This science fantasy novel by Tamsyn Muir has all the elements you need for a gripping trilogy. Brace yourselves for some necromancers and magic set in space!
Fantasy lovers have long been disappointed by several novels promising to be the next Harry Potter, next Game of Thrones, or even the next Twilight (won’t judge you, I have read ALL of them). Very few books manage to hit the spot and come close to intricate storytelling, creating brilliant new worlds, and setting up us for an amazing series. Gideon The Ninth, the first book of a trilogy is just what the quarantine needs.
Gideon is an 18-year-old orphan, a foundling, who has grown up in the bone-obsessed necromantic commune/cult/group of the Ninth House. There are Nine Houses in this book and each is on a different planet. Each planet and House has different interests, not all boney. The set-up itself seems promising, if not overwhelming. Gideon, the protagonist is not a necromancer or even anyone important at first glance. She is a servant, soldier, or subject of Harrowhark, the 17-year-old Princess of the Ninth. Harrwohark is called as the most powerful and strong necromancer of her generation. You know from the first sentence that Harrow and Gideon share a complicated relationship. One where Harrow likes to pull at Gideon’s strings. Gideon often tries to escape, several times, and gets foiled by Harrow.
Harrow promises to let Gideon go if she performs one last task for her. Ooh, what a tempting and great idea to fill a book! Two conflicting characters on a trip to a mission that is definitely dangerous. Gideon and Harrow embark on a sexually tense journey to the supposedly abandoned First House. First House is created as richly as one can imagine, with death, decay, and a planet full of water and skeletons. The morbidity writes itself. Gideon and Harrow are going to join necromancers and cavaliers (Gideon is the cavalier) from the Seven Houses. Each necromancer has to try to become a Lyctor, an immortal, and possibly omnipotent servant to the Emperor God. The cavaliers have to help them in challenges that involve the risk of death ( of course).
WHAAATTT? Reading the plot made my head spin but Muir manages to weave each character and the worlds so craftily that you will start using the word ‘Lyctor’ on a regular basis. Gideon is not like the hapless lead of every other fantasy movie. Nor is she of the trope where the beautiful girl doesn’t realize she is beautiful. Gideon is witty and her deadpan statements make her so snarky, I want to be friends with her. And Harrow. New incoming crush! A vicious, cunning, shrewd, and bitchy opponent, Harrow is ice to Gideon’s flickering fire.
My favorite line is when Gideon claims she hates Harrow. Harrow replies, ”Oh Griddle! But I don’t even remember about you most of the time.” BURN GIDEON! Gideon and Harrow’s relationship is reminiscent of the high school relationships where the characters who hate each other, ultimately find out that they love each other. What a surprise. But Muir has set it so wonderfully and simply that you cheer for them. The snarky bitch and queen needs to get together with the simple, confused servant asap!
All of the magic users in the book are necromancers, working with death magic. Harrow works exclusively with bones. The battles and magic scenes are complete expansions of each character. Every time Harrow battles you understand why she choose to use a particular magic and you get a glimpse into the character.
Harrow the Ninth is the second book of the series and already out in book stores. Get a copy and get cozy because this isn’t your every day fantasy novel.
P.S.- If I do have some complaints, it is that the first few pages can be dragging because there is SO MUCH HAPPENING but if you persevere (read a James Patterson in the middle if you wish) then it is definitely worth it.