cover image Holy Sister

Holy Sister

Mark Lawrence. Ace, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-1-101-98891-6

Lawrence disappoints with this pallid conclusion of his epic fantasy trilogy (after 2018’s Grey Sister); uneven prose and stock characters, including a spiritual leader given to convoluted pronouncements (“There might not be a meaning to the world, or in it, but that does not mean that what we do has no meaning”), diminish interest in the story of a special teenager, Nona Grey. Nona lives on Abeth, an ice planet whose sun is dying, and is a rare “triple-blood,” descended from three of Abeth’s original four tribes. Much of the plot focuses on Nona and her friends’ attempts to escape a clichéd villain: Sherzal, the emperor’s sister, who is seeking to recover a shipheart, an object “of disputed origin that may have powered the ships that brought the tribes of man to Abeth.” Nona’s friend Zole has stolen the shipheart and is the target of Sherzal’s quest. The action drags, modern colloquialisms sound out of place (one character refers to another as “the big bad”), and death scenes pack no punch. Lawrence is very imaginative, but the execution here fails to live up to the series’ promise. Agent: Ian Drury, Sheil Land Assoc. (Apr.)