The Book’s Basics
Title: Gideon the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Series: Yes. This is the first book of The Locked Tomb Trilogy.
Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF) – and an intriguing mixture of both.
Length: 492 pages
Initial Reaction: A funny and clever story that is expertly written. Also space necromancers (which I didn’t know I needed in my life, but which I am now grateful to have).
Gideon Nav is an indentured servant to the crumbling Ninth House. Harrowhark Nonagesimus is in charge of that house and a necromancer. And it’s set in space.
There is a competition at the First House for an adept (necromancer) from each of the other eight houses and their respective cavaliers (bodyguards). The aim of the competition is for the adepts to ascend to Lyctor – immortal and very powerful necromancers who assist The Emperor.
Gideon agrees to stand in as Harrow’s cavalier to gain her freedom, but the two hate each other with a palpable ferocity.
The rules of the competition are sparse and the First House is massive but crumbling with age. All of the adepts and cavaliers have to try to find the secrets they were summoned to discover, but when the First House becomes a dangerous place to be, this makes it much more difficult.
As time goes on, Gideon and Harrow have to try to work together to solve the riddles of the First House – and to stay alive.
Who would I recommend this book to?
After I read this book, I had to lie down (something that Gideon had to do a few times throughout the book). It’s a wonderful novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I would say that to really enjoy this book it would be beneficial to enjoy SFF. Both Science Fiction and Fantasy are interwoven in a fascinating way. Science begets magic, so there are advanced technology and magic casting interwoven throughout. There are also sword fights.
There is also a lot of talk about death, skeletons, and graphic descriptions of illnesses, so these are things to keep in mind before you pick up the book.
The voice in this book is unlike anything I have read and it is great. Gideon is witty, a bit abrasive, kind, and honest. It was a joy to read her narrative and it’s a bit of a struggle to not reread this book before going on to read the next book in the series, Harrow the Ninth. It’s that good.
It’s a very funny book, even though there is a lot of death (there are loads of necromancers, after all). It had me laughing a lot, for which my cat, Lily, was regularly concerned. The book seems to be inherently confident about itself, which allows for a lot of humour. This creates a really interesting effect in which there are a lot of very sombre topics and horrific things that happen, but the book can still make a lot of jokes without losing that seriousness.
If you read the physical copy of the book, you will be treated to extra bits after the main narrative has finished. I recommend reading this afterwards as they contain spoilers. These bits were great and illuminated more character information, historical background, and lots of jokes.
The characters in this book are fantastic. They’re all complex and different from each other. There feels like there was a lot of thought behind creating them, and they are all recognizable as their own people. I found myself wanting to know more about them and Gideon’s interactions with the characters are all great, especially when she is forced by Harrow to pretend to have taken a vow of silence due to her faith. She was ordered to do this because she speaks her mind and swears a lot, which is not the expected behaviour of a cavalier partnered to a powerful adept.
One of my favourite exchanges Gideon has is shortly after she has begun to speak to people other than Harrow. Palamedes is the adept of a different house and speaks first in the below quote:
“Your vow of silence is conveniently variable, Ninth, I’m very grateful.”
“Turns out I’m variably penitent.”Muir, Tamsyn. Giden the Ninth (p. 244). Paperback.
Lily defnitely gave me a dirty look at this one!