AncalagonTheBlack

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

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Red Sister is the first book in Mark's new trilogy titled Book of the Ancestor.It's out today in the US and on the 6th in the UK.Here's the blurb:

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At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are raised to be killers. In some few children the old bloods show, gifting rare talents that can be honed to deadly or mystic effect. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls.
 
A bloodstained child of nine falsely accused of murder, guilty of worse, Nona is stolen from the shadow of the noose. It takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist, but under Abbess Glass’s care there is much more to learn than the arts of death. Among her class Nona finds a new family—and new enemies. 
 
Despite the security and isolation of the convent, Nona’s secret and violent past finds her out, drawing with it the tangled politics of a crumbling empire. Her arrival sparks old feuds to life, igniting vicious struggles within the church and even drawing the eye of the emperor himself.
 
Beneath a dying sun, Nona Grey must master her inner demons, then loose them on those who stand in her way.

 

I'm getting the UK edition but US readers can start the discussion.:)

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Grimdark Magazine 11# SAVAGED this book in their review of it, which is kind of hilarious because they're some of Mark Lawrence's biggest fans. The reviewer is like, "i wanted to like this book so very much but I hate it with flames on the side of my face, breathing, heaving breaths." Apparently, they expected another Jorg or at least a Jalan and got Hogwarts School for Red Sonja.

I recommend people buy the magazine just for the review.

Here

I picked up my copy anyway.

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Grimdark Magazine 11# SAVAGED this book in their review of it, which is kind of hilarious because they're some of Mark Lawrence's biggest fans. The reviewer is like, "i wanted to like this book so very much but I hate it with flames on the side of my face, breathing, heaving breaths." Apparently, they expected another Jorg or at least a Jalan and got Hogwarts School for Red Sonja.

Maybe they didn't like it because of these things? maybe they wanted another dude-bro fest like previous books?

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- also features 90% female characters
- SO MANY FEMALE CHARACTERS IT’S JUST AMAZING AND EXCEPTIONAL AND I’M SO PLEASED
- also female friendships! There is competition, but there is more banding together and strengthening each other!

 

Edited by AncalagonTheBlack

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I didn't love it.  I'm not going to savage it because I liked it, but it was a three star read for me.  I didn't love it because I never connected with a character nor was there any humor leaving nothing but bleakness and a long boring training montage which is really what 2/3 of the book is.

Once again the world building is facinating and there is the set up I want to read on in the series.  But don't try to assume why I'm not overjoyed by it; the fact that Lawrence remembered women exist is one of its better aspects.  (Something he is all too aware of, mentioning to me on Twitter that the book fails a reverse Bethel test).

It's good, not great in my opinion.  It seems ever other review I've seen thinks it is great.  As a series opening I think Prince of Fools blew it away.

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Posted (edited)

6 minutes ago, SkynJay said:

a long boring training montage which is really what 2/3 of the book is.

Don't we fantasy nerds love this type of thing? I remember people really liking the training montage stuff in Blood Song? :D

Edited by AncalagonTheBlack

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Thankfully, the review's problem with Red Sister wasn't the sudden prevalence of estrogen but the thought it felt like a somewhat bloodier YA novel.

Like I said, I have no problem with either.

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1 hour ago, AncalagonTheBlack said:

Don't we fantasy nerds love this type of thing? I remember people really liking the training montage stuff in Blood Song? :D

Meh.  The Empire's Blades had one too and I disliked it just as much.  Torture as training is already over played. 

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Wait, dudebros gamegaters, er, grimdark  magazine hate it AND are complaining its too YA AND it's by Mr. Lawrence? Why, I'd run out and buy it right now if I hadn't pre ordered it weeks ago!

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

Wait, dudebros gamegaters, er, grimdark  magazine hate it AND are complaining its too YA AND it's by Mr. Lawrence? Why, I'd run out and buy it right now if I hadn't pre ordered it weeks ago!

Hey, I love Grimdark Magazine.

Perhaps savage is a bit harsh too.
 

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If this sounds like a huge departure from Lawrence’s previous works, that’s because it is. It is a story about young girls, not broken or horny young men; it is told in third-person, not first; it takes place in the Corridor, not the Broken Empire; and it is, at least in the opinion of this reviewer, decidedly YA fiction.

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Every description is vivid without being wordy. He knows what he’s doing and he does it well. So, why, you might ask, was I not absolutely thrilled with Red Sister? Well, several reasons, all having to do with my own taste and expectations.

First of all, there are children. Lots of children. I never read books about children if I can possibly avoid it. I work at a public elementary school in the US, and I am surrounded by children of the exact same age as the characters in Red Sister. Despite whatever might be the intention or the marketing of Red Sister, it is a book about children. The characters, emotions, and interactions are emotionally and intellectually at a preteen/early teen level. The main theme throughout the novel is about making friends—who is real friend? Who is fake friend? who will betray your friendship for the very simplest and tritest of reasons? I did not find this theme or the characters’ interactions emotionally or intellectually compelling. I’m a surly old man, and I’m damn proud of it.

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Because the girls are young, their dialogue is also young. They tell each other to “shut up” and argue in appropriately childish ways. There is virtually none of the witty banter that is such an integral part of the brilliance of Lawrence’s previous novels. There is just lots of children and lots and lots of narration about what they do. At some points it almost reads like a Nancy Drew mystery.

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It bears repeating, Red Sister is an exceptionally well written, compelling, grim, cold fantasy novel. I expect a near consensus of Grimdark Magazine readers will really enjoy it. But those of us who go out of our way to avoid YA fantasy (I couldn’t even finish Half a War after dutifully slogging through Half the World with its cloying puppy love between Thorn and Brand) might find it lacking emotional and intellectual intensity and complexity. So…before our Editor-in- Chief fires me, allow me to recommend Red Sister very highly to those of you who enjoy gritty YA fantasy and to the many of you who enjoy the traditional fantasy structure of the orphan who goes to school (Name of the Wind, Blood Song, Harry Potter).

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However, for those of us who prefer more mature reading, like the hilarious attempt at romance between Jezal dan Luthar and a thoroughly drunk Ardee West or Sand Dan  Glokta’s inability to sleep through the night without shitting himself or Jalan Kendeth’s frequent memories of Lisa DeVeer wearing only the shadows thrown by the window blinds, well, read it anyway. It’s Mark Lawrence.

 

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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I'm being a bit harsh yeah, but certain uh, attitudes of that magazine get on my nerves sometimes. Plus the whole oh the characters are young so this is YA thing drives me BANANAS.

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2 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

I'm being a bit harsh yeah, but certain uh, attitudes of that magazine get on my nerves sometimes. Plus the whole oh the characters are young so this is YA thing drives me BANANAS.

Yeah, that's not necessarily true. A lot of spec-fic has young characters but is aimed at an adult readership.

 

Even ASOIAF or say, Stephen King's stuff has minors in it.

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12 hours ago, AncalagonTheBlack said:

Maybe they didn't like it because of these things? maybe they wanted another dude-bro fest like previous books?

 

And whats wrong with that ? Mark was one of the very few current generation fantasy authors writing good, unapologetic male-aimed fantasy. Now, if what you are saying is correct, it seems like he's pandering to the feminists. Which is a smart business decision i guess but as someone who doesnt like this new crop of politically perfect fantasy i can't help but feel its a huge shame.

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1/3rd of the book through.

Feels very much like the Jorg sections of the first book.

Sadly, the lead is far less clever, which is disappointing.

"What, the world is round!?"

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57 minutes ago, Darth Richard II said:

Male aimed fantasy? Wtf?

Couldn't think of a better word. First i thought Traditional, but its grimdark which isn't so traditional so lets say fantasy that isn't obsessed with Inclusivity ? Fantasy that isn't inclusivity-porn ? Non-cis-white-male bashing  fantasy ? Im not sure if my terminology is up to date but you get the idea.

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10 minutes ago, Sheep the Evicted said:

Couldn't think of a better word. First i thought Traditional, but its grimdark which isn't so traditional so lets say fantasy that isn't obsessed with Inclusivity ? Fantasy that isn't inclusivity-porn ? Non-cis-white-male bashing  fantasy ? Im not sure if my terminology is up to date but you get the idea.

I'm...

Now I'm actually curious which novels are this way because they seem like something I'd want to check out.

:)

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Sheep the Evicted said:

And whats wrong with that ? Mark was one of the very few current generation fantasy authors writing good, unapologetic male-aimed fantasy. Now, if what you are saying is correct, it seems like he's pandering to the feminists. Which is a smart business decision i guess but as someone who doesnt like this new crop of politically perfect fantasy i can't help but feel its a huge shame.

You could always give the Gor series a try :)  http://www.goodreads.com/series/41821-gor

Edited by Astromech

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8 minutes ago, Astromech said:

You could always give the Gor series a try :)  http://www.goodreads.com/series/41821-gor

Er....thanks ?

 

22 minutes ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I'm...

Now I'm actually curious which novels are this way because they seem like something I'd want to check out.

:)

Well not many anymore thats my point. Abercrombie was for a while and Lawerence as well but nowadays its hard to find a writer who seems to avoid gender politics and social justice altogether.

If you're really asking then two good examples I have read recently are The Warlord Chronicles and The Vagrant by Peter Newman.

 

 

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