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Book of the Ice #1

The Girl and the Stars

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2020)
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.

480 pages, Hardcover

First published April 21, 2020

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Mark Lawrence

72 books51k followers
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Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. Before becoming a fulltime writer in 2015 day job was as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say 'this isn't rocket science ... oh wait, it actually is'.

Mark used to have a list of hobbies back when he did science by day. Now his time is really just divided between writing and caring for his disabled daughter. There are occasional forays into computer games too.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,294 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51k followers
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May 19, 2022
The trilogy is complete, dive in!



Here's how the trilogy increasingly overlaps with The Book of the Ancestor / Red Sister.




Very many thanks to the readers who voted for The Girl And The Stars as a semi-finalist on the Goodreads Choice Awards for best fantasy!


At first glance it's an action-packed high-stakes adventure. Scratch a little deeper and it's about right and wrong in a place where the two can be hard to disentangle.








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Profile Image for James Tivendale.
311 reviews1,329 followers
April 22, 2020
I received an uncorrected proof copy of The Girl and the Stars. I would like to thank Mark Lawrence and Harper Voyager for the opportunity.

This tale is set in the same world as The Book of the Ancestor, yet in a completely different environment. We follow Yaz, a sixteen-year-old member of the ice tribe the Ithca. To progress from being a child and ascending to adulthood the younger members of all the tribes have to be judged by regulator Kazik. All the clans converse at the Pit of the Missing where the judgement will take place. Any individuals who show weakness, strangeness or unaccustomed 'qualities' are deemed to be unable to survive on the ice. They are the Broken.

"In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown"

Our protagonist Yaz fears the worst. She truly believes she is destined for the harrowing darkness and the unknown horrors of the pit. If she survives the fall. Yaz suffers from fatigue on long treks far faster than her comrades. She can keep up with them as every few days she can touch 'The River' which is essentially 'The Path' which readers of the previous trilogy will be familiar with. This helps her gain extra strength, resistance and power. The regulator can supposedly see into individuals hearts and souls so will surely see Yaz 's secret and she will be eternally banished.

Yaz ends up in the pit as does her twelve-year-old brother Zeen. They don't fall together and most of the narrative is the protagonist trying to rescue her brother. Initially she is alone in the penetrating darkness - it is claustrophobic and builds up extreme tension as she tries to survive and navigate this alien environment. This constructed atmosphere underground was reminiscent of segments featured in Graham Austin-King's Faithless, Jules Vernes' Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It also hads elements that are similar to those showcased in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - especially with some of the monstrosities that lurk in the darkness known as Hunters.

Fortunately, Yaz doesn't spend her whole time walking around alone in the gloom. When a demon-infested flesh-eating gerant (giant) attacks her she is saved by other members of the Broken. It transpires that there are many such as her who have had to brave the drop and there is actually a sort of civilisation beneath all that she has ever known on the surface.

In similar fashion to Lawrence's work that I have read so far, we only follow one point of view perspective. Yaz is excellent lead character. She is extremely powerful but doesn't really know how, why or if she should use these talents. In addition, the ensemble of supporting players feature some of the finest that Lawrence has ever crafted. Examples include the former demon-tainted Thurin, the thousand-year-old mysterious but insightful and insanely strong Erris, and the seemingly shy but capable shadow-weaving assassin Maya.

This novel, as previously mentioned, is set in Abeth, the same world as Book of the Ancestor. Apart from the excellent writing, unique magics, and that the characters are crafted brilliantly, what is presented here is quite different. You can read this without knowledge from the previous trilogy, however; I believe your enjoyment will be heightened by at least 20-per cent if you had. As far as I can acknowledge, none of the characters crossover here. This led me to ask Mark when this was set in relation to the former trilogy. He replied essentially saying I'd have to carry on with the series to find out which makes it intently exciting to find out. Will Nona meet Yaz like Jalan met Jorg? Exciting times are ahead in this series for sure. Luckily Mark is one of the most proactive top-tier fantasy authors currently writing so hopefully, I will not have to wait that long to find out. The finale has an intense and shocking cliffhanger too and I can't wait to see how the narrative continues in Book of the Ice's next instalment.

Lawrence had already constructed a unique and astonishing world with Abeth. In The Girl and the Stars, we are introduced to new Gods, terminology, factions, and emotions. It features but is not limited to monsters, twists, darkness, civil-war, betrayal, possessions, true friendships, and sibling love are just a few of the themes presented here.

This is a exceptional, haunting, claustrophobic take on fantasy that presents some of Lawrence's finest storytelling. It's an incredible and emotional adventure. I have no idea what comes next and I can't wait to find out. Lawrence goes from strength to strength with every release.
Profile Image for Petrik.
675 reviews42.9k followers
September 21, 2020
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Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Great world-building and prose, but I have mixed feelings on the book.

First of all, The Girl and the Stars is blessed with gorgeous cover arts. The US edition cover art done by Bastien Deharme—he did the US edition cover arts for Mark Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor trilogy—and the UK edition cover art done by Jason Chan—he did the cover arts for Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire and Red Queen’s War trilogy—are stunning. Picking the book based on the cover art was a huge dilemma, and I won’t be surprised if many readers decided to get both editions. Thankfully, my dilemma was solved when Lawrence himself offered me a signed copy of the UK edition to read and review. It is, however, unfortunate that I didn’t enjoy this as much as Red Sister. (Sorry, Mark!)

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


With a killer opening line like that, The Girl and the Stars, the first installment in the Book of the Ice, begins. Similar to Red Sister, Lawrence knows how to start his books with an unforgettable line, and if you’re coming into this book—like me—because of your love for the Book of the Ancestor trilogy, you might immediately raise your expectation from the prologue alone. However, something about Lawrence that we all have to remember is that he doesn’t write the same kind of series twice; if you—again, like me—read The Girl and the Stars expecting it would be similar to Red Sister, you might find yourself disappointed. Although The Girl and the Stars takes place on Abeth, the same world of Red Sister, in almost everything, this book has a tone and characters that are so different from Book of the Ancestor trilogy, at least so far.

“Sometimes all your words are the wrong shape and none of them will fit into the silence left when the conversation pauses.”


At its core, The Girl and the Stars is a survival story. In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole in which broken children are thrown. Yaz thought she was going to be thrown into the hole, but as it turns out, her brother—Zeen—ended up being chosen instead of her. Yaz won’t accept that, and without thinking, she jumps into the hole to save her brother. We follow the story of Yaz as she tries her best to survive under the ice and save Zeen. The story starts off very strongly, but unlike Red Sister that held my attention non-stop, I felt that after the first half of this book, the strength of the story started to lose its steam. I get it. It’s not too fair to compare an author’s newest work to their previous work, but when the series takes place in the same world, I think a correlation/comparison is unavoidable. I did the same thing on my reviews for Broken Empire and Red Queen’s War, and I have to do that again here.

“People get like that if they live long enough to turn grey. They think they’ve seen it all and have answers for everyone. But they’re so distant from living life that they forget that we all have different paths.”


The biggest issue I had with the book, and a lot of readers have mentioned the same thing, was how much of a YA fantasy book this was. I’m not saying this because Yaz is a teenager; I think it’s dumb to immediately categorize a book as YA fantasy just because the character is a teenager. Plus, except for Red Queen’s War trilogy, all of Lawrence’s fantasy series always features a teenager as the main protagonist, and they were all clearly adult fantasy books. What made The Girl and the Stars felt so YA-ish was the tone of the narrative, and all the cliché usually found in YA fantasy heroine were somehow found here. You know how it is, Yaz doesn’t know she’s special, the guys want her upon their brief encounter; I think at one moment of the book, there was actually a love triangle/square being formed.

“We are victims of our first friendships. They are the foundations of us. Each anchors us to our past. The blows that drive those nails home are randomly struck, but they echo down all our days even so.”


But even if I were to exclude this too much of a young adult fantasy thing from my review, there was still one more issue to consider: the characters are unmemorable. In Red Sister, I found myself invested in Nona Grey and the rivalry/friendship she formed at the Convent of the Sweet Mercy. I didn’t get that feeling of investment at all here. Honestly, other than Yaz and Petrick (well, I’m obviously biased on this character’s name,) I doubt I’ll remember any of the other characters by next week.

“’Stay calm,’ Petrick hissed as he followed the others. ‘The demons find their way in most easily when you’re angry. Any flaw can be exploited: cruelty, jealousy, hate. But anger’s the hardest to avoid.’”


I’ve been highlighting most of my issues so far, but there was still plenty of greatness to experience. What’s lacking in characterizations and “adult” tone, Lawrence made up for them with his beautiful prose, and this was especially true on the world-building. I’m genuinely shocked by how gorgeously written the setting was. The coldness of the ice felt palpable to me; I felt like I was there with Yaz in every setting she visited. Also, for those of you who’s wondering whether you should read Book of the Ancestor first before reading this or not, I will answer: no, you don’t have to. The magic might confuse you a bit for a while because there wasn’t a lot of info on the role of Hunska, Gerant, Marjal, and Quantal. But other than that, I think you will be able to understand everything else. Prose-wise, it’s Lawrence’s usual beautiful writing style, and this book contains some of Lawrence’s finest philosophical phrases. I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted this many passages within one Lawrence’s book so far. One of my favorites being:

“There's a darkness in each of us, afraid to show itself, wrestling with such blunt tools as words and deeds to make itself known to the darkness in another person similarly hidden behind walls of camouflage, disguise, interpretation. Honesty is a knife that we can use to pare away those layers, but one slip, go too deep, and who knows what injuries might be inflicted … The wounds an honest tongue can open sometimes take a lifetime to heal.”


No one is more saddened about this rating than me. I really wanted to love it more, especially after Lawrence himself sent me a signed copy. But as a reviewer, I have to always be honest, and my honest assessment is that although I still liked The Girl and the Stars for its world-building and prose, I’m a reader who prioritized characterizations, and this is the one factor that—in my opinion—the book lacked. I don’t even have to like the characters, but I need to care, or even hate—at least it’s an emotional feeling. Right now, I just felt… indifferent towards the characters. I hope a reread of this book one day—or maybe the sequel—will be able to fix that.

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Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
May 5, 2020
“There are stars in every darkness.”

DAMN that ending!!!!!

This was a wonderful and chilly fantasy world to fall into!

Yaz is from the Ithca tribe, one of many tribes who send their children to be “judged” by the regulator Kazik on their abilities & if they find them too weak or even sometimes too strong they throw them down the pit of the missing which is essentially a hole of ice where everyone assumes they die on impact.

When Yaz’s brother Zeen is thrown down the pit she doesn’t hesitate and dives straight in after him. What she discovers is an entire world built under the ice. A world full of dangers at every turn. It turns out there are survivors from the fall, there are people who have survived under the ice for years, they call themselves the broken.

There are demon fuelled villains and terrifying monsters in this world and every day brings new challenges. Yaz is desperate to find her brother and in turn find out what really makes this underworld work, how has no one known they are down there? What is their purpose if any? I loved meeting all the different characters and Yaz is a great protagonist.

4 stars ⭐️ and I can’t wait for book 2!


********************

Thank you so much to Mark Lawrence for providing me with a free copy of The Girl and the Stars - turns out we live in the same city!

Signed and everything - I am so excited to start reading this weekend!



Profile Image for Nicole.
731 reviews1,837 followers
January 24, 2021
My experience with this book summarized:

“This is cool
Can’t wait to know what happens next
Wow interesting
What... what’s happening...
Hey why are you doing that!
I’m so bored, do I still have many pages to read...
Of course! Still tedious.
Last page: ahaa, I wonder what next...”
then the books ends.



It saddens me to say that The Girl and the Stars that started so promising and exciting, ended up being so disappointing and boring. And not because of lack of action, from chapter one, the story consumes you and you want to know more. But we’ll discuss all that later.

>> A few things you might want to know before starting this book:
The Girl and the Stars isn’t another Red Sister, which was a total badass and awesome book. Yaz isn’t another Nona Grey, she instead becomes one of those YA heroines we dislike (at least I did).

➋ I do not recommend this book if you haven’t read the original trilogy, Book of the Ancestor. I wouldn’t even recommend reading it if you have only read the first book because it has spoilers on specific matters. But nothing that ruins the book, of course. You can still read this book separately but it is a spin-off and you’ll probably find yourself confused from time to time.

➌ If you’re a solid Mark Lawrence fan, you’ll probably like this book. But then again, maybe not. It’s very different from his other novels since this one leans too much on the YA genre.

➍ I read this book without reading the description (which was vague when I read it later) and that is for the best, the action started from chapter one so it is better to know little about the plot before diving in. I think Goodreads’ description is perfect in that regard. I will provide however a small hidden summary in the minor spoilers.

————
This review will be broken into two parts: one free of spoilers and the other with minor ones because I can only be so vague on some of the issues I had with this book (of course there will be a warning).

The main reason why I wanted to read this book is because of Zole, she’s from the ice tribes and the world she lived in as well as her abilities were very interesting. Doubtless, since Yaz is from one of the ice tribes as well, we learn more about them but at the same time, so much more about the world that we didn’t know in Book of the Ancestor trilogy. Honestly, what is frustrating is that the novel could’ve been pretty good: solid world-building, likable characters (at first), action-packed, and a promising story. But the turns it later took and the paths it chose to reach the end were disappointing and questionable.

The book relied too heavily on the pace, it is not a character-driven book. Using philosophical lines now and then and monologues don’t make it so.

I really like Mark Lawrence and respect the man a great deal, he has undoubtedly made himself a name among talented fantasy authors. Although, I did not like Prince of Thorns (I couldn’t stand that horrible MC), I very much enjoyed Red Sister and its sequels. I wouldn’t consider Book of the Ancestor trilogy YA even if Nona was a teenager, not only because of the gore but not every book with a young main character can be labeled “YA”. Prince of Thorns, of course, isn’t even though the MC is 14. My point is “YA” books have a certain feel to them that makes them identifiable based on elements unrelated to the MC’s age.

I have no idea if authors determine the genre of their books, but in my humble opinion and as someone who has read many YA, this book undoubtedly can be categorized as Young-Adult. It certainly deals with darker themes than the usual, case in point, the tainted. But the fact remains that the Girl and the Stars, other than the title itself, features many YA tropes, such as:
✦ Most of the characters are under 18, not mature, and well teens. And behaved like ones. Not to say this is bad but Nona (Red Sister) was always mature beyond her years.
✦ Yaz is special.
✦ A love-square. Yep, and each guy is jealous of the other. Even if they only knew her for a few days. The heck?
✦ Yaz taking up leadership.
✦ Yaz wanting to risk everyone for her mission and not making a proper plan.
✦ We don’t kill killers mantra.
And so on and so forth.

Now I know these can be found in any book but they are the most prominent in YA. Sometimes, the MC being special doesn’t turn out bad but in this case, it kinda did. Those who share Yaz’s powers in Red Sister needed to train a lot to master them. Yet, here, although her power is rawer and not poised, she was able to use them too well for a newbie.

Conclusion: do not expect an “adult” book (this is mostly what this book is shelved under at the time of writing this review) and be ready for YA vibes.


The characters:
- I quite liked Yaz. At first. She was courageous, determined, and not the complaining type. But after a while, she wore me out. She was deadly focused on her goal to the point that she was ready to risk everyone and act without planning ahead. I hate when characters do this (this is again popular in YA). I mean hold on a bit (this is another issue that I’ll get to later, I think it’s more because of the pace if anything).
- The other characters were one-dimensional. I couldn’t care about any of them in particular. Maybe Therin. But the rest were meh until they surprise us with a “oh no, I didn’t see that coming”. It gets boring. Not that it made me like them any better. They were so many and none was given the needed amount of time for us to develop any feelings towards her/him.

Conclusion: the characters weren’t interesting nor relatable.

The world-building:
This is where Lawrence excels at in this book. It was well-developed and thank God, no info dump (though I did not like the gods' story parts). I quite love the world Mr. Mark weaved, it’s intriguing, creative, full of mysteries, and possibilities. Even if I already read the original trilogy, this book offered new revelations to the table and exactly what I wanted! We learn more about the missing, the black ice, the tainted, and so much more! If only the story took a different turn to reach the end!

The writing:
Undeniably, Mark Lawrence’s writing is rich and superb. Yet, the descriptions were often too long (and imagine how someone who haven’t seen much because of their living conditions trying to describe things they’ve never seen before). It was also confusing occasionally, at some points, I had to read the dialogue/paragraph several times to make sense of it and sometimes I didn’t. I don’t know if it’s my copy (ebook) but some commas were missing thereby creating run-on sentences


The pace:
The first 50% was addicting. I couldn’t stop reading. After the 60% mark, I was pushing myself to finish the book. I had lost all interest by then. Too much stuff going on and yet I was… bored. I think the main problem with this book is the pacing or lack thereof. It was certainly an action-packed book. Characters barely stop to take a break. But I think it was exactly what we needed: a break for us and the characters to absorb things (I’ll get into this more in the minor spoilers part).

The book somehow redeemed itself in a small way that made me consider reading the sequel, not by the last 80% which should be unputdownable in any fantasy book and make you unable to stop reading (because they bored me) but by the very last scene because… this book ends with a cliffhanger. Those who hate waiting for sequels when there’s a cliffhanger, you might want to know that beforehand.

Okay now to the minor spoilers part which includes bits about the plot and more characters names.
Starting with the more precise summary of the events (first few chapters):

✦ So Yaz meets a whole bunch of new people. Yet, without knowing them even for a few days, she expects them to join her to accomplish her VERY dangerous mission. She didn’t even lay out a reasonable plan. That is very selfish and rash, people have been killed before on a similar mission and they were fighters who know a lot more than she does about the place (which is basically not much, one can only learn so much in 2 days). And the thing is, the plot works from time to time for her benefit regardless of her skills/action.

Her time with the Broken was too short. She barely learned about them when everything starts to happen all at once. At the very least, in my opinion, she should’ve spent a week with them before all the action started. We don’t even need to learn everything there is to know this week. But this is an unfamiliar place, therefore it would have made snese if she had time to unravel more about it. She needs allies. Contrary to popular belief, people who just found themselves miraculously alive, won’t be in a hurry to risk their lives for a stranger , it simply doesn’t make sense. Yaz should’ve been smart enough to realize that.

✦ Erris was simply too convenient.

✦ I honestly can’t get over how she made a very stupid decision only for things to work out anyway (regarding that decision).

✦ I absolutely can’t stand it when characters decide not to kill because oh they’re too noble or whatever. Alright, look, we live in a very different reality, I’m also against capital punishment. But in books, we rarely have easy access to prisons (aka filing a suit, prosecution, etc), or a fair justice system (at least in most countries when it comes to serial killers), they cannot simply rot in prison. No, they’d escape. Or they won’t get imprisoned in the first place. Someone who has killed dozens at least, if you don’t kill them, even if they were at one point human, they will kill again. They won’t care. So yes, better to kill them. Sometimes it does serve the plot like the save the hero somehow or become a better person or something. Other times, which is the most recurrent, they laugh and are ready to stab the hero again. I don’t think a cannibal has any hope for redemption. I couldn’t stand Yaz’s no don’t kill them!! Dude, they will kill people next time they meet one, you even witnessed it with your own eyes! This is simply foolish.

We also had a reference from the bible and another of a poem from our world personal theory based on these 2 things:
This is it for now, I might add more to it later.

In sum, I’m angry at this book for its wasted potential, some of you won’t mind the turns Mark took and will enjoy it regardless. Sadly, I didn’t. I don’t know if I will be reading the sequel, there’s a considerable chance that I might, however, there will more love triangle rectangle whatever going on, and I do not think I want to read about that. I’m not even rooting for any of the candidates!
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books404 followers
March 11, 2023
"It’s what you do with time that makes it matter. I’d rather spend a year making new memories than a thousand wandering around in the same old ones."

The Girl and the Stars is the first volume of The Book of the Ice, which takes place in the same world of Abeth as The Book of the Ancestor. Abeth is a planet orbiting a dying sun, almost entirely covered in ice. The planet has an artificial moon constructed by a long-lost people known as the Missing. The moon focuses the weak light from the sun onto a thin ribbon encircling the planet, known as the Corridor. In The Book of the Ancestor the action takes place within this narrow Corridor.

In The Book of the Ice, the main character, Yaz, is a teenage girl living in the inhospitable world of ice. Only the heartiest can survive amongst the ice tribes. The others are cast away into the world under the ice.

This book has a pervasive sense of claustrophia. Many of the scenes read like a fever dream.

As with many of Mark Lawrence's other books, there is a great combination of fantasy and sci-fi in The Girl and the Stars, together with excellent world-building and a dynamic cast characters. Parts of it feel almost like steampunk, but under the ice. (Icepunk, anyone?)

The Book of the Ice is where it all comes together for Mark Lawrence's five trilogies. If you are a fan of any of his other books, be sure to check out this highly rewarding series.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,963 reviews294k followers
May 13, 2020
2 1/2 stars. The Girl and the Stars is a kind of spin-off series of The Book of the Ancestor trilogy, set in the same universe but years later and with a new cast of characters. You do not necessarily have to have read Red Sister to enjoy it, but it would make some parts of this world and story easier to understand.

I thought the world-building in this book was incredible. The fierce, icy landscape, the history and culture of the ice tribes, the tainted, and the world beneath the ice... I was very into this. I also liked how the book dived into the action and plot right away, unveiling background info alongside the fast-paced bloodshed and fight for survival. No lengthy infodumps to bore us right away.

Yaz interested me in the beginning, too. The book opens with the characters travelling to a ceremony where they will be viewed by a priest who will choose certain members of their tribe (the Ictha) who are deemed unworthy to push down an icy drop. Never to be seen again. Yaz is certain she will be picked, but when the time comes, it is her younger brother Zeen who is shoved into the 'Pit of the Missing'. In a moment of panic, she throws herself after him.

There is something very YA-like about this book, which I wasn't expecting. The young characters, the action-based plot, the motivations, moralizing, and "tone" of the novel, all feel like a book for teens. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I did feel like I was always wanting something deeper; more character-driven. The characters felt a little stock and underdeveloped. Yaz seemed to fit too neatly into a badass YA heroine mold. And no other character was developed or interesting.

For this reason - my lack of connection to the characters - the second half became a bit of a slog for me. The action and world-building kept me turning pages in the first 50% or so, but when I made it halfway without really becoming invested in Yaz's story (and getting a bit annoyed with her, to be honest), no amount of action or fast-pacing could pull me back in.

I did make it to the end, though, and there is a cliffhanger for those who care about that. Maybe if I had adjusted my expectations some I might have enjoyed this more. I had settled in for some detailed, possibly dense, adult fantasy, and got an action-and-thrills YA instead. But I still think I would have needed better characters to fully love it.

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Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
421 reviews467 followers
April 21, 2020
This ARC was provided by the publisher (HarperVoyager) in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars

A scintillating start to this new series!

Omens are difficult and open to interpretation but if the oracle that touches your newborn dies moments later, frothing at the mouth, it is hard even with a mother’s love to think it is a good sign. In such cases a second opinion is often sought.

If the old adage that you’re only as good as your last book holds true for authors, then it’s hardly a surprise that one of my most highly anticipated book releases of the year was The Girl and the Stars. Full disclosure, that’s a complete understatement. Mark Lawrence delivered an emphatically stunning and satisfying conclusion with Holy Sister, finishing off his The Book of the Ancestor (TBOTA) series in some style and simultaneously pushing my hype levels for his next project through the roof (although I am still not over some of the heartaches he caused me). I did not think I could be more excited. That was until I heard that his new book was set in the same world as that previous series. It’s safe to say that if I had access to a Delorean, I’d have read this quite a while ago.

*For those who have not yet read TBOTA series, you are welcome to read The Girl and the Stars first. You won't be missing out on anything that will take away any understanding or enjoyment from this read.

Abeth is a cruel frozen wasteland, and the tribes that live on the ice are as hard as it gets. They know that a child born broken will die on the ice as their bodies do not have what it takes to survive. Growing up, the weakness in these children will grow too and become a burden on the tribe and themselves. Whether it presents a lack of stamina or resilience, whichever form it takes, it only results in the inevitable. Death. Thus the tribes gather every four years so that the regulator, Kazik, may pass his pale eyes over the children of the clans and give his judgement, weeding out those he finds wanting. When you walk on the ice you are either pure or you are dead. Like a frostbitten appendage, these chosen children are cut from society, thrown down a hole in the ice never to be seen again. The tribes call this hole the Pit of the Missing. There is no place for the weak on Abeth.

‘It’s a dangerous game to rid yourself of weakness. You never know what else you might be losing in the deal.’

When we meet Yaz, she is journeying with her tribe, the Ichta, towards the Black Rock. The time for the testing has arrived again. She is on the brink of being declared an adult and won’t have to endure the regulator’s scrutiny after that, but she knows deep down that her chances of evading the long dark fall towards death are slim. At the age of ten, she started seeing a river in her dreams, and eventually, she started glimpsing it in the waking world too. A river of the mind that runs through all things. Unexplained magic at the tips of her fingers. It was at the same age that everything that made the Ichta legendary started deserting her. Her strength, endurance, resilience against the cold. Yaz is different, and out on the ice being different is too dangerous.

The thousands stood without sound. Even the wind stilled its tongue. Still, no one spoke. And then a single high keening broke the silence. A mother’s cry from somewhere far up near the crater’s rim.

As with previous books by Mark Lawrence, the characters are brought to life through his remarkable talent, never failing to make strong impressions through every individual put on-page, but none more so than the compelling Yaz, who seems to be of the same mould as Nona from TBOTA. I don’t want to say much more about Yaz though, as her development throughout is part and parcel of the plot of this character-driven narrative, but where the other characters shone like stars, Yaz shone like a sun and I can’t wait to read more about her.

She would not surrender, not go gentle into her fate.

The planet of Abeth is as fascinating a place as ever. Ice-tribes in a frozen world, people with exciting magical skills, a missing civilization, sentient cities, mysterious technology, monsters and mysteries galore. Life is never dull in a Mark Lawrence novel. Fully established in TBOTA, this world at the end of its life provides a plethora of unanswered questions and I have a feeling many will remain so, but hopefully, others will have their answers dragged into the light. I for one can still not figure out where on the timeline The Girl and the Stars takes place, although I have seen other people stating confident and completely opposite answers from one another - some claiming it is after TBOTA and others saying it takes place before that series. I found nothing that answers it for me unless I missed it, so I will wait and see. Glimpses of a shared universe present themselves occasionally, as a certain character shows up in this who is present in all of the author’s series. As for Abeth, the world is still suffering its last throes in concert with the dying red sun that orbits it. The planet is known to be completely sheathed in iced from the lack of heat, but the rumour persists that a sliver of a corridor, green and warm, remains around the equator. Whether this is true or used to be true is up in the air for now.

And where other stories on Abeth take mostly place above ground, Lawrence has dropped us beneath the miles-deep ice for this setting. This inspired choice adds a dark, foreboding quality to the tale that easily lurks in every sentence thanks to the claustrophobic tunnels that seem alive with menace, the ever-present weight of hundreds of millions of tons of frozen water pressing down on every side and the never-ending drip, drip, drip of water. Luckily there are cannibals and monsters and worse to keep our characters' minds away from these things, all part of the gripping story and bookended with some rather dramatic moments!

If you have not yet read one of his books, the author has some skill at putting together sentences too, and it’s a joy to read.

Even so, it held a beauty and a peace: black rock, ice in every shade of pearl between white and clarity, the marbled seams of stardust glowing in all the colours that can be broken from the light. Beneath the many-tongued voice of falling water lay a distant glacial groaning, as timeless in its way as that of the wind.

Stacked with highly quotable sentences, sharp insights, and various themes ( friendship, finding yourself and found family are prevalent throughout), the writing in The Girl and the Stars exhibits that certain unputdownable quality that great authors seem to imbue their stories with, keeping us reading when we really should be doing that other thing we were supposed to do hours ago. Don’t judge me - pyjamas can be worn ALL day I tell you! I had a wonderful time reading this, and can confidently say that the sequel will most definitely occupy my most anticipated list, just like it’s predecessor. An easy recommendation to anyone who loves SFF or is looking to give it a try.

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can order the book from:
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and other reviews of mine at Novel Notions
Profile Image for William Gwynne.
355 reviews1,476 followers
May 8, 2020
THE GIRL AND THE STARS IS PUBLISHED IN THE UK TODAY!

Amazon

My review of this masterpiece is on BookNest -

The Girl and the Stars - BookNest

And you check out two other reviews on BookNest which are also 5-star ratings!

I was lucky enough to win a giveaway from Mark Lawrence that included a signed copy of The Girl and the Stars. So, thank so much again Mark Lawrence and That Thorn Guy.

When it comes to Mark Lawrence, it’s not a question of whether I will enjoy it or not. It’s more, how much am I going to love this? And I’m glad to say, though not surprised, that The Girl and the Stars is no different.

I cannot praise any of this enough. Every element, from plot, to characters, to prose. All brilliant.

“In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.”

The Girl and the Stars is set in the same world as The Book of the Ancestor trilogy, but you do not to read the previous series in order to fully appreciate this. I loved the subtle hints to the previous series, now in a time long gone, but new readers will not lose out, as this is set in an entirely separate environment, with a whole new set of trials and tribulations.

Once again, Lawrence has formed in these pages another set of memorable characters that are already cemented in my mind as brilliant. You quickly learn to either love them, or hate them, or both. There are not many writers who can inspire this variation of emotions within me, but Lawrence is an exception, and he repeatedly does it with ease.

Our main protagonist is the teenager Yaz, a young woman who is ascending into adulthood. She lives in the harsh frozen land of the ice, with the tribe of the Ictha. A dangerous place, where all must live together in a life of hardship in order so somehow survive. But, before she is fully accepted as an adult, all must face a test with a man named, the regulator. Those who fail are pushed into a black hole, and are renamed, The Broken… No one knows what happens to these, but Yaz believes that she is soon to find out.

“Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars”

Now onto the prose. Just, wow! That’s all that need be said really. Lawrence does not waste a word, but somehow manages to incite a fast-pace, along with plenty of time for interesting character development and world building. He has truly mastered how to combine all these aspects into his writing, allowing the reader to finish with a mesmerising experience.

So, Mark Lawrence has shown me again why he is one of my favourite authors of all time, Every book I have read of his has been a 5-star rating, and this is no exception. I LOVED this, and will find it a very difficult time as I await news for the sequel, which Lawrence has already written and is now being edited. Everyone, you need to read this, and if you can, read The Book of the Ancestor trilogy, which is in my top five series of all time.

5/5 STARS
Profile Image for Adam.
374 reviews164 followers
September 4, 2019
Abeth, a frozen ice planet. Many years ago, a home to Nona and the sisters of the Sweet Mercy convent. Now home to nothing but wandering ice tribes, struggling to survive in the harshest conditions imaginable.

To survive is to sacrifice. Outliers must be culled. Whether you are weak and lag behind, or if you’re too big or strong and eat more than the average share, then you can no longer exist within the tribe. You are thrown away, torn from your home and family forever. Yaz, our teenage protagonist, finds herself in this position at the onset of the story, and we follow her journey down the rabbit hole into an unforgiving world of danger, mystery, magic, science fiction, politics, horror, and so much more.

To go into any more detail will spoil some of the fun, but I will mention that the story was impossible to categorize, as it created a genre all to its own. What to call it is up to you. Icepunk? Sure, why not. It’s not news that Lawrence continues to get better with every book. This is something we’ve known for years. But this is a different kind of story than what we’re used to from him. It has a drive to it, a pulse, a gearshift that kicks higher and higher.

Long-shrouded mysteries that were first hinted at in The Broken Empire and carried over through The Red Queen’s War and The Book of the Ancestor were finally being cracked open wide here, revealing that Lawrence has been low-key creating a shared universe of his work all along. What else could be in store for the future of the Yaz-mere? We can already access two different series in two different eras. Perhaps there’s a third era of time in which we can further expand on the lore of a mysterious race or two? But I’m getting way ahead of myself. This book is having that effect on me. It’s provoking wild theories and getting me very, very excited for what’s to come. It’s that kind of book.

Every chapter kept getting better and better. There were many questions I had during The Book of the Ancestor series that were addressed here. New abilities, new environments, new threats, new characters to love and hate, themes and questions carried over from Nona’s story, a ton of new mysteries to solve... it was plain to see how carefully the scenes were constructed, and it all flowed wonderfully. Almost every chapter had something breath-catching in it.

The Girl and the Stars is more than the start of a new series. It’s the culmination of some of the best ideas of Lawrence’s previous works while promising that amazing things are still to come. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Icepunk book in the Yaz-mere.

ARC via HarperCollinsUK

The Girl and the Stars with be released on April 30, 2020. Pre-order it here.

9.5 / 10
Profile Image for Holly (The GrimDragon).
1,000 reviews235 followers
April 16, 2020
"Many babies have killed, but it is very rare that the victim is not their mother.

When the father handed his infant to the priestess to speak its fortune the child stopped screaming and in its place she began to howl, filling the silence left behind.

Omens are difficult and open to interpretation but if the oracle that touches your newborn dies moments later, frothing at the mouth, it is hard even with a mother's love to think it a good sign.

In such cases a second opinion is often sought."


The Girl and the Stars is the first installment in the Book of the Ice, a new series by the timeless Mark Lawrence. I still haven't quite gotten over Holy Sister, the finale of The Book of the Ancestor series. Oof. If you have yet to read that glorious series, please do. It's not necessary to read before this, storyline-wise, but it's incredible.

Although set in the same world as The Book of the Ancestor, The Book of the Ice is a separate story within a different area of Abeth. The planet Abeth is almost completely covered in thick-ass ice sheets. It's COLD, y'all! Whereas the first trilogy focused on the continuing issue of the ice infringing upon both sides of the Corridor, which is a piece of land in the middle that remains clear, bringing with it a war for the gradually diminishing heat resources. The Book of the Ice explores the harsh climate of the polar region where one must be strong to survive.

Sixteen-year-old Yaz is a part of an ice tribe in the dangerous far north called the Ichta, who are a people that act only when they must, guarding their strength. Steeped in history, the Ichta practice a horrific ritual. One that divides those that are seen as different or unconforming, removing them from the tribe every four years so that others may live. How does the clan do such a thing, you may ask yourself? By throwing the supposed "cursed," "weak" & "broken" children into a massive hole in the ice.

On the fateful day of the ritual, Yaz expects to be mercilessly tossed. She is most certainly different, harnessing something deep inside of her. She never imagined that it would be her twelve-year-old brother Zeen that would instead meet his tragic end. Without realizing it, Yaz finds herself in the claustrophobic Pit of the Missing, attempting to locate her beloved brother, while trying to survive her extreme surroundings.

I won't go into anymore detail about the plot, because GODDAMN. What follows is a twisty, absolutely breathless journey beneath the ice. I loved it so completely!

"The stars," the girl said. "They burn brighter when you're near."

When I added this to my Current Read on Goodreads, I noticed a "question/comment" in regards to Lawrence writing YET ANOTHER young female-led series. How he needs to return to writing male characters because he's written too many women or some shit. That is absolutely bonkers! How fragile must ones masculinity be? AS IF THERE AREN'T A BILLION AND TEN OTHER MALE-LED SAUSAGE PRESENTING BOOKS OUT THERE! Come on, broflake! These type of characters are *precisely* what readers need more of, thankyouverymuch.

To say I was feeling my feelings once I finished this would be an understatement!

The Girl and the Stars is a hauntingly beautiful story that captured my whole entire heart! In these strange times, we need to escape more than ever and this was exactly what I so desperately needed. The glorious cast of characters just leap off of the page! They are diverse, multidimensional and compelling. Each one is deeply authentic, with Lawrence capturing their individual voices in such a natural way.

There was this overwhelming feeling I had within probably 50 pages or so, once Yaz starts meeting the Broken, of community. Of groups of people coming together from all over, with different traditions and cultures. Not a melting pot, but better. A more diverse and integrated society with a deep sense of camaraderie. I tend to find myself drawn to those stories anyway, but especially now with the parallels of the world today.

Lawrence is a truly gifted storyteller with the ability to intertwine fantasy and science fiction seemlessly with blood-soaked emotion and brutal darkness. He writes viciously and with so much heart!

Crawl inside this book, wrap yourself up within the pages and let the words seep into your bones. What a triumphant start to the latest series by Mark Lawrence!

(Endless thanks to Berkley Publishing Group & ACE for sending me a copy to gush & flail over!)

**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,011 reviews1,330 followers
February 19, 2023
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Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars

“It’s what you do with time that makes it matter. I’d rather spend a year making new memories than a thousand wandering around in the same old ones.”


After reading this book I am now surer than ever that Lawrence is a hit or miss author for me. His Broken Empire series did not work for me, but his Impossible Times series is my favorite sci-fi trilogy. His book of the Ancestors was great but after finishing this it looks like the book of the ice series is not going to work for me.

I should also point out that three of my most trusted reviewers also gave this 3 or lower stars rating but I wanted to see for myself only to end up agreeing with the things they mentioned in their reviews. I am going to point those out as bullet points (I am keeping it short since there are a ton of reviews with similar ratings who worded it better than I could ever do):

❄️ The best part of the book is the beginning starting with an epic opening line that just pulls you in and the more I made progress (past 40%) the more I was losing interest and at the end I was almost skimming and wanting it to end.

❄️ The world building is great, and we already know the world from the book of the ancestor series -why is why it is better to read that one first, but I can see people starting with this one too- however, it is not enough to make me read a whole series whereas the characters are not as interesting.

❄️ The book felt YA to me and not because of the character’s ages but more because of the tropes and the way the protagonist was acting all the time. Furthermore, the secondary characters kind of fell flat to me and I don’t see myself remembering any of them at all in the near future.

“We are victims of our first friendships. They are the foundations of us. Each anchors us to our past. The blows that drive those nails home are randomly struck, but they echo down all our days even so.”


Summary: I really wanted to enjoy the book, but it just did not grab my attention and even became a burden to go through at one point. The prose and world-building were good but the characters which are the most important thing to me fell flat. The book also felt very YA to me, which is not really a problem, but I was expecting an adult fantasy like the rest of Lawrence’s books. I think readers who enjoy YA fantasy can still enjoy this one. I have a feeling that his next book will be good though.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,973 followers
October 15, 2020
Having already read some of Lawrence's early grimdark fantasy with SF elements and his Impossible Times books, I figured it was about time to enjoy his more usual YA fare.

Did I say usual? Well, yeah, that's what I THOUGHT, anyway. Instead, I got what appeared to be a far future or far past Ice Age world that immediately recalls a legend of having traveled the stars to get there, and then I'm utterly hooked.

I think it was the gorgeous descriptions of the ice. The characters are pretty good, but I truly fell in love with the worldbuilding and the increasing plot. Things are not as they seem. Tossing kids down holes in the ice does appear to be a cruel way to get rid of the weak on the surface, but this is merely the quick beginning to a rather vast adventure.

And then, I'm an utter sucker for fantasy realms that then hide a hard-SF core. Truly. I kinda cackled at a few points.

But what of the stars? Oh, just you wait. As I will have to wait for the next book, damn it, now that my curiosity has just grown deeper and more dissatisfied.

*hint - the stars are probably not what you think*

Does anyone want some whale meat?
Profile Image for Philip.
500 reviews673 followers
December 2, 2020
3ish stars.

I think Mark Lawrence is a really talented writer. I appreciate his classical prose and his creative world-building. That's the case even here, in which the "world" he builds is only a narrow, claustrophobic sliver of the planet explored more fully in the Book of the Ancestor series.

Which makes me question why it was overdrawn so much as to be almost as long as the first book in that series, Red Sister, which is itself not a lightweight.

Honestly it could have been a cool little side story/companion novella to offer a unique contrast to Nona's story. And the concept is indeed cool. Unfortunately its realization is unnecessarily bloated to the point of bursting. And it ends on a cliffhanger. Apparently the author thinks he has enough material to justify at least a sequel (presumably a trilogy), despite the fact that .

As much as I love Lawrence, and as much as I've enjoyed my time on Abeth, I'm removing myself from this particular narrative.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for David S Meanderings).
325 reviews87 followers
July 2, 2020
4.75 stars.

“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.”

Thank you to ACE books for the advance reading copy of this book. Receiving this arc did not affect my review in any way.

It was so good to be back in the world of Abeth. I had really enjoyed Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor trilogy set in the same world and was so excited to dive back in. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

One of my favorite things about The Girl and the Stars is how much more we get to know about the world. This first entry in the Book of the Ice series answers quite a few questions about the magic system, lore, and peoples of Abeth that were left unanswered in the last series. I am so glad I read the Book of the Ancestor series before this as I think it was all that much sweeter to find out about these things through the context of what I already knew. However, it is not necessary to read the previous series before you start this one.

We follow Yaz as the single, first person POV throughout the entire story. Yaz is her own person and I liked how she was very distinct from Nona, the main protagonist from the last series. Yaz has a strong love for her family and in particular this is shown through her sacrifices for her brother Zeen in this book. She is loyal, caring, brutally efficient when necessary, and can wield incredible powers. Yaz is compelling because she is so powerful while at the same time being relatable. You feel for her as she strives to save her family and friends. She fights for what she believes to be right no matter the odds and that made following her all the more enjoyable.

Even though we follow Yaz for the entire story, there are quite a few other characters that are able to shine. I was especially interested in Erris, one of the people Yaz meets within the Ice. There is a mystery about him that intrigues me and I am excited to learn more about him and his abilities. Not gonna lie, there are a lot of names in this one and I didnt take notes. I don’t want to butcher the other character’s names, so rest assured they are there and written brilliantly.

“Now though, with darkness and despair literally reaching out to engulf her, she knew how cruel and fragile a thing hope is, and how sharp the edges of new forged dreams can be once shattered.”

I also want to give a shoutout to Lawrence’s ability to write incredible villains. There are quite a few in this story and I’m not exaggerating, every single one had deep and meaningful motivations. There were no cookie cutter “I’m just evil because I’m evil” villains in this one. I despised them all by the end and that is not something that is easy to do.

The one thing that could have been better and why I decided to give this a 4.75 instead of a perfect 5 is because I felt like some of the characters became unrealistically close in a short amount of time. There is definitely something to be said about shared experiences and traumas bringing people together quickly. However. there were a few people that Yaz deeply cared about in this narrative that I just couldn’t buy into.

I LOVE this magic system! It is so visual and fun to imagine. It is very well explained and I like that even though there is a lot to it, it is pretty easy to understand. I also liked that it is not only useful in battle, but also in surviving the Ice. There are a few separate categories of magic users and all are useful in more ways than one.

“In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.”

There is some dialogue, both internal and external, about the value of each life no matter who they are or what supposed “weaknesses” they have. I really enjoyed this part of the story because it felt completely organic. “The Broken” struggle with this concept of having worth despite their flaws and I found myself easily relating to them because of this. I love a story that can shine a light on injustice, insecurity, and the pain of the world without losing the hope and goodness that binds us all together.

After that ending, I wanted to pick up the next book right away! Be warned, there will be cliffhangers.

I really enjoyed this book. It has heart, characters that are easy to root for, villains that are easy to hate, and a fast paced plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Author 1 book358 followers
April 14, 2020
--Originally posted on BookNest.eu--

Mark Lawrence is considered by many (myself included) as one of the greatest fantasy authors of our age. By often treading a thin line between prose and poetry, his writing compliments and further elevates an already compelling story, resulting in books loved by many and appreciated by all. The Girl and the Stars is no exception.

Yaz is traveling with her whole tribe to the Black Rock, a place where, once every four years, cursed children are thrown into a hole in the ice to meet their end. Yaz expected to be thrown. What she didn't expect was to survive the drop, only to realize that she wasn't cursed, but gifted with power. More power, perhaps, than anyone has ever wielded in Abeth since the days of the Missing...

"Many babies have killed, but it is very rare that the victim is not their mother. When the father handed his infant to the priestess to speak its fortune the child stopped screaming and in its place she began to howl, filling the silence left behind. Omens are difficult and open to interpretation, but if the orcale that touches your newborn dies moments later, frothing at the mouth, it is hard even with a mother's love to think it a good sign."


I've been lucky enough to review thirteen books by Mark Lawrence, but after my fifth or sixth review, I've always struggled to write another one. I can only talk so many times about his unparalleled prose, his captivating world-building, his propulsive narrative or his vivid imagery, and the fact that my reviews are usually addressed to readers who haven't yet read the book in question only makes it that much harder since I'm not willing to tread in spoiler territory. Nevertheless, here we are.

Yaz is perhaps Mark's most compelling protagonist. Despite her minimum to non-existent knowledge of how the world works, having spent her whole life in the Ice, she is cunning and plucky. One way or the other, she will always work her way out of a difficult situation, more often than not ending up in a more complex one. But what truly sets her apart from Jorg, Nona, and even Jalan, is that while they were morally grey protagonists, Yaz is, simply put, a good person. No matter how many times she is presented with an opportunity to save herself in other people's expense, she will always end up choosing the "right path", and I loved her for it. The characters that surround Yaz are also well fleshed out, although the detestable ones far outweigh the likeable. Most of the story takes place in one place, and therefore the worldbuilding isn't that much developed (or further expanded if you've already read The Book of the Ancestor), although there are enough glimpses in the history, ecology and geography of the world to make it fascinating. The magic system is ambiguous, but that is only to be expected in the first book of a series.

And above it all with the frozen light bleeding all around it, some great dark... thing, a creature as large as the sky, like a hand but not, a creature of spindly legs reaching out to encompass the world, supporting a knotted body the colour of venom and despair.


The Girl and the Stars is full of pathos, heart, and joy, but what truly makes it stand out is something that I'm always looking for in SF books, but never expected to find in Fantasy. A sense of wonder. I came to the book looking for adventure and got it, but didn't expect to experience one of those rare moments that trigger the mind into expanding and taking in a mind-blowing concept.

--Originally posted on BookNest.eu--
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (on hiatus).
1,501 reviews202 followers
October 19, 2020
Dear Mr Lawrence,

That ending!
I am dead.

Kind regards
Claude

You know when you pick up a book by this remarkable author you will read dramatic writing that can contain both spare and lyrical prose. The world-building will blow your mind with its rich complexity, and it is inevitable you will fall in love with characters that are both fierce and fragile. All these elements were in The Girl and the Stars. However there were also some pacing issues in this book. It was chaotic one moment then very flat the next. Obviously it can’t be hectic the whole time, however the lulls were very...well...‘lullish’. Other than that I am all in and excited for what will be another amazing journey!
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,310 reviews211 followers
April 21, 2020
I have a simple routine that works every time. Mark Lawrence publishes something, I read it. A win-win situation for all involved.

The Girl and the Stars takes place in the world of Abeth known to readers from The Book of the Ancestor series but in both a different timeline and in a harsher region. The story’s protagonist, Yaz, differs from Nona, so don’t expect a simple rewrite of your favorite character. She’s a young Ichta woman who lives in the harsh frozen land.

When the Regulator throws her brother into the Pit of the Missing, she goes there after him and finds herself in a dire situation beneath the ice. As the story develops Yaz discovers her talent to manipulate the stars, artifacts of the past trapped in the ice walls. She meets new friends but also foes.

Colorful crew members, encounters with monsters, underground chases and escapes and betrayals keep the story engaging. The Girl and the Stars maintains a sense of foreboding throughout. It always feels like something is lurking just around the corner of the ice tunnel. The claustrophobic, icy landscapes and tunnels give way to a feeling of hopelessness and futility and yet young protagonists find the strength to fight. I loved this setting and the way it shaped characters.

It's worth noting that Lawrence is fleshing out his characters with fascinating precision, and giving every member of Yaz's supporting cast a chance to shine. Most of her new-found friends have magical powers inherent to their tribes/bloodlines and seeing them in action thrilled me. I won't reveal who does what and when but trust me when I say cool things happen.

As bleak and vicious as this book is, The Girl and the Stars is not without some dark humor. Well-placed banter and moments of levity balance the dreary tone and themes of the novel. Actually, I think many readers won't regard the novel as particularly bleak while reading it but I don't know how else to describe a world in which disabled children (or even children considered not good enough) are thrown away to die under the ice.

The writing is excellent, as you would expect from Mark Lawrence. His style is distinct and recognizable. Plus, I absolutely love it.

A Girl and the Stars has action, heart, a sense of humor, and an awesome premise. The cast of characters is memorable and diverse. The pacing falters briefly in the beginning but is otherwise breathtaking from start to finish. It’s the kind of fantasy I need more of.
Profile Image for Steven.
1,066 reviews384 followers
April 21, 2020
Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I knew that since I loved the Book of the Ancestor trilogy (Red Sister, Grey Sister, Holy Sister), set in the same world, that this one was bound to be good. And I was right. I loved this one.

Strong female character? Check. Really cool setting? Check. Deepening of the world's lore? Check. Creepy villains? Check. Plot twists galore? Check. Oh, and let's not forget about the one thing I didn't really like but fully expected and only didn't really like it because I have to wait... cliffhanger ending? Check.

The other thing I knew when I accepted this ARC? That I should wait. That I should say no thanks. That I should have patience and let myself get to when book three's release is imminent and binge them... because now I have to sit here, longing for book two, and that's a long way away. But it will be worth the wait... I just know it!

Thanks, Mark Lawrence. You've done it again!
Profile Image for Jane Kelsey.
958 reviews65 followers
December 22, 2019
Another epic novel from Mark..wow. the characters, the world building the magic system... incredible..loved it..full review to follow
**********
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,418 reviews384 followers
April 26, 2020
DNF @ 55%

What a journey of expectation and difficulty this read has been. I had high hopes with that cover, that synopsis and genre. The story started off incredibly strong, I really liked the world above the ice and felt excited about the storyline ahead. Things changed drastically and the protagonist Yaz, found herself below the ice. Everything following this for the first half of the book gave me Maze runner vibes, just in a different context. I was not thrilled about this, at all.

The world under the ice was confusing, the characters were mostly annoying and the different creatures, magic, taints and demons were rather difficult to fathom. Half the time, I didn’t know who was who. I wanted to continue, I wanted to know more about Yaz and her stars in the ice but it felt like drowning in mud. When you’ve tried and tried but pushing through gets harder, it’s time to throw the towel in. This didn’t work for me, it wasn’t the story for me or the characters to interest me.

If I was pushed to rate it, I would say 2 stars.

This review can be found on A Take From Two Cities.
April 17, 2020
This is the first book by Mark I have read and I was blown away, this is not just a book it’s a piece of art. It’s an amazingly beautifully crafted piece of literature. Mark’s world building is just perfection, he creates characters that are completely three dimensional, relatable and that you love and hate with equal measure. This is some of the best story telling I’ve ever read and I’m off to read his other books now, if they are as good I think I’m about to add Mark to my favourite authors list. These are such a good look at society and how we treat people, about judgement and marginalisation and people’s ‘value’. It’s just simply a wonderful piece of fantasy and I would encourage all lovers of fantasy to pick this up. It’s to me a future classic.


Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Profile Image for Mark.
486 reviews83 followers
February 18, 2020
An ARC from net gallery.

Well Mark show us once again that he’s still on top of his game at writing wonderful characters, great worlds and well everything else and it comes to books.

Set in the same world as the wonderful book of the ancestor series, this time we are taken north to the land of snow and ice, complete with buried cities of the Missing.

Highly recommended to all on here.
Profile Image for Celeste.
906 reviews2,345 followers
June 1, 2020
Actual rating: 3.5 stars, rounded up.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Ace) in exchange for an honest review.
“Many babies have killed, but it is very rare that the victim is not their mother.”

So begins Mark Lawrence’s newest novel, The Girl and the Stars. As always, Lawrence knows how to captivate an audience and set the tone for the book all within the first sentence. We know immediately that Yaz of the Ictha, our perspective character, is an uncommon child. On the Ice, difference can be a death sentence. And not just because those differences often render their bearer vulnerable, but because children who are too different, broken in the eyes of their elders, end up being tossed into the Pit. And that is the end that Yaz envisions for herself with a hard clarity. But when the time comes for her to face the push that will send her into the abyss, things go differently that she had always imagined. What she fully expected to be the end of her story turned out to be its true beginning.
“We are the unwanted, the things of such little use that they are thrown away. We are what is beyond repair. We are the Broken.”

The idea of tribes as both extended family and the roots of identity is a dominant theme in The Girl and the Stars, as is the prospect of found family versus families related by blood. If you’ve read Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor trilogy, you’re already familiar with both the importance of blood in the magic system and the power of the families one can build around oneself. I have a serious soft spot for any strongly tied grouping that feels like family, whether that family is genetic or gathered over the course of a life. I was happy to see that explored a bit in this book, and I believe it will be an important element of the books that follow.
“Did beauty need an observer to matter? Was anything beautiful without someone to think it so?”

I thoroughly enjoyed being given the chance to revisit Abeth, and to see it from an unfamiliar angle. It’s really interesting to get the same world and magic from a different perspective. The new ways in which these are viewed and conveyed add a depth to the world building. At first glance, life on the Ice is so radically different from the setting of Nona’s story in the Book of the Ancestor that it’s difficult to find much commonality. But as the story progresses we are shown more and more the ties that bind two such dissimilar ways of life irrevocably together. I also found the subterranean setting of the majority of the book quite fascinating. It’s a hidden world that was touched on in the Book of the Ancestor, but I enjoyed seeing it further fleshed out here. Cold, wind, and the Ice are the most important aspects of life here because they’re the most dangerous. It’s interesting to see to what extent these elements dominate every single moment in the minds of those who dwell within it.
“…it’s better to die trying for a life we can take for ourselves than to die fighting each other in the dark for an existence we were condemned to.”

While I found the world building and the quality of the writing in The Girl and the Stars just as exemplary as that of the Book of the Ancestor trilogy, I found myself unable to love this story with quite the same intensity. I think this disconnect was due in large part to the characters. While I liked Yaz and respected her steadfast loyalty, she didn’t have the same depth in my opinion as Nona. I also found her a bit too akin to a Young Adult heroine, especially since almost every male with a pulse, and one that I’m pretty sure doesn’t even have one, seemed completely infatuated with her. Yaz is also a weird combination of helpless and all-powerful, which again reminded me of a heroine from so many YA novels.
“It’s a dangerous game to try to rid yourself of weakness. You never know what else you might lose in the deal.”

Another thing that threw me out of the story on occasion was actually one of my favorite elements of any Lawrence book I’ve read thus far: the writing. Lawrence tends to wax philosophical quite often, which I always love. I always heavily highlight his books, and this one was no exception. He had some truly profound things to say, and he said them well. However, due to the fact that the heroine and the novel itself felt more YA in tone than the preceding trilogy, I found that these philosophical passages didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the story, and even felt a bit self-indulgent. Anytime a character embarked on an esoteric monologue, it felt incredibly out of character to the point where said character felt more like a ventriloquist dummy than an autonomous being. I hate that I found this so jarring, but it further hindered my ability to connect with Yaz and her compatriots on any emotional level. I also found the subtle science fiction and post apocalyptic undertones more distracting here than I did in the preceding trilogy, as did the occasional references to our own world. The balance was just off in my opinion.
“She understood that she wasn’t the selfish voice, or the kind one—she was the sum of a multitude, normally joined so close the seams didn’t show, but liable to fall apart under stress. Everyone was. A mix, a recipe, the sum of their parts and more.”

I might not have loved Yaz are her story with the same fervor I felt for Nona and her fellow nuns, but Lawrence told an incredibly interesting tale with The Girl and the Stars. He did a brilliant job of showcasing the same world from a different angle, highlighting facets that had previously been in the shadows. I’m interested to see what Abeth holds next for Yaz, and what impact Yaz will in kind have on Abeth.

You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
612 reviews573 followers
December 28, 2020
2.5/5 stars

"Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars."

Here we have a straight up case of expectations -vs-reality. I really like Mark Lawrence, and have loved almost everything I’ve read by him. Therefore his newest series, set in the Arctic North of the same word in which the Book of the Ancestors series is set, was high on my most-anticipated list.
It only goes to show: when anticipating something phenomenal, something just good can be a disappointment.

The Girl and the Stars is a YA survival fantasy novel about a girl who sets out on a quest through an arctic underground cave system to find her younger brother. Anything more would be a spoiler, so I’m going to leave it a that. The story was engaging enough, and has many tropes that YA-readers would love, but unfortunately just didn’t do much for me. Even though it breaks my heart a bit, this is the first series by Mark Lawrence I don’t feel any inclination to continue.

If the premise sounds interesting to you and you just want another entertaining YA fantasy story with an engaging setting and plot, please don't let this review stop you: this is a perfectly good one. It just wasn't the 5-star favourite I hoped it to be.
Profile Image for Yvonne (The Coycaterpillar Reads).
686 reviews213 followers
May 8, 2020
The Girl And The Stars is certainly not Mark Lawrence’s first rodeo. However, It is the most poignant epic fantasy that I have experienced in a long time.  The story envelops you like a long lost relative after decades apart…everything about it just feels right.  This is the kind of story that leaves you grappling with the fight for cognitive cohesion.  How on earth do you get your thoughts down in a review in regard to a book of this magnitude.  The narrative took me hostage and posted my ransom.  I didn’t want to be found, I wanted to be immersed in this world for the foreseeable future. 

My kindle only made it through the read by the skin of its teeth.  There are some elements of a story that just speak to you and The Girl And The Stars just had it all.  it drew out unbreakable connections, the electricity snapping between us.  The book quite simply felt like a living and breathing entity.  You feel the emotion and the outpouring of love that Mark Lawrence has for this story and it spoke completely to the heart.  It’s almost like the book knew how you tick and brought you everything you have been craving. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a book that you can read a few chapters at a time.  The Girl And The Stars will rapt your attention and the fight against it will be a futile struggle.  Epic fantasy.  Survival.  Family. Unbreakable bonds and children of different abilities.  The prose was like titanium – solid. 

Mark Lawrence is an author that I have failed to get around to reading, I am ashamed to admit but now I have had a taste of his work, I will be seeking to change that immediately.  He has brought The Girl and The Stars to life with such a glorious 8k dimension to it.  He has created a fully immersive epic fantasy and surpassed all expectations – my brain wanted to explode.  The world building was mind blowing and I was experiencing it in VR. 

We meet Yaz, our sixteen-year-old female protagonist, a member of the ice tribe, the ictha.  She knows that she cannot ascend to an adult member of the tribe without being judged by the regulator, Kazik.  Yaz has known for many a year that she wasn’t normal, her abilities would be judged harshly and would end up being cast away into the pit of the missing, where all broken children end up. 

Inadvertently or not Yaz ends up in the pit with her brother, Zeen.  Her one and only mission is to save her brother, who in her mind, doesn’t deserve to be in the pit.  After a considerable amount of time she comes face to face with a despicable giant – who just happens to gorge on the flesh of the broken.  Yaz, however, is rescued by other members of the broken and she is introduced to a new clan that can survive below the ice.  They have adapted to their new environment and Yaz has a whole lot of adapting to do. 

The Girl And The Stars laser precise and hits its target every time.  An intricate magical spell, you fall deep, and its rich narrative is a fresh take on a populated genre.
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