The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence #BookReview #BlogTour

Only when it's darkest can you see the stars.

East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrown

On the vastness of the ice there is no room for individuals. 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 different.

Torn from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her life with, Yaz has to carve a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of danger.

Beneath the ice, Yaz will learn that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. 
She will learn that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she will learn to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it's darkest can you see the stars.

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The Girl and the Stars today. Many thanks to Mark Lawrence, Harper Voyager and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel received through Netgalley.

The Girl and the Stars is the first book in Mark Lawrence's new epic fantasy series, Book of the Ice. As with his Book of the Ancestor trilogy, it's set in Abeth but (in this novel, at least) there is no crossover between characters and so it's not necessary to have read the previous series. However, I do feel that having read Red Sister helped anchor me into this world perhaps a little more quickly, particularly with regards to the various abilities and magics possessed by some of the characters. 
The main character here is Yaz, a young woman on the brink of adulthood who is part of the Ictha tribe who live in the far North. This harshest of frozen landscapes means the tribe value strength and endurance, not individuality but even amongst the tribes who live on the slightly warmer parts of the ice, there is no room for weakness. Yaz should be looking forward to the future but she knows she is different and as the tribes head for the Pit of the Missing, she has accepted her fate as one of the broken children who will be thrown into a hole, sacrificed for the survival of their people.
The opening brilliantly sets the scene for what follows as Yaz and her younger brother Zeen are introduced alongside a riveting description of their surroundings and history. It means that by the time Yaz is facing her judgement, the tension is already high but what happens at the Pit proves to be shocking for everybody present and it's at this point that Yaz becomes not so much a character I pitied as somebody who I immediately became invested in. She is the sole focus of the story and in a book which features a significant amount of world-building, is absolutely engaging throughout  - and crucially, somebody who I want to follow as the series progresses.
Most of the action takes place below the ice and the world Mark Lawrence has created here is breathtaking in terms of scope and imagination. Yaz soon joins forces with the Broken, first out of necessity but later as she discovers so much of what she thought was immutable may not be so, she forms important bonds with a small group of them. There are a number of characters introduced and while none are as well-formed as Yaz herself, there are a few who make an impression - most notably the troubled Thurin whose dark experiences are one of the most frightening aspects of the story, and the mysterious Erris whose presence brings an intriguing science-fiction element to this fantasy world. Much of the story revolves around Yaz having to search for someone or something and the nightmarish. labyrinthine city means parts of the novel could perhaps be considered a little repetitive -  although I think it's fair to say that this is part of the scene setting which so vividly encapsulates the claustrophobic, terrifying darkness, 
The Girl and the Stars is a book of layers and those layers are continually being stripped back to reveal more dark secrets, more astounding revelations and more painful dilemmas. From the elaborate descriptions of this fascinating, dangerous world, to Yaz's gradual discovery of her abilities which means she is almost recreated as a completely different person to the one she starts as, to the nuanced horrors behind the existence of the Broken; this is a fantastic opening to the Book of the Ice series. The combination of the immersive world-building and an engaging, empathetic protagonist in Yaz (whose motivations are refreshingly altruistic rather than in the pursuit of personal gain) ensured I was gripped throughout and am excited to read what comes next. Diverse, complex and provocative -  this is why I love reading fantasy! Highly recommended.

The Girl and the Stars is published by Harper Voyager, purchasing links can be found here but please consider supporting our wonderful independent bookstores if possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is 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'.

Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.


  1. Huge thanks for the blog tour support Karen xx


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