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Gideon the Ninth Paperback – July 14 2020
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15+ pages of new, original content, including a glossary of terms, in-universe writings, and more!
A USA Today Best-Selling Novel, and one of the Best Books of 2019 according to NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, BookPage, Shelf Awareness, BookRiot, and Bustle!
WINNER of the 2020 Crawford Award
Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards
“Unlike anything I’ve ever read. ” ―V.E. Schwab
“Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” ―Charles Stross
“Brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through.” ―NPR
The Emperor needs necromancers.
The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.
Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.
Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. 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.
THE LOCKED TOMB SERIES
BOOK 1: Gideon the Ninth
BOOK 2: Harrow the Ninth
BOOK 3: Nona the Ninth
BOOK 4: Alecto the Ninth
“Deft, tense and atmospheric, compellingly immersive and wildly original.” ―The New York Times
“Unlike anything I’ve ever read. Muir’s writing is as sharp as a broken tooth, and just as unsettling.” ―V.E. Schwab, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
“With a snorting laugh and two middle fingers, the whole thing burns end-to-end. It is deep when you expect shallow, raucous when you expect dignity and, in the end, absolutely heartbreaking when you least expect it.” ―NPR
“Warm and cold; goofy and gleaming; campy and epic; a profane Daria in space.” ―Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
“I can't remember the last time I was so delightedly baffled by a book. An astonishing, genre-defying, hilarious-violent-tragic-horrifying-thrilling wonder of a novel.” ―Kiersten White, NYT Bestselling Author of And I Darken
“Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space! Decadent nobles vie to serve the deathless emperor! Skeletons!” ―Charles Stross, author of The Laundry Files and Empire Games
“I started this book chuckling at the outrageous premise. I finished it crying, because the ending punched me straight in the gut.” ―Vox
“Space opera, murder mystery, comedy, grotesque horror, and fantastic necromancy spin together in a book like no other.” ―BuzzFeed
And Five Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal, BookList, and BookPage
About the Author
- Publisher : Tordotcom (July 14 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 125031318X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250313188
- Item weight : 300 g
- Dimensions : 13.59 x 3.18 x 20.96 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from Canada
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the writing style is dense and prose-like so if you struggle understanding english this will be a bit of a difficult read. There are lots of info-dump-type passages that don't actually involve explanations but I found this actually kind of refreshing. More like you've been inserted into a conversation between a bunch of doctors and they're talking about a patient but nobody has the desire to explain to you wtf is going on. The concepts in the novel are unique and it is a totally different perspective on necromancer magic. I am normally a fast reader but because of the language I found I had to really pay attention to every word idk kind of like reading dorian grey or something really dense but you actually enjoy it and really want to read the sequel, which, spoiler, is great as well.
I give it a 3 star rating because it felt like the author was telling the story at me rather than to me. I found it difficult to keep my attention on what I was reading and following along. I generally could keep up with what was going on but often got a bit lost as to the events that were occurring. This is not to say the author does not tell a good tale. The story is very different and interesting. The two main characters Harrow and Gideon are well presented. The rest I got a bit lost with.
In the end I struggled to get through the book, but I did. I do see how it received stronger ratings than 3 but I believe that is down to preference. Unfortunately, this book did not fall within my preference of Fantasy/Sci-Fi although I did like that the author added a lot of background information at the end of the novel for those who want to keep up with the Trilogy.
Top reviews from other countries
Lazy, uncouth, American terminology. Such as "frigging marry it" "old as balls" "sucks ass" and so forth. Wholly unnecessary and incredibly off putting.
Vague, non descriptive, puzzling. Complete and utter drivel and I am surprised it was even published let alone the fact that there are sequels.
There are much better authors and books out there to read about science fiction.
Adrian Tchaikovsky who wrote Children of Time and the sequel Children of Ruin. Absolutely mindblowing, utter ingenious and will become classics in science fiction in my opinion.
Also, The Expanse by James S. A. Corey. The books are far better than the series, absolutely extraordinary and I simply cannot put them down. I will be sad when I finish them.
Save yourself the money and bother. Click away from this as fast as possible. I'm absolutely gutted that I not only wasted my time on it but £7.91 on it also. Could have purchased something much better and probably cheaper for that amount.
In a Empire literally powered by death 9000 years ago the Emperor undying discovered the power of necromancy and gifted it to the Necro Saints or lyctors who founded the nine houses that rule the empire numbers down and the emperor losing his eternal war a call has gone out to the houses of the empire for the best necromancer and Cavalier ( the houses Champion and best swordsman/woman) to travel to the site of the first house and to face a series of challenges for the prize of becoming the new generation of Necro Saints.
Unfortunately for the Ninth house there Cavalier is a a overgrown mummies boy who can’t wield a sword in steps Gideon, Orphan , swords-woman and smart ass and teenage nemesis to Harrow, necromancer and head of the ninth to survive they will have to put aside there enmity and find a way to work together.
This is science fantasy or what would have been once known as Space Opera which is to say there are big ideas but little explaination on how everything works, hand to hand combat is still the go to solution and in a universe of space ships swords are still a thing. So this is closer to the Star Wars end of sci fi rather then Star Trek let alone the Expanse.
There’s a good bit of humor in the story mainly through Gideon POV she is snarky and sassy and quick with the one liners one of my favorite protagonist in recent memory. However I wouldn’t call it a comedy maybe a dramedy? It’s dark and there’s a murder mystery at the heart of it and more then a few horror elements it is about necromancers after all but between the humor and the fact that there is a far more decent human beings in the story then the book cover would suggest, and while it is loud and brash it’s also quiet and contemplative at times or as much as a story that moves at breakneck speed can be its not dark and depressing indeed it subverts a lot of the horror tropes as it goes along and has a lot to say about fidelity, honesty and love.
It’s obviously only the start of the story we don’t have more then a glimpse of the world building here, how necromancy works are who are the enemies the emperor has been fighting for 9000 years. I will say it buy it try it for yourself don’t be put off by the Grim Dark vibes it’s not that and while it does have pulpy elements the tag line Lesbian Space Nuns doesn’t really do it justice either while queerness is a strong element in the novel especially Gideons and is made pretty obvious from the start with a few straight up dirty jokes the romance aspect of the novel is subtle beautiful and really well done and while a very important part of the story doesn’t overwhelm the only other sci fi/ fantasy novel that handles this as well would be Sol Majestic another quirky brilliant sci fi novel though very different in tone and direction and plot another book and author I can’t recommend enough. TrueLy this has been a banner couple of years for sci-fi and fantasy debuts and Gideon the ninth proudly continues and elevates that trend magnificent.
It doesn't even seem to be used knowingly for comedy, and I'm sure for a lot of people it's really normal, but for me I just struggled to stay immersed from one line to the next. I kept thinking why are they so versed in recent Earth culture, is the frustrating narration implying something, would a 17 year old powerful necromancer really say that to her slave, how many times is a conversation going to wearily snap to a punchline like "because I completely ****ing hate you!"?
I suspect the actual plot, from what I've gleaned, is also not for me, but since I didn't read far enough to see for myself I can't comment. Mind you, I think she nailed the awfulness of a spiteful and petty teen, which just reinforces my need to never read about her having sex with her slave in space.
As far as I can tell (some of the world-building is deliberately opaque), it’s set in our solar system thousands of years into the future, where each planet is ruled by different groups of necromancers, ably supported by swordspeople known as Cavaliers. The story focusses on Gideon Nav, who arrived on the Ninth House (the term “house” seems to be used to refer to both planets and their ruling families) in mysterious circumstances as a baby and has grown up as an indentured servant, with constantly thwarted dreams of escaping and joining the intergalactic military. She despises the Ninth House, which is basically a gloomy death cult, and in particular, its heir, the immensely powerful necromancer, Harrow.
The Emperor, head of the First House and most powerful necromancer of all, who’s been half absolute ruler, half god for thousands of years, summons together the heirs of all eight other houses, along with their head cavaliers. For all those thousands of years, the emperor had eight supremely powerful necromantic lyctors (one from each house) fighting on his behalf. Now he wants to give the current heirs the opportunity to ascend to Lyctor-hood, but they need to prove their worth. When the hereditary Ninth House Cavalier Primary refuses to attend the gathering and flees, Harrow forces Gideon to serve as her new Cavalier, despite their hatred of each other.
All of this set-up and plot takes place over the first few hundred pages of an extremely long and complex narrative. I won’t go into detail about what happens next but it’s a busy mix of quests and challenges, a murder mystery, a horror-style plot, and lots of rivalry, friendship, plotting, and romance between the various lyctors and cavaliers. There are all sorts of twists, revelations and mysteries. The combination of these various elements and the way that aspects of several other genres are mixed in with the basic sci-fi setting made it a really interesting and refreshingly different read. It also does a good job of interweaving some very dark elements with some very funny ones and lots of action with some more cerebral scenes.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s quite a complex read, for three reasons. Firstly, beyond Gideon and Harrow, there are about 15 people who could be seen as main characters, or at least very important secondary characters, and they can be tricky to keep track of. Secondly, there are lots of necromantic terms and concepts to get your head around. And thirdly, as touched on above, there’s a lot of world-building, but very little info-dumping. You’re basically expected to work out what Houses and Cavaliers and the Locked Tomb and everything else means. Most of this becomes clear as you read, but the first few hundred pages require a lot of guess work and reading between the lines, and even by the end, there were some concepts I wasn’t clear on (like, what’s “the river” that the emperor is over?). I much prefer this end of the confusion spectrum to having everything spelt out and working it all out was half the fun. That said, just a little bit more explanation of concepts and reminders of characters might have been helpful at times.
As the “lesbian necromancers in space” line might suggest, the main character is into girls and there are some nice romantic elements. But it was quite refreshing how this wasn’t a big deal. No element of the plot is about her coming out, struggling with or hiding her sexuality, or facing homophobia. Neither is the fact she’s female any impediment either to her joining the army or serving as a Cavalier, or even worth commenting on in that context by any of the other characters. She’s a talented swordsperson on a mysterious mission who just happens to be female and a lesbian. Indeed, in an otherwise grim universe, there seemed to be little issue with people’s sexuality or gender roles across the board.
This is such an unusual and weird book that it’s hard to pin down exactly what made it so interesting and enjoyable, but I’d thoroughly recommend it and can’t wait for the sequel — particularly after a really quite shocking ending.
I’d hardly call the characters lesbians, well, they might have been, or they might have been a couple of young women exploring the vague notion of angsty Victorian female romantic friendship, so caught up in each other for their owns sakes that everyone else is meaningless to them - while coming across as hating each other.
There wasn’t much space either. Aside from getting on a shuttle to go to another planet for a few pages and then ending up on some other thing floating about the heavens for another couple of pages at the end of the book, there is rarely any space at all.
Gothic Palace – whatever it was, it might have been a palace. But what is described is a crumbling, relic of something that has various sections, some appear grand, others have come out of a 20th Century science laboratory or the art sketches for the video game Dead Space. In fact, a lot of the action sequences in the book reminded me of the OTT violence and gouts of blood and guts that fly around in those kinds of video games. Maybe that’s what the author was aiming for, I’m not sure, but it didn’t work for me in novel format. Dead Space is a great game BTW.
This book also tried to be funny. It was a dark humour, given the subject matter. And I guess it worked, if you can suspend disbelief enough to think people crack jokes and make quirky hand gestures and facial expressions while desperately fighting for their lives against amassed necromantic nastiness. Fair enough, we are supposed to suspend disbelief and imagine necromancers, reanimated skeletons, evil Lords, soul siphoning, serious people really wanting to seriously hurt others, traveling in space etc is real – that isn’t hard, but for me it didn’t mix well with quirky humour. I got over it very quickly. There were many eye rolling moments – oh, her arm has withered, eyes fallen out, guts dangling by a thread being dragged 20 foot along a threadbare carpet and she still can crack a joke with a wink? That kind of eye rolling – awesome.
It took me a good while to get into the book. It felt like nothing useful happened for the first 150 pages aside from getting on a shuttle and going to another planet. We could have started on the planet and not lost much. It got a little more exciting about 200 pages in. But then it devolved into a quite convoluted very hectic fight fest with people dropping dead all over the place. When I got to this part, it reminded me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None – a far less in your face creep fest.
Lots of people clearly love this book. Perhaps they love its attempt at being Avant Garde, or its OTT nature, or the fact there is a supposedly hot chick with a sword. If you are after a solid lesfic dark scifi read with fantasy elements (like I was – based on the blurbs), you may very well be disappointed. I did have to push myself to finish it, when normally I’d devour even a vague lesfic scifi like someone starved of lesfic scifi (because we are). I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of the series.