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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2019)
Nona Grey's story reaches its conclusion in the third instalment of Book of the Ancestor.

They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor's armies are in retreat.

Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun's habit before war is on their doorstep.

Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.
The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it's a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.

A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

352 pages, Paperback

First published April 4, 2019

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About the author

Mark Lawrence

76 books50.7k followers
[My new books The Girl And The Moon and Dispel Illusion are out now!]

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Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. Before becoming a fulltime writer in 2015 day job was as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say 'this isn't rocket science ... oh wait, it actually is'.

Mark used to have a list of hobbies back when he did science by day. Now his time is really just divided between writing and caring for his disabled daughter. There are occasional forays into computer games too.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,314 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 76 books50.7k followers
November 19, 2021

In Holy class Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. The ice still advances, the Corridor still narrows, and the empire is under siege. Scithrowl have invaded in the east, Durns in the west. Everywhere the emperor’s armies are in retreat. It seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn the habit of a nun before war is on their doorstep.

Abbess Glass has played the long game all her life but with everyone reaching for the moon will her planning suffice to steer it in the right direction?

War is coming and even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn this tide. The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming where she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle where her own demons will try to unmake her. A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

I am Nona Grey and if you come against me I will make a ruin of your life.

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Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.2k followers
January 7, 2023
ARC provided by the publisher—Ace—in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 stars

Holy Sister is an incredibly powerful and satisfying conclusion to one of the best trilogy I’ve ever read.

I won’t lie, a week ago I started rereading Red Sister mostly for the purpose of satisfying my completionist nature and eventually putting Book of the Ancestor into my “completed series I’ve read” list. However, the incredible of rereading Red Sister made me incoherently excited to continue with the series and here I am now. I have binged read and reviewed the entire series within a week, and I can say with confidence that this series has become one of my favorite coming-of-age fantasy series of all time.

“To sow knowing that you will not reap is an old kind of love, and love has always been the best key for unlocking the future.”

Holy Sister is the third and last book in Mark Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor trilogy. The ice is closing, the Corridor is narrowing, and the empire is under siege from all direction; dangers are everywhere and Nona Grey will have to exceed her own maximum capability in the upcoming final battle. In my opinion, this is by far Mark Lawrence’s best series so far. I’m still amazed by how clever it all came together. We’ve always known that Abbess Glass is playing the long game since the first installment; it all came to fruition here. Just like Abbess Glass’s long game, we can only know what Lawrence’s saving for us by reading this outstanding installment to the end. The plot of the series is so cleverly planned and structured; connecting every single plot-thread all the way back to the prologue, interlude, and epilogue of Red Sister. Unlike Grey Sister, we’re back to having Nona as the sole POV to read here. The narrative is divided into two timelines:

1. Continues immediately from where the last book left off.
2. The present-day; three years after the end of Grey Sister. Nona is now in Holy Class and she has to choose which order she’ll become when she becomes a full sister.

The story starts up slowly and it was well-paced. From the beginning, the buildup of the tension escalated non-stop until the pulse-pounding conclusion. The usage of the two timelines—both from Nona’s perspectives—was smartly executed; it was never confusing and it felt crucial in enhancing the compelling nature of the novel. The book was deftly written, extremely well-polished, and the storytelling style felt like watching a pendulum that swings from left to right continuously in order to create a smooth flow of emotional impact. I mean it, the second half evoked a variety of emotions; laughter, sadness, anger, and tension were there; making the climax sequences gripping and utterly hard to put down. The carnage, the thrill of battle, the blood-soaked war, the brutal magic unleashed, and the clash of weaponry were vividly written; it truly felt like I was there with Nona and her friends.

“The fight matters. But in the end it is never truly won or lost, and victory lies in discovering that we are bigger than it is.”

Before I close my review, I would like to say that the greatness within this series was achievable due to how well-written the characters were; their developments throughout the series was astounding. Nona Grey has officially become one of the greatest heroines I’ve ever read in a fantasy novel. She’s flawed, loyal, kind, and simply inspiring as a person. The present may be full of darkness; familiar landscape changed by war. The future may be bleak, but she never gives up. Her friendship with her friends remains her beacon of hope and I loved every moment of reading her journey with her friends. By involving and developing every single character brilliantly, it honestly feels bittersweet to me to have read the conclusion of this series; I'm sad to say goodbye to these characters, but I'm glad to have read this trilogy.

Picture: Sister Cage by banishedshadow

If you’re reading this review, rest assured that the best of parts of the book are purposely excluded from this review; you simply have to read and experience them for yourself. Mark Lawrence has outdone himself with the creation of Holy Sister. I have mixed feelings on Lawrence’s previous trilogy, I wouldn’t have thought that Book of the Ancestor would become one of the greatest trilogies I’ve ever read but here it is; suffice to say that I recommend this series with all my heart. That's all from me.

Series Review:

Red Sister: 5/5 stars
Grey Sister: 4/5 stars
Holy Sister: 4.5/5 stars

Book of the Ancestor: 13.5/15 stars

Official release date: April 4, 2019 (UK) and April 9, 2019 (US)

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
526 reviews57.6k followers
June 7, 2019
(4.5) This is one of my new favorite Fantasy series.

I love the characters and their growth, the dark post-apocalyptic world, the magic system, the fact that finally female characters are allowed to be muscular (!!).

My only issue is that this last book felt a bit too short and was wrapped up a bit in a hurry.

I wish there had been a bit more with the love interest (that's coming from someone that resent any romance in her books!) and that we had had a bit more about the apocalyptic bits!

Hopefully I'll get more in the newest series in the same universe coming out next year!

Totally recommend!
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,156 reviews97.9k followers
February 3, 2020

ARC given to me by my amazingly kind friend - Alexa at Alexa Loves Books!

1.) Red Sister ★★★★★
2.) Grey Sister ★★★★★

“When they put us in that cage we never really came out of it again.”

Good Lord, Mark Lawrence has truly created a once in a lifetime series that I will cherish forever. Holy Sister is the third and final book in a series that will go down in history as one of the brightest shining lights in SFF history.

I very much implore you to read Bound after Grey Sister, but before Holy Sister because it really works as a much-needed bridge short story. This book is told in two timeless; one, after the events of Grey Sister, and then three years later. But the interchanging of these two timelines, both in Nona’s perspective, was truly the perfect way to craft this tale.

This series is all about a girl named Nona who we get to see grow up, but we meet her during her childhood when she hasn’t had the easiest of lives, and is currently in the gallows for attempted murder, but is saved and taken to a convent of nuns who all are able to harness magical abilities, and we quickly learn that Nona has some magical abilities herself. Yet now, in this last book, this convent, Sweet Mercy, and all the characters we have grown to love, have threats surrounding them and all their lives are on the line.

My favorite part of this book? I have truly fallen in love with these magical assassin nuns and I’m honestly prepared to die for any and all of them. Truly, the found family in this book is just unparalleled by anything else. From the bonds of sisters, to the bonds of lovers, to the bonds of just women loving and accepting each other, regardless of the paths you have walked or are currently walking in life. All the side characters are some of the greatest of all time, but Apple and Kettle will never leave me or my heart. And Glass will forever and always be my queen.

But Mark Lawrence truly gave me everything I wanted when he crafted Nona, and in this book especially when he made Nona attracted to multiple genders, most likely bisexual. But Nona is a pan goddess in my eyes, and no one can change my mind on this. Also, she will go down as one of my favorite characters of all-time. She’s come far, from learning that the word brave does mean to be strong, but it also means to be vulnerable and willing to let people in. Seeing her grow, with this group of girls, but also by herself, while being shaped by this cruel and unforgiving world, filled with even more cruel and unforgiving circumstances; it’s so beautiful I don’t even have words for it.

“The fight matters. But in the end it is never truly won or lost, and victory lies in discovering that we are bigger than it is.”

Watching Nona become the woman she is, and watching her walk this path, all the paths, I don’t even have words for it. I think this entire series is going to stand the test of time and go down as one of the best fantasies ever written. The story is just perfection, the characters are my favorite, the writing is so smart and so beautiful, the themes are life changing, and the entire story is completely unforgettable. If you haven’t picked up Red Sister yet, I’m begging you to give it a try. This trilogy is truly a masterpiece.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings loss of a loved one, queer characters do die (most characters in this are/seem queer, so I don’t think it’s a bury your gays trope, but use caution still), violence, gore, torture, human trafficking, kidnapping, and war themes.
Profile Image for Emma.
971 reviews966 followers
April 5, 2019
Spoiler free review! 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡 ****OUT NOW****

When writing about a book that’s the third and final in a trilogy, there’s only so much that can be said without edging into spoiler territory. So this review, if it can be called that, is done with the lightest touch, hopefully just conveying some sense of the range of feelings the books evoked in me.

More than almost any other series I’ve read, the three novels which form the Book of the Ancestor feel like one continuous story. Perhaps this is a reflection of the way the oft quoted opening line ‘it is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size’ links the prologue in a surprising way to the trilogy’s finale. It’s only at the end that you can truly see the shape of it; the beauty of story made circular. If not for the considerations of time and space, the books would be best read straight through. For all those who haven’t started this series yet, and I recommend you get right on that, give yourself some time to experience the wholeness of it. From the finish, the artificial boundaries made by the division into three seem somewhat arbitrary and while the first two books conclude with explosive and brutally fun high action set pieces, they don’t necessarily serve to illuminate the really significant junctures of the story. Or at least, not all of them. This is a character driven narrative and Nona's journey, her growth, is a continuous thing. There’s an equality of significance given to all types of moments, the smaller, private ones having as much impact for Nona as the ones she faces blade in hand. Each builds upon the other so that the world altering choices she makes at the end of Holy Sister can only be understood in terms of the entirety of her experience. Our assumptions about her path, directed in part by the tricksy author and in part by what we ‘know’ about fantasy writing, lead us to believe in what seems like an inevitable conclusion, yet those expectations are repeatedly demolished. The lessons she’s learned aren’t the ones you think. And that means she never ceases to surprise.

The pacing in this book follows a similar structure to Grey Sister. It starts out in an interesting but measured fashion, so much that you wonder if it’s going to be like this all the way through, then it’s all whatthehellyoucantdothatohmygod The End. Once it hits a certain part, be prepared to go all the way. You won’t be putting the book down, that’s for sure. It epitomises the reading experience i’ve had throughout the series, an essential contradiction of which I can’t help be aware. Namely, that the action scenes are so good, and I mean ridiculously good, that I’m constantly jonesing to get to them as soon and as often as possible, but that none of those moments would be anywhere near as affecting or effective if I didn’t care as much about the characters, a depth of feeling built in the slower moments. The space utilised on what may initially seem like trivialities, Nona’s schooling/training for example, is where relationships develop in to the type of bonds that will save the world. Nona’s foundations are her friendships, the love and loyalty that bind her to other people. It might take time to show that to the reader but the payoff is huge.

The close focus shapes the whole story. This is a book that dares to put things offstage, battles detailed only when literally they turn up on Nona’s doorstep. How many other authors would put a whole war in the background? Most of what the reader knows is through Nona and if she’s not there to see it, only so much can be told. As in Grey Sister, there’s some scope for alternate viewpoints, through Kettle for example (as an aside, I love Kettle, she’s the best character in the series. Come at me), but there’s this brilliant dichotomy between a comprehensive, multilayered world that clearly and vibrantly exists and the limited slice we get to see. In the dual timeline of this book it allows scope for playing with what’s known by various characters, deepening the layers of the intricate, high-stakes plots, and heightening tension via misdirection and the withholding of knowledge. Only when seen from the end, when the circle is completed, can we discern how the long game played by Abbess Glass fits together. Only then can we see who Nona really is. And none of it will turn out as you imagined.

An exceptional series and by far my favourite of Mark Lawrence’s work. It has that something that sets it apart. It has the deft, unexpected characterisation, the perfect turn of phrase, the killer hook we’ve seen before in his other series, but this has a magic all of its own. I can’t explain it and I’m not going to try. I cheered and I cried. Then I cried some more. I was surprised, amused, and devastated. The author snuck in some stuff that I can’t even talk about because its spoilery, but damn I didn’t see that coming. As for a happy ending? Well, you know who wrote it, right??? That’s all I’m saying.

Make sure this is on your 2019 reading list. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,864 reviews69.2k followers
June 16, 2019
3.5 stars

A good enough conclusion, but some of the original magic was missing.
For me, anyway.


The second book built up to a lot of things that just seemed to have already happened when this book opened. Including a romancish thing with one of the characters that kind of seemed shoved in for no good reason.

There were several WTF moments for me while I was reading that were due to all the things that had happened between books. Honestly, I'd thought I just forgot or something, but...nope.
And I gotta say, I was not a fan of that kind of confusion.


However, there were also some AMAZING scenes that took me by surprise and just totally rocked it.

That was BADASS!


And there were quite a few awesome moments like that. For the most part, I'm actually really satisfied with how it ended. Everything gets (pretty much) wrapped up, and all of the loose ends are (for the most part) tied in an acceptable manner. In fact, someone asked the other day if I knew of any good fantasy books, and I recommended this one. So, you know, even without the third installment having allll the magic of the first two books (in my opinion), this was still a fantastic trilogy.


Oh, and every author should do the recap thing that Lawrence does at the beginning of his books. Thank you, kind sir. <--genius!
Profile Image for Sofia.
266 reviews6,169 followers
April 20, 2022
In quantum mechanics, a wavefunction describes the probability of where quantum particles could be, so a particle occupies every possible state simultaneously (superposition) until it is measured. When a quantum particle is observed, the wavefunction collapses and the particle irreversibly occupies only one state. The specifics of how measurement and observation determine reality are still being researched. To my knowledge, quantum particle behavior is still largely a mystery.

In Book of the Ancestor, quantals use greater magic: they can walk the Path and draw immense power from it. But maybe this “magic” isn’t really magic at all. Doesn’t “quantal” look suspiciously similar to “quantum”? Can quantals control the collapse of a wavefunction? That would begin to explain the mysterious Path. Thread-work could be quantum entanglement on a larger scale, where people are entangled instead of particles. If so, I wonder how quantals obtained these abilities. Radiation, maybe?

Speaking of nuclear radiation, what is Abeth? The result of nuclear war? Take ABETH, cross out the bottom of the B, flip around the letters a bit (EABTH) and you have EARTH. Judging by the map, the world of the Broken Empire trilogies is clearly our world after extreme climate change, nuclear war, or both. Abeth may resemble the far future of Earth, after the events of those trilogies. Maybe the ice is a product of nuclear war: nuclear winter. That would also explain why the Missing left Abeth, the doomed planet they may have destroyed. Additionally, the computer that controls the focus moon is named Taproot, a cryptic recurring character in all of Lawrence’s books (aaand the friendly neighborhood Mark Lawrence expert is John, helping me fill in the blanks with his extensive knowledge).

How do I join a warrior nun friend group? Specifically an incredible found family who have an unbreakable bond of love and support. The relationship between Nona, Ara, and Zole is one of my favorite friendships in all of literature. The way Zole slowly opened up to Nona, the unspoken promise of protection between Nona and Ara—it’s exquisite.

Holy Sister has incredible slow pacing with natural buildup that’s not rushed. Instead, we get to know the characters organically as we walk beside them during their darkest moments. Despite the hopelessness that hangs over Abeth, there are also days when the light of the moon seems warmer on Nona’s skin and the horizon of ice looks more like a blanket of sparkling jewels tossed haphazardly across the poles by the hand of a benevolent god.

In conclusion, Mark Lawrence continues to be a genius.

5 stars

Red Sister: ★★★★★
Grey Sister: ★★★★★
Holy Sister: ★★★★★


How is it even possible for a book this perfect, this immaculate, this soul-shattering to exist. I'm in awe. I can't find words to properly describe the beauty of this series and of this book.
I've been on this journey for so long and been through so much with friends who hold my heart in their blood-stained hands.
Mark Lawrence is the Ancestor, confirmed.
Profile Image for Samantha.
409 reviews16.7k followers
June 16, 2019
3.75 stars

I’m very surprised about this and I don’t know what caused it. I didn’t dislike this book. I just didn’t feel as connected to it as I have with the previous installments. It took me a long time to read and I wasn’t very motivated to read it when I wasn’t. I didn’t feel the big emotional moments like I have in the past. I wasn’t disappointed in the ending, but just feel no connection to it. I’m unsure if I’ve been slumpy lately and that’s what caused it. Truthfully, I find few faults in the actual plot of the story. I just didn’t care about it.
Profile Image for Celeste.
887 reviews2,334 followers
February 6, 2019
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher. While I am thankful for the gift, the giving of it had no impact on this review. All views below are completely my own.

Holy Sister keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first page. It’s an incredibly smart conclusion to a standout, action-packed series, with heartbreak and triumph mingled on nearly every page. I can’t remember the last time I felt so satisfied upon finishing a book.

“Some lessons must be written in scars.”

In this book we’ve finally come full circle, experiencing the stunning introduction to Red Sister in real time. The novices we’ve come to know and love over the course of this trilogy are now nearly grown, forced to prematurely take their vows in the face of war-laced apocalypse. As the moon weakens and ice encroaches from the north and the south, the only land left to fight over is the small Corridor of yet unfrozen terrain around circling the middle of Abeth. And there just isn’t room for everyone.

“North and south the ice squeezed and all the nations of the Corridor bled.”

“A million words won’t push the ice back, not even the breadth of a finger. But one word will break a heart, two will mend it, and three will lay the highest low.”

Grey Sister presented us with a tale from two perspectives. In Holy Sister we are again seeing things entirely through Nona’s eyes, but are alternating time frames, hopping between present day and three years ago, as we see what happened in the immediate aftermath of Grey Sister’s climax. As we progress, we see how and why Nona makes the decisions she does, and what kind of impact that has on those around her. Nona’s character development over the course of this series is mind-blowing. She’s one of the bravest, coldest, most loving characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. She’s a calculating badass who throws herself into danger with almost no fear of what might befall her, but she will go to any lengths necessary to protect those she loves even as she uses them. And those she loves are numerous. I would have never thought when I first met her in Red Sister that Nona would have one of the biggest hearts in fiction, but she undoubtably does. I can say without qualm that she’s my favorite heroine in the fantasy genre.

“I must caution you. Nona Grey could tear this street open to the bedrock to see you dead, and level the houses all around us. She could blast you with such force that the amulets your gold has purchased would burn and fall to dust. And before I could take a single step to stop her you would all be smoking offal amid the ruin… You should know that I would do everything in my power to bring her to the emperor’s justice after such an outburst. But it would be scant consolation to your corpses.”

As much as I love Nona, I feel that the true hero of this series is Abbess Glass. The way she sees the world and its most probable futures is insane, but her ability to recruit others to serve as her knowing and willing pawns is even more astounding. She is everything I love about characters such as Gandalf and Dumbledore and McGonagall all mingled into one person. I’m just so blown away by her. I am also incredibly impressed by the development the author gave to many of the other nuns, especially the likes of Pan, Wheel, and Tallow. What Lawrence was able to do here was show that any female, whether aged or youthful, regardless of talent or skill level or interests, has the capacity to be a hero of epic proportions. I have never read another book or series with so many strong, well-developed, completely epic female characters, let alone but a male author. I applaud Lawrence so much for this amazing cast of nuns and novices.

“…the application of knowledge could unlock doors that her flaw-blades couldn’t so much as scratch, and it could bring down those so mighty that no feat of arms would stay their hand.”

“To sow knowing that you will not reap is an old kind of love, and love has always been the best key for unlocking the future.”

I also want to take a moment to recognize Lawrence’s wonderful way with words. He paints lovely pictures with his sentences, and they are a pleasure to read. I would consider this series literary fantasy, as the writing is not only important but almost a character in its own right. Consider this sentence as an example:
“The fighter was young, still in his early twenties perhaps, and his muscles crowded along his bones, the battle for space heaping them up in great, veined mounds.”

I think that is a marvelous description, one I can clearly envision while also appreciating the way Lawrence built the sentence. Because that’s how I feel about Lawrence’s prose; it’s not written, but crafted. The quote below is one of the most important realizations of the book, in my opinion, and it’s such a beautiful sentiment that I had to share it here. I’ve removed all possible spoilers and tried to only include the most philosophical elements.

“At Sweet Mercy they made a weapon of me. They honed every skill into a sharp edge. They put a sword in my hand, because there will always be foes who much be opposed, always violence that much be met with violence.
But that is not the heart of Sweet Mercy. It was always the faith. Always the notion that all men and women are our brothers and sisters. And that faith doesn’t end with borders. It doesn’t care about heresies use to divide us, or whether you speak your prayers to a white star, or to the fields and forests and stones…
Not as a weapon but as a tool. As a healer might used the knife, sometimes to cut, but ultimately to heal.”

I can’t recommend this trilogy highly enough. Whether you’re a fantasy fan or not, this is a series well worth your time. It has so much to offer to so many, and I dearly hope that it acquires the audience and notoriety it deserves. I feel that Nona’s story offers many profound lessons that could bring our world healing and understanding of one another if we would all take its words to heart. There is tragedy in Holy Sister, and the mourning it brings, but there is also vitality and passion and selflessness. It’s a beautiful book that I can’t wait for the world to read.

“Moons might rise and fall, empires wax and wane, even the stars come and go, but there are constants, too, and thought the story of our kind is ever-changing it is also always the same.”

All above quotations were taken from an uncorrected proof, and are subject to change upon publication.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,588 reviews1,466 followers
May 7, 2019
2.5 Show Me More Stars

Both Red Sister and Grey Sister made my top 10 lists the years they were published. I really wanted to love Holy sister just as much, but with a lot of final books in a series there was just something missing or my expectations were too high or a combo of both things happened and it ended up being just okay. I seem to be in the minority though as most readers seemed to really like it.

I will give props to Mark Lawrence that at the beginning of the book he does a ‘The Story So Far’ with all the pertinent stuff that needs to be remembered from the prior books just in case it has been the full year between reads. I really like this feature and wish a few more authors would use it is reminders of what happened don’t really flow with their narrative.

The story is told in two time lines, both one in the past and one in the present leading up to the main battle. The main issue I have is that this turned into a tell me book, instead of a show me book. For example, a major character died somewhere in-between these two points and it is just thrown out there like a conversational statement ‘I had fish for lunch’ ‘Dollface was dead’ ‘I like cheese.’ I thought I forgot that from the last book, I went back to the last book just to be sure but nope Dollface was alive at the end of that book. It was jarring, really.

There were other character deaths off page, in extremely underwhelming ways. A relationship between Nona and Regol, again completely off page and in-between the past present story telling. I wouldn’t have minded that if we ever really saw them together in this book, but we didn’t. Joeli ends up back at the monastery too again off page she is just there. By then I was frustrated with how the story was being laid out that it just all started to bother me.

Then there was a lot of traveling on the ice, with Zole who used to be somewhat mysterious and I loved her but in this she just played flat. There is a reason for that but I was really bored while they hung out on the ice trying to get back to the monestary with a ship heart in tow. Sometimes traveling just doesn’t work well for me.

Sister Pan (or Path) had one of the best scenes in the entire book. I completely loved what she did in the war effort, it was pretty amazing if you thought about it. Nona while a great warrior as ever and still one of my favorite characters seemed just a little too much the chosen one

I also enjoyed the stuff with the moon and getting control of it and what it seemed like it could really be. I was a little disappointed that the fight with Sister Thorn didn’t end up being as important as we thought it was going to be after the tease of book 1. It was again something that just fell a little flat. I also struggled to but into the fact that Glass is a master plotter and set everyone and everything in motion before her death. I loved her chapters in the last book and felt like Holy sister was missing some of the magic that can come from having multiple PoVs

The ending is satisfactory. There were a few deaths I could have done without and I could have done with a little more than a hand hold at the very end of this but I liked where Nona ended up. I could definitely see more books in this series or short stories and I’ll read them all. But if there aren’t any others I feel like we are left in a very good place for this series.
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 4 books322 followers
March 23, 2023
"Moons might rise and fall, empires wax and wane, even the stars come and go, but there are constants too, and though the story of our kind is ever-changing it is also always the same."

Holy Sister is the perfect finale to one of my all-time favorite series, The Book of the Ancestor. All of the characters are wonderfully developed, and the ending has a huge emotional impact on multiple levels.

I love everything about this series, especially the wonderful friendships that develop among our main cast of characters. Nona Grey is one of the best protagonists of any modern fantasy, with an equally strong supporting cast.

Mark Lawrence is a master writer. His writing is elegant and carefully polished, but without being flowery. Every word counts. Every sentence has a purpose.

Fans of The Book of the Ancestor should also check of the new Book of the Ice trilogy, which takes place in the same world of Abeth. You won't be disappointed, especially when you reach the second volume, The Girl and the Mountain, where the strong connections to The Book of the Ancestor become apparent.

P.S. To enhance the experience of reading Holy Sister, listen to "Moon Song" by Phoebe Bridgers during the end of Chapter 28. It's the perfect accompaniment to one of my favorite scenes in the book. 🌕
Author 1 book356 followers
December 20, 2018
Six times.
This book made me cry six times.
One of them was two whole days after I finished the damn thing.

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Nona Grey, Lano Tacsis brought two armies and eight Noi-Guin, the deadliest assassins on the face of the earth. And of those eight Noi-Guin, one of them, the Singular himself, was rumored to be more deadly than the other seven together. Nona has two options. Fight, or run. But where can one run, when the whole world is on fire? The never-ending march of ice has forced Queen Adoma to bring her undefeated army on the doorstep of the Empire, and not even the Moon itself could be a sufficient defense against her.
Or could it?

"The Book of the Ancestor says that for everything there is a season. This was a time to reap. A time for death. A time to die."

I thought a lot about what I should say in this review. After all, you can only talk so many times about an author's prose, his talent in world-building and characterization, or how great a story-teller he is in general, and I've done that ten times in the past. This is my eleventh review for a Mark Lawrence novel, and I've run out of praise. I doubt anyone who hasn't read the first two books would read this review anyway, and those who have won't need me to tell them how great this series is, so I'll keep this one short and only talk about the story itself, without spoilers.

You can summarize Holy Sister, or The Book of the Ancestor in general, in one Game of Thrones quote. "If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention". Those who have read The Broken Empire know to expect a bittersweet ending in every Mark Lawrence story, and those who haven't, well.... let's just say you aren't as tough as you think you are. You WILL curse. You WILL mourn. You WILL cry. But the most important thing is that you won't see any violence for the sake of violence. Mark Lawrence never kills, maims, or brings the story of a character to an end simply to make a statement or bring stronger emotions out of the reader. It's just that every story should end at the right time and place, and he knows them better than anyone.

Bittersweet ending aside, the whole book was a hell of a ride. The fast pace and the rising tempo that I've come to love in Mark's books kept me immersed in the story start to finish despite the back-and-forth chapters, through which Mark tells us two different stories at the same time - one in the past and one in the present, in the same way he did in The Broken Empire. And now that I mentioned The Broken Empire... Be aware of Easter eggs. I spotted two of them, but chances are there were more, hiding in plain sight for me to find on my second reading.

Finally, although Holy Sister brings the story of several characters to an end, it leaves others open for Mark to come back in the future, so expect to see more of Abeth... and, well, maybe, just maybe, more of Nona Grey.
Profile Image for Adam.
365 reviews160 followers
January 1, 2019
Growing up can be tough. One day you’re sneaking home past curfew from a sexy rendezvous with your partner, and the next day you’re being hunted across a frozen wasteland carrying a relic that’s trying to poison your mind. We can all relate. But just in case you can’t, then the concluding entry in Nona Grey’s story will bring you up to date. In Holy Sister, the third and final entry in his Book of the Ancestor series, Mark Lawrence has crafted a powerful and heartbreaking ending to Nona’s story. Like Lawrence’s earlier trilogies The Broken Empire and The Red Queen’s War, there exists a fine balance of tragedy and hope in a world on the eve of an apocalypse. The author excels at weaving compelling tales of humanity as it is pushed to the brink of extinction, and The Book of the Ancestor series is his strongest work to date.

(Warning: I will be discussing events related to Red Sister and Grey Sister below. If you haven’t read them yet, turn back now.)

One of the more interesting aspects of the story is its narrative structure. We spend much of the early part of the book jumping back and forth between two time periods. When we last left Nona and Zole and the rest of the survivors from Sherzal’s palace, they were being hunted for their stolen shipheart. We spend some chapters following up on those events and discover the true fallout of the Convent of Sweet Mercy’s actions. The second timeline jumps a few years forward, and we pick up with Nona and her small group of allies enacting a mysterious plan amidst an unstoppable Scithrowl invasion. I appreciated this novel approach to the story structure as opposed to breaking it into two halves with a time jump in the middle. Discovering the cryptic details of the plan while switching off to an action-fueled escape sequence pushed the story forward at a tremendous pace.

The time jump also brings Nona into adulthood. Her age is still unknown, even to her, but she is likely pushing 19 or 20. Her burden of responsibility has expanded beyond just her circle of friends. She is feeling the weight of the world quite literally closing in on her. This serves as an accurate metaphor for achieving the early stages of adulthood: the world grows larger and smaller all at once. Although she has shown great leaps in maturity since her early days in the convent, Nona still struggles to make the right choices. She is the most powerful when she is fueled by anger, but those instances don’t always lead to the best decisions. The balance that Nona finds between the two is a testament to Lawrence’s ability to provide a strong characterization that feels real and relatable. We’ve all made rash, emotion-based decisions when we were young. With Nona, it just happens to be life-or-death situations more often than not.

I’ll say little of the conclusion other than it being an incredibly emotional sendoff of characters that I’ve grown quite fond of. There are more than a few big surprises and an equal number of heartbreaks as both major and minor character arcs draw to a close. Overall, this is a brilliant series from one of the top names in speculative fiction, and will be on most “best of” lists by year’s end. Don’t miss it.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
694 reviews860 followers
October 8, 2019
4.5 stars.

Incredibly satisfying, Holy Sister is a powerful conclusion to a remarkable trilogy that shines most brilliantly with its superb characterisation.

I am truly impressed with Mark Lawrence's ability to write such realistic and relatable female characters, and to achieve that across such a wide range of age, backgrounds and personality of all the nuns and novices. I loved how he managed to make each and every one of them shine in different ways. To top it all off, it was the amazing portrayal of friendship, love and bonds between these characters that tied it all together in a most emotionally captivating narrative of sisterhood.

The main character, Nona Grey, had the most screen time and this time the entire book was dedicated entirely to her POV. Her growth and development from a fierce yet insecure young girl in the first book to a fierce and formidable young woman was one of the most compelling character arcs I've read in a long time. She has her demons and a propensity for violence, and god forbid anyone who intends to harm or hurt those she loves. But, at the end of the day, she proved to be a bigger person than both her friends and foes thought her to be. There were so many powerful moments for Nona, especially in this concluding volume. And a special mention for one of the Mistresses, which I've always suspected to be way more potent than she appeared to be, in a magnificently jaw-dropping scene during the climactic sequence.

As we've started to discover in Grey Sister, Abbess Glass was the mastermind for the ages. How she saw many steps ahead of her foes and planned the long game - all these were gradually revealed in this finale. At every single revelation, I felt the need to bow to her supreme intelligence and empathy. Let's be frank, you need to have both to first understand how others will react and then figure out how to line up the counter-moves ahead of time. All I can say to avoid spoilers is a quote taken from book itself.

Lessons were over. The closed world of the convent was about to be broken open. The endgame had arrived.

To this end, the plotting across the entire trilogy has been one of the tightest, most coherent, consistent and continuous that I've come across in the many years that I've read fantasy. And it was definitely the best amongst all of Lawrence's books so far. The interwoven threads of the plot, worldbuilding and the character development were well-bonded and created a seamless narrative across all these aspects of great fantasy storytelling.

Speaking of worldbuilding, there was a reference which triggered a memory and an earlier conjecture that I've made while reading Red Sister, regarding the world that Abeth might turned out to be. Perhaps I will find out more when I read the next follow-up series, and its first book, The Girl and The Stars. For now, I'll just say that Book of the Ancestor is a trilogy not to be missed.

Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,548 reviews2,934 followers
January 4, 2019
* I was sent this for free from the author in exchange for an honest review *

I am so very glad that this final book was so brilliant, I have enjoyed all of the books in this series, but I would have to say that this is my favourite one and it's a superb ending to the series. I found it so easy to get back into the story and pick up where I left off, and I actually ended up binge-reading the entire book in one sitting! If that's not a sign of how engrossing it was I can't say what is!

The story picks up just after the ending of book #2 but we also see two timelines throughout the book. We have 'three years previous' and 'present day' and the 'three years previous' story is the continuation from the end of book #2. I really liked the mixture of these two timelines becuase it would reveal something to you but then you would have to see how this thing came to be and it was a constant mystery until it was revealed. I also found that there was a lot that happened that I didn't anticipate, and that's always really fun.

Nona is our main character, but of course we focus on the events of the whole world and the growing concerns about war as the ice presses in. This book probably focuses in on more of the powers/training and shows the 'real-world' uses for it. We get to see Nona and her friends put to the test multiple times and they show off what it means to be a Holy Sister, Grey Sister (assassins) and Red Sister (warriors). Each of these paths is dependant upon the magic of the Path in it's own way, and the book of the ancestor, and we get to see how Nona and her friends have learned from the past and honed their skills.

Another element I found fantastic was the relationships and bonds we see in this story. Nona has already formed many bonds and she is fiercely loyal, but seeing her keep her word and seeing the love and compassion she has for those who matter was wonderful. This story had a lot of heart, and it was a solidly good book becuase of that very human side.

In the end, this was just fun, it's a solid story with some great moments and characters and I loved reading it. There was so much about the plot and world I wanted to know more about, but it worked really well as a series-ender, not leaving too much unanswered but leaving potential at the end. I definitely rate it and I would give it a solid 4.5*s overall :) Highly recommend the whole series :)
Profile Image for William Gwynne.
344 reviews1,322 followers
July 5, 2021
I now have a YouTube channel that I run with my brother, called 'The Brothers Gwynne'. Check it out - The Brothers Gwynne

"It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size."

This book was an incredible ending to a trilogy that I have truly loved. It finished in a brilliant culmination of events that was extremely satisfying and unexpected with the largest and most epic conflicts of the series so far taking place and the consequences of defeat exceeding those of before with their severity.

Each and every great aspect of the previous two books in the series was present within this, with the wonderful characters, intricate plot and fast pace continuing to the very last page.

Holy Sister was split into two timelines, which was very well done as each one revealed the answers to questions presented in the other and efficiently informed me of the events which had passed in the period of time from the ending of Grey Sister to the present time of Holy Sister.

I have never read a Mark Lawrence series before so I did not know what to expect of this book, but now I know. Brutal, heart wrenching and epic. That is one way to describe this finale. Characters I have grown to love succumbed to death in manners which were extremely emotional as Mark Lawrence once again showed that he is not worried about killing his characters.

I was constantly tense whilst reading this as I fretted about the lives of my favourite characters and hoped for the deaths of those who had enacted so many wrongs upon the protagonists. I was not left disappointed with the latter.

Holy Sister met my hopes and exceeded them as it delivered a great conclusion to one of my favourite trilogies that I have ever read. I will remember Nona Grey as one of my favourite fantasy characters for her combination of loyalty and genius.

Thank you Mark Lawrence for a thoroughly enjoyable journey taken through the entirety of the series, I will definitely miss the characters and world you have created and know I will be thinking about them a lot during the next few weeks as I suffer from a book hangover.
Profile Image for Nicole.
718 reviews1,785 followers
August 28, 2021
3.5 stars

One of the books that make me wish badly that Goodreads would have a half star rating!
It was better than Grey Sister and I'm glad I read it (even after months of its release date) and the story was wrapped up satisfyingly. It was a very fun journey and I'm surely going to read Prince of Fools (I was skeptical after Prince of Thorn). However, this book had its share of downfalls to me.

The pros:
- very fun
- great characters (Nona, Kettle, Apple to name a few)
- a fast read full of action

The cons:
- important events off-page (such as an important character's death and how on earth Joeli was bac so easily to the convent?!)
- the romance!!!!
- Nona was very overpowered
- some things did not make much sense

I'm trying to keep this as short as possible so I will wrap it up saying I'm looking forward to reading any of Mr. Lawrence's new books as long it's not prince of thorns 2.0. I disagreed with some of Nona's pov and favored Zole but it's normal . This trilogy was very fun and I'm surely going to recommend it in the future. As for whether it's a memorable one or not, I can't tell yet. I really liked many characters but did not connect personally with them.
Profile Image for  Charlie.
477 reviews215 followers
May 9, 2019
Holy Sister is a beautiful and staggering finale to one of the most remarkable series I’ve ever read. I’ve just seen Avengers Endgame and watched Arya disembowel the Night King and finishing the ridiculously brilliant Holy Sister is right up there with as some of the most epic fantasy moments of my life. This series just has so much heart and soul. I’ve enjoyed Mark’s characters before, laughed with them, been horrified by their actions and in awe of the courage but this is the first time I’ve loved one. I think having my own little girl has made me a bit more susceptible to being worried as hell regardless of the rationality of the fear. I tell you right now though my little Maddie is absolutely not going to join a convent of killer nuns!

This is a fitting ending for The Book of The Ancestor trilogy. It’s set over two time lines which lets us again enjoy a passage of time without missing out on the good stuff that happens in between. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. The story bounces well between the two time lines, the technique providing some heart pounding cliffhangers as well as welcome changes of tone and pace. That being said, I’m never fond of learning that one character is dead in the future timeline as my interactions with them are then dominated by the threat of their impending death. Especially when they are one of the coolest and most badass characters of all time.

As usual with Mark’s writing we explore the hundreds of shades of grey that exist in his worlds, rarely the black or white. A lot of time has passed for the characters since we began this journey in the convent and they have all grown in depth and complexity, no more so than Nona and Zole, who will forever be two of my favourite characters along with Abbess Glass. Thinking back to where these two young ladies and began and how much they have endured it is a testament to their strength and Mark's skill that they remain grounded and believable characters.

"Zole dear, remember to hold on to what makes us love you. If you reach your journey's end without that, you will have gone nowhere. And Nona, my fierce little Nona, remember mercy. Mercy for others in victory. Mercy for yourself too. You deserve happiness, child. Never forget it."

If you love great fantasy, if you love amazing characters that will make your heart soar and if you truly want to escape to a different world The Book of the Ancestor Trilogy is an absolute must read.
Profile Image for Lucy.
413 reviews601 followers
May 15, 2020

The Book of the Ancestor says that for everything there is a reason. This was a time to real. A time for death. A time to die.

So after the ending of the second book I was excited to start the last book in this trilogy. Immediately we are thrown into what happens after the events of book 2- what happens to the escapees. The book follows the “Present day” with Nona in Holy class, 3 years after the events of book 2, as well as “Three years earlier” in the immediate aftermath of the events taking place in Book 2. Most of the POV in this is from Nona’s eyes.

During this book there is a war approaching- fear riddled on all sides on the planet of Abeth. To protect the Emperor and the Convent Nona must be brave and partake in challenges in order to save everything she holds dear.

It was great to see old friends and enemies making an appearance and see how they effect Nona’s actions. It was also good to see other parts of Abeth (not just the convent) especially with descriptions to the ice, black ice and war torn lands.

This book held so many discoveries that it was difficult to put down, I needed to find out more about this world and the importance of the Shiphearts and what they’re used for. There was also a lot of friendship, bravery and loyalty at play (I love the sisterhood that Nona has with her close friends).

However, there were also many heartbreaking losses in this book, much needed revenge, and bloody descriptions of war and kickass nuns.

This book was fast paced and kept me turning the pages. This book had an open end to leave room for future enemies to make themselves present.

I do however wish there was more information about the enemies and their histories/ politics. I was curious to learn more about the Scithrowl Queen - Adoma, as well as wanting to see more about the emperor and why he has difficult relations with his sisters.
Profile Image for Lau ♡.
356 reviews255 followers
November 21, 2022
So much death and hurt lay before her. So much blood that the storm drains would soon overflow. Murder, murder, and more murder. What else could they expect when the ice kept closing? All of mankind reduced to wild animals in an evershrinking cage.

I thought I loved Red Sister. When I read Grey Sister, I thought ‘no, this is real love.’ Now? I want to scream because I can’t remember the last time I loved a series so much. Book of the Ancestor fails in the 1% category of books that could drive you to read thousands of them with the hope of finding another hit. It’s a new universe inserting itself inside my heart, leaving me full of happiness and the bittersweet feeling of knowing it’d take a while to reach that level of greatness again.

I guess I should be happy that not all the stories are like this one, or I would become a zombie that only gets out of bed to pick up more books.

Ara by BanishedShadow

Reading Holy Sister was like realizing you had been watching a tiny portion of a bigger painting. The characters you had fallen in love with are starting to see themselves as puppets playing a chess game that has been going on for decades without they taking notice. As the book progresses, pieces of a puzzle you didn’t know existed start to come together while the horrible feeling of betrayal starts to grow inside you. You The MC have been lied to since the beginning, and every single movement made by them was predicted long ago by the masterminds playing the game.

Between the complex characters, the brilliant execution, uniqueness of the story and the talented writing, I only have words of praise. Finishing Holy Sister left me breathless, with the ache to reread everything to track all the clues I missed. I think people who love strategy games as much as character-driving stories and don’t mind slow beginnings deliberately vague where the MC/author will mislead the reader can enjoy this one. I maintain that Book of the Ancestor is often a huge hit or a miss, but it was perfect for me. I’m extremely glad I looked further the mixed reviews and gave it a try, for it will forever own a part of my heart.


By mayticks

Book of the Ancestor:
1. Red Sister: 4.5 stars
2. Grey Sister: 5 stars
3. Holy Sister: 6 stars
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,010 reviews1,406 followers
July 25, 2021
This is the third instalment in the Book of the Ancestor series.

I have adored the entire trilogy, but this final instalment was its crowning glory. Nona Grey was the fierce protagonist I always want to read about. Here the reader witnessed her overcoming her final trials, in order to become a full Sister of Sweet Mercy, as war loomed ever closer on the horizon. Most of her challenges soon proved to be internal ones, as she grew both in character and in my heart.
Profile Image for Megan ❀.
434 reviews206 followers
April 9, 2019

ARC provided by Berkley Publishing Group via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts and review.

This defied every single expectation I had. I'm honestly in awe of how incredible this was. But before you pick up Holy Sister, I HIGHLY recommend you pick up Bound, a short story that takes place between the events of Grey Sister and Holy Sister. Not only is it a hell of a fun time, but it has some details that make the events of Holy Sister feel more well-rounded.

After absolutely LOVING Red Sister and liking Grey Sister, Holy Sister is the best of both worlds. A large chunk of the book follows two timelines: one immediately following the events of Grey Sister and another that takes place three years later, in the present moment. I really enjoyed this method of story-telling in Mark Lawrence's The Broken Empire trilogy, and it's just as effective in this novel. The two timelines complement each other really well, each slowly revealing information that complicates your understanding of the events of the other timeline. But if juggling two timelines isn't your cup of tea, rest assured that everything settles into the present moment about halfway through the novel. From there, you just gotta buckle your seat belt and nestle in for the ride because WOW is it a journey.

Holy Sister went in a direction I really didn't expect, and for that I love it all the more. Mark Lawrence sets up a lot of threads in the previous two novels, but never so obviously that he reveals his hand. I honestly had no idea what Holy Sister would look like, and its lack of predictability for me, someone who's usually pretty good at guessing what'll happen next, just made the whole story entirely more entertaining.

The world-building really shines in this novel. If in previous novels the world has been a backdrop to Nona's adventures, in Holy Sister the history of Abeth and the magic that governs it actively shape her story. I really don't want to say too much and spoil the direction the story takes, but if you've been dying for more detail about the mysteries of this world, Holy Sister has some answers. I'm always really impressed and amazed by the intricacies of Lawrence's world-building, and this novel was no exception.

Okay, can we just talk about the fact that Nona is a bisexual icon?? From book one, I felt the bi vibes resonate in my bones, and so reading "Bound" just about made my life (which is why you should go read it!!!). Even though the romantic elements in this novel are significantly toned down from "Bound," seeing Nona exist on the page as an explicitly and canonically bisexual character meant so much to me. As a bi woman, Nona Grey makes me feel seen.

Also, shout out to that reference to the Broken Empire trilogy. I don't know if it's just a reference, or a subtle connection, or something even deeper than that, but I'm definitely bumping my reread of the Broken Empire trilogy up because I'm dying to know what it means.

I think what best sums up my feelings for this book is this: Holy Sister had me on the verge of tears multiple times throughout reading, and I cried after I finished it. My love for these characters reached maximum height during this novel and seeing their fates, happy and not, was like taking a punch directly to the heart. I don't think my words are adequate enough to express how much I loved this conclusion to such a stunning trilogy.
Profile Image for Jody .
201 reviews132 followers
May 14, 2019
“A million words won’t push the ice back, not even the breadth of a finger. But one word will break a heart, two will mend it, and three will lay the highest low.”

Holy Sister is Mark Lawrence’s third and final book in the Book of the Ancestor trilogy. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this final installment and thought the story was wrapped up nicely. Although, it wouldn’t break my heart to read more about Nona in the future.

Nona has grown and suffered so much since Red Sister, but she still holds on to a piece of that determined little girl we have all came to love. A coming of age story is a favorite trope of mine if done correctly, and Mark has mastered it in this trilogy. Nona is not infallible and has to rely on her friends to accomplish her goals. This made her truly relatable and an even more well-rounded heroin. Her character development through each book was well executed. I believe this is what makes coming of ages stories so fun for me. Seeing the character grow and learn from their mistakes, but still hold onto a part of that character we first come to know and love.

The layout of the storyline was well thought out. The two time lines throughout the first part of the book made for an interesting read. The time line following right after the end of book 2 made things very interesting for the current time line 3 years later. There was a lot that happened the reader has to catch up on, and Mark dishes it out a little at a time to keep you wondering about certain things until they are finally revealed. It was very well done, and kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Speaking of the end. No spoilers! Don’t worry! Those last 100 pages were a pulse pounding, nerve wrecking, hell of a ride. I had my theories about how this would end, but nothing could prepare me for what actually happened. I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I was in some of these characters. The intensity level didn’t let up until it was over. If this is how Mark finishes all of this trilogies, I have some catching up to do with his previous books.

I guess the only thing I could complain about is this was too short. I want more Nona and more of this interesting world, known as Abeth, Mark has created. I’m not sure about the former, but I know we have more of the latter coming in a new trilogy next year. Until then, I will just have to gobble up the books Mark has published until The Girl and the Stars is released.

“The Book of the Ancestor says that for everything there is a season. This was a time to reap. A time for death. A time to die.”

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars ****
Profile Image for Claudia.
947 reviews524 followers
March 18, 2019
All leaves must fall in time […] The lives we lived fall away from us, but something remains, something that is part of the tree.

I’m not a fan of Mark Lawrence, however, this trilogy is one of the best. Is not an epic fantasy but a mix between a grim-dark coming-of-age story with tinges of sci-fi. I usually do not like the blend between the two genres, but somehow, Lawrence does a great job mingling them.

Holy Sister is the final installment in this series and an excellent one. There are two timelines in it: first picks up events from where Grey Sister stopped and the other three years later, when Nona must make her choice from the four orders of nuns.

The war between Queen Adoma and the Emperor Crucical is at the door, the Corridor is narrower by the day and salvation resides in bringing the four shiphearts together to find and open the Ark and take control of the Moon.

There are lots of twists, fierce and gruesome battles and quite a few surprises on the way, some of them mouth-gaping. Our heroines are as complex as in the other books, even more here, where all aces must be pulled out of the sleeves in order to survive.

All in all, it was a hell of a ride and I think Nona made her way in the top 10 fantasy heroines of all times.

People lie, Nona: they steal, they cheat, they’re unfaithful. People hurt you, they let you down. They sell you out.’
‘It doesn’t mean I have to be like that.’

No, she’s not. And you can’t but love her.

>>> My thanks to HarperCollins UK/ HarperVoyager for offering me this ebook via NetGalley <<<


Review of Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1) 4*

Review of Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #2) 5*
Profile Image for Steven.
1,051 reviews384 followers
April 9, 2019
Sincerest of thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Mark Lawrence, you've done it. You've created a high-ish, dark-ish trilogy that not only was executed perfectly, but also helped restore my faith in the fantasy genre. I don't read a lot of fantasy, mostly because it's long-winded, overly descriptive, and just plain boring (at least in the past I've felt it so, mostly because my mood for fantasy had long-since died). But, over the past few years, the fantasy genre has started to rejoin my reading repertoire, mostly because of two big reason: Brandon Sanderson and Mark Lawrence. Sanderson's first Mistborn trilogy and the Stormlight Archives went a long way towards rekindling my love for the genre, but one author can't single-handedly carry the burden of the genre alone. So when Grey Sister (the second of the trilogy by Mark Lawrence) showed up in my Berkley newsletter, I took a look at Red Sister to see if it would be of interest. It had rave reviews among friends, so I accepted the Grey Sister ARC and got my copy of Red Sister so I could read it first. And boy, was I not disappointed!

This trilogy is a roller coaster ride! We meet Nona when she's but a wee pup, and we watch her grow throughout the trilogy into a strong, confident, amazing woman, capable of changing the world. I don't want to say too much, because of spoilers, but the growth in this character alone is enough to impress, but the cast of secondary characters is fantastic as well.

I HIGHLY recommend this trilogy. Can't wait to give Lawrence's other trilogies a try soon, but I'm sad to be finished with Nona and her friends. They were a pleasure to discover.
Profile Image for sofia (sam willows).
286 reviews354 followers
June 26, 2020
i have deleted my rating in light of the recent harassment (non-sexual) stories against mark lawrence. this trilogy has a special place in my heart, but i don't want an author like this to profit from my words.


i hope everybody i ever meet is aware of how much i love this series. it's such a big part of me that tbh it should be a prerequisite

first impression:

this is without a doubt one of the best books i’ve ever read. wow.
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,264 reviews201 followers
January 24, 2019
The Book of Ancestor says that for everything there is a season. This was a time to reap. A time for death.

Men don’t cry. We clench teeth, block emotions and rationalize. And yet Holy Sister hit me hard. Really hard. It draws most arcs to a world-shattering conclusion only a few will survive.

Feel warned and be prepared. Just don’t set Mark Lawrence’s house on fire as I’d love to read more books from him.

I could, probably, and only when pressed, highlight flaws of the book, but I have no desire to do so. If you’re emotionally involved in this story and care for characters, you won’t be able to put it down. You’ll laugh, feel terrified moments later and devastated near the end.

If, on the other hand, you’re a cerebral reader who tends to overanalyze things, you may find final battle messy, and the use of artefacts questionable. 

Some of Abeth’s mysteries are solved, while others continue to torment my mind. We learn more about the Path, a mysterious and invisible line of energy that twists and turns through the universe. Nona’s Quantal traits allow her to tap directly into its power. Charged with its energies, her destructive powers become almost nuclear and the mayhem we witness in the last 30% of the book blew my mind.

Lawrence’s writing style remains distinct, addictive and perfectly quotable. Book of the Ancestor series is one of the best things I read in recent years. The ending, while more bitter than sweet, was fitting. 

A must read.

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