Book Review – The Girl and the Stars

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

If I decided to use a five-star system this book is an easy 5/5.

But I don’t, so you can ignore that.

Lawrence’s newest series, the Book of the Ice is set in the same world as The Book of the Ancestor. If this isn’t something you’ve read, I would highly recommend you changing that as soon as possible. It isn’t necessary so you can skip over if you feel so inclined, but a lot of the lore and information you will be given is easier to understand if you go back. The major reason for going back is getting to see the world Lawrence has written, potentially one of my favourite and imaginative worlds in recent years. The world of Abeth is dying, its sun unable to stop the encroaching Ice Age that creeps from both poles, the last defence of man is a  barely functioning man-made moon that refracts the suns light into the corridor, a 50-mile-wide strip of land around the equator that’s slowly getting smaller year by year. The inhabitants of Abeth fighting each other for the scraps of what the ice hasn’t taken.

How fucking amazing does that sound?

The Book of the Ancestor focused on Nona Grey, a girl living in the corridor. Lawrence decided to stick to this incredible world but also explore the rest of Abeth this time round. Small tribes that live out on the ice, nomads, always moving, who can barely leave the safety of their clothing, spending most of their lives even unable to touch each other for fear of a quick and icy death.

As I said, how fucking amazing does that sound?

Our story focuses on Yaz, a sixteen-year-old girl from the Ithca tribe, we enter as they travel to the Pit of the Missing where the children of the tribes are tested for any signs of “weakness”. Weakness isn’t allowed to exist on the ice, and anyone not considered whole and strong is swiftly pushed down the hole, it is where all the broken must go.

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

The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

Yaz knows she isn’t the same as the rest of the Ithca, she can’t run as far, she isn’t as strong, she feels the cold that little bit more, she knows when she arrives it is her time, she is destined to go into the dark depths of the hole and never to been seen again. However, Yaz is wrong, the regulators decide she has greater thing in store, but things quickly things change when she follows her twelve-year-old brother Zeen who’s been pushed down the hole instead.

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

The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

This is the first sentence of the book, and I felt Lawrence really came out of the gates swinging with this and god damn what a start, it’s not often that a two-page prologue manages to get me so hyped. That energy never really disappears during the entire book, at no point did it feel boring or lacking. We get a tiny lull in the middle but honestly, I felt that was only a lull because the rest of the book was so exciting. Having a world that’s already been set really helps with this as we get to skip straight into the story, we don’t need the too common first book data dump or slow setup, we know of the tribes and the four bloods, we know (or really don’t know, I guess) about the missing and the technology they left behind. But even though this is the same world we already know it feels so different, the people of the corridor actually know so little of the rest of the world and that quickly shows. Then on the flipside and what was remarkably interesting was that the tribes do not even believe in the existence of the corridor,  the contact isn’t there, the people of the tribes haven’t seen a tree, or a butterfly, they can’t wander down to the local market. What we get is almost a completely new setting, barely stained by any previous events, but with the framework of a truly incredibly, well written world. The Caves and the undercity were incredibly exciting to read about and I’m glad so much of the story was spent in the ruins of the old city. I’m a big fan of Lawrence’s post-apocalyptic settings, the tie in of barely understood technology into everyday life, and the story that is slowly put together looks like we will get to see more of that than we’ve seen before.  Lawrence really fleshed this new Abeth with some of the best writing I’ve seen from him so far, as with anything practise makes perfect and you can see the continued evolution of Lawrence’s talent. There were some beautiful prose and every setting Yaz visits was painted beautifully without being unnecessarily over the top, I was super happy to not find myself skipping over paragraphs of prose that didn’t need to be written which is often the case and for myself a real tell of how good the writing really was.

As per usual Lawrence’s book follow a single person perspective with its usual array of supporting characters, Yaz is a well written and exciting main character to follow. She isn’t in any way wildly different from the classic fantasy protagonist, I do like Lawrence’s continued theme of not writing characters that have these massively preordained destinies or the “chosen one” which is seen all too often. We have a brave and smart teenage girl who is following her instincts and making mistakes along the way, she does seem to be on the stronger side of magic users in Abeth, but this is likely just due to her being out on the ice were people with the old blood have been slowly bred out, I’m not sure if she was against Nona she would seem all that special. The other supporting members of the cast were all enjoyable to read about and fell into their parts of the story well, there were a few stand outs for me; Maya is a bad bitch and I hope our little shadow assassin continues to be in the story. Erris and Elias both came into the story perfectly, super exciting chapters, revealing just enough to really keep you tense. Thurin was a great secondary to Yaz for the first part of the book and I think the portrayal of a survivor was done well, you felt his pain and fear as you found out more about him. As a whole, the Broken as a group were written beautifully, the pain and misery were heavily felt, these people had been abandoned to what was barely a life, slaving away for the people above ground without really knowing it, spending every day in fear of death, or worse.

“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.”

The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

Theus and the tainted were incredible boogeymen, and as the book went on you really started to struggle to see the lines as they blurred between good and bad (don’t get me wrong, I hope all the priests of the Black Rock are murdered off). It was fantastic to really see the demons come into the story in a bigger way, finally finding out where they are from and how they were made. It really makes me excited to see where the Theus character arc goes, as he finds more missing parts of himself and becomes more complete, it makes you question whether he will stray from being the villain to being something closer to a hero? And does the Missing’s name maybe have less to do with the fact they are missing from the world but more to do with the fact they are missing what made them human in the first place? I think we are getting to see the reason for the Missing’s downfall and that really excites me.

 I agree with some people’s views that this book felt a little more YA than some of Lawrence’s previous entries and even then, it’s a very tiny agreement, and in no way is that a bad thing. I at points wished that the book focused a little less on the boy’s feelings for Yaz, the introduction of what I can only call a love square wasn’t needed (Quell returning out of nowhere was probably the only bit of the book I didn’t enjoy, his character should have stayed topside). But overall, the book felt to me more grimdark than some of the previous series, we have what really feels like a bleak and hopeless world, regardless of those living above the ice or below, every day is just scraping another day of survival with very little joy.

“The world turns whether we will it or not and everything, longed for or feared, comes to us in time.”

The Girl and the Stars – Mark Lawrence

The Girl and the Stars really is the peak of Lawrence’s writing so far, an incredibly well written first entry into what will be a magnificent series. I’m writing this review a couple months off from the The Girl and the Mountain release date and couldn’t be more exited to get my hands on it and I won’t be letting this one sit on my shelf for close to a year this time.

tl;dr Read the damn book, its great.

Thanks for reading


My most anticipated reads of 2021.

I know Ive missed a ton of what will be amazing reads for this year, this is just my list for what Im excited for. In no particular order…

Thank you for reading.

John Gwynne – Shadow of the Gods


“After the gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrid.

Now a new world is rising, where power-hungry jarls feud and monsters stalk the woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.

As whispers of war echo across the mountains and fjords, fate follows in the footsteps of three people: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who seeks vengeance among the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world as it once more falls under the shadow of the gods . . .”

John Gwynne is a truly incredible author and is constantly at war for my number one spot. His two  series so far have both been amazing, seven books and not one boring, or really any flaws to speak of. I feel Gwynne’s writing excels really in all areas, his world building is fantastic, he really knows how to write a world that feels new and unique which I find incredibly hard to do in Fantasy, now branching out from the Banished Lands we all love so,  I really can’t wait for his take on Nord Culture and how he makes this new world feel as compelling and interesting as before. His ability to write entertaining and interesting characters is another major strength, I’ve yet to come across someone in these books I’ve wanted to skip over, and Gwynne writes people you fall in love with, the lack of Corban from this first series to his next stopped me reading it for maybe three years?

This could be the fantasy book of 2021. (I mean he has to go against a Joe Abercrombie finale? 2021 is a good year)

The Pariah – Ryan Anthony


“Born into the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the freedom of the woods and the comradeship of his fellow thieves. But an act of betrayal sets him on a new path – one of blood and vengeance, which eventually leads him to a soldier’s life in the king’s army.

Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman beset by visions of a demonic apocalypse, Alwyn must survive war and the deadly intrigues of the nobility if he hopes to claim his vengeance. But as dark forces, both human and arcane, gather to oppose Evadine’s rise, Alwyn faces a choice: can he be a warrior, or will he always be an outlaw?”

How damn amazing is that cover? Fuck.

Ryan Anthony is a writer that just keeps on getting better, I’ve been a big fan since finding Blood Song on the shelves of Waterstones and since then have eagerly brought every book on release day. Vaelin Al Sorna is one of my favourite characters to this day. His first series has some very opinionated viewpoints and is easy to see why, The Blood Song was an incredible book focusing completely on Al Sorna and his journey from child to adult, his following books tried to expand their scope and world and there are some plot holes and dips in writing, but anyone who says to not read them is crazy. His Draconis Memoria series was a shining return to his former writing and showcased some incredible world building, a new take of Dragons which is definitely hard. Anthony then returned to the world of Vaelin and really showed us how much he wanted to redeem himself with an incredible story.

One thing Anthony’s never struggled with is his ability to write swordplay, action and war in his books are always tense and completely absorbing. If you love books with a good amount of bloodshed then this will be one for you, this book sounds action packed and that’s enough to make me hit that preorder button. I can’t wait to see what Anthony does with a brand-new world.

Empire of the Vampire – Jay Kristoff


“It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.”

Vampires have been ruined since the days of Sparkly boys and love triangles involving werewolves, but if anyone can make me want to read a Vampire book its going to be Jay Kristoff. I see some mixed reviews of his books and to be honest I’ve only read The Nevernight Chronicles but holy shit they are good, and I disagree with anyone that says otherwise. There’s one sentence I like to use to describe Kristoff’s writing and its this.

“Cock is just another word for ‘fool.’ But you call someone a cunt, well…” The girl smiled. “You’re implying a sense of malice there. An intent. Malevolent and self-aware. Don’t think I name Consul Scaeva a cunt to gift him insult. Cunts have brains, Don Tric. Cunts have teeth. Someone calls you a cunt, you take it as a compliment. As a sign that folks believe you’re not to be lightly fucked with.”

NeverNight – Jay Kristoff

The premise for this book sounds fantastic, maybe it’s just because I hide away from anything containing a Vampire, but this sounds new and refreshing, Kristoff writes fantastic characters and fantastic action and I reckon this will be one of his best books yet.

The Wisdom of Crowds – Joe Abercrombie


Sadly there currently isnt a cover released for The Wisdom of Crowds

“Chaos. Fury. Destruction.

The Great Change is upon us…

Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: The Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies… while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.

The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver’s ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together…”

Oh Joe Abercrombie, King of Grimdark, why do you play with my feelings so? The Wisdom of Crowds is book three of Abercrombie’s newest series, The Age of Madness and the series name really didn’t fuck about, these books have been astounding so far and one you can’t put down once you’ve picked up. We were given a new but familiar feeling set of characters and chucked into the deep end, this has the same wonderous feeling as every Abercrombie book and so far, he’s managed to stun me with every single one, I’m normally good at guessing the plot twists but not this time.

The first book I picked up from Joe was The Heroes, a standalone story which Is a roughly 600-page story of one, three-day battle between the forces of the Union and the North. It was beautiful, it was action packed and I was hooked into Joes world from that point. Logan Nine Fingers continues to be one of my favourite characters to this very day and I don’t think he’s being removed from the top list any time soon, I’m sad he’s been allowed to take a backseat and rest a little, but I really really hope we get to see him again one day.

Action, intrigue, politics, murder, action, and more action. I can’t wait for the final instalment in this series.

The Girl and the Mountain – Mark Lawrence


“On Abeth there is only the ice. And the Black Rock.

For generations the priests of the Black Rock have reached out from their mountain to steer the ice tribes’ fate. With their Hidden God, their magic and their iron, the priests’ rule has never been challenged.
But nobody has ever escaped the Pit of the Missing before.

Yaz has lost her friends and found her enemies. She has a mountain to climb and even if she can break the Hidden God’s power her dream of a green world lies impossibly far to the south across a vast emptiness of ice. Before the journey can even start she must find out what happened to the ones she loves and save those that can be saved.

Abeth holds its secrets close, but the stars shine brighter for Yaz and she means to unlock the truth.

To touch the sky, be prepared to climb”

The Girl and the Stars is only just now my current read, why you ask? Because I was dumb and let it sit on my bookshelf too long, and it’s not a small amount of dumb, it’s a large amount of dumb, because this book has been incredible. I won’t be writing anymore because my next review will be on the first book and I couldn’t be happier that the next book is so close to being released.

Lawrence is a writer who I think just keeps managing to outdo himself. The Broken Empire was my first series and it is good, it wasnt something that really stood out to me but was an entertaining read with good world building and good plot progression. Book of the Ancestor, his last series just exploded to the top of my list out of nowhere. We have some great world building in this series, Lawrence’s classic mix of technology and fantasy have made something unique and special with a shit ton of intrigue and excitement.  Then we have excellent storytelling and character writing, Lawrence doesn’t let up, just throwing event after event, never letting you relax or slow down at any point in the story. The Girl and the Stars is set in the same world as Book of the Ancestor and seems to be another step up in writing, taking the incredible world and chucking some new incredible characters and just continuing to build upon what was already so well done. I can’t wait to see how this story carries on.

I could go on all day but Im not going to, so heres my notable mentions…

The Doors of Stone – Patrick Rothfuss

I don’t know if there any point in listing this honestly, it will be done when its done and I doubt that’s 2021 but a boy can dream hey? I love you forever Rothfuss regardless how long we must wait.

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

Shelley’s debut novel is being described as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles and really that should be enough to make you want to buy it then go read the good reads page, people are hyped for this book.

The Thorn of Emberlain – Scott Lynch

Lynch has been dealing with a lot these past years and due to this book four of The Gentleman Bastards has been delayed, but never forgotten. If you’ve never read it The Lies of Locke Lamora is an amazing book and go enjoy it, start now and hopefully book four wont feel to far away.

The Winds of Winter – George RR Martin

Book Six please.

The Black Coast – Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks is unknown to me however his new book sounds like it will be a fantastically enjoyable read, the blurb sounds so exciting and Brooks being a Black Library author should be an excellent author of grimdark action.

Blood of the Chosen – Django Wexler

Ashes of the Sun was one of my big surprises for 2020, I’ve read a couple of Wexler’s books in the past but never been passively gripped till now, the only reason this book isn’t higher on my list is because I’m not certain of the release date. Read Ashes of the Sun if you haven’t.

Furious Heaven – Kate Elliot

The Unconquerable Sun was the same as above, another complete surprise for me, I very rarely pick up sci-fi and this managed to start a domino effect which had me buying and blasting through Jack Campbells Lost Fleet series and authors like John Scalzi. This is expected towards the end of 2021 and if so colour me excited.