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Publisher's Summary

The second novel in a brilliant fantasy series from the international best-selling author of Prince of Thorns.

Behind its walls, the Convent of Sweet Mercy has trained young girls to hone their skills for centuries. In Mystic Class, Novice Nona Grey has begun to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the convent, Nona must choose which order to dedicate herself to - and whether her path will lead to a life of prayer and service or one of the blade and the fist.

All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the designs of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a knife, and the vengeance of the empire's richest lord.

As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she is sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pulls of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.

And in all this only one thing is certain: there will be blood.

©2018 Bobalinga Ltd. (P)2018 Recorded Books

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

It Shouldn't Be Great, But It Is

We have all read books like this before. A child from some forgotten town is discovered to have some power or gift. Swifted away to some school or monastery to learn their powers before galloping off on a quest to save the world, collecting friends and tropes to help, protect, and die along the way. The heroe's powers gather as he/she battles the the forces of evil, a corrupt church, or corrupt monarchy.

Grey Sister, and The Books of the Ancestor series, follows along this path we have read many times before. You would think that would be the recipe for a average story with no hope of originality. So how does Author Mark Lawrence manage to weave a great story within the confines of a well used fantasy theme?

It starts with the main protagonist Nona Grey, the heroin of this story. Nona is not your common farm girl/boy who discovers that she has some awesome power bestowed to her and feels the need to do right and save the world. Nona's loyalties belong only to her desire for revenge, and the need to protect the only friends she has ever had. Nona is no pure hearted savior with any feeling of obligation to be humanity's protector, she is angry, and the heat of that anger drives her. It is this that makes Nona almost a anti-hero, the opposite of the usual noble savior of all that is good type protagonist that is the norm of this type of fantasy story. This is what separates The Books of the Ancestor series most of all. Nona Grey drives this story, and although she may not be the virtue of saintliness usually required to save the world, you can't help but feel she will accomplish it just the same.

The narration from Heather O'Niell seemed to improve for me this time around. I'm not sure if that is because she actually improved, or if I have just become used to her as the voices of these characters. She still remains a bit screechy for some male parts, but I enjoyed the performance.

Overall, Grey Sister is one of my favorite books so far this year. Maybe not a new theme for a fantasy series, but definitely a familiar setting shined up to make something wholly better. Can't wait for the next book.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Middle child

First of all I just want to state that I loved this book. If you enjoyed the first one this one will be no different. My only complaint is that it slightly suffers from “book 2 syndrome” being that plot points are left dangling for the future, cryptic messages are stated at the literal end, and the climax occurs to close to the end of the story instead of easing you out.

I know I went heavy on my explanations of the negatives but on a whole I really did love this book, I just hate how long I’ll have to wait to get the next one

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Visceral Whirlwind of a Story

Mark Lawrence is one of my favorite authors currently writing in the fantasy genre and this novel is easily on a par with Emperor of Thorns and the Wheel of Osheim. It is a definite improvement over Red Sister, which was a very good book, but suffered somewhat with pacing issues. Those issues are ironed out completely in this second installment, and the book is extremely fast paced, and maintains that pace from start to finish.

The plot is very tightly written, and the addition of the Abbess as a secondary viewpoint to Nona really gives the novel a different and much improved storytelling ability. I love Nona as a character, but her single minded determination to get her revenge and help her friends when they need it, was occasionally limiting in the first book. The addition of the abbess's calm, rational calculation as a counterpoint to Nona's pure, unadulterated drive to succeed, succeeded excellently in making the story tick.

As always Lawrence's characters were strong, human, and believable, and after two books written mostly from the perspective of female characters, I can confidently say he can write both sexes with great ability. Also, I was impressed how much more he was able to develop the full cast of characters in this second book in the series, without substantially slowing down the plot.

The last thing that continues to jump out at me about this series is the world Lawrence has created. His first two trilogies were set in the broken empire, which while being an interesting world, wasn't that nuanced, and mostly simply resembled a medieval world which had suffered an apocalyptic event in the past. However, this world shown in the Book of the Ancestor shows without a doubt that Lawrence is not a one trick pony, which was a small concern I had when i learned he had a new setting for this trilogy. The one thing I do have a small complaint about is the magic system of this world, which while fascinating to an extent is kind of confusing and not especially well explained in detail throughout the books. I do understand it, but to a certain extent I do feel that Lawrence is leaving the system purposely open ended, so not to cripple himself for future writing ventures in this world.

Finally, I must briefly discuss the narration, which in my opinion was somewhere between alright and poor. I really thought that some of the voices tended to blend together, especially those of the male characters in the book.

As novels go I think this is the book I was looking forward most to this year, and I have to say that I am incredibly pleased with the results. I cannot wait for next year, so I can finish the series with Holy Sister. Please take the time to read this novel if you are looking for a fast paced, intelligent, and violent fantasy book.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Just Listen to these books. They are wonderful!

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence shows the continued growth of Nona and her friends and sisters of the cloth in a cruel, dying world. Nona and the other powerful sisters of the Convent on the Rock are constantly challenged with betrayal both inside and outside the convent. Danger, and action course through the story. This book shows complexities of human emotion in such a skilled way. while propelling the ending to a satisfying halt if not a final resolution.

Heather O'Neill's excellent narration carries emotion, excitement and the ability to move from character to character very clearly.

I believe these stories, Red Sister and Grey Sister, to be well worth the time to listen to or to read. If you enjoy good writing and clever narration get this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Long anticipated, not disappointed

Mark Lawrence follow-on to Red Sister is every bit the equal of the sometime brutal, sometime macabre but always riveting first novel. Heather O'Neill performance came across much more fluidly than the previous novel and made the written prose of these young sisters come alive not only as freaky deadly but also very much retain their adolescent outlook on the world, still too young to be completely jaded to its surroundings.

I can already tell that this series will be added to my binge re-listen bin once it had completed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Terrible narrator

The story is more than a bit hard to follow, and the experience is made terrible by the narrator. She’s the worst narrator I’ve ever been able to force myself to finish. Her voices are awful, and her page breaks are simply 7naceptable. Heather O’Neill is a name I’ll remember, and will absolutely avoid.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The Nuns Go To War

I loved the first installment in "The Book of The Anscestor" Red Sister. Gray sister doesn't, dissapoint. Following on the heels of red sister (2 years? might have passed), Mark Lawrence does a wonderful job weaving a narrative that's well planned out and lots of fun.

Where red sister was Hogwarts, this feel much more dark with less hope. The book focuses on the loss of the ship heart, and the search for it's location.

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  • B.
  • Virginia, United States
  • 08-11-18

A Beast

This story is one h*** of a journey. It's a story of challenge, friendship, loyalty, vengeance and betrayal, spun in a tale of life learning lessons. I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Epic! What took me so long?

Beautifully told, perfectly paced, artfully prosed story of friends and magic and blood and battle.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Sequel

It's a great follow-up book to Red Sister. It starts off feeling somewhat similar to Red Sister as a new bully is introduced and the same rich and powerful family seeks to ruin Nona. The thing is...that bullying and rage against the system/authority REALLY hooks me into the story. It makes me root for the villains to get their comeuppance. The book moves beyond that though with much more of a focus on the Sisters at Sweet Mercy, their machinations and Nona's struggle with her demon. Everything from the first book escalates in this book with the abilities growing much more powerful and the threats become larger. There's also a lot more revealed about the world-building. I actually thought the book moved along quickly. I was certainly never bored. Victories come at a cost and require the help of friends. Our protagonist isn't the special country bumpkin of old fantasy where she is so awesome she can single handedly save the day and walk away happy. There's some great political intrigue as well as some over-the-top action scenes that read like an anime. Every part of the story had my attention so I'll be recommending it to friends.