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  • Red Sister

  • First Book of the Ancestor
  • Written by: Mark Lawrence
  • Narrated by: Heather O'Neill
  • Length: 19 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (225 ratings)
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Red Sister cover art

Red Sister

Written by: Mark Lawrence
Narrated by: Heather O'Neill
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Publisher's Summary

From the international best-selling author of the Broken Empire Trilogy comes the first in a brilliant new breakout fantasy series. A searing novel set in a brand-new world, this series follows a young girl who enters a convent where girls are selected to train in religion, combat, or magic. Nona is selected to learn combat and finds herself at the center of an epic battle for empire on the outer reaches of a dying universe.

©2017 Boblinga Ltd. (P)2017 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Red Sister

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

A great book with a great voice

Mark Lawrence did not disappoint yet again, and Heather O'Neill is an artist when it comes to narration and keeping you fully attentive and engaged in the story.

The Books of the Ancestor are set in a futuristic planet, to which humans have moved. While this world has magic, humans are humans, so the world does not lack the same human tendencies to do good and bad (more bad than good), and does not lack the darkness we have seen in Lawrence's past books. If you are a fan of dark fantasy, where the story does not revolve around only magic, I would highly recommend this book. If you are looking for an audiobook, look no further than this one!



#Audible1

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful

Great world and character building. The story is engulfing and hard to put down. The performance by the reader was excellent. Can’t wait to listen to the next instalment.

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2 people found this helpful

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

Bad Ass Dark Fantasy

This was my 4th Mark Lawrence read/listen. It is fast paced and a great storyline. He is one of the stand out authors if you like grimdark fantasy. Highly recommend this listen. This trilogy has cemented my love of Mark Lawrence's writing. The narrator is great, as well.

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1 person found this helpful

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

Amazing Start to a Fantasy Series!

I followed because I thought that if I turned back then I would keep turning back, turning away from every other fear, from every new thin, and that I would never leave that place to which my father had brought me. I would live, toil, grow old, and die, all within sight of my mother's hut, and the ice would remain forever a line glimpsed in the distance, and I wouldn't matter to the world nor would it matter to me.

- page 432

This was one of the best Adult fantasy books I've read in a very long time. I have so many positive things and thoughts about this one. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a good magic system, badass nuns, and women who know being vulnerable can be strong as well.

Everything that Nona has suffered through has made her stronger - and recognize that there is always room to love and be loved. I liked her understanding that people can be your friend even if you never outright say it and that she is so loyal to people. Nona is strong, young woman who does everything she can to protect those she cares about. I liked that even though she is clearly strong and going to be a part of the prophecy, she still needs training and education to get her to exactly where she has to be.

I loved seeing how these girls started by being somewhat enemies and then becoming friends. I think there were good dynamics between all the female characters in this one. There were interesting relationships and they were expertly explored in this without making the females into stereotypes or taking away their womanness, which is something I was a little concerned about since this is written by a man.

The magic system and the way the world building works is incredible. It was one of the most creative ones I've read in a while. I am excited to see how it grows in the rest of this series (since the next book is already out!!!).

If you are looking for a good fantasy read, this is the book for you! I highly recommend it if you are looking to transition from YA to Adult fantasy - or just enjoy Adult fantasy to begin with. You'll love Nona, the badass nuns, and that this has a lot of action!

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

interesting world building and characters


A little bit confusing at the beginning when bouncing between different time frames. it was a story i could listen to for a bit and put it down.
Story strarted a little slow, but the interesting characters and world building kept me coming back and it got more interesting as it progressed. Narrator did a great job giving the characters unique voices and personality.

Enjoyed it enough to pick up the second one, I want to see how the story plays out.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • T
  • 2021-02-15

Holy ****!!

This was amazing!! It's now 1:55 AM but I NEEDED to finish listening to this. Wow.

I already bought other books and can't wait to get to them. But I will because I need sleep. (no regrets)

My one issue with this is that there are a few parts (3-5 parts) where the audio really changes and the reader sounds clean(?somehow?distant?) and mechanical. It never lasts long but it's jarring. Still so amazing.

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

Excellent Trilogy

An Excellent Story with Strong Female Heroes,
I found the world to be interesting, the magic had new twist and the fighting to be satisfying.

I found the first Book in the Trilogy to be overall superb
highly recommended if you like young Female heroes in a medieval setting with a twist.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Ehh okay... I finished it

I found the story kind going everywhere at times, Nona didn’t have an overall goal till the end, and the story just kind of dragged her all over the place. The beginning grabs you but it doesn’t keep you, especially after the trial.

I got kind of bored in the middle of the story and thought about dropping it, so I don’t think I’ll pick up the sequel even though I enjoyed the climax of the book when I did stick with it. Overall a solid three star, interesting but nothing ground making or I will even really remember.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • R-B
  • 2020-01-25

One of my favourite fantasy reads this year

The story was compelling, the characterization on point, the world-building fascinating. I've been recommending this to everyone I know.

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

Listened every chance I got.

If you've enjoyed a Mark Lawrence book before you'll definitely like this one because it is very much in his style of writing.
The story flowed and moved pretty quickly. Never a lull, I listened every chance I got!

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  • jdykes33
  • 2017-04-15

Great Story supported by great narration

An excellent offering from Mark Lawrence, one in which he departs from the brooding grimdark tone of the broken empire setting in favor of a lighter (though still dark) coming-of-age story about a young girl, Nona, with extraordinary abilities that she doesn't understand. The writing is consistently excellent, capturing the world of Abeth with wit and often colorful strokes of language.
The middle section of the book drags slightly, but is punctuated with spurts of action to support the emotional character development that goes on between the girls. If anything, I enjoyed the book even more because of the middle third's more relaxed pace and emphasis on the daily lives of the young novices contrasts nicely with quick beginning and dramatic ending of the story.
As for the narrator, don't listen to the people who say she ruined the book. The narration fits perfectly in tone and delivery. Each main character has a distinct voice and mannerisms. The narrator's performance of Nona deserved much praise, and I adored her Irish accent. As anyone who listens to a lot of fantasy audiobooks can tell you, the generic male British narrator gets old, and Heather O'Neil's colorful performance enhances the text and makes it vastly more memorable.

Overall, I would highly recommend this audiobook. Engaging and well-performed, the story of the Sweet Mercy Convent will stick with you long after the final line is delivered.
9/10

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244 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • D. P.
  • 2017-04-21

Awesome start to a new trilogy & a talented reader

Red Sister is a fun read, not too dark but certainly not PG either. The setting is rather unique, I'm definitely intrigued and can't wait to see where it goes. I don't like to give too much away about plot but I will mention one thing that I appreciated. Our hero is no Mary Sue. She is nonetheless deadly and rather awesome. Lawrence did a great job of finding that balance.

I was really impressed with Heather O'Neil as a narrator. Along with a nice reading voice she used distinct but believable voices for each character. I really hope to hear much more of her work!

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107 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • McKell
  • 2017-12-27

Hard to finish, but I made it!

This book had such good reviews that I picked it up during the Black Friday sale. Unfortunately, I found the majority of the book quite dull and hard to get through. The only part of the book that I really got into was maybe the last two hours. Even still, the death of characters didn’t resonate with me at all. I wasn’t sad, just ready to move on.

Some reviews I read put this on par with the Kingkiller Chronicles. Having completed the book, I find the comparison to be offensive. This isn’t even in the same arena.

Other reviews said that the all female cast might have made men a bit out of touch with the characters, but I disagree. I’m a woman and I felt out of touch with the characters. I think it is just the writing.

I’m looking forward to getting to a new book that will, hopefully, leave me feeling much more satisfied with my experience. Finishing a book should never feel like a chore, but this one was for me. I’m glad other enjoyed it; however, that love does not transcend to all readers. If you buy it, I hope you enjoy it. I won’t be terribly surprised if you don’t though.

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65 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Damon
  • 2017-06-27

Not As Great As His Others

It pains me to say that this book didn't grab me like Lawrence's others, but it's undeniably true, and I think it should be said because many other reviewers seem to think this is his best work. I'm not one to question a reviewer's opinion, and I'm glad they all loved the book, but my opinion is more lukewarm. Lawrence is a great writer, and as some have noted, this book suggests he continues to increase in skill, but to me, the story just wasn't particularly interesting, and it seemed awfully familiar. One reviewer called it Anthony Ryan's Blood Song, but with girls, and I have to say it's an apt comparison. I really hope my mediocre view isn't due to the main characters being female rather than male, but I did find some of the girlish dialogue tiring. Reminded me of the Wheel of Time and the hours of female-only interactions, which also wore thin. Ultimately I think I must prefer more of a mixed cast (all guy books are equally problematic), and I really missed Lawrence's bizarrely twisted writing found in the prior series. It would likely be inappropriate here, as the book focuses on young girls, but I guess that's the problem. Or my problem. Still, it's a solid book, and I could see the next in the series being better, as the protagonist is definitely interesting and super badass, so the next installments could be more like his other books. As for the narration, she seemed solid to me. Strong voice acting, and despite what one reviewer said about stilted pauses, I think her pauses were perfectly timed to represent the flow of the dialogue.

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61 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John Giles III
  • 2017-04-19

Absolute Bliss

Ill start by saying Ive read a literal ton of books and I almost never leave reviews. I loved the hell out of this book! Well, I love all of his books, but still! I think this was by far the best writing he's done yet and I can't wait to see what unfolds in the next ones.

It's reminiscent of both Blood Song and Name of the Wind, but only in that it's a framed narrative and the warrior-monk coming of age bit. It's still very much it's own story with a very unique world whose people seem to have a rich history. Subtly post-apocalyptic, concise yet poetic prose, and an interesting yet mysterious (even to the reader who's in her head) main character; this book is a winner. 100%

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Zachary
  • 2017-06-23

Doesn't live up to the hype

A lot of people raved about Red Sister, but honestly I wasn't that impressed with it. The opening, middle, and end are one story arc, with the rest of the book a second arc that was supposed to catch you up. While the idea was neat, the diller story couldn't match it. The intro of the book far outweighed the rest, to the point where I almost quit reading.

The main issue I had with Red Sister was the jumps in the timeline. Maybe a physical copy doesn't have this problem, but with the way Red Sister was read I had a hard time discerning when Nona was reflecting or if the story was continuing on. Furthermore I found the character development jarring and inconsistent. A lot of time was devoted to inconsequential characters while the protagonists were often ignored.

I wish I hadn't gotten my hopes up reading other reviews because I believe it left me more disappointed in the end. As of now I don't think I would invest in the second book.

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30 people found this helpful

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  • shocker
  • 2017-04-11

Another Mark Lawrence Work of AMAZEMENT

I loved this book. It was definitely a different flavor of Empire from the Broken Empire series, but it had the same combination of elegance and edginess. I'm only disappointed in the fact that I've finished it and the next installment isn't available yet.

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23 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 2017-08-16

Ignore any review less than 3 stars...

This book isn't perfect, but it is well worth the listen. Its pacing is a little unusual and for some may feel a little drawn out, but it's not confusing or plodding.

More than anything it's well written and well performed. I'm sick of books that people give 4 and 5 star reviews to in spite of poor narration and poorly crafted or edited writing. Similarly it's frustrating to find a listen that has 1 and 2 star reviews whose worst flaw is that it's not a non-stop fantasy romp.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but initially I hesitated to spend the credit due to negative or ambivalent reviews. If you like your fantasy with a little sci-fi and unique magic systems and are patient enough to engage with a story that takes its time to develop I think this one is well worth the credit.

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22 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-01-02

Couldn't stay with the narration

Any additional comments?

I'm going to go back and read this one in print. I think the story is good, but I could barely follow the narrator. She has a lovely voice and accent, but strange pacing to her sentences and some of the main character voices were very similar to each other. The timeline jumps around too, and explores a lot of different characters, which didn't help - I don't think this is the best story to listen to.

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20 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 2017-04-09

This was so good. Loved everything about it

To me this felt like Anthony Ryan's Blood Song series but with girls. Loved everything about it.

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14 people found this helpful