Name: Gideon the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.
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
It’s been a long week with this incredibly long book. I can’t wait to review it and ditch it. The worst part was it isn’t even that thick, there’s just so many words on each page. I also I didn’t know what every other one meant.
So, overall opinions? I’m struggling a bit here. Gideon the Ninth is set in the COOLEST place and was one of the most plot twisty (that’s a word now) books I’ve ever read. However, there were – more than – a few points where I got kinda bored. However, I figured this should be a more positive review because I remembered some redeeming points; also because sadly not every review can be a roast. Just most.
Redeeming Factor #1 The Characters
This had to be number one. Gideon was the perfect flawed character, I loved it. Her romance was great too; it was pretty blunt from the beginning who the author wanted you to ship her with (they had nicknames for each other) but it worked. Aside from Gideon, Harrowhark was great, even if she didn’t have the most conventional name. Although I guess when you’re the head necromancer at the House Of The Gothy Nuns your name isn’t going to be Jane. Actually, most of the characters had pretty interesting names. These were my favourites:
- Princess Corona. You read that right! The first time she was introduced I literally started screaming (it didn’t seem like a particularly Good Omen). Apparently, it’s short for ‘Coronabeth’, which I guess is better than calling your kid COVID 19. That’s just child cruelty.
- Lord Priamhark. This sounds hilariously similar to the shop where I’m going to spend my entire weekend…
- Lord Septimus of the Seventh. At first it really annoyed me how unoriginal it is to have characters called Octakision the Eight and Triceratops the third ect. But it actually helped to remember who was who (there were over 15 main characters all with names like Palamedes and Pelleamena and Protesilaus).
Redeeming Factor #2 The Plot
Like I said before, the plot twists in Gideon the Ninth were phenomenal. The first half wasn’t the best. It wasn’t bad… it just wasn’t really good. Things progressed after everyone started to die (naturally) and the Big Reveal was so great.
Before this book, the closest I’d got to necromancy was Stephenie Meyers’ The Host so I really wasn’t that clued up with the technicalities of raising the dead. I kept expecting the author to stop and explain how necromancy works but you were expected to just figure it out yourself. I’ve just about mastered what ‘thananergy’ is, but it’s safe to say that my ex-hamster is safe in the grave. However, I thought Gideon the Ninth was a million times better than The Host (Are you surprised?) and the setting just pulled it off. Undead necromancers exploring a gothic mansion in futuristic space? What’s not to like?
What Is Not To Like
I do have a few points. First of all, I think that swears can often make or break a book. Yeah, sometimes having the main character curse can make them more relatable and dOwN WiTh tHe KiDs, but personally, I think swears should only be used in dialogue or if your book is in first person. Not to describe the setting in a pretty serious book from the third person. Basically, Tamsyn Muir, clusterf**k is not a good adjective.
Secondly, one of the reasons I got Gideon the Ninth was because I wanted to see if the raving reviews on the cover followed through. I’m still pretty sceptical. One promised that ‘The author is clearly insane’ which I was disappointed to see little evidence of. Another claimed Gideon the Ninth was ‘Punchy, crunchy and gooey’ which, looking back, doesn’t actually mean anything. I quite literally googled the reviewers to check they weren’t all the author’s cousins – but it seems they are all quite highly regarded authors I’ve just never heard of. Convenient.
Redeeming Factor #3 The Cover
The other thing that pulled me to the book was that cover. Oh My God. The front of the next book in the series comes out on the 20th August (only a year later) and I think I might have to get it just to see that dust jacket in real life. Even if her use of curses could be improved, Tamsyn Muir sure has good covers.
So. I thought Gideon the Ninth was a pretty good book, redeemed by its ending, surprisingly funny style and quirky setting. Whilst I thought there could have been less description of how the ‘moonlight glinted off the bloody axe’ and more actual axe-wielding, I did enjoy this book despite it’s unnecessary amount of pages (I think I’ve reflected its sheer volume in the size of this post. Sorry.). Some passages of the book were solid 2 stars, whist in others I was grinning so hard and cheerfully telling the strangers around me what a great book this was. I apologise again to the lady in the park. You know who you are.