Grey Sister reads as a stand-alone novel although you will enjoy it more if you read its prequel, Red Sister. Intense is the word that most describes the character and plot development in both novels but more so in Grey Sister. Nona Grey is at the stage of her convent (No, not like any convent experience you’ve read about or experienced!) experience where she must choose to permanently become a member of the Martial Sisters (red), the Sisters of Discretion (grey), the Mystic Sisters (blue) or the Brides of the Ancestor (black). Nona is still trying to figure out in which place she fits. She has extraordinary physical abilities, enhanced by her experiences on the Path which are fueled by her phenomenally rage when inspired by some wrongdoing experienced directly or indirectly. So great is her fury that the power that emanates from her can take down concrete walls and buildings! It’s hard to believe there are other Sisters with as intense powers, but there are!
Nona’s quest in this novel of the series is to figure out the secrets of the Universe and who controls them. This is a world of ice and cold moons that are controlled by devices, one of which has been stolen. While the quest continues to find that device, Nona continues to study shadow-making, potions for poisoning, thread-weaving, sword battle and physical battle. She certainly has become better in each one, but the challenges she most pays attention to are that of silent meditation and a type of balance walking that is almost impossible to complete in one attempt.
Who is trying to control Nona or even kill her? Her old nemesis is dead but after that event a spark of evil named Keot (almost like an animal spirit) is now inside Nona and often contradicts what Nona decides but is an ever-present advisor.
Action abounds throughout this novel, rising and falling with death-defying conflicts. The Noi-Guin are a series of warriors who want Nona dead. The other nuns in training are one minute fully helping Nona and then threatening her very existence. A secret lies in the deepest recesses of ice-cold caves below the convent, a place in which they are forbidden to enter.
The ending of this particular novel is quite spectacular. Readers who love mystery, rocking adventure, various levels of the fantastic, physical and mystical battles, etc will love this series beyond description! Although sometimes the end goal is unclear, it still has enough clues to satisfy any reader sharp enough to capture them when they appear. Nicely crafted, Mark Lawrence! Looking forward to third novel in this intriguing series!