Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Gideon the Ninth is the most fun you’ll ever have with a skeleton.
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 be 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.
Confession. I don’t really read adult fantasy. I don’t know why. I have some on my TBR, but when I pick up an adult book, it tends to be a mystery/thriller. This is a hard book for me to review because I liked it a lot, but it took me forever to read. I felt like a failure at times. I’m 41. Why was I struggling with an adult book when I’ve been reading adult books since I was 11? I really think it’s the genre. It can take me awhile with YA fantasy and sci fi at times, too.
I struggled early on to really understand what was going on and who everyone was. I’m sure this would be easier with the physical book because I can flip back and forth to the character guide. I was afraid I was doing to dnf. The first half of the book was a 3 star book for me, but the last 30% or so was closer to 5 stars. So I’m glad I stuck with it.
One of the things I loved was Gideon. She has a sarcastic potty mouth, which is my kind of person. She made me laugh. Her relationship with Harrowhark was odd for me. I know I should have hated Harrow for the way she treated Gideon growing up. But I loved their banter and was hoping for a hate to love romance. That probably wasn’t what I should have wished for considering their beginning, but I couldn’t help it.
I also loved the mystery in this. That “who done it” type of story. I never knew who was going to die (there was a lot) and struggled to figure out who did it. I had my thoughts which were sort of right, but I didn’t quite expect the twist. The magic was pretty incredible. I loved the world that Tamsyn created with the necromancers, magic, and the fighting. It was dark and gory. That’s everything I like in a book. Plus the lgbtqiap+ rep was good even though romance was in the background of the book.
As I mentioned above, where I struggled was trying to keep all the characters straight. I found myself having the issue throughout the book. The stand out characters were easy, but it was all the others. Each house had multiple people and I confused them at times. I also felt that the story was a bit slow at times, while fast paced at other times. People I liked died, which always sucks. I enjoyed the puzzles/challenges that were found with each key. The skeletons were pretty hardcore and creepy.
I’m hoping that the next book will be a bit easier for me to follow. The ending of this wasn’t my favorite, but I’m hoping that there will be some surprises in book two. I really enjoyed the world, even when I struggled with it.
My review probably doesn’t give you much about the book, but I didn’t really want to get into the story too much. There are fights, twists, and backstabbing. I find it best to go into those things sort of blindly. If you like dark fantasy with sci fi elements with super flawed characters, this is the book for you.
I ended up rating this 4 stars. Once the pace picked up, I ended up loving it, even with my struggles. Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for my copy for review. I am looking forward to reading the next book. I’m also looking forward to my finished copy so I can study the people and the houses a bit more.
Warnings: This is an adult book, not YA. Some of the characters are teens, but the book is dark with a lot of swearing. There wasn’t any sex, so you can use your judgement on who can read this. For me personally, I would have read it in high school easily, but there are other teens that aren’t ready for something this dark. There was servitude, a lot of deaths and sacrifices, gore, blood magic (cutting), terminal illness, swearing, and some lewd comments. I’m probably missing some since I didn’t really note them while reading.
Have you read Gideon the Ninth? Is it on your TBR? Do you read a lot of adult fantasy/sci fi?