The battle scenes were absolutely epic as all those glimpses we’ve been given so far come together in a truly spectacular fashion.
Holy Sister takes us across even more of Abeth through Nona and Zole’s journey, and I think it’s wonderful that the world is being expanded even at this late stage in the story. However, I was hoping to learn more about the enemies such as the Scithrowl and their queen Adoma, and the inter-kingdom politics involved. I was also not pleased to see Joeli return but oh well.
There is so much more I’d like to say, but I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers, so I’ll just wrap up by saying that I wish this book had been longer. Overall, this was a well-crafted ending to this series, and I liked how things were wrapped up. Even though the series ends here, I feel there is a possibility for more stories to be told in the world of Abeth. I would highly recommend the Book of the Ancestor series to any fantasy fans!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All reviews in this series: