Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1)

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size.

Worldbuildingwise:

You have a fantasy world in the throes of an ice age. All of civilization is limited to a Wornarrow band–perhaps kept warm by a giant space mirror? It’s unclear. That leads to a world that’s… somewhat tense to say the least. Add to that the idea of four ancient founding ‘races’: the gerant (big and strong), hunska (super fast), a marjal (lesser magics), and a quantal (greater magics), where modern people are mostly ‘standard human’, but occasionally you get flare up of one (or more) of the ‘old blood’.

It’s an interesting enough setup, with those that have enough of the old blood to exhibit some powers entering into various schools (with religious overtones). It’s basically Harry Potter gone… bloody. There’s a child about to be hanged in the first chapter after all.

Enter Nora. She’s nine and at the very least marjal. As we go on… it turns out that she’s a little more…

“It’s an old prophecy,” Ruli said quickly. “A Holy Witch called Sister Argatha made it, back when the first emperor took the Ark from the Sarmarians. It says that the Ark will open when the four tribes demand it with one voice.”

“Couldn’t you just get a gerant, a hunska, a marjal and a quantal to do it?” asked Nona.

“Right! That’s what I said.” Jula nodded. “But they tried that ages ago and it didn’t work. So ever since then the priests have been saying ‘one voice’ means one person exhibiting all the bloods.”

Okay. Chosen One stories… not my favorite.

“There’s no such thing as prophecy, Nona. Or rather there is but it’s madmen that tell them, or people who were once listened to for their wisdom and have found themselves growing old and unwise yet still wanting to be heard. There’s no magic in it. Magic doesn’t work that way.

Okay. That will most definitely buy you a chance.

That’s actually most of the plot. Most of it’s a magic school section with Nora (et al) trained to be magical killer nuns, but there’s some fallout from Nora’s (obviously unsuccessful) first chapter hanging, politics, and other backstabbery. There is a feeling of a lot of depth there, but for the most part, we’re just scratching the surface for now. I really want to see where this goes in future books.

Overall, it’s a solid book and quite the adventure. If you’re opposed to child violence, violence against (or … perpetrated by) religious figures, and/or children being forced to grow up too quickly–this is not the book for you. But I quite enjoyed it. Onward!