Title: Gideon the Ninth
Series: The Locked Tomb #1
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 10th, 2019
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you to the publisher, Tor.Com for providing me with an ARC of this book at BookCon in exchange for an honest review.
“Two is for discipline, heedless of trial;
Three for the gleam of a jewel or a smile;
Four for fidelity, facing ahead;
Five for tradition and debts to the dead;
Six for the truth over solace in lies;
Seven for beauty that blossoms and dies;
Eight for salvation no matter the cost;
Nine for the Tomb, and for all that was lost.”
Gideon Nav is an abandoned orphan who has been raised in the Ninth House, always considered as an outsider and she has had enough of it. Nothing is going to stop her from escaping, except for Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter and de facto Lady of the Ninth House – and also her chief nemesis. But when a summons arrives from the Emperor, inviting the heirs of the nine houses to face a deadly set of trials for an opportunity to earn the title of Lyctor, Harrow offers her a deal – if Gideon becomes her cavalier and accompanies her through the trials, Harrow will set her free. But there is something dangerous at work in the First House, and as adepts and their cavaliers start getting murdered, Harrow and Gideon find themselves fighting for their lives even as the competition continues.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book centred around necromancers before, so I really enjoyed the new fantasy setting. The synopsis really oversimplifies the concept of the story, as Gideon the Ninth is way more than necromancers in space. Gideon was amazing, and her humour was what kept me reading in the initial chapters. And then there’s Harrow and Gideon’s partnership which I would have loved to see more of, as they’re great when they’re actually working together as a team. The glossary at the beginning was a great addition, and definitely needed, or I would have got the characters even more mixed up than I did. The side characters were excellent and really well developed, Ianthe and Corona in particular, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the sequel.
I liked it well enough, but some of the crucial areas for me in a fantasy novel were somewhat lacking. I was expecting the trials of the First House to be more along the lines of a magical tournament, but what we got was way less exciting. Somehow, even at the halfway point of the book, I still had trouble comprehending the necromancer system and the structure of the world, which even now feels quite overwhelming. I attribute a portion of that to the pacing, which was, to be frank, painfully slow for about the first 200-250 pages. There was also more swearing than was strictly necessary in my opinion.
That twist at the end though, was about the last thing I expected to happen – ironic, but so infuriating. The last chapters were also more what I expected to see from Gideon in terms of action from page one, as, for much of the book, Gideon feels like an observer in her own story.
While this did not really work for me on the first read, I think I’ll like it a lot better when I eventually do re-read it. Gideon the Ninth is a unique and intriguing story, and I’m interested to see where it goes in the sequel. Overall, I initially found this book to be…well, confusing but as the murder mystery plot thickened and the trials unfolded, this turned out to be a pretty good adventure, and I would definitely recommend it!
Gideon the Ninth releases on September 10th, 2019.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!