I feel like everyone and their extended family is hyped for Gideon the Ninth. Seriously. Because of that, going into Gideon the Ninth I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What was advertised as a book about lesbian necromancers, ended up a story about puzzles, the science of necromancy, and political subterfuge.
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 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.
Gideon the Ninth is a book of hard edges and soft spots. Skeletons stripped of flesh. Gideon is dramatic, very snarky, and wonderfully sarcastic. This whole thing feels like watching an elaborate court dances except they’re all deadly powerful necromancers with skeletons serving drinks in halls soaked with blood.
You can get swept away by a story of court politics, deadly trials, and betrayal. And escape from one prison turns into something quite different. While I struggled with the pacing at some points, wondering about the relevance, the story ended up sweeping me away. Although at the beginning there is a fair amount of confusion as we are suddenly introduced to the other heirs.
There is humor with little glimpses of deep wells of emotion, shimmering in the firelight in a camp full of enemies. Scientific methods, test and dangerous creatures designed to possibly, no probably kill our heroes lie between the pages. My best guess is that if you like necromancy, murder mysteries, and the ideas of a set of trials to expose the science of necromancy then you will enjoy Gideon the Ninth. The necromancy may not be what you’re used to, but it is a story with a body count, full of sacrifices, and tons of skeletons.