I am sure that by now you have heard of Gideon the Ninth, either by my intense screaming about it on Twitter, or by… other people screaming about it online. When I first saw that a new epic science fantasy debut with NECROMANCERS was coming in September, I knew I had to read it, immediately. So against my better judgment, I went ahead and requested it from the publisher (praise + bless Tor Dot Com) thinking I’ll just get ignored, like I always do. BUT. At the beginning of May, my first ever physical review copy arrived and it was Gideon the Ninth. And now, two months later I can say that Gideon the Ninth is probably going to be my favorite book of the year.
Gideon the Ninth is set in a world where there are nine houses ruled by the God Emperor of the First House. We follow Gideon, an orphan brought up in the Ninth House, after she makes a deal with the Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House that she will be her pretend cavalier in a competition to become the next Lyctor, i.e. the immortal necromancer of the Emperor. And shit goes down.
First of all, this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. If you read a lot of Fantasy like I do, you get used to certain tropes and settings, but this book totally surprised me, because it was so unique. It’s a world that feels very Sci-Fi, but has a lot of Fantasy structure to it. The world is set in space, with different houses living on different planets and there’s a very Sci-Fi set up of technology, but at the same time the magic system is very science Fantasy and the roles and the set up of the houses is also something very close to the Fantasy genre. Basically, this is a love child between epic Fantasy and Science Fiction. I absolutely loved it, and I really do think it’s such a unique debut that revels in existing and you as a reader cannot help but join in.
I will say that you are just thrown into this world and I can see it being confusing for some readers but I can honestly say that this novel is such a ride that you won’t even care, I promise you that. It’s a really complex worldbuilding style and I am a sucker for that. Like I like being completely oblivious about what’s happening and then things just clicking into place at one point and suddenly it all makes sense. And in this case – very twisted sense.
I was absolutely obsessed with these characters, and there’s a LOT of them. It’s a huge cast of characters, but it’s a fantastic one that manages to feel very real and fleshed out. All the characters are really well-written and they truly leap off the page. I was strangely attached to everyone in this novel, and they’re all certifiably crazy and I love that.
Gideon the Ninth is one of the best protagonists I ever read about. She is a Gryffindor with a Hufflepuff heart and you can quote me on that. She is just over everything. And she is completely bonkers. But at her core, she is unexpectedly soft and cares about people, and honestly, just wants some companionship. She also makes crude jokes and is this badass swordswoman and we cannot help but stan. And just the way Muir wrote her, the way Gideon interacts with people and her surrounding is so freaking good. I just really enjoyed her character a lot.
Harrowhark Nonagesimus is, in turn, a Slytherin with a Ravenclaw heart and she is one bad bitch. I absolutely loved Harrow, potentially even more than Gideon. She is just so intense and scary, but so ambitious and smart and determined and I love her. And she is such an interesting character with a wonderfully written arc that you unwillingly root for at first and then, suddenly, you would give your life for Harrow. It’s a journey.
And both of these characters have all of these quirks and unexpected layers to them and their dynamic is UNPARALLEL. They hate each other, but they are clearly so used to one another and weirdly comfortable with each other. And to see their dynamic develop and change and go through all the stages it went through is such a rewarding experience. It’s unbelievably well-written and nuanced and I loved every second of it. Just wait for the pool scene. It is everything.
And I really got attached to the rest of the characters too. I really loved the necromancer and cavalier of the Sixth House. Palamedes is one of those geeky, uber-smart and capable characters and I adore him, while his cavalier, Camilla, is such a badass. And I really loved the kids of the Fourth house, especially Jeannemary, she is such a riot.
This book is such a wild ride and its plot is really engaging and gripping with all these twists that you don’t see coming and you don’t even have time to absorb before Muir sets off to the next one. It’s such an all-encompassing read that I never wanted to put down. This story features a trial-styled competition which no one mentions and it’s a big part of the story and personally, I love that kind of stuff. This story never rests, in the best kind of way. I just love what Muir did with the story and the ending left me cursing and being desperate for the sequel. LIKE NOW.
On top of all that, this book is just full of sheer brilliance. Muir’s writing style is so unique and delicious and she just has this way with words. And just all the little bits that make up this novel – the jokes, the humor in general, the way she names the characters and handles different house traits and even the Mean Girls reference (thanks Hannah for pointing that out) – it’s so wonderful and made me giddy and excited and I was just so head over heels in love with this novel.
If it isn’t clear by now – I loved this. The writing, the characters, the plot, the world – it was all brilliant and I cannot wait to see what Tamsyn does next because this debut was EVERYTHING. Book of the year for me probably!
I would love to hear from you! On a scale of 1 to 10, how freaking awesome does this book sound? Are you excited for Gideon? Have you read it already? Let me know in the comments!
*I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Tor Dot Com for being so awesome. All opinions stated are my own, obviously.
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