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The Nine

(Thieves of Fate #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  365 ratings  ·  94 reviews
In the dark streets of Corma exists a book that writes itself, a book that some would kill for...

Black market courier Rowena Downshire is just trying to pay her mother’s freedom from debtor's prison when an urgent and unexpected delivery leads her face to face with a creature out of nightmares. Rowena escapes with her life, but the strange book she was ordered to deliver
Paperback, 367 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by Pyr
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Tracy Townsend As the author, I am a totally biased responder here, but you can find some professional reviews that speak to this idea a little bit. Here's Brandon C…moreAs the author, I am a totally biased responder here, but you can find some professional reviews that speak to this idea a little bit. Here's Brandon Crilly, reviewer at Black Gate Magazine ( and this one, which is pretty comprehensive, too:

I hope you find something to read that's right up your alley soon.


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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Mogsy (MMOGC)
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I love reading fantasy, I love reading science fiction, and occasionally I’ll even be in the mood for a bit of both at once. Is it any wonder then that The Nine hooked me on page one? Defying genre traditions and labels, Tracy Townsend’s debut is a fresh and bold novel that marches to the beat of its own drum, delighting me at every turn. By blending together a number of speculative elements, the author has created somet
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Nov 15, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy
This new fantasy sounds really interesting. Heads up on a giveaway of 3 copies going on right now here at Fantasy Literature, along with an interview with the author that's definitely worth reading. And, as always, the odds of winning one of those FanLit giveaway copies are great. ...more
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

The Nine is a genre blending work from Tracy Townsend that isn’t afraid to blaze its own trail in fantasy, mixing and matching the most exciting elements from other genres into something new, something all its own. And while 2017 has been a year filled with great fantasy releases, this opening installment of the Thieves of Fate series is among my favorites.

Right out of the gate, it becomes apparent that while the setting of this narrative might seem familiar it
Mary Robinette Kowal
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend, fantasy
This is a complex, thrilling political, heist novel that has steampunk that makes sense. So look, I love the aesthetic of steampunk, but it is frequently frustrating to me because people have gears without actually thinking about *why.*

The world of The Nine makes sense. Glorious, weird, wonderful sense.

The characters are vivid and alive and flawed. I am eager for the next book in the series.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Nine doesn’t sit comfortably in any singular genre. Rather, it reshapes various fantasy subgenres in an engrossing tale that takes place in an alternate universe.

Imagine a world where Science has become a religion. God the Experimentor maintains life as an experiment. He continually reevaluates his experiment by observing the way The Nine (randomly chosen human beings whose names remain unknown to anyone but God) live their lives. Some factions and creatures want humankind to fail God’s tria
Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)
3.5 Stars

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

I have to admit it took me a good percentage of the book to really get into it---the world was confusing at first and the seven or so POVs made it hard for me to connect with the characters---but eventually, as the story really got going and focused more on Rowena, the Alchemist, and Anselm, I got more into it and found myself wanting to keep reading.

By the time I finished, my favorite thing ab
Lynn Williams
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Who am I kidding with 4.5 stars - this is 5 stars without doubt.
My review:
I enjoyed this book so much that I’m actually nervous to write a review – this is not a thing that happens often, not because my reviews are brilliant or simply flow from my brain into the written form with ease and flair, but because I really want people to read this book and this makes me worry in case I don’t do the book justice and you read this review and feel simply ambivalent
This one is typical for the type of books that have good ideas, start out great, then the problems kick in and you become a lot less enthusiastic about them. It's also... a first book. I wouldn't say the author used up her awesome ideas when she should have waited, but this would have been better if it was refined.

In Corma religion and science got united, so the commonly held belief is that God is a scientist who looks upon the world as an experiment and people are just the rats running around
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The nitty-gritty: A complex and unique story that delivers on all levels. Simply brilliant!

I was initially drawn to The Nine because of it’s brightly colored cover, but believe me when I say the cover pales in comparison to the story that’s inside. This is one of my best, happiest surprises of the year, and I can’t say enough good things about this book. Tracy Townsend has created a fascinating combination of fantasy elements-- including steampunk and flintlock fantasy, with shades of Dicken
Dezideriu Szabo
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Right when I knew exactly what my favorite books of 2017 were, this Rare Jewel came out of the nowhere and blew me away. Superb characters and the best idea I heard in years. This is the best fantasy (or whatever strange gender this is) debut of the year and probably one of the best books of the year.
Laura A.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Nine: Thieves of Fate - Book One

Full disclosure – I did not purchase this book. I won a free copy at Readercon. I was not asked to write a review or recommend it to anyone, but really, I felt I had to get the word out. Because I was hooked from the moment I first heard Tracy Townsend do a reading of a whole 2.25 pages from a mid-section of the book, about which, I knew nothing. It was that good. I won the copy and stayed up far too late reading it, immersing myself in the world and character
Tracy Rowan
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I am deeply ambivalent about this book, so I think I'm going to go through the things which pleased me first, and then the things which absolutely did not.

First, it's reasonably well-written in spite of awkward passages that sometimes bring the story to a grinding halt.  The prose can be a pleasure to read in a purely aesthetic sense, though, and the universe is well realized, making it a world that the reader can enter easily.  The characters are fairly well-developed.  We get enough to underst
D. Palmer
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
The Nine is awesome. A fantastic debut and perfect introduction that left me wanting more of the adventure and wonder that it already delivers in spades.

Corma is a unique but familiar city that satisfies a Victorian, Industrial Revolution craving while standing squarely in another world filled with an addictive mix of modern and familiar along with antique and fantastically outmoded tech. This is a world of rust and sparking coils, horsecarts rolling alongside gyroscopic automobiles, and secret
Alec Hutson
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to break with my long-established practices and write a review for a book I'm not finished with. To be fair, I'm 80% through and I'll be done by the end of the day, and I'm already certain that this is an easy 5-star book. I'm really so impressed - this book deserves to break out, and I hope it does. If I were to describe it I'd say it's like if The Golden Compass had been written by China Mieville. There are a lot of similarities, actually, between this book and the His Dark Materia ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“It was a bloody awful way to die. It had been a bloody awful way to live.”

The Nine is a debut fantasy novel and what an incredible debut it is!!! Townsend has built an incredible world, full of interesting species and a plot with enough twists and turns to make the read feel like you’re on a roller coaster. And the characters!

Rowena Downshire is a young girl trying to make it in a cutthroat world. Her mother, and only living relative, is locked in a debtors prison. Everything she earns, and mos
Angela Burkhead
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This is one of those books where people are going to be hesitant to read and ask, "Yeah, but... Is it a religious book?"

I had the same question when attempting The Books of Babel and I hear the question all the time from others about that series (I was actually asked just last week about the religious aspect of the book...). Every time 'god' is involved, people like me are completely turned off and don't want to risk it. It's annoying being hounded with christian garble when our life experiences
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This kept me up reading till the morning. Around 30-50 percent through it became impossible to put down. I need the sequel NOW! The characters are amazingly complex, and damaged, and tender, and just so cute together. The plot is always surprising me and I was hooked. AND the world building is rich. It is such a unique idea and it is explained fantastically. It never felt like world dump, and it also made sense. GREAT READ.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest revi
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Breda by:
Shelves: books-i-sold
I have always been interested in fantasy about religion. Not religious fantasy per se, but books that use fantastic worlds to delve into the ways people have faith, and the ways that faith affects their views of the world. With this book, Tracy Townsend has done just that - and turned it into a heist!

What really struck me, reading this book, was how smart it is. The writing is crisp and confident, and I knew from the beginning I was in the hands of someone who knew the genre and knew what she wa
Brandi Nyborg
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through Goodreads' giveaways. I'm always ready for an original fantasy. I was very impressed with the author's ability to build such a complex world. I was also pleasantly surprised that the author managed to incorporate religion without turning me off. This is a book that asks some big questions, that really make you think. Not too many fantasies have me turning the pages like I was. I'm really interested to see where this story will go. If the author can continue to write ...more
Olwyn Ducker
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was worried I wouldn't like this as it's not my normal genre but it's brilliant , I loved it would highly recommend it . Now the only trouble is, I've got to wait so so long for the next one ... I can't wait .
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fantasy offers us a variety of takes on religion. From Martin’s Sparrows to Pratchett’s Omnians, religion add flavor and plausibility to a secondary world. It is a part of the human condition, and good fantasy treats it with same complexity as any other aspect of humanity. The worldbuilding that I appreciate does not pose faith or religion in a binary system of good and evil. Instead, faiths and practitioners of that fantastical faith who exhibit the subtleties of what it means to be human make ...more

Tracy Townsend, I cannot forgive you for writing the best book I have read on a year and then making me wait half a year for the sequel.

It is an astonishingly well-written book - story, dialogue, character creation and development, and world-building done to perfection. Lucky are her students.

A more mismatched trio of protagonists likely never existed in literature and they will haunt my dreams tonight because, as the indomitable and irrepressible Rowena Downshire says, The Nine is "jake.
Michelle Hauck
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Wow! I loved this story. A unique world filled with characters I couldn't resist. The word I'd used to describe this book is gutsy. The author took gutsy chances and boy did they pay off.

A really neat mix of what if science was religion and God a scientist. But don't be thinking this is a preachy or religious story full of goody-goody characters. It's not. It's much more. One of the most interesting fantasy books I've come across all year.

Rowena is an urchin of the streets. A courier for smuggl
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
See this review and others at

This is quite a difficult book to describe, which is why I think I false-started it a couple times before eventually picking the audiobook up. Once I started that, I ended up listening to it in just about three sittings, I was that immersed. It's sort-of-urban-fantasy, and kind-of-steampunk, and to me, felt quite new-weird-ish.

It takes place in the city of Corma, which is in many ways not unlike the city of New Crobuzon, if you're familiar. It fe
Stephanie Tiner
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rowena Downshire is nearly invisible. She works as a black market courier in the city of Corma. It’s a hard life, with a ruthless employer, and just enough money to keep her off the streets. When a sudden late night delivery on the opposite side of town goes wrong, Rowena finds herself in the middle of a dangerous, mysterious adventure with two of the most dangerous men in Corma.
The Alchemist is feared by most of the people in the city. He is a magician or a witch according to rumors. People fea
Karen Heuler
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Big, expansive, stimulating, imaginative. Exactly what I wanted right now, something to pull me in and tug me along. Religion and Reason have joined to create a new order (or so it would seem), but there's a book that writes important notations (about what?) and a theory that God, the experimenter, is judging some people more than others.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Very unique world where religion and science have merged together. Loved the morally grey characters and the worldbuilding. I felt the plot was hard to get into at first because there was a lot of jumping around between characters. Excellent fantasy book.
Erin Cataldi
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
The first book in what looks to be a promising new series from debut author, Tracy Townsend. Part steampunk, part urban fantasy, all around badass; this story will captivate readers and wanting more. When a young courier fails to deliver her intended package to The Alchemist all hell breaks loose. Who stole the package and why? What was in it? The Alchemist, his daughter, the spunky young courier and a former mercenary find themselves working together to not only save themselves, but to save the ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it liked it
This book has a decent variety of characters and detailed worldbuilding, but there's just so much filler it's hard to finish and hard to really recommend. The first half of this book has something like 10-15 different perspectives and I felt like a lot of them were not strictly necessary. There are literally 3-7 page scenes detailing a quick conversation or just a character pondering earlier events and every turn of the story just feels beaten to death. The book minutely catalogs every single ev ...more
Meera Nair
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Nine, Tracy Townsend creates a world quite like our own, throwing different species into play, in its deceitful and dangerous alleys. The aigamuxa and lanyani are as much a part of the looming mystery as the humans. A book that writes itself, the murder of an intellectual and nine individuals who are chosen as representative of a race - you've got yourself an action-packed novel that refuses to slow down. Rowena Downshire was a mere courier, working for the hardhearted Ivor. But when she ...more
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Tracy Townsend is the author of The Nine and The Fall (books 1 and 2 in the Thieves of Fate series), a monthly columnist for the feminist sf magazine Luna Station Quarterly, and an essayist for Uncanny Magazine. She holds a master's degree in writing and rhetoric from DePaul University and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from DePauw University, a source of regular consternation when proofr ...more

Other books in the series

Thieves of Fate (2 books)
  • The Fall (Thieves of Fate, #2)

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