At 9 years old Jorg experiences a terrible trauma that shapes the rest of his life. As his mother and brother are killed, he is helplessly caught within the thorns of a nearby briar patch unable to help in any way. After the incident, his father (the king) is unwilling to risk war with Count Renar, who is the person behind the murders, and he basically agrees to put the matter aside in exchange for some economic concessions. Jorg can't accept this outcome and this series of events ultimately shapes him into a monster bent on revenge against both Count Renar and his own father. Jorg's mind becomes a very dark place and this book is experienced from inside that mind.
It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. So begins Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. Nona Grey lives on an ice world where humanity huddles around the equator and jealously guards its remaining resources. Nona is a slave sentenced to hang for murdering a nobleman. She's ten years old. Abbess Glass of the Sweet Mercy Convent rescues her and Nona becomes a novice. There are ultimately three paths the nuns can choose, but for ten years Nona and the other novices learn the basics of combat, magic, and prayer. Political fallout from Nona's rescue, assassination attempts, and an ancient prophecy combine to add intrigue to a tale of friendship, growing up, and kick ass nuns.
This book has many things to like about it, and some not to like, which might very well be appropriate as the story revolves around the combination of opposites. There are two main characters in this one - Prince Jalan Kendeth, a womanizer and self proclaimed coward, and Snorri, a Viking warrior out for revenge against those who attacked his homeland. Snorri and Jalan form an odd couple dynamic as fate thrusts them together and sends them out on a suicide mission where they must find a way to get along or they will both end up dead. With their opposing personalities playing off each other they both face obstacles in their own unique way while never really knowing the bigger picture of what is going on.