I’ve got so many thoughts running around my mind about Red Sister. Let’s try to wrangle them into a semi-cohesive review, shall we ?

Whilst reading, I’ve been irritated by the use of trope after trope after trope. At times it seemed like I was reading a cross between Harry Potter and Blood Song. The whole thing of kids going to fighter / mage / assassin school isn’t very original. What bugged me even more was the obvious BS about the evil plot that’s going on, of which, of course, only the kids (aka the protagonists) know, and which, also of course, can only be foiled by those kids. Because talking to an adult obviously always leads to the whole case being dismissed. Obviously. Massive eyerolling ensues…


So I was thoroughly ready to go harsh on the rating. But as I said, lots of thoughts running around in my head.

  1. Despite the heavy use of tropes, the actual world building was excellent. The whole idea this world is based upon, with the artificial moon, the corridor and the “Shipheart” is quite fun. It goes the same route as The Broken Empire series and i realy enjoyed it.

  2. The writing is also quite good, with some absolutely stunning passages in the prologue / interlude. Although I would have preferred a bit more of it.

  3. It might feature kids as protagonists (7 - 11 years old) but despite that, there’s a lot of punching, torturing, fighting and dying going around, which makes it feel like a proper adult novel.

  4. I mentioned the prologue / interlude before, where we see our protagonists about 10 years after the main story, and THAT part I absolutely loved. It’s those chapters that kept me going, promising a gritty, epic storyline later on. From that perspective, it would make sense to start the series with the ‘origin’ story. It also wouldn’t make sense to have part 1 ramp up to the hinted epic scale, because then the next installments wouldn’t be able to top that. I remember feeling the same way about [Prince of Thorns]. The Broken Empire series is one of my favorites, but the first part doesn’t do it justice.

  5. Despite all of my ‘frustrations’ with the tropes, I found that I really liked Nona as a character. She has values, odd ones, but values nonetheless, and she sticks to them.

One more gripe: the foreshadowing at the end really feels like it could have been done better. The plot twist at the end doesn’t come as a surprise at all and again gave me the feeling that I was reading a YA novel (which I don’t like).

So, after all that, the main question is of course, did I like it ? Sadly I conclude that I didn’t like it as much as hoped I would. I do see the promise of an epic arc and hope that the next chapter will bring me that.

I’m sticking with 3.5 stars, rounded up for promise.

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