Grey Sister takes place about 4 years after everything happened in Red Sister and Nona is now around 15 years of age and has just entered Grey Class. The Church Inquisitor descends upon the Convent of Sweet Mercy with alliances being formed and friendships strained.
It’s like Mark Lawrence has just pushed everything through to another level. I like that we started on familiar grounds at the Convent with Nona attending classes with some of her friends but also some new faces that prove to be not quite fond of her. But then there is also a huge change with Nona being forced out of the Convent by the Inquisitors and having to make her way out in the Empire all alone.
Nona is such an enigmatic character. She is super interesting and very unpredictable, which makes her so entertaining. I am very much invested in her as a character and I have loved to see her grow up over the course of the series so far, but still have so much to learn. I thought the addition of Keot was a fascinating touch. I liked how he sort of made Nona think hard about what is right and wrong and how far she would go in regards to killing people. He contrasted very well with her character and I enjoyed the banter between them.
I am intrigued by Zole still. She really played a minor role in this book but was still very much present throughout the course of the plot. She essentially lied for Nona during the trial with the Nuns about what happened with Joeli and she seemed to form a closer bond with Nona whilst still kind of maintaining her distance and neutrality. I immediately knew from those scenes that Zole would venture out after Nona when they forced her out.
The political machinations that are going on in the Empire, especially where Sherzal is concerned kind of bores me a little. I am not a huge fan of politically centered fantasy; though I appreciate how it furthers the plot I am much more interested in the magical, mysterious, adventurous side of the story. Though let me say Abbess Glass never fails to disappoint me in her political maneuverings!
The stakes were always very high, keeping me on the edge of my seat during my read. I loved every moment of this book and I am so ready to dive right into Holy Sister ASAP!
⭐️5/5 That cliffhanger OMG!!!
A unique twist on the classic Rumpelstiltskin tale!
Miryem is the daughter and grand-daughter of moneylenders. Her grandfather is very successful in this business but her father unfortunately isn’t so much. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. She quickly turns their troubles around and makes a reputation for herself. One day she boasts of being able to turn silver into gold and is overheard by a Staryk, one of the magical men who live in the forest and who rape and plunder for gold.
This was very immersive! I could see the foundations of the original story there but it was completely turned on its head which made me more invested. I didn’t quite know where the story was going to go next or how it would circle back to the original but boy did it!
Miryem was a little forgetful as a main female protagonist to be quite honest. I liked her initiative and her ability to trade up and earn more money for her family but there wasn’t much other than that that really swayed me to her. I much preferred Irina’s drive and her cunning as opposed to Miryem. Though I thought the two contrasted well with each other.
I like the way the story unfolded. It took me a minute to get situated into the plot, I was a little bored at first, but the action and the intrigue definitely picks up and kept me engaged. The whole storyline with Irina & Mirnatius was so very compelling. I loved the banter between the two and to see Irina evolve as a character from the forgotten daughter of a Duke to a Tsarina was wonderful to read. I really dismissed her as an insignificant character at the start of the book but she really bloomed and caught me off guard with her calculating ways.
I didn’t really know what to expect from this book but it took me by surprise. It was a bit of a slow start but I was ended up really enjoying the storyline and the setting. The Staryk’s and their magic was very unique and I liked the fact that there was the Chernobog to oppose their might. You didn’t quite know who to barrack for in the situation and it made it a lot more interesting because of it!
⭐️4/5 Slow build into a fantastical tale!
My new favourite fantasy series ever??
This was absolutely perfect in my opinion. Everything I love about fantasy all wound together to make this absolutely wonderful conclusion to a series that may have made its way to the top of my all time favourite list!
Raisa was everything that I needed her to be in this book. She followed her gut and her heart and never strayed from what she believed in until she thought all was lost and even then she still tried to figure out a way to prevent war in the Vale and save as many people as she could. She is more than willing to trade her life for the good of her people and she didn’t let me down in this book. I had a few misgivings about her throughout the series but she really took everything she has learnt and put it to play and ultimately went with her heart, which I absolutely loved!
What can I say about Han… ever since The Demon King he has steadfastly been my favourite character in this series and he has honestly gone above and beyond my expectations. He has proved time and time again that he will do anything for the people that he loves and is loyal to a fault. You never know what to expect from him and he is such an entertaining character. His arc over the course of the series as well was momentous; from a street lord at Ragmarket to the High Wizard of the Queen. I loved seeing him manipulate and also struggle in his attempt to overthrow the Bayers and how eventually his plan unfolded and came to fruition was everything that I hoped for. There was so many obstacles that Han and Raisa had to overcome and knowing that it didn’t come easy and without loss only made it more satisfying.
It delved so much deeper into the history of the Seven Realms and all my questions about what happened between Alger and Hannalea was unearthed and I was completely blindsided. I honestly didn’t predict anything that happened and I tried to go into to the book without thinking to much about what plot twists could happen next and I was rewarded with so many convoluted, intricate storylines that shocked and amazed me!
I truly loved this book and the Seven Realms series as a whole. Cinda Williams Chima is now one of my favourite fantasy authors and I will without a doubt be picking up the Stormcaster series as soon as I can get my hands on it!
⭐️5/5 stars Perfection!
The Poppy War follows the story of a young girl Rin, who is a war orphan. She grew up with a very abusive foster family who used her for free labour in their shop and also as a drug mule. Wanting to be free from that life Rin decides to study for the Keju an Empire wide test that if she passes could see her out of her home town and off to the capital to the revered Sinegard the most elite military academy in Rikan.
The world is super expansive and well developed and is one of the things I loved about this book the most. You are really able to get lost in this world and delve into the histories surrounding the Empire and how it came to be. I think R.F. Kuang really took her time developing the back story and the origin of Rikan and that is something I always appreciate from an author.
Rin is basically the reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars. I love me a strong female protagonists and seeing her arc over the course of the storyline was definitely inspiring, but some of the decisions she made kind of grated me. She was definitely right when she said that the Gods have no sway over her, she made all of the decisions that led her to that ultimate conclusion and most of those decisions didn’t sit well with me. When she chose to side with Altan over Master Jiang that’s really when I knew I wasn’t feeling her anymore. She wouldn’t heed the advice of those who have had years and even decades more experience than her. Even though she only found out she was a Speer a few months ago she already knew everything and could handle the Phoenix god just because she’s Rin. That arrogance and overconfidence was a bit of an overkill for me.
The first half of the book when Rin was in Sinegard I absolutely loved! Magical/military style school settings I just love to read and this was no different. Seeing Rin struggle to fit in, being at the bottom of her class and then clawing her way to the top was wonderful to read. All of the characters were distinct and interesting and the feud with Nezha was so entertaining! The second half however, kind of dragged a little. The siege was just a little boring for me personally; it was just a lot of Altan locked away in his office and Rin wandering around or on guard duty. I like a lot of action and intrigue and this was just waiting around for the action to happen.
The overall premise I found highly original and engaging and the magic system was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Definitely enjoyed the majority of my reading experience however, I’m a little bummed I wasn’t as in love with the story as much everyone else seems to be.
⭐️3/5 stars Really enjoyed, didn’t love!
Perfection, I absolutely LOVED this book!!!!
Nona was saved by the High Priestess Glass just as she was about to be hanged. Falsely accused of murder Nona is sought after by some powerful enemies. The Priestess sweeps her away to the Convent of Sweet Mercy where all their novices are raised to become lethal killers.
The premise of this book is everything that I love about fantasy to be honest. The school setting was wonderful, all of the different classes that Nona has to attend surrounded by the other novices. Even the different bells and their meaning were interesting and utilised throughout the course of the book.
I really liked Nona; she is such an interesting character. Super loyal to all of her friends and isn’t afraid to speak up in their defense or even sacrifice herself to save them from any harm. She has a lot of secrets and I like that we aren’t made aware of some of the more significant ones til the end of the book. I like that her ignorance was kind of used as a way to be able to explain everything in a lot more detail letting the reader absorb all the knowledge slowly. Being that a majority of the characters are very young only 9-11 they are really discovering themselves as the plot progresses.
The story is incredibly rich with magical lore and also political machinations. The whole trial that the High Priestess Glass and Nona had to endure and the eventual reasoning’s behind it really took me by surprise. I was stunned that Glass put everything in place and saved Nona just on the off chance that this would occur, putting herself and Nona in danger. Her cunning and intellect really engaged me and I was deeply invested in the plot after that!
The way that the story shifts and the revelations really start to come out was so well done, multiple layers of plot lines with different characters with different intentions. Convoluted fantasy books with a multitude of characters and magical elements are my favourite books of all time and this really blew me away!
⭐️5/5 High stakes, magical, bad ass fighting nuns, I am IN!