Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is bloody and dark. I felt like it was kind of the Tri-wizards tournament from Harry Potter with a lot more death, horror, and necromancy. Nine houses are all assembled with the best necromancer and the best sword fighter, it looks like the necromancers and sword fighters duke it out in a tournament, but when keys are found and murder committed, the game becomes a fight for survival. There’s a lot of creative world building and puts a fresh spin to necromancy and dark magic. This is a novel I found really frustrating at the beginning, because we are thrown into this book, with no backstory, no since of how worlds and magic are set up, but then we get the backstory and I was blown away by how clearly all the strife between the two main characters of Gideon and Harrow was explained and made sense for all the hatred. The one thing in my TBR that really got me to check out this book was the lesbian necromancy. The book delivers very solidly on the necromancy, but the lesbianism is really lacking thee’s looks, there’s hand holding, and maybe barely a thought, and that’s it. So is there a lesbian necromancer? yes there’s more questioning and slight longing, and representation does matter but be warned you could be disappointed.
The Plot: Gideon is on her 87th escape from the ninth world, she has secrets that will not stop her from getting out. She faces challenges from some, but she is determined. Gideon is almost at the ship that will take her off world when she is met by the world’s ruler Harrowhawk or just Harrow. She makes her a deal she can leave or she can and hear a proposal. Harrow sweetens the deal if she lays a blade on her she will give her coin and send her on the way, but if she loses then she has to hear the proposal. Gideon agrees and Harrow unleashes hundreds of skeletons from the ground, Gideon gets close and manages to take a glove off to reveal a dirty hand. Gideon can’t believe she lost when it is revealed that Harrow spent all night burying one to set up this trap. Harrow and Gideon hate each other to the core, but a proposal has them working together, with Gideon getting her wish to go off world as Harrow’s caviler and Harrow get’s a her world to get recognized and a chance to save the dying world by becoming the emperor’s hand. Gideon agrees and leaves with Harrow her first order is don’t talk to a soul, Gideon saves a girl from the seventh house only to have her caviler put a sword to her throat. This is a lesson to Gideon that she is playing a dangerous game. A tournament is set up amongst caviler’s and necromancers. Gideon does okay but soon learns she is out of her element. Harrow goes missing as a pair of bodies from one house show up and a set of hidden keys. It is quickly realized that the hidden keys are the goal and the secrets they unlock. Gideon and Harrow who are mortal enemies must work together to win and for their lives.
What I Liked: Necromancy in the form of Dark magic is really well thought out, and I liked that each house had a different speciality. The big reveal on why Gideon and Harrow hate each other was so well thought out, it worked for the plot and it made sense emotionally how those actions can lead to hate. The forty page climax is intense, I will complain that is was sometime hard to follow, but what I could picture was excellent. The scene where skeletons are created using the necromancer’s own bones was really cool and terrifying. The Gideon and Harrow relationship was special, and the highlight of the book about trusting someone you hate. My favorite side character was Sextus his morality and trust were great to see in such a warrior. Gideon’s one liners, didn’t always land but the couple times they did I laughed. I loved the Sex Pal line the best. Such a haunting cover that demands the reader to check it out.
What I Disliked: The first part of the book takes a little bit to get going because you are so in the dark to how their world and magic work. I did have a little trouble always picturing the action. The guy waited a little too long to show their full power. Keeping up with all the characters was really hard, the main ones are easy but some of the houses blend together.
Recommendations: Read this truly original dark book. Gideon the Ninth is book one in a proposed trilogy called The Locked Tomb Series. I think this is one of those good hybrid of Science Fiction and Fantasy with a little bit of Horror. This book say the F-word a fair amont, but I would recommend this to a mature young adult. I rated Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir 4 out of 5 stars. Gideon the Ninth was pretty close to a five star for me, I already put a hold on Harrow the Ninth, and am looking forward to where this series goes.