Synopsis: As a young girl, Nona Grey was saved from the noose by the Abbess of Sweet Mercy. But behind the convent’s walls she learned not a life of prayer and isolation, but one of the blade and the fist. Now she will serve as the convent’s fiercest protector as the emperor moves to destroy the last bastion that stands against him.
“The sound of a battle can be described as a roar, and sometimes it truly is. When a thousand warriors charge, a roar precedes them and swallows up all other noise. But in between charge and counter-charge there is the screaming of those too wounded to hold their peace and not yet close enough to crossing the Path that they fall silent. There is the clash of weapons, most often on shields, for tight-packed conflict is an ugly, graceless thing and there are few parries made. There are the desperate cries for aid and there is the sobbing of the lost.”
Well, goddamn ::cries into the sleeves of my sweater:: This is going to be a hard review to write because.. because of many reasons. The fact that it is the third & final book, for one. But mainly because I am just so fucking happy that this series exists! I truly love it so damn much! Often expressing the scope of your love is harder & I feel that may be the case with this review. I’ll probably (hopefully) say a lot without saying too much of anything!
To fully grasp the level of feels Holy Sister gave me when I closed the final page after finishing the book.. picture this: Me, curled up in a ball, rocking back & forth, sobbing about Nona & what an exceptional character she is. There you have it! That’s the TL;DR version of this post.
I adore how Mark Lawrence always provides a Story So Far for his books. It seriously delights me every time having that refresher! Especially since the wait for this final book has seemingly felt like a decade. Oof.
The timeline of Holy Sister covers two different periods – present day & three years prior, which immediately follows the events in Grey Sister. The threads that Mark Lawrence weaves between these narratives is masterful. Everything just.. fits. The way the story unfolds is so clever & never felt convoluted.
The Book of the Ancestor series is, at its most basic, a coming-of-age grimdark tale. But, oh. It is infinitely more than that. Poignant, immersive, gritty. The worldbuilding is expertly done, yet we barely glimpse how vast it actually is. There is a wealth of stories that could be told within this world, if Lawrence so chooses. I know I’m not the only one that would be insanely overjoyed to have more. I feel as though I’m not ready to leave, just yet.
I’ve said it before & I’ll continue to say it.. Nona is one of my favorite characters in ANYTHING. Books, movies, television. Which is saying a lot, because Nona Grey is a hero. She is a flawed, complex, BADASS WARRIOR.. but at her very core, she is a hero with a genuine heart that is surrounded by violence & death. I tend to gravitate towards the anti-heroes, the morally grey individuals. There are many layers to an anti-hero. They are just so damn fun to read (& write!) But the real world, the world we live in at this very moment? It’s bleak as fuck as it is. And I’m finding it’s okay to look for the heroes amid the darkness. Nona just completely encompasses this. She is a loyal friend, compassionate, intelligent. She is a hero that isn’t cut from the traditional cloth. That is the underlying factor in what makes her such an enthusiastically wonderful character for me, personally. There is no one else quite like Nona Grey!
With the conclusion of Holy Sister wrapping up the Book of the Ancestor series, it is now cemented in my top favorites of ever. EVERRR. Few series can compare to this for me. Mark Lawrence always slays, page after glorious page. He could write a grocery list & I would be like YES! OMFG THIS IS GENIUS! THE WAY HE OUTLINES THE FOOD REQUIRED IS UTTER PERFECTION! WE ARE TRULY IN THE MIDST OF A MASTERMIND! But for real. This is my 11th Mark Lawrence review & I’m running out of superlatives to describe just how brilliant of a writer he is! It’s like watching this incredibly beautiful symphony, the way he orchestrates a story.
Holy Sister was such a powerful ending to an inspiring series, which is, without a doubt, Lawrence’s magnum opus.
“Some lessons must be written in scars..”
Read it. Find yourself immersed within vivid worldbuilding. Have your emotions ravaged by the most gorgeous prose. Love these characters with your whole being.
I cannot recommend a series higher!
(Massive thanks to Ace Books for sending me a copy to gush & flail over!)
**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**