Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Series: The Locked Tomb #1
Goodreads: Gideon the Ninth
Publisher: Tor Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
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.

Review: Gideon the Ninth has been on my to be read since its release back in 2019, I mean who can say no to lesbian space necromancers? not me. I’ll admit though that I found this harder to get into than I thought, but I think the fault lays entirely with my kindle and my goldfish sized brain. This book introduces so many new terms and characters, and if I’d picked up the hardback I would have easily been able to flick to the back and enlighten myself, but instead I was reading on my kindle and didn’t realize there was a glossary until I’d finished the whole thing. My single brain cell really let me down here so I’m not holding it against Gideon, and I really did love this book (to the point where I’m probably going to attempt a Harrow cosplay build).

This book is honestly unique and the world is so well built that I’m probably going to pick it up a second time, just so I can really understand the nuances and catch the hints I missed on my first read through! The depth of Muir’s imagination will blow you away and confuse you at the same time; my approach was to power through rather than get bogged down in the detail, and pray that everything would be cleared up by the end. There’s a lot of build up, and it takes a while to get to the meatier plot at the center of this novel, but I find myself willing to forgive this when it comes to Gideon the Ninth because the writing is just so fun.

There are eighteen different characters running around in what’s essentially (in very basic terms) a space necromancer scavenger hunt with a side of corpse monsters, and it’s rather hard to keep track of these guys and their motivations. Those first few pages with the character glossary describing what house their each in are your friends, and I would definitely make use of them. Despite this rather large cast, Muir manages to make each memorable and give them a chance to shine and feel like three-dimensional characters.

It’s a rare thing that a book makes me snort or laugh out loud but a fair few of Gideon’s one-liners got me, and I loved her inner monologue so much. Her humor perfectly aligned with my own, a that’s what she said joke will get me every time, and it was a insta-love from the beginning for me when it came to our main protagonist. It took me a little longer to warm up to Harrow though, probably because I loved Gideon so much, but she also grew on me like a goth fungus I never want to get rid of. Their relationship is the kind of toxic that comes with the whole enemies to lovers thing, but it developed so well and I cannot wait to read what Muir does next in Harrow the Ninth.

Gideon the Ninth is a masterclass in mystery and world building with a plot that’s been intricately crafted and feels so original, but I do think you need to concentrate and fully absorb each detail in earnest. This isn’t a book to skim read or rush through. I’m really looking forward to picking this wonderful book up again and finding all the little things I missed on my first read through!

Recommend: A thousand times yes! I think this may be a bit of a “you’ll either love it or hate it” kind of book, but I promise you it is well worth the attempt.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

2 thoughts on “Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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