“It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy convent Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.” This is the opening line for Red Sister, by Mark Lawrence, and that one sentence alone gives you a very good idea of the type of tale you are beginning. The story is about Nona, who is saved by the Abbess of Sweet Mercy convent, just before Nona is to be hanged for murder. Nona is nine years old. And therein lies a mystery: how did a nine year old find herself under the shadow of the hangman’s noose? Nona’s story unfolds as she is taken to the Sweet Mercy convent and begins training to be a nun alongside many other girls her age. The nuns live in a dangerous world and Nona, in particular, has made enemies.
As Nona learns the skills to be a warrior nun, we learn how she came to be charged with murder in the first place. This is a coming-of-age story as Nona grows and becomes the person she was meant to be. Most of the story takes place at the convent, with its school-like atmosphere. The book reads like a cross between a Harry Potter book and a Wolverine movie. And Nona, in spite of her unusual childhood, upbringing, and her talent for violence, is likeable, kind, and loyal to a fault. The book was a joy to read, and I’m very happy to know that Red Sister is the first book of what will be a trilogy of books. If you like action, drama, and violence set in a fresh, finely crafted fantasy world, then this is the book for you.