Gideon the Ninth

  Author:     Tamsyn Muir
   Genre:    YA/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
   Pages:    448
   Format:   hardback


The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

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

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

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. 


“Black my eyes and knock me dead,” she said slowly, “but your Lady can go right to hell.”

I liked it. I want to preface this entire review with that. (Not saying it didn’t have things I disliked, it did.)  I liked it. It was a little weird, and it took me almost 150 pages to get into it, but I liked it. I liked it until it was towards the end, got bored and then liked it again. I was all over the place in my feelings regarding this book. And it will take some time to explain why. I’ve not read a book quite like this before, and I suppose I’m struggling to put into words exactly how I feel about it. So I’m going to give it my best shot.

First: lesbians! I’m always up for some f/f in novels. I always love to see it, and I love books that feature it, and I love books that just mention in and move on and normalize it. This book does the latter. It normalizes it. Gideon clearly has a crush (crushes?) on the girls in this book. I loved that. It was one of my favorite parts of the book, and it worked!

“How is it settled. I have patently not agreed to this shit.”

Second: the writing. I think the writing was a little odd to me at first. It took some getting used to, and once I did it got easier to read. It was very unique, I thought. And it’s not bad, just different. I really don’t know how to explain it other than that, but I felt that it was very prose-y interspersed with lots of dialogue.

The man who’d put the sword to her neck was uncomfortably buff. He had upsetting biceps. He didn’t look healthy; he looked like a collection of lemons in a sack.

Third: the plot. I was a little unsure of the plot. I felt as if it meandered a bit. We sort of get a backstory and we sort of don’t. We’re thrown into the middle of some action, and that’s normally good, but mostly here I was confused and not enjoying it at all. Like I said, it took 100 pages for me to get into this book. I think the plot was okay. It wasn’t anything I was truly in love with, and I felt as if there were a few too many things going on. I was having trouble paying attention. It’s a murder mystery fantasy space thing. It was a little too much I thought.

Fourth: the characters. Too many! I feel like we were introduced to a million characters and as I was looking back to the contents of characters I was just further confused. And too many characters isn’t a bad thing…if they stand out. And I didn’t find that many stood out at all. I was just…not interested in any of them.

Gideon and Harrow (the main characters) were more fleshed out. I was generally amused by Gideon’s dialogue, and their “banter”. I enjoyed those sections, but I felt they were so short compared to what it could have been. My head was so busy trying to figure out what was going on with the plot and characters I felt the subplot between these two was lost. It was a bit disappointing.

Fifth: the worldbuilding. Or lack of. I think this book could have benefited from more worldbuilding. I think that is where some of my confusion stemmed from. I just wasn’t sure of context. Plus, all of it was thrown at us in the beginning, and that was slow and overwhelming.

Overall, I am really not sure how to rate this book. It isn’t two star material, and it isn’t three star. I just don’t know! I feel as if I’m just left feeling confused – and I just feel it would have been better if this book were a little more concise.

The premise and everything is great, the characters had such potential, but overall, I think it was a book that was so hyped up and it fell short of that hype for me.

This is for sure going to need a reread when I’m less tired and in a different mood I think.

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