After my effusive review of Gideon the Ninth, did you think I would waste any time reading the sequel? As dishes continued to pile up and my partner gave me what one could lovingly call the stink eye, I devoured Harrow the Ninth, the second book of the Locked Tomb Trilogy.
After NK Jeimisin, I have finally found another female writer who completely owns the fantasy world she inhabits. A decade has been spent searching for the next Game of Thrones (probably two waiting for the sixth book) and I feel somewhat relieved after having found the trilogy written by Tamsyn Muir. I say somewhat relieved because I read the book and when I sat down to write the review I had as much clarity as anybody celebrating the dawn of 2020. The plot to say favorably is complicated.
I am diving into deciphering the plot for Harrow the Ninth. Bear with me gentle folks of the virtual world.
Gideon the Ninth ended with Gideon dying. Someone who has read and watched the Red Wedding too many times, I didn’t bat an eyelid. Okay maybe I did worry a bit. But Gideon’s death like all heroic things in the world (looking at you Iron Man)was a sacrifice. Gideon sacrificed herself so that Harrow could absorb Gideon’s soul and become a Lyctor. A Lyctor is super powerful ageless necromantic saints who serve the Emperor God.
Of course if all things went smoothly there wouldn’t be a book. Something has gone majorly wrong. Harrow can’t achieve her full potential as a Lyctor. Everybody is like poor Harrow, the runt of the litter, and wait for her to die soon so they can move on. Harrow, has lost her will to fight and also her memory of Gideon. Harrow the Ninth shifts between two perspectives, a tool to indicate Harrow’s disassociation with her past and her self. Muir manages to intrigue you without confusing the heck out of you.
In the second half of the book, we revisit the events from Gideon the Ninth, in a third-person narrative told from Harrow’s point of view. But Harrow’s cavalier isn’t Gideon. And Harrow isn’t as layered as Gideon. She is a sarcastic, bitchy, snob. Gideon’s strange upbringing, her basic sincerity, and attempts at humor made her likable and set the stage for the searing chemistry between the two lead characters. Here, we completely see through Harrow and her at 17 being surrounded by powerful and old characters who constantly underestimate her.
Harrow the Ninth in its bare essence remains a book about sorrow, about Harrow discovering who she is, without the trappings of the world she inhabits. The book and the story is caught being the second part of a trilogy which comes with great responsibility. There is so much story setting. Story setting everywhere. Muir tries to establish deep, complicated, and complex mythology and narrative that will build the foundation for the trilogy. Between the setting and Harrow’s guilt, the plot tends to get lost and foggy. There is a very amusing and interesting Lyctor threesome which cutely shows the vulnerable and sheltered side of Harrow.
Harrow the Ninth is a book about grieving, surviving, and waiting. It’s odd, quirky, and intriguing enough for me to wait for the final book in the series. Muir manages to expand the Bone universe and stretch our imaginations. While the plot remains questionable, the book is a good read for any body in need of some good fantasy reading.
P.S.- I know buying online is all we can do in the current situation but buy it from your independent book store please and help support small businesses.