Holy Sister

Holy Sister

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 unlike...

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Title:Holy Sister
Author:Mark Lawrence
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Edition Language:English

Holy Sister Reviews

  • Melanie

    Good Lord, Mark Lawrence has truly created a once in a lifetime series that I will cherish forever.

    is the third and final book in a series that will go down in history as one of the brightest shining lights in SFF history.

    I very much implore you to read

    after

    , but before

    because it really works as a much-need

    Good Lord, Mark Lawrence has truly created a once in a lifetime series that I will cherish forever.

    is the third and final book in a series that will go down in history as one of the brightest shining lights in SFF history.

    I very much implore you to read

    after

    , but before

    because it really works as a much-needed bridge short story. This book is told in two timeless; one, after the events of

    , and then three years later. But the interchanging of these two timelines, both in Nona’s perspective, was truly the perfect way to craft this tale.

    This series is all about a girl named Nona who we get to see grow up, but we meet her during her childhood when she hasn’t had the easiest of lives, and is currently in the gallows for attempted murder, but is saved and taken to a convent of nuns who all are able to harness magical abilities, and we quickly learn that Nona has some magical abilities herself. Yet now, in this last book, this convent, Sweet Mercy, and all the characters we have grown to love, have threats surrounding them and all their lives are on the line.

    My favorite part of this book? I have truly fallen in love with these magical assassin nuns and I’m honestly prepared to die for any and all of them. Truly, the found family in this book is just unparalleled by anything else. From the bonds of sisters, to the bonds of lovers, to the bonds of just women loving and accepting each other, regardless of the paths you have walked or are currently walking in life. All the side characters are some of the greatest of all time, but Apple and Kettle will never leave me or my heart. And Glass will forever and always be my queen.

    But Mark Lawrence truly gave me everything I wanted when he crafted Nona, and in this book especially when he made Nona attracted to multiple genders, most likely bisexual. But Nona is a pan goddess in my eyes, and no one can change my mind on this. Also, she will go down as one of my favorite characters of all-time. She’s come far, from learning that the word brave does mean to be strong, but it also means to be vulnerable and willing to let people in. Seeing her grow, with this group of girls, but also by herself, while being shaped by this cruel and unforgiving world, filled with even more cruel and unforgiving circumstances; it’s so beautiful I don’t even have words for it.

    Watching Nona become the woman she is, and watching her walk this path, all the paths, I don’t even have words for it. I think this entire series is going to stand the test of time and go down as one of the best fantasies ever written. The story is just perfection, the characters are my favorite, the writing is so smart and so beautiful, the themes are life changing, and the entire story is completely unforgettable. If you haven’t picked up

    yet, I’m begging you to give it a try. This trilogy is truly a masterpiece.

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    loss of a loved one, queer characters do die (most characters in this are/seem queer, so I don’t think it’s a bury your gays trope, but use caution still), violence, gore, torture, human trafficking, kidnapping, and war themes.

  • Adam

    Growing up can be tough. One day you’re sneaking home past curfew from a sexy rendezvous with your partner, and the next day you’re being hunted across a frozen wasteland carrying a relic that’s trying to poison your mind. We can all relate. But just in case you can’t, then the concluding entry in Nona Grey’s story will bring you up to date. In

    , the third and final entry in his

    series, Mark Lawrence has crafted a powerful and heartbreaking ending to Nona’s story.

    Growing up can be tough. One day you’re sneaking home past curfew from a sexy rendezvous with your partner, and the next day you’re being hunted across a frozen wasteland carrying a relic that’s trying to poison your mind. We can all relate. But just in case you can’t, then the concluding entry in Nona Grey’s story will bring you up to date. In

    , the third and final entry in his

    series, Mark Lawrence has crafted a powerful and heartbreaking ending to Nona’s story. Like Lawrence’s earlier trilogies

    and

    , there exists a fine balance of tragedy and hope in a world on the eve of an apocalypse. The author excels at weaving compelling tales of humanity as it is pushed to the brink of extinction, and

    series is his strongest work to date.

    (Warning: I will be discussing events related to

    and

    below. If you haven’t read them yet, turn back now.)

    One of the more interesting aspects of the story is its narrative structure. We spend much of the early part of the book jumping back and forth between two time periods. When we last left Nona and Zole and the rest of the survivors from Sherzal’s palace, they were being hunted for their stolen shipheart. We spend some chapters following up on those events and discover the true fallout of the Convent of Sweet Mercy’s actions. The second timeline jumps a few years forward, and we pick up with Nona and her small group of allies enacting a mysterious plan amidst an unstoppable Scithrowl invasion. I appreciated this novel approach to the story structure as opposed to breaking it into two halves with a time jump in the middle. Discovering the cryptic details of the plan while switching off to an action-fueled escape sequence pushed the story forward at a tremendous pace.

    The time jump also brings Nona into adulthood. Her age is still unknown, even to her, but she is likely pushing 19 or 20. Her burden of responsibility has expanded beyond just her circle of friends. She is feeling the weight of the world quite literally closing in on her. This serves as an accurate metaphor for achieving the early stages of adulthood: the world grows larger and smaller all at once. Although she has shown great leaps in maturity since her early days in the convent, Nona still struggles to make the right choices. She is the most powerful when she is fueled by anger, but those instances don’t always lead to the best decisions. The balance that Nona finds between the two is a testament to Lawrence’s ability to provide a strong characterization that feels real and relatable. We’ve all made rash, emotion-based decisions when we were young. With Nona, it just happens to be life-or-death situations more often than not.

    I’ll say little of the conclusion other than it being an incredibly emotional sendoff of characters that I’ve grown quite fond of. There are more than a few big surprises and an equal number of heartbreaks as both major and minor character arcs draw to a close. Overall, this is a brilliant series from one of the top names in speculative fiction, and will be on most “best of” lists by year’s end. Don’t miss it.

  • Petros Triantafyllou

    Six times.

    This book made me cry six times.

    One of them was two whole days after I finished the damn thing.

    It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Nona Grey, Lano Tacsis brought two armies and eight Noi-Guin, the deadliest assassins on the face of the earth. And of those eight Noi-Guin, one of them, the Singular himself, was rumored to be more deadly than the other seven together. Nona has two options. Fight, or run. But where can one run, whe

    Six times.

    This book made me cry six times.

    One of them was two whole days after I finished the damn thing.

    It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Nona Grey, Lano Tacsis brought two armies and eight Noi-Guin, the deadliest assassins on the face of the earth. And of those eight Noi-Guin, one of them, the Singular himself, was rumored to be more deadly than the other seven together. Nona has two options. Fight, or run. But where can one run, when the whole world is on fire? The never-ending march of ice has forced Queen Adoma to bring her undefeated army on the doorstep of the Empire, and not even the Moon itself could be a sufficient defense against her.

    Or could it?

    I thought a lot about what I should say in this review. After all, you can only talk so many times about an author's prose, his talent in world-building and characterization, or how great a story-teller he is in general, and I've done that ten times in the past. This is my eleventh review for a Mark Lawrence novel, and I've run out of praise. I doubt anyone who hasn't read the first two books would read this review anyway, and those who have won't need me to tell them how great this series is, so I'll keep this one short and only talk about the story itself, without spoilers.

    You can summarize Holy Sister, or The Book of the Ancestor in general, in one Game of Thrones quote. "If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention". Those who have read The Broken Empire know to expect a bittersweet ending in every Mark Lawrence story, and those who haven't, well.... let's just say you aren't as tough as you think you are. You WILL curse. You WILL mourn. You WILL cry. But the most important thing is that you won't see any violence for the sake of violence. Mark Lawrence never kills, maims, or brings the story of a character to an end simply to make a statement or bring stronger emotions out of the reader. It's just that every story should end at the right time and place, and he knows them better than anyone.

    Bittersweet ending aside, the whole book was a hell of a ride. The fast pace and the rising tempo that I've come to love in Mark's books kept me immersed in the story start to finish despite the back-and-forth chapters, through which Mark tells us two different stories at the same time - one in the past and one in the present, in the same way he did in The Broken Empire. And now that I mentioned The Broken Empire... Be aware of Easter eggs. I spotted two of them, but chances are there were more, hiding in plain sight for me to find on my second reading.

    Finally, although Holy Sister brings the story of several characters to an end, it leaves others open for Mark to come back in the future, so expect to see more of Abeth... and, well, maybe, just maybe, more of Nona Grey.

  • Mayticks
  • Emma

    Spoiler free review! 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡 ****OUT NOW****

    When writing about a book that’s the third and final in a trilogy, there’s only so much that can be said without edging into spoiler territory. So this review, if it can be called that, is done with the lightest touch, hopefully just conveying some sense of the range of feelings the books evoked in me.

    More than almost any other series I’ve read, the three novels which form the Book of the Ancestor feel like one continuous story. Perhaps this is a reflect

    Spoiler free review! 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡 ****OUT NOW****

    When writing about a book that’s the third and final in a trilogy, there’s only so much that can be said without edging into spoiler territory. So this review, if it can be called that, is done with the lightest touch, hopefully just conveying some sense of the range of feelings the books evoked in me.

    More than almost any other series I’ve read, the three novels which form the Book of the Ancestor feel like one continuous story. Perhaps this is a reflection of the way the oft quoted opening line

    links the prologue in a surprising way to the trilogy’s finale. It’s only at the end that you can truly see the shape of it; the beauty of story made circular. If not for the considerations of time and space, the books would be best read straight through. For all those who haven’t started this series yet, and I recommend you get right on that, give yourself some time to experience the wholeness of it. From the finish, the artificial boundaries made by the division into three seem somewhat arbitrary and while the first two books conclude with explosive and brutally fun high action set pieces, they don’t necessarily serve to illuminate the really significant junctures of the story. Or at least, not all of them. This is a character driven narrative and Nona's journey, her growth, is a continuous thing. There’s an equality of significance given to all types of moments, the smaller, private ones having as much impact for Nona as the ones she faces blade in hand. Each builds upon the other so that the world altering choices she makes at the end of Holy Sister can only be understood in terms of the entirety of her experience. Our assumptions about her path, directed in part by the tricksy author and in part by what we ‘know’ about fantasy writing, lead us to believe in what seems like an inevitable conclusion, yet those expectations are repeatedly demolished. The lessons she’s learned aren’t the ones you think. And that means she never ceases to surprise.

    The pacing in this book follows a similar structure to Grey Sister. It starts out in an interesting but measured fashion, so much that you wonder if it’s going to be like this all the way through, then it’s all

    The End. Once it hits a certain part, be prepared to go all the way. You won’t be putting the book down, that’s for sure. It epitomises the reading experience i’ve had throughout the series, an essential contradiction of which I can’t help be aware. Namely, that the action scenes are so good, and I mean ridiculously good, that I’m constantly jonesing to get to them as soon and as often as possible, but that none of those moments would be anywhere near as affecting or effective if I didn’t care as much about the characters, a depth of feeling built in the slower moments. The space utilised on what may initially seem like trivialities, Nona’s schooling/training for example, is where relationships develop in to the type of bonds that will save the world. Nona’s foundations are her friendships, the love and loyalty that bind her to other people. It might take time to show that to the reader but the payoff is huge.

    The close focus shapes the whole story. This is a book that dares to put things offstage, battles detailed only when literally they turn up on Nona’s doorstep. How many other authors would put a whole war in the background? Most of what the reader knows is through Nona and if she’s not there to see it, only so much can be told. As in Grey Sister, there’s some scope for alternate viewpoints, through Kettle for example (as an aside, I love Kettle, she’s the best character in the series. Come at me), but there’s this brilliant dichotomy between a comprehensive, multilayered world that clearly and vibrantly exists and the limited slice we get to see. In the dual timeline of this book it allows scope for playing with what’s known by various characters, deepening the layers of the intricate, high-stakes plots, and heightening tension via misdirection and the withholding of knowledge. Only when seen from the end, when the circle is completed, can we discern how the long game played by Abbess Glass fits together. Only then can we see who Nona really is. And none of it will turn out as you imagined.

    An exceptional series and by far my favourite of Mark Lawrence’s work. It has that

    that sets it apart. It has the deft, unexpected characterisation, the perfect turn of phrase, the killer hook we’ve seen before in his other series, but this has a magic all of its own. I can’t explain it and I’m not going to try. I cheered and I cried. Then I cried some more. I was surprised, amused, and devastated. The author snuck in some stuff that I can’t even talk about because its spoilery, but damn I didn’t see that coming. As for a happy ending? Well, you know who wrote it, right??? That’s all I’m saying.

    Make sure this is on your 2019 reading list. Highly recommended.

  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I love you, Nona!

    There’s me done then. Damn, I wish the book was longer. I didn’t want to cry today.

    Thank you for a great trilogy, Mr. Lawrence.

    Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  • Petrik

    I won’t lie, a week ago I started rereading

    mostly for the purpose of satisfying my completionist nature and eventually putting

    into my “completed series I’ve read” list. However, the incredible of rereading

    made me incoherently excited to continue with the series and here I am now.

    I won’t lie, a week ago I started rereading

    mostly for the purpose of satisfying my completionist nature and eventually putting

    into my “completed series I’ve read” list. However, the incredible of rereading

    made me incoherently excited to continue with the series and here I am now. I have binged read and reviewed the entire series within a week, and I can say with confidence that this series has become one of my favorite coming-of-age fantasy series of all time.

    is the third and last book in Mark Lawrence’s

    trilogy. The ice is closing, the Corridor is narrowing, and the empire is under siege from all direction; dangers are everywhere and Nona Grey will have to exceed her own maximum capability in the upcoming final battle. In my opinion, this is by far Mark Lawrence’s best series and it's also his best work so far. I’m still amazed by how clever it all came together. We’ve always known that Abbess Glass is playing the long game since the first installment; it all came to fruition here. Just like Abbess Glass’s long game, we can only know what Lawrence’s saving for us by reading this outstanding installment to the end. The plot of the series is so cleverly planned and structured; connecting every single plot-thread all the way back to the prologue, interlude, and epilogue of

    . Unlike

    , we’re back to having Nona as the sole POV to read here. The narrative is divided into two timelines:

    1. Continues immediately from where the last book left off.

    2. The present-day; three years after the end of

    . Nona is now in Holy Class and she has to choose which order she’ll become when she becomes a full sister.

    The story starts up slowly and it was well-paced. From the beginning, the buildup of the tension escalated non-stop until the pulse-pounding conclusion. The usage of the two timelines—both from Nona’s perspectives—was smartly executed; it was never confusing and it felt crucial in enhancing the compelling nature of the novel. The book was deftly written, extremely well-polished, and the storytelling style felt like watching a pendulum that swings from left to right continuously in order to create a smooth flow of emotional impact. I mean it, the second half evoked a variety of emotions; laughter, sadness, anger, and tension were there; making the climax sequences gripping and utterly hard to put down. The carnage, the thrill of battle, the blood-soaked war, the brutal magic unleashed, and the clash of weaponry were vividly written; it truly felt like I was there with Nona and her friends.

    Before I close my review, I would like to say that the greatness within this series was achievable due to how well-written the characters were; their developments throughout the series was astounding. Nona Grey has officially become one of the greatest heroines I’ve ever read in a fantasy novel. She’s flawed, loyal, kind, and simply inspiring as a person. The present may be full of darkness; familiar landscape changed by war. The future may be bleak, but she never gives up. Her friendship with her friends remains her beacon of hope and I loved every moment of reading her journey with her friends. By involving and developing every single character brilliantly, it honestly feels bittersweet to me to have read the conclusion of this series; I'm sad to say goodbye to these characters, but I'm glad to have read this trilogy.

    If you’re reading this review, rest assured that the best of parts of the book are purposely excluded from this review; you simply have to read and experience them for yourself. Mark Lawrence has outdone himself with the creation of

    . I have mixed feelings on Lawrence’s previous trilogy, I wouldn’t have thought that

    would become one of the greatest trilogies I’ve ever read but here it is; suffice to say that I recommend this series with all my heart. That's all from me.

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  • Celeste

    keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first page.

    I can’t remember the last time I felt so satisfied upon finishing a

    keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first page.

    I can’t remember the last time I felt so satisfied upon finishing a book.

    The novices we’ve come to know and love over the course of this trilogy are now nearly grown, forced to prematurely take their vows in the face of war-laced apocalypse. As the moon weakens and ice encroaches from the north and the south, the only land left to fight over is the small Corridor of yet unfrozen terrain around circling the middle of Abeth. And there just isn’t room for everyone.

    presented us with a tale from two perspectives. In

    we are again seeing things entirely through Nona’s eyes, but are alternating time frames, hopping between present day and three years ago, as we see what happened in the immediate aftermath of

    ’s climax. As we progress, we see how and why Nona makes the decisions she does, and what kind of impact that has on those around her.

    She’s a calculating badass who throws herself into danger with almost no fear of what might befall her, but she will go to any lengths necessary to protect those she loves even as she uses them. And those she loves are numerous. I would have never thought when I first met her in

    that Nona would have one of the biggest hearts in fiction, but she undoubtably does.

    The way she sees the world and its most probable futures is insane, but her ability to recruit others to serve as her knowing and willing pawns is even more astounding. She is everything I love about characters such as Gandalf and Dumbledore and McGonagall all mingled into one person. I’m just so blown away by her. I am also incredibly impressed by the development the author gave to many of the other nuns, especially the likes of Pan, Wheel, and Tallow.

    I have never read another book or series with so many strong, well-developed, completely epic female characters, let alone but a male author. I applaud Lawrence so much for this amazing cast of nuns and novices.

    I also want to take a moment to recognize Lawrence’s wonderful way with words. He paints lovely pictures with his sentences, and they are a pleasure to read.

    Consider this sentence as an example:

    I think that is a marvelous description, one I can clearly envision while also appreciating the way Lawrence built the sentence. Because

    . The quote below is one of the most important realizations of the book, in my opinion, and it’s such a beautiful sentiment that I had to share it here. I’ve removed all possible spoilers and tried to only include the most philosophical elements.

    I can’t recommend this trilogy highly enough. Whether you’re a fantasy fan or not, this is a series well worth your time. It has so much to offer to so many, and I dearly hope that it acquires the audience and notoriety it deserves. I feel that Nona’s story offers many profound lessons that could bring our world healing and understanding of one another if we would all take its words to heart.

  • Anne

    3.5 stars

    The second book built up to a lot of things that just seemed to have already happened when this book opened. Including a romanc

    thing with one of the characters that kind of seemed shoved in for no good reason.

    3.5 stars

    The second book built up to a lot of things that just seemed to have already happened when this book opened. Including a romanc

    thing with one of the characters that kind of seemed shoved in for no good reason.

    There were several WTF moments for me while I was reading that were due to all the things that had happened

    books. Honestly, I'd thought I just forgot or something, but...nope.

    And I gotta say, I was not a fan of that kind of confusion.

    However, there were also some AMAZING scenes that took me by surprise and just totally rocked it.

    And there were quite a few awesome moments like that. For the most part, I'm actually really satisfied with how it ended. Everything gets (pretty much) wrapped up, and all of the loose ends are (for the most part) tied in an acceptable manner. In fact, someone asked the other day if I knew of any good fantasy books, and I recommended this one. So, you know, even without the third installment having allll the magic of the first two books (in my opinion), this was still a fantastic trilogy.

    Oh, and

    should do the recap thing that Lawrence does at the beginning of his books. Thank you, kind sir. <--genius!

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  • Mark Lawrence

    Out today in the USA!

    The draft blurb:

    In Holy class Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. The ice still advances, the Corridor still narrows, and the empire is under siege. Scithrowl have invaded in the east, Durns in the west. Everywhere the emperor’s armies are in retreat. It seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn the habit of a nun before war is on their doorstep.

    Abbess Glass has played the l

    Out today in the USA!

    The draft blurb:

    In Holy class Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. The ice still advances, the Corridor still narrows, and the empire is under siege. Scithrowl have invaded in the east, Durns in the west. Everywhere the emperor’s armies are in retreat. It seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn the habit of a nun before war is on their doorstep.

    Abbess Glass has played the long game all her life but with everyone reaching for the moon will her planning suffice to steer it in the right direction?

    War is coming and even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn this tide. 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 where she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle where her own demons will try to unmake her. A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

    They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

    I am Nona Grey and if you come against me I will make a ruin of your life.

    .

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