From the critically-acclaimed author of PRINCE OF THORNS and RED SISTER comes a chilling new epic fantasy series.
In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.
On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.
To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.
Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.
Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.
Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.
Let me start by saying I am a massive Fan of Mark Lawrence’s The Book of the Ancestor trilogy. Red Sister was the first book of his I picked up and I have been totally hooked on his writing ever since. When I heard he was writing a book set in the same world as Nona I was sold. This has easily been one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and I may or may not have pre ordered two copies. I will admit nothing!
Then I found myself in a slight quandary. Had I hyped this up too much? Would it disappoint me? I started with much trepidation but I needn’t have worried, once again the opening line drew me in and I turned the pages feverishly until the final sentence. And now I find myself trying to gather my thoughts enough to write a decent review.
Do you need to read The Book of the Ancestor first?
In short, no. You absolutely do not need to have read the previous trilogy to read and enjoy this story. Yes, it is set in the same world, but we are far away from Nona’s Abeth and Yaz’s story (our main protagonist) is set solely on the brutal world of the ice.
Those of us that have read the Ancestor books will recognize early on the magic style, as well as the stories of the Ice that we learn’t about through Nona’s journey with Zole. If you are new to this World however, don’t worry, Mark has your back. Everything is explained and we learn alongside Yaz.
Yaz lives in one of the ice clans. Every four years the clans gather to present their children to the Priest of Black Rock. Any child deemed ‘broken’, and unlikely to survive on the ice, is thrown into the pit of the broken. It is seen as a kindness and a way of ensuring the clans continued existence.
Of course, things are not that simple and Yaz really goes on quite the journey. The book itself actually only spans around a week in time. However, so much is discovered and learned it seems to be much longer. Such is the joy of the writing.
Our main protagonist is Yaz of the Ictha, the northern most dwelling of the ice clans. They have to be strong, unbending, focused solely on survival of the ice. I loved how her notions of everything are challenged. She is thrown into a world few knew existed. There she learns the secrets of who she is and what she can do. She also finds friends for possibly the first time.
The story is told in first person, so we see everyone through Yaz’s eyes. Even so I formed opinions on who could be trusted and who might be playing a longer game. I didn’t get it all though and one character in particular really surprised me at the end.
There are a lot of characters and it did take a little time to get my head around who was who. As the story progresses though the focus becomes on a much smaller group and you begin to get to know them so much more. I fell in love with so many of these characters and formed attachments quickly, not advised in a Mark Lawrence novel – FYI!
The Writing and The Setting
If you haven’t already guessed I love Mark Lawrence’s writing style. He really pulls you into the story and creates such a believable atmosphere. In fact, in one part of the book there is a section that involves heights. I have a massive fear of falling, even if I see a high bridge or building on the telly I get the full-on fear. Never has that happened with a book until now. My toes were curling, palms sweaty, I had to put the book down and give myself a talking to. Such is the power of his words.
You are totally drawn into the story and the setting in places is breath taking. The way the stars are worked into the ice just presented some beautiful imagery. I totally fell in love with it. The hidden city, giant caverns under the ice, there is just so much to explore here and I felt that with every step Yaz took.
There are also the darker, more gory elements as well that I’ve come to associate with his novels. Everything was worked together so well.
I loved this book; the pacing is suburb and the story isn’t all neatly wrapped up. This is most definitely setting up for bigger things. The ending left me slightly frustrated but only because I’m going to have to wait to find out what happens. It is a true cliff hanger ending. Mark Lawrence is the master of a trilogy. I highly recommend this to any fantasy lover. Go buy it, you will not be disappointed.
Massive thank you to Anne to inviting me on to the blog tour and to the publishers for giving me a copy to review. Thankfully one of pre order copies did arrive in time.
Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.