Review for Gideon the Ninth
Blurb: 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 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.
Review: Gideon wants only to escape the dark and dismal Ninth House, but her final plan to runaway is thwarted by her nemesis, The Reverend Daughter and necromancer, Harrowhark Nonagesimus. So Gideon's only way to possibly escape is to serve as Harrow's cavalier as the necromancer attempts the challenges of becoming a Lyctor (immortal saints who serve the Emperor Undying). Yet as representatives of the other Houses start dying, Gideon must find out what's happening and keep not only Harrow alive but herself as well.
I have never read anything like this. Never. And it was magnificent! This one is labeled a space opera and science fiction, but it certainly does not feel like it. Yes, there is briefly a mention of planets and a quick ride on a ship, but then it all takes place in a very post-apocalyptic gothic fantasy world. There's science and magic, and they mix so much better than I could have ever imagined. The details are beautiful, and I felt truly lost in dark world. The main magic is necromancy, and it's a take on that's completely different. Sure, they can raise up skeletons to control, but all the different levels and types of necromantic magic is awesome. Each House has its own specialty, and while there is no war between them, united as they are under the Emperor, there is still tension and conflict between them. Lots of underlying politics that weren't deeply delved into because the story is from Gideon's point of view, and she's a fighter, not a ruler like Harrow. The whole grim atmosphere created is unique, and I would love to explore the rest of the universe.
The cast of characters is fantastic. Of course Gideon and Harrow are the main focus, and Harrow is my favorite of the two. While I didn't mind Gideon's rebellious nature and lewd wit, her story didn't seem as deep as Harrow. Also, Gideon sometimes spouts modern sayings like "that's what she said" and it totally jerked me out of the story. No one else in the book does that. They speak very differently, sometimes immensely poetically. Yet Gideon did not sound like them at times. Her character is consistent and solid, though, and I loved as the layers peeled back of her relationship with Harrow. It's not a romance, but could have been in another world and another time. It's something else, something created by two individuals who suffered and had no one other than each other. While I figured out the murderer early on, the characters are such of a great diversity and with motives all around. All the relationships between everyone were tangled and so well done.
The suspense is tight, the mystery huge, and the action incredible. Between the duels, trials, and battles, there is no lack for gory violence. Yet there are also quiet moments and thoughtful ones, and somehow it wrapped up all my emotions, that even though I know THAT thing had to happen at the end, it still tore at my heart.