Red Sister Audiobook by Mark Lawrence (REVIEW)

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Reviews | 22 comments

Review of: Red Sister Audiobook
Mark Lawrence

Reviewed by:
On September 21, 2017
Last modified:June 4, 2018


Red Sister Audiobook

By: Mark Lawrence

Narrated by: Heather O’Neill

Published by Recorded Books 4/4/2017

Red Sister Audiobook

4.5 stars rating

Book of the Ancestor #1

19 hrs and 21 mins

genre: Fantasy

Red Sister Audiobook Sample

Red Sister Audiobook

4.5 Hearts

It’s been some time since I picked up a fantasy story, but I’ve been meaning to get back into it and I’ve wanted to try something by this author for some time. Red Sister is the launch of the Book of the Ancestor trilogy with a new to me narrator so it was all-systems go.

Red Sister is a good reminder of what I love best about this genre. It set up a fantastic elaborate world- a world that is dangerous, dark, mysterious, old, and desperate since their sun is dying and the polar ice is squeezing the people into a narrow inhabitable corridor. On this unique world, magic has its place as do the four magical races amongst distinct ethnic races who grapple for control. Magic users are part of the Ancestor religion, the ruler’s training academies, but also in the fighter and entertainment groups. There is a class structure for magic and non-magic alike.

Onto this backdrop, the story of Nona unfolds. Nona is a great heroine though still a young girl when things begin. She’s tough, stubborn, and vulnerable coming from a small peasant village and forced into the huge world outside the village when she is sold. Everything is new and she has to be tougher than ever. An early incident with a noble’s evilly sadistic son sets a chain of events in motion just as that encounter leads her to become part of a training center convent for warrior sisters of the Ancestor religion.

Nona’s time at the convent learning skills and magic use was fascinating. She is part of a larger sisterhood and her lonely soul craves this even while she must learn to fight and protect herself and what is important. I loved the inter-play among the novice girls and young women, with the older Sisters, and those intense experiences with the people outside the convent. This was a great balance of daily character-driven and skill learning scenes and action-suspense scenes to keep the reader fully engaged all the way.

Red Sister ends abruptly setting things up for what is to come in the next installment in the trilogy. My only niggle with this whole fabulous story was the framing story- the prologue and a few brief bits in the middle that are like spoilers because they give away the huge surprise twist that comes near the end. If you can, skip that prologue and that extra bit in the middle so you get to experience the full force of the twist.

All in all, this was the opening gambit that enthralled and riveted me for several wonderful hours of storytelling finery. Mark Lawrence’s writing and worldbuilding, characters and plotting were stellar. If you love fantasy, don’t hesitate.

Red Sister Audiobook Narration

5 Hearts

I experienced Red Sister in audio CD version. It was my first occasion to listen to Heather O’Neill narrate. She was superb. Her voice could have been made for an epic fantasy saga-style read with all the cast, their accents, and the sweeping range of scenes and emotions. I will always hear her voice for Nona in my mind even if I don’t get the rest of the trilogy in audio- though I plan to do that.

Mark LawrenceMark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is 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’.

Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.

Narrator Heather O'NeilHeather O’Neill is a novelist, poet, short-story writer, screenwriter, and essayist. Lullabies for Little Criminals, her debut novel, was published in 2006 to international critical acclaim and was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Born and raised in Montreal, O’Neill lives there today with her daughter.

My thanks to Recorded Books for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by

Sophia Rose Signature

  • 4.5
    editor rating
Sophia Rose
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.


  1. I’m not normally a big fantasy reader, but this sounds really enjoyable. I’m glad you found a new narrator!

    • Its not my normal read either, Tanya, but the blurb caught my attention and then once I was into the story, I was a goner. 🙂

  2. Great review! I loved it too. It just captured me with all the positive attributes you mention. World characters plot. I am now interested in trying his other series. Anne

    • Oh neat, Anne!

      I was just so captivated and would stop in the middle of a room while listening. 😉 Can’t wait for Grey Sister.

    • I don’t read this sort of fantasy too often, but I’m so glad I impulsively went for this one. 🙂

  3. Skipped your review as French publisher sent me this today! SO curious to try!

    • Oh neat, Melliane!

      I can’t wait to see what you think. I love that its in French so you can really experience all the great descriptions about the world and characters. 🙂

  4. That scenario would be one of my worst nightmares, I adore the sun and hate the cold LOL! This sounds like a great series. Thanks for introducing it to me and I’m so glad it worked for you!

    • Oh man, yeah, those people consider it warm when the moon comes to full overhead. Can you imagine? Hope you enjoy it if you get the chance. 🙂

  5. This sounds enjoyable. I’m adding to my TBR. Thank’s for the review.

    • You bet, Angela. Hope you enjoy it when you get the chance.

  6. Hey girlfriend as you know I’m a HUGE Lawrence fan and have read every dark thing he’s written. Actually Red Sister is light compared to his Prince of Thorns series. Great Review I would love this on audible. Thanks

    • Yes, this was what I had heard about his other series, Debbie. I felt good grabbing this one since it was only book one instead of a series yet. Though, ugh, waiting will be tough. It was so fantastic as an audio story. Hope your library carries it for you so you can see (hear) for yourself.

  7. Sounds interesting. Weird that there were spoilery bits in the prologue. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Yeah, it was weird. I honestly can’t figure out why because the first chapter scene was pretty exciting and didn’t need a ‘grab me’ scene before it nor did it explain anything. It was just there- exciting and gave the big twist away. Oh well. 😉

  8. I have to listen to that sample to see how it plays in audio 🙂

    • I really enjoyed this narrator and thought she made the story better for me. Hope you like her.

  9. I haven’t read this author but this does sound pretty good.

    • My first time, but I am definitely excited for book two, Mary. 🙂

  10. I remember seeing this book as a part of an audible sale. I didn’t buy it which seems like a really bad decision right now. This sounds wonderful!

    • LOL. Bummer you didn’t snag it. I’ve had similar groans after reading someone’s review over a book. Hope you get the chance at some point, Carole. This was great.

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