“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. Gideon the Ninth. Gideon the Ninth. GIDEON THE NINTH. Gideon! The! Ninth! GI. DE. ON. THE. NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINTH.
There are many things to love about Gideon the Ninth, but Gideon herself is a big one. She is wickedly sarcastic and darkly suspicious and I would die for her (as long as she didn’t let Harrow scavenge my bones). Having grown up an orphan in the Ninth House, life was hard enough. Being one of only two children to survive a deadly plague – and that other child being the infinitely cruel tormentor known as Harrowhawk Nonagesimus, aka the daughter of the Lord and Lady of the Ninth – was even worse. Her entire life she’s dreamed of escaping her prison and becoming a soldier. But before she can steal her freedom, Harrow offers it to her…for a price. She must become Harrow’s cavalier (think bodyguard) and help her become a Lyctor (think the right hand necromancer to the Emperor). If they succeed, Gideon will have all the freedom she could want. If they succeed. No, if they survive.
Once they join the rest of the necromancers and cavaliers at Canaan House to compete for the Lyctor roles, things take a sinister turn. The trials get more violent and the bodies pile up. Something evil stalks the halls. Is it one of the competitors or something…someone?…else?
Tamsyn Muir, where have you been all my life? She is a stellar writer with a gallows humor edge that is about as delightful as a 90s era haunted house movie – and I say that as someone who watches the 1999 version of House on Haunted Hill at least 3 times a year. Her characters are perfect in that they aren’t. They’re deeply flawed and terribly troublesome, but wholly unique. And her descriptions, Hera help me, her descriptions. One character is described as “uncomfortably buff. He had upsetting biceps. He didn’t look healthy; he looked like a collection of lemons in a sack.” Another is “a wan, knife-faced kid dressed in antiseptic whites and chainmail you could cut with a fork, it was so delicate.” If that doesn’t make you immediately want to get a copy of this book then you and I will never be friends.
Sweet zombie jesus, but I adored Gideon the Ninth! This may be my favorite adult fantasy novel of 2019. It’s so good and so much fun.
In the myriadic year of our Lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!— Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.
She didn’t run. Gideon never ran unless she had to. In the absolute darkness before dawn she brushed her teeth without concern and splashed her face with water, and even went so far as to sweep the dust off the floor of her cell. She shook out her big black church robe and hung it from the hook. Having done this every day for over a decade, she no longer needed light to do it by. This late in the equinox no light would make it here for months, in any case; you could tell the season by how hard the heating vents were creaking. She dressed herself from head to toe in polymer and synthetic weave. She combed her hair. Then Gideon whistled through her teeth as she unlocked her security cuff, and arranged it and its stolen key considerately on her pillow, like a chocolate in a fancy hotel.
Leaving her cell and swinging her pack over one shoulder, she took the time to walk down five flights to her mother’s nameless catacomb niche. This was pure sentiment, as her mother hadn’t been there since Gideon was little and would never go back in it now. Then came the long hike up twenty-two flights the back way, not one light relieving the greasy dark, heading to the splitoff shaft and the pit where her ride would arrive: the shuttle was due in two hours.
Thanks to Tor.com Publishing for sending me a review copy.