Red Sister, the first book in Mark Lawrence’s The Book of the Ancestor trilogy, was a book I desperately wanted to like. After spending the bulk of this year within Michael J Sullivan’s immersive world of Elan, none of the other genres (crime, thriller, fiction) seemed to draw me in. So, it was with this desire to get back into a fantasy world that I started Red Sister.
The book has a familiar enough fantasy trope, with our young protagonist Nona getting enrolled in an academy, where she realizes she has magical abilities and may be part of an ancient prophecy. It has amazing world-building (quite possibly one of my most favorite ever) with the entire human civilization being confined within an equatorial ‘corridor’ between two encroaching ice shelves thanks to a dying sun and a ‘focus moon’. While this brought back fond memories of the amazingly original world created by NK Jemisin in the Broken Earth trilogy, there were other instances that were endearingly familiar as well, including a strict potions teacher (Harry Potter), a prophecy involving a Chosen One and her Shield (Riyria Revelations), and our hero getting transported in a cage (Stormlight).
Red Sister is divided into two sub-parts and I enjoyed the first part (Red Class) thoroughly. We are introduced to some great characters and treated to some amazing standout moments that I was confident that the book was going to be a 5-star read. Unfortunately, the book goes on a tailspin during the second part (Grey Class). The training sequences got increasingly monotonous and some of the plot drivers just did not work for me. While the ending was quite good, I found most of the second part a chore to get through. I’m going with 3.5 ratings.