Book of the Ancestor by Mark Lawrence – Series Review

Series rating: 5/5

Genre: Fantasy, grimdark

Author: Mark Lawrence

Synopsis: 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 ten 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.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive


I just finished Holy Sister  today and this is hands down one of the best series I have ever read. There is not one thing that I didn’t love about this. Straight up, 5/5 stars for each book on the series. Also, for those of you who like audiobooks, the narration for this series is top notch. I audiobooked all of them and it was just a great experience.

I’m going to try to insert some structure into this review so, first I’ll talk about the writing style. The whole series is kind of a frame story. Each book gives a glimpse into the present, or rather to the climax that the entire series is leading to as a prologue and epilogue. And then the rest of the book fills in some of the details. And that progresses with each book, with a little more making sense. I hope that makes sense. Each book then in turn is usually told in two different timelines. It sounds confusing when I try to explain it, but it’s actually very well done. It creates this suspenseful atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times. The writing is also very evocative and this is just all around such a well written series.

The world is really cool. The books are fairly short and heavily plot and character oriented, so the world is not very thoroughly explored. At the end of the series, there are still things that I have no explanation for. But it’s done well. We learn progressively about the world as the characters learn about it and that serves as much to drive the plot and characters forward as it does to flesh out the world. It’s just masterfully written. It might be a bit frustrating if you like very clearly defined magic systems such as Brandon Sanderson’s. This series definitely has a soft magic system, though it’s not as vague as say, A Song of Ice and Fire. I personally like both soft and hard magic systems and I really loved the magic in this series. There are multiple branches or aspects of the magic and I thought they’re all really cool. I thought the world was really cool.

I read Prince of Thorns by Lawrence as well and I didn’t like it as much for one main reason. Both this series and the Broken Empire series are set in a past-apocalyptic world where the people have kind of reverted to medieval-ish levels of technology, but they live in a world that used to be inhabited by technologically advanced people and there are vestiges of that. Which is a trope seen in many fantasies and one that I really enjoy, with one caveat. I don’t like it when that world is made out to be a future of Earth. At least not if there’s magic involved. It’s for some reason very jarring for me when that happens and it takes me out of the story and I just don’t enjoy it as much. And that’s what The Broken Empire series did, and I am so glad that this series was just set on some planet called Abeth. It’s all I needed for it to not be ruined for me. Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent.

The characters in this series are the best and Nona Grey is the best of the best. I don’t remember the last time I loved a main character as much as I love Nona. She is the most precious murderous nun in the world. She’s just so loyal and values friendship, which are two things I value so much and I feel like they’re so under-explored in books. So this story was just a balm for my soul. It’s so great to see Nona grow and the relationships that she forms and how those shape her and how she shapes others and ugh! It’s really hard to talk about the characters without spoiling anything, but just… amazing! Every single character is so amazing.

The story itself is fast paced and as I said before, keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s dark. I mean it gets super dark sometimes, but it’s also ultimately such a hopeful story. And those are my favourites. I classed it as a grimdark fantasy, but I’d say it fits better with the more recently coined subgenre of ‘hopepunk’. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can google it. But just to give you a feel of what I mean, you know that scene in The Two Towers, where Sam and Frodo were captured by Faramir and on their way to Gondor, but the Nazgul attacked and Frodo almost put on the ring and then almost killed Sam when he tried to help? And then Sam talks about “the great stories of old” and what made them stick with you? And Faramir hears and Gollum hears and Frodo hears and they’re all in the middle of a battle terrified and hopeless, but Sam somehow gives them hope and it’s a super powerful scene? Yeah, it’s that feeling. That’s hopepunk. And that’s exactly what this whole series feels like.

That’s all I can really say without any spoilers, so I will close by saying that I wholeheartedly recommend this series.

Top 10 sequels I read in 2018

It may come as no surprise to you that I am pretty bad about reading sequels. But actually in 2018, I did quite well on that front. So much so that talking about all of the sequels I read would be too much. Therefore, here is a top 10 list of sequels I read last year.


10. Golden Son by Pierce Brown

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I started this series in 2018 and got as far as the second book. I put this series off for years and I shouldn’t have, because I ended up really enjoying it. I listened to both of them on audio and I think they work really well as audiobooks. I enjoyed the narration. This series is so action packed and it keeps you constantly on your toes. But anyway, to talk specifically about this book, I felt like it’s not as good as the first one. I think the pacing for it is a bit off, so while there’s still so much going on, it feels slow at times. But it was still a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I fully intend to continue on with this series.

9. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I read Cinder I think in 2015, so quite some time ago and I really enjoyed it. But then I just never continued with the series. I was a little bit worried going into this that I had outgrown the series. I just found myself reaching less for YA and more for adult books recently. So I was a bit worried. But what do you know, I ended up loving it even more than the first book. I like Scarlet more than I like Cinder and I definitely liked the love interest more than the one in Cinder. It was also a lot more fun I feel like. Cinder followed the main story-line of Cinderella very closely, but this kinda took Little Red Riding Hood in an unexpected direction and I really enjoyed that. I think I actually got around to reviewing this, so if you want to read more of my thoughts, check that out.

8. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

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I started this series in 2017 and immediately picked up the second book. However, it took me quite some time to get through this book and not just because it’s massive. I picked it up at a time when I wasn’t really in the mood for it. Despite that, I still really love this series. I loved some of the new characters we were introduced to. There were pirates and cons and friendship and it’s just such a great series guys. I did feel like this particular installment could have been better paced. There was a bit in the middle where it kind of lagged, but overall, a fantastic book. I’ve also reviewed this one, so check that out for more of my thoughts.

7. The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson

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I was not expecting this sequel. I read the first book a couple of years ago and thought it was hilarious. I had no idea there was a sequel coming out, and indeed the author hadn’t planned a sequel. But I was delighted when I walked into a Waterstones one day and saw it. I obviously picked it up and I was not disappointed. Jonas Jonasson is hilarious, his books are so up my alley. The humour is so dry and dark, but also very self aware. And somehow, his books manage to be both super fun and super informative. I just cannot recommend his books enough.

6. Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

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I started this series in the first half of the year and it’s become one of my favourite. It’s so dark. Joe Abercrombie has no mercy, pulls no punches, and has created a world and characters that are fascinating and a story so gripping that I just want to know what happens next. All of the characters are super flawed. They’re all pretty bad people, but they’re great. I love them all. I’m currently reading the third book in this series and I just can’t wait to see where it goes. I am officially a Joe Abercrombie fan now.

5. Our Dark Duet by V. E. Schwwab

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It’s no secret that I absolutely love Victoria Schwab. This series man. In all fairness, I did prefer the first book to the second one, but this was still a fantastic book. I’m not normally a huge fan of urban fantasy, but the world she’s created in this series is awesome and so unique. I loved this book because it expanded on the world and we got to see different cities where the magic was slightly different. I wish it had been expanded even more. I sincerely hope she writes more in this world, maybe with some of the side characters from this series, because there is so much that could be explored and I am here for it. You can check out my review of the series if you want to know more of my thoughts.

4. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

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This is not so much a sequel as it is a companion novella, but I want to talk about it, because it’s such a wonderful, strange little book. Auri is my little precious bean. I can relate to her probably more than to any other character in this series. I love Kvothe, I think he’s a great character, but Auri is precious. I will fight anyone who throws shade on her. This story spoke to me so much, I may have even cried. I put it off for so long because I didn’t want to not have any more Kingkiller books to read. But I finally read it. And it was everything I wanted it to be.

3. Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

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Mark Lawrence is another author I discovered in 2018 and is now one of my favourite authors. I’ve read three of his books this past year, but this series is one of the best fantasy series that I’ve read in a long time. It’s about magical assassin nuns. Just that should tell you a lot. But it’s so dark. And the characters are all flawed. I love Nona, the main character, she is so deeply flawed, but also such a loyal character. And I feel like loyalty and friendship are just not explored enough in books. And I live for that. But aside from the characters, whom I love, the world is so cool and unique; the magic system is fascinating. I just adore this series. I love everything about it and I can’t wait for the next book. Just give it to me already. I also audiobooked this series and the audiobooks are brilliant. I love the narrator.

2. Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

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I read both the second and third books in rapid succession and both possibly would have qualified for this list, but I wanted to talk about other series as well. I liked this one more than the second one, so I picked it. This was one of the best finales to a series that I have ever read. Brandon Sanderson is just amazing. I’m 100% here for all of his books after this finale. I was literally in awe at how he pulled all of the little threads together, the foreshadowing alone just blew my mind. I don’t know what I was expecting from the series, but it was not this. It constantly kept me guessing and tricked me and ugh, I cannot explain to you how much I love this series. I have a series review for this so go check that out for more of my thoughts.

1. The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

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I had to give number one to this finale because it was perfect. And it tore my heart out and shredded it to little pieces. I cried guys. I still think about this and all the feels it evoked. I am the least maternal person in the world, but I had such mum feels reading this. It moved me. This whole series is phenomenal: the characters, the world, the story, the writing, just everything. I’ve reviewed the series, I have a spoiler free review and a spoilery rave, so just read those if you want to hear all of my thoughts on the series. But this finale broke me. And I’m still not over it. It’s been like 8 months since I read it. Maybe more. Still not over it.

Audiobook Collection

Over the past few months, I’ve been getting into audiobooks and I’ve gathered a little collection of audiobooks. I’ve never included any of them in my book hauls, so I thought I’d make a separate post to share my collection with you. Some of these, I also own physical copies of.


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins | Ships and Strings and Wedding Rings by Jodi Taylor | The Very First Damned Thing by Jodi Taylor | Roman Holiday by Jodi Taylor | Christmas Present by Jodi Taylor

When a Child is Born by Jodi Taylor | Red Sister by Mark Lawrence | Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence | Golden Son by Pierce Brown | The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll | The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin | The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris | Life of Pi by Yann Martel | The Power by Naomi Alderman

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman | The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton | Uprooted by Naomi Novik | A Breach of Security by Susan Hill

May 2018 Wrap Up

I thought I hadn’t read many books in May. It feels like I’ve hardly read at all. But looking back, I actually read 7 books. I mean yeah, to be fair some of these I’d started before May and one of them is super short, but still. I’m surprised.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

First book I finished in May and it was hilarious. I’d started reading this book years and years ago, but I didn’t own it until now, so I never finished it. I can honestly say it deserves its popularity. It was thoroughly entertaining, really just my kind of humour. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series. 5/5 stars.

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

This has quickly become one of my favourite series. I listened to the audiobook of the first one, Red Sister, in April and loved it and I listened to the audiobook of this one in May and loved it just as much. I absolutely do recommend the audiobooks for this, the narration is amazing. I am so upset that I have to wait until next year for book three cause this series is awesome. It’s about a magic warrior nun school… what more do you need to hear? 5/5 stars

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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This book was sadly a massive disappointment for me. It was mediocre at best, I think it suffered from a bad case of diversity hype, where a book is hyped because it is diverse as opposed to based on its merits as a book. The characters were two dimensional at best, and they were all more or less the same character. I could often not tell who was speaking. I didn’t care about them, in fact they annoyed me, the relationships were rushed and unrealistic. The world was cool, but could have been much better developed and the story was… okay, but unoriginal to a fault. 2/5 stars

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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I’ve been re-reading this series and it’s just as much of a delight the second time around. It’s clever, witty, fast paced and all around fun to read. It’s one of the more underrated series I’ve read. 5/5 stars

Harry Potter: The Prequel by J.K. Rowling

I’m not sure this really counts as a book, but for some reason, I’d never read the short story before. I managed to find it online and now I really want her to write that book.       😦 5/5 stars

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

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Sadly, this book wasted a lot of potential. It had a cool and original world, it had elemental magic, it had some really interesting characters and the story had the potential to be suspenseful and gripping. Instead… instead it chose to focus on one relationship that was bland, uninteresting, completely lacking in chemistry, cringe-worthy and just all around boring. And I am so mad about it. Cause I wanted to know more about the interesting characters. I wanted them better developed. I wanted this story to be told better cause it had so much potential. I do not give two shakes of a rat’s behind about that stupid love story. SO MAD! 2/5 stars

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

red seas under red skies

Finally, FINALLY, I have finished this book! It took me like 6 months to finish it. But I’ve been in an adult fantasy mood lately and I finished it at last! It wasn’t as good as the first one, but I still really loved it. 4.5/5 stars