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Red Sister

Book of the Ancestor, Book 1
Narrated by: Helen Duff
Series: Books of the Ancestor, Book 1
Length: 19 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (243 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It's not until you're broken that you find your sharpest edge.

A brilliant new series from the best-selling author of Prince of Thorns.

'I was born for killing - the gods made me to ruin.'

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices' skills to deadly effect: it takes 10 years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don't truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder - guilty of worse.

©2017 Mark Lawrence (P)2017 HarperCollins Publisher Limited

Critic Reviews

"Dark, passionate, tense, with a female hero anyone could relate to - I was utterly fascinated! This is no pretty, flowery tale, but one of vastly different people struggling to survive when a hostile government comes to power." ( New York Times best-selling author Tamora Pierce)
"This is a book very distinct from everything that came before; what it has in common though is a narrative that pulls no punches, and characters that are beautifully, brokenly, repellently, cleverly human." ( Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews)
"I had never thought it was possible to find a greater character than the Emperor Jorg Ancrath. I had never even slightly considered that there might be a fantasy world out there toppling that of Τhe Final Empire, and most definitely, I had never thought that I could love a book more than The Night Angel. But here we are." ( BookNest)
"Any other author is going to have to smack the ball way, way out of the park to top this read." ( Parmenion Books)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good start not carried through.

It began quite well. Good buildup of characters. But then it becomes too much a YA book and the girls start making childish plans (making life and death decisions without involving adults) and the main character hurriedly gains insights from nowhere.
That said, I'm going to try the second book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

You'll never want this story to end

This is a book that, once you start it, grips you with iron hands. My only criticism is the narrator. She has terrible articulation. She merges words and is hard to understand some phrases.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • Singapore
  • 08-01-19

Difficult to listen to

Narrator was really tough to understand.
Different accents with unclear enunciation.
Words get eaten up in her voice.
I had to really concentrate on what she's saying to listen properly. That is alot of effort while driving.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting world and great action

Very nice story. The kind with which you sometimes stay extra time in your car to finish a chapter.
The world is interesting. The characters are flawed superhumans (a great combination). The action is wonderful with excellent "bullet-time" descriptions.
My only issue is with some the main character's decisions, which kind of serve the narrative in a forced way.
The narration is lovely and rich. well acted. But I sometimes had trouble making out the words. And I felt too many of the characters got a "special" accent.

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great story

Amazingly crafted piece of fiction. Entwined in the gut wrenching turmoil of a world gone wild. Enjoyed thoroughly. Thanks Mark for great and careful work.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent fantasy story!

Story and performance is in point! The audio is a bit low for some reason, but not so low that you can't hear it when turning up the sound on your phone.

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Amazing!

I love it, the narrator was fantastic and the story intense. I am so glad that the main character, a small girl, was allowed and even encouraged to be angry.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • S. C. White
  • 05-17-17

Another perfect book from Lawrence

If you liked Prince of Thorns and The Red Queens Game, but were disappointed by a lack of strong female leads, this is the book for you. As a woman, I mostly buy male dominated books finding those written by and for women often lack grit. Not so with this one, Nona rages and slashes her way through the pages every bit as full of dark vitriol as Jorg Ancrath. If you haven't read those, you're in for a treat and I'm delighted to say that the narration is top notch for all books. Purchase without reservation.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Beccameriel
  • 07-12-17

Gripping, violent and exctiing

Utterly surprised to find that I flipping loved this! I can't remember what made me buy it now but I'm glad I did. I don't normally enjoy extended fight scenes and am usually bored rigid as each thrust and twist is described in lengthy detail (ususally muttering "skip to the end, skip to the end!") but by some strange alchemy, Mark Lawrence has made the fights - and there are lots of them - totally mesmerising. Maybe it helps that the slowness is part of what Nona experiences or maybe he's just a really good writer.

Anyway, I loved the premise, the nuns, the atmosphere, the world building, the consistent system of magic, I can't say I loved Nona herself but she is fascinating. Even the depiction of girls' friendships was believable. Some major plot developments are very clearly signalled but somehow it didn't matter as the execution (hah!) was so good.

Helen Duff's narration is great. I enjoyed the variety of accents she uses and her pacing is uniformly excellent. My only slight whinge is that Nona always sounds like an adult even though she starts off as a young girl.

Really looking forward the the next book in the series.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Strawberryskullcrusher
  • 04-14-17

Missed at your own expense!

I loved this book. So different and refreshing. I could not stop listening. It's my favourite book of the last 5 years. I cannot wait for the next installment. It's meant to be a trilogy.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nina
  • 02-25-18

Nebula prize for this one please!

I was looking for a new fantasy book and this one unexpectedly came out of nowhere. It’s my first book by Mark Lawrence and I’m so glad I finally decided to listen to it. What a wonderful writing style. I’m especially impressed how he’s able to build a tension with only a one sentence. “you need to bring an army to kill a nun” - truer words were never spoken, but I’ll leave you to find out the rest... the story grabs you and doesn’t let go till the final page.

I have not been so excited since the ‘Mistborn’ trilogy by Brandon Sanderson or ‘Powder Mage’ trilogy by Brian McClellan. What a gem!

The heroine is not a loveable character (as I’m told in most of Lawrence’s books), and the story is set in a dark, mystical and complicated world where even children are killers. And yet in this darkness is woven a coming of age tale full of friendship and faith.

Helen Duff keeps up to the task. Her steady and calm narration allows you to breathe between the chapters and fully enjoy this great book.

I can’t wait for the next books in the series...

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Patricia
  • 06-07-18

A disappointment

after hearing and seeing great reviews on this book I have to say that it left me a little perplexed. The story seemed to go nowhere and although I love fantasy and have no objections to the main characters being young I had difficulty dealing with 12 year olds dealing with their 'lot on life' and this is from someone who had a convent education!

the narration was mediocre at best. the characters where either Irish or Liverpuddlian and it seemed that everthing was spoken at a whisper - even the battle scenes were narrated without any change to the timbre.

it is rare that I review a book that I don't like simply because all criticisms are subjective but I felt that I had been let down and I want to give readers a chance to know that no everyone thinks Red Sister is good.

36 of 41 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sophie
  • 04-20-17

Excellent story + skillful narration!

Would you listen to Red Sister again? Why?

Only to tide me over until the next installment- which I am very much excited for!

What did you like best about this story?

The character introductions and development were one of the many great things about this story. This is no ordinary girl nor convent and these are no ordinary nuns. Listening to them grow up and make decisions (good or bad) was great.

Duff also narrates this with talent. Many characters call for many voices, intonations and she performs perfectly.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The action scenes were expertly told- Lawrence can create slow-motion in your minds eye just as well as a movie screen.

Any additional comments?

Definitely a joy to listen to, that will leave you twitching for the next installment.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Creative Butterfly
  • Creative Butterfly
  • 11-13-17

Amazing narration

I loved this book. A story of friendship, revenge, intrigue and guilt. I wonderful tale of children brought up to fight in a world where only the church can go up against money. Written from the point of view of Nonna, a child that gives her friendship sparingly but when it’s given she will be forever loyal. The book is written beautifully and the narrator makes you feel and love every character.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs.Meri.Black
  • 11-01-17

Enthralling tale

A thought provoking book exploring the depths and twists of friendship. Easily understood by younger listeners as well as adults who will 'get' the nuances and not just enjoy the tale.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Walter
  • 10-30-17

Great!

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I could wax lyrical for HOURS about how good the story, performance etc. is but really, stop reading this and just listen to the book. It’s really, really good.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robyn
  • 05-16-18

Great start to an exciting trilogy....

I have read Red Sister and Grey Sister in quick succession - they are excellent. The world which Mark Lawrence has built stacks, the plot is good, and the characters are well-developed and interesting. Am now feeling bereft at losing my connection to these characters while I wait for book 3.

Book one and two have flowed seamlessly, and what I really appreciated was the introduction to book two where a recap is given - thereby avoiding unnecessary and contrived references to book one's events. That said, the first 10 minutes of listening made me think I had missed a bit of the first book as a new character is introduced who I didn't recognise.......needn't have worried as it all became clear within the first few chapters.

The foreshadowing that has "topped and tailed" these two books is also an interesting angle - it's totally set the scene and anticipation for the final reckoning that is surely coming in book 3. If the energy and intrigue continues at the same pace, it promises to be a good one.

Narration is good, although the variation in accents for the different characters isn't as extensive as my favourite narrators' (eg; although I enjoy the Aussie accent, it felt a little like it was the narrator's only, or "go to", alternative accent, but it doesn't detract from the story.

If you are into the fantasy genre, then this should tick all the boxes.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Tegan
  • 05-06-17

Brilliant... Again

There is always that one kid that stands out in your memory, through out your education, who had an amazing talent for something. A talent well beyond you know what others will strain their whole life to achieve and barely make the edges of.

Mark Lawrence has an amazing talent for word smithing, able to weave you into a story, the meat of it is palatable between the teeth of your imagination, the juice, staining your minds eye and all from the first paragraph.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • micjwill
  • 04-07-18

Red sister on a red path

I was totally drawn into this story from the first words of the narration .
Helen s performance was magic. The story hints of the potential scope that could unfold and I can’t wait to see where it go’s. Apocalyptically martial arts intensity, spiritual , Religious and political , all threads drawing the listener into an icy world .
Pure dark , mystical and bloody masterpiece.









7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Nina crause
  • 04-27-18

Captivating main character

I really enjoyed the main character and her development throughout the story. The weaving in of past and present throughout was cleverly done. The narrator was brilliant and faultless in her portrayal of the different characters and her use of different accents. I found I did have to speed up the narration otherwise it was as a bit slow.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-09-17

Awesome Listen

Loved it from start to finish. Heroic fantasy at it's best. If you like David Gemmel, Robin Hobb etc you'll love this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Luke
  • 07-08-17

Fantastic story & excellent narration

With this story Mark Lawrence, had me just as enthralled as when Jorg Ancrath first carved a vivid red path through my imagination. The excellent narration made this a perfect listener experience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lauren VS
  • 05-28-17

Another brilliant story from Mark Lawrence!

Red Sister is a fantastic book with excellent characters and the world in which they live is fascinating. It's a fast paced book with action, gore, betrayal and just plain awesomeness!
Nona is a badass, she rocks just like I hoped she would. I love her bravery and most of all her loyalty. So great for the protagonist in a gritty harsh world to value loyalty so highly.
5/5 stars. Download it, buy it however you can, you won't regret it if you love fantasy and awesome stories in general.
Helen Duff was a great narrator too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 07-12-18

Really dull

Was not engaged by story, setting or characters Constantly found myself having to rewind to follow the story as it was far to easy to become distracted by anything going on in the real world

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Brooke Doughty
  • 08-08-19

Draws you in..

Loved learning about the many leading ladies, with the story having twists and turns to keep me interested in what happens next. So looking forward to the next one.

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  • Scott Membry
  • 08-02-19

Great story

Great story, if a little slow in places, but I loved the concepts and characters.

The narrator, Helen Duff, was mostly very good, if a little inconsistent with the accents. My main criticism would be the way she pronounced archon. It's a K sound like arkon not a ch sound like ar-chon. If the word only appeared a couple of times it would have been fine but it's used a lot and was bloody annoying. I hope she's fix this in the later books

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-18-19

not engaging, confusing dialog

I returned this book after approximately 10hrs. found myself constantly waiting for the story to become engaging.
The writing is too focused on explaining what goes on between little girls chatting at school and less on an interesting story. picture Harry Potter without all the events.
no idea why it got such good reviews