The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

“Many babies have killed, but it is very rare that the victim is not their mother.”

On the barren ice fields of Abeth, Yaz and her clan are on the annual pilgrimage to the Black Rock, home of the priests that oversee all of the tribes. It is here that each youngster is tested, and if found wanting in any way – often thoroughly baffling to the children and families – the priests will throw the child into the Pit. So deep is this scar in the ice that it is said you fall for miles, and the bottom is completely hidden from the surface.

Of course, things happen, and Yaz as our main character soon discovers that not all is as told about the Pit…

I’ve been meaning to read this series for ages, after loving the author’s Book of the Ancestor trilogy, and with the third part of this trilogy due out in a few weeks now seemed like the perfect time! Set in the same world as Red Sister, we find ourselves away from the green belt, out where the ice has taken over completely. Yaz is a member of the Ictha, one of the tribes that migrates across the frozen wastelands eking out a living. It’s a harsh life, and the tribes have little mercy when it comes to survival, as shown in the opening annual discard of the children deemed too weak to survive.

Far beneath the ice we get yet another way of life, different from both Nona’s experience as a nun in the Sisters books, and the ice fields above. You don’t have to have read the earlier trilogy to pick this up, but there are familiar references for those who have, and a little more background about the planet Abeth.

Like the earlier books, we have a strong female lead who also discovers that she – like so many of the ‘Broken’ – shares the bloodlines that produce powers. Great size and strength, inhuman speed, the ability to control water or fire – or the rarest, strangest powers of all. We’ve seen these in the Ancestors books, but here there are different implications, given the ice caverns seem to house the ruins of one of the ancient, mythical cities. Indeed, the ‘stars’ of the title aren’t what you might think, either.

While I didn’t take to this quite as hard as I did Red Sister, I really enjoyed coming back to this world and a different part of it. The characters are interesting, particularly Yaz, even as she skirts the risk of becoming a little too powerful to have that necessary sense of peril. As it is, the peril is very present, in so many ways! Dangers come from those discarded beneath the ice, and more so those lost to a ‘taint’ that might seem familiar from the earlier books. And then yet more from sources incomprehensible to those with such cloistered lives.

Very glad book 2 was available to dive straight into, as this is one big story across the trilogy and ends on quite the cliffhanger. Recommended for fantasy fans who like the hint of sci-fi in the background, and anyone who wants the return visit to the still very mysterious Abeth – answers may lie ahead! 🙂

girl and the stars coverNetGalley eARC: 480 pages / 39 chapters
First published: April 2020
Series: Book of the Ice book 1
Read from 3rd-9th April 2022

My rating: 8/10

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