Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Narrator: Moira Quirk
Series: The Locked Tomb #1
Published by Recorded Books on September 10, 2019
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction
Length: 16 hrs 50 mins
Pages: 448
Format: Audiobook
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four-half-stars

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won't set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon's sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

So I loved Gideon the Ninth. She sucked me right in with her attitude, her snarkiness, her sword. She’s a fabulous character. She will tell the world she doesn’t care, but at the same time is fiercely loyal and honestly cares about the other on this adventure. She is Cavalier to Harrowhark, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House, ruler of their home planet. Harrowhark and the necromancer heirs of the other houses have all been brought Canaan House with possibility of becoming Lyctors, powerful, nearly immortal generals in the Emperor/God’s army.

Gideon the Ninth is maybe sci-fi. It takes place in space, there were a couple of space shuttles, but it is much more fantasy/horror. All the combat is hand to hand or with swords. Gideon and Harrowhark, her master/crush/frenemy, are exploring what basically a gothic space castle with skeleton servants and words written in blood that appear on the walls. Or maybe it’s a murder mystery. The Emperor has invited the heirs of each of the nine houses and their cavaliers to this test, but something/someone is killing them off. Whatever it is, do not expect hard sci-fi – it is not that.

With the heirs, their cavaliers, and the priests who live at Canaan House, we have a lot of characters. I listened to the audio and only had a little trouble keeping everyone straight. The number slowly decreases too, which is helpful in its way.

Gideon and Harrowhark have a sticky relationship. They grew up together, but one was the heir and the other an indentured servant/slave. The tension is palpable as is the feeling that they are the only ones who can actually understand each other, know what each other has been and done. I’m with Gideon when she wants to run away, when she wants to betray Harrowhark. I’m not as with her when she gives in to sentiment. It’s fine during the story, when you’re immersed in what’s going on, but when you think about it, maybe having a slave /slave owner potential love story is not the best option. The conclusion is never going to be satisfying.

The world is unique, but not fully explained. That’s fine with me. There’s jargon, odd anachronisms, and what felt like half-completed ideas, but this is the first in the series, I have patience. I do think I might need a bit of a break before the second, though. This is a big book, dark, funny, but I also need a break from teenagers, and at heart that’s who Gideon and Harrowhark are, emotional, impulsive, trying to be adults in a situation that’s bigger, harder, and more dangerous than they could have imagined.

About Tamsyn Muir

Tamsyn Muir is the bestselling author of the Locked Tomb Trilogy, which begins with Gideon the Ninth, continues with Harrow the Ninth, and concludes with Alecto the Ninth. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the World Fantasy Award and the Eugie Foster Memorial Award. A Kiwi, she has spent most of her life in Howick, New Zealand, with time living in Waiuku and central Wellington. She currently lives and works in Oxford, in the United Kingdom.

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