Friday Face Off : ‘In winter with warm tears I’ll melt the snow’ 

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Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme. This week’s theme:

‘In winter with warm tears I’ll melt the snow’ – A cover featuring icicles or snow

I had a few books in mind for this but I think I’d used them before, in fact there’s a possibility that I’ve used the book I’ve gone with although I can’t remember.  My choice this week is : Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence

My covers:

My favourite two:

My favourite this week is:

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Which is your favourite?

Next week – a cover that is steampunk

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ of one of your favourite covers)

27th July – “I saw huge buildings rise up faint and fair, and pass like dreams.”  – a cover that is steampunk

3rd August – “Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.” – a cover featuring a starry sky

10th August – ‘…Christine, who have torn off my mask and who therefore can never leave me again! – A cover with a mask

17th August – ‘Knock, knock… ‘who’s there?’ – A cover featuring a door ajar or closed

24th August – ‘To be a legend, you’ve either got to be dead, or excessively old!’ – A cover with a title featuring the word ‘legend’

31st August – ‘“Come buy our orchard fruits, Come buy, come buy’ – A cover featuring a goblin or dwarves

7th September – ‘Mirror, Mirror on the wall – A cover featuring a queen

14th September – “He had killed man, the noblest game of all, and he had killed in the face of the law of club and fang.” – A cover featuring a wolf or wolves

21st September – ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ – a cover featuring clouds

28th September – Eyes wide shut – a cover featuring eyes

5th October – “He sounded like a man who had slept well and didn’t owe too much money.” – A cover that is ‘noir’

12th October – “The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”  – A cover for a mystery novel

19th October -“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!”  – A horror cover

26th October – Trick or treat – A halloween inspired cover

2nd November – ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November,’ – A cover inspired by Bonfire Night

9th November – ‘All right! They’re spiders from Mars! You happy?’ – A cover feturing a critter of the eight legged variety

16th November – There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.’  – A scary cover

23rd November – ‘The child is in love with a human. And not just any human. A prince!’ – A cover featuring a mermaid/man

30th November – “..the children of the night. What music they make!” – a cover with a vampire

7th December – ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’ – A cover featuring a hero

14th December -“Heavy is the head that wears the crown”  – A cover featuring a crown

21st December – ‘ho, ho, ho’ – A seasonal cover

28th December – A freebie – choose one of your favourite titles and compare the covers

2019

4th January – A cover that is fresh – New beginnings for a New Year

11th January – ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king’ – A cover that depicts a novel set in the Tudor period

18th January – A cover featuring an Amulet – either in the cover or title

25th January – ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.’ – A cover featuring a monk/priest/person of the cloth

1st February – A comedy cover

8th February – ‘Hi little cub. Oh no, don’t be ssscared.’ – A cover with snakes

15th February – A heart – for Valentine’s day past

22nd February – “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.” – A cover with abandoned building/s

1st March – ‘who will buy this wonderful morning’ – A cover featuring a shop or market

8th March – ‘Two little fishes and a momma fishy too’ – A cover featuring a fish/fishes or other sea creatures

15th March – ‘Beware the moon, lads.’ – A cover with a shapeshifter

22nd March – ‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse’ – A cover featuring a king

29th March – “I thought unicorns were more . . . Fluffy.”  – A cover featuring a unicorn

5th April – ‘nomad is an island’ – A cover featuring a desert landscape

12th April – ‘Odin, Odin, send the wind to turn the tide – A cover featuring a longboat

19th april – ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – A cover featuring a school

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister is the start of the third series written by Mark Lawrence and I’ll start by saying it’s a great start.

I’ll give a brief overview of the plot.  We make the acquaintance of Nona at the start of the story.  She’s about to be fitted for a hangman’s noose for attempting to murder the son of a rather prominent member of society..  Unsurprisingly, and not a spoiler to say, she never makes her final fitting – that would have been a very short book would it not! Before her execution can be carried out she finds herself rescued, or more succinctly put, stolen away by Abbess Glass of the Sweet Mercy Convent.  Not yet ten years old Nona is different.  The people of her village knew this, and mostly avoided her – until that cruel day on which she was given away to a child collector to be sold in the City.  Abbess Glass recognises this difference and believes that rather than making Nona something to fear it makes her something special. From them on we spend time with Nona as she is initiated into the school and undertakes a number of trials and tribulations, eventually makes friends and puts the word ‘trust’ to the test.

Now, when I summarise the plot like that it seems, even to me, to be on the sparse side and yet that couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is plenty going on here, we have a story that gradually reveals thing from the past, we have the story as it moves forward in the present and we also witness some incredibly intriguing snippets taken from the future and that compulsion to read forward and find out how all these elements come together is strong indeed.

I confess that coming of age novels are something of a weakness for me and put the characters into a training/school setting and I’m probably ready to be bowled over.  Yes, I loved Harry Potter – as did just about everybody I know – but, don’t pick this up thinking you’re picking up anything like HP – or YA for that matter.  This book is dark, it’s bleak, the world is a slowly dying, cold and harsh place to live and the there is bloody violence meted out by cruel and brutal characters.

There are certainly friendships developed, and indeed that particular aspect is one of the main focuses as the story moves forward but, be in no doubt, these girls are learning, more often than not the hard way, how to become cold blooded killers.  Nona.  Yes, she is an amazing character.  Just to be clear, I don’t think she’s amazing simply because of her difference or her abilities, the power that lies beneath the surface, the simmering belief that she’s going to become kickass or the chosen one – no, I really liked her because of her vulnerability.  Her need to be accepted and the desperation she feels that she never will be accepted because of her differences.  She longs for friendship and this need makes her an unreliable narrator which in turn makes the story even more compelling as you strive to get to the truth.  Put simply she doesn’t want people to truly know her because she learnt the hard way that the truth will drive them away – so she tells untruths.

And there are plenty of other great characters.   The Abbess herself, along with a couple of the other nuns made for great reading.  I also really liked the addition of Zole – a really interesting character who I hope we learn more about.  Not exactly a welcome addition to the Convent when she makes her first appearance but she has a lot to offer and I’m very curious about her.  What I find myself particularly drawn to in books at the moment is character development and this story is strongly focused on the characters.  Lawrence paints them in all their diversity with their fears and hopes, jealousies and ambitions.  Nobody is truly good or bad, there are little shades of everything mixed in there.

In terms of the world – I’m not going to go into great depth.   This series is known as the Book of the Ancestors and I think that tells a story by itself.  Four tribes originally existed, all with different abilities.  Strength, speed, magical ability or the ability to walk The Path.  The blood from these tribes has been passed down but weakened over the years but every now and again a child will display a particular affinity for one of the original tribes.  Nona is descended from the Hunska which means she has incredible speed – or does it mean that everything else around her slows down.  Anyway, as the story moves along we find out a lot more about the magic involved such as the ability to walk The Path.  We also learn that the world here is one that is narrowing.  A thin corridor of habitable land surrounded by ice on both sides, perhaps a possible future envisaged right here in which the sun is failing and the Moon is literally falling from the sky.

The icing on the cake of course is the writing.  This book is just beautifully written.  Lawrence twists and turns and takes us all along for the ride.  He gives us the archetypal ‘chosen one’ stereotype and then proceeds to pull it apart.  He delivers some real moments of betrayal and that ending.  Exactly when is the next book due out?

So, all that said, I admit I really struggled to start this review because having read the Broken Empire and the Red Queen’s War my first instinct was to start by making comparisons.  It’s natural to do so really and yet at the same time it was, to put it bluntly, simply doing my head in comparing them.  At the end of the day they’re all intrinsically similar, the writing style and the bleakness of the world and yet, in frustratingly Golum like fashion, they’re also fundamentally different.  So, is this Lawrence’s best work?  Is Nona my favourite of his character creations.  I don’t think I could answer that – it’s like when somebody asks you ‘what’s your favourite book’  What? How many favourites can I have?? Surely not just one.  You might just as well ask me which is my favourite child.  They’re all individual and I love them all.

A young girl with potential, a nunnery that trains it’s novices in the art of assassination and uses magic to help fulfil their aims.  Smooth prose, bleak overtones and intriguing twists.  Obviously I loved this.

I received a copy of Red Sister for review – for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

Cover Compare

Posted On 12 February 2017

Filed under Book Reviews
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Here it is – I wondered when this little beauty would make it’s appearance – the UK cover for Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister:

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I love this.  It has a beautiful crisp feel doesn’t it  And, here are both covers together:

So, which is your favourite.  I admit that I’ve always been rather partial to the US covers and I do love the US cover here – but, in this case, the UK cover is my favourite.  I just really like the font style and colour, the way it’s so startling against the cold background – the darkness beyond the ice.  Yep.  The UK cover is my favourite this time around.

Stop on over to Mr Lawrence’s blog where there are a couple of other alternative covers and choose your favourite.

And, in case you missed it, here is the description:

“I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin”

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

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

Not long to wait for this one people: April 4th/6th 2017