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The Locked Tomb #2

Harrow the Ninth

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Harrow the Ninth, the sequel to Gideon the Ninth, turns a galaxy inside out as one necromancer struggles to survive the wreckage of herself aboard the Emperor's haunted space station.

She answered the Emperor's call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman's shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor's Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?

510 pages, Hardcover

First published October 14, 2020

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About the author

Tamsyn Muir

38 books9,047 followers
TAMSYN MUIR is the bestselling author of the Locked Tomb Trilogy, which begins with Gideon the Ninth, continues with Harrow the Ninth, and concludes with Alecto the Ninth. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the World Fantasy Award and the Eugie Foster Memorial Award. A Kiwi, she has spent most of her life in Howick, New Zealand, with time living in Waiuku and central Wellington. She currently lives and works in Oxford, in the United Kingdom.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,103 reviews
Profile Image for Rebecca Roanhorse.
Author 53 books7,159 followers
November 26, 2019
After the wonderful GIDEON THE NINTH, Muir could have stayed with what worked - a snarky protagonist with a contemporary sensibility that while incredibly emotionally moving was also just a lot of fun - but she did not play it safe. In fact, she took safe and punted it out of the stadium and instead gave us this daring and challenging beauty of a book instead. HARROW THE NINTH is not always an easy read. The first half or so is in second person and is confusing and non-linear and I often felt a bit confused and non-linear myself but I trusted Muir to see me through, to have a method to her madness and to bring me home, and wow did she ever. The patient reader will be rewarded tenfold with brilliant original characters and magic, heartbreaking intimacy, laugh out loud humor and the best damn soup in all the Nine Houses. Muir is just so very good. I wait with baited breath and sword in hand for the next book in this series and pretty much anything else this author writes.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,333 reviews1,825 followers
August 3, 2020
No one does it quite like Muir.

"I could protect you, if you'd only ask me to."
"I would rather have my tendons peeled from my body, one by one, and flossed to shreds over my broken bones. I would rather be flayed alive and wrapped in salt. I would rather have my own digestive acid dripped into my eyes."
"So what I'm hearing is.. maybe."

And by that I mean no one confuses me so utterly, for so long, in such devastating ways, only to give me exactly what I want, and then completely messes with my mind, all over again, by the final pages of the book.

"What the fuck is going on?" <– what a mood

Like, what, even is that? Huh? Seriously? How dare.

"You're certain that [spoiler] tried to kill Harrow?"
"But that doesn't– why would she–?"
"Do not fucking ask me for information. I could not be more lost right now."

In a scarily similar recreation of my reading experience with GIDEON THE NINTH, this book took me forever to get through because of slumps, work, life, the world, etc. Also because this book is over five hundred pages of who even fucking knows. Truly, I had no idea what was happening because while I understood the words I was reading, and there were familiar characters and faces, even some familiar-ish events.. nothing made sense. I was confounded, confused, and having a crazy good time anyway. This author has skills, I tell you. No one else could put me through this nonsense and have me asking for more.

"Stay here."
"Get fucked. I absolutely did not become the eighth saint to serve the King Undying so [spoiler] could play hero for me."
"Why did you ascend to be Lyctor?"
"Ultimate power — and posters of my face."

All I can say is : don't go in expecting to understand anything. Possibly ever. Because what little I thought I had eventually grasped by the end of book one, was just, poof, gone, by the start of this. And then what I thought I had pieced back together just before this concluded? Obliterated. Elle oh elle.

"She wants the D. [..] The D stands for dead."

But speaking of that, I laughed, oh how I laughed. Some parts were so outrageous I couldn't believe it. It was weird, it was whacky, it was wonderful. I want more. Because here we are again where I have been devastated with how this second book has concluded and I.. what.. but.. I..

I was not following all of this, because necromantic theory is a lot of hot bullshit even when I'm not busy having Complex Emotions.

Yeah, I need book three, like, yesterday.

4.5 stars

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.



(is it bad that I laughed at my own bone joke wait don't answer this question)
Profile Image for Petrik.
654 reviews39.7k followers
December 24, 2020
I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo

Review copy provided by the publisher—Tor.com—in exchange for an honest review.

2.5/5 stars

Harrow the Ninth was insanely confusing, and I am both annoyed and impressed at the same time.

I had an odd experience with Gideon the Ninth; in my review of it, I mentioned that I DNFed Gideon the Ninth the first time I read through it. It wasn’t until a few trusted reviewers of mine said that the second half of the book redeemed the first half so much that I decided to push myself through it one more time. And they were right, the second half of Gideon the Ninth did make me love the book, and it made me excited to read the second book in The Locked Tomb trilogy by Tamsyn Muir: Harrow the Ninth. However, I have an immensely conflicting experience with this sequel.

“You hating me always meant more than anyone else in this hot and stupid universe loving me. At least I’d had your full attention.”

Harrow the Ninth is the kind of book that will test its reader’s patience to its limit. Gideon and Harrow are characters loved by many readers, and the level of their investment for these two characters may ultimately determine whether they will be patient enough to read through 70% of deliberate confusing insanity before reaching the big payoff in the final 100 pages of the book. If you think Gideon the Ninth was already bizarre or difficult to follow, trust me when I say that it gets so much worse in Harrow the Ninth. Harrow the Ninth is purposely designed and structured to confuse the heck out of its readers; the narrative wants us to truly witness how things are seen from Harrow’s perspective. The narrative switches timelines constantly, and to make things even worse, almost all the characters behaved differently from the way they were in Gideon the Ninth, and the narrative also juggles second-person and third-person narration non-stop. In other words: almost nothing is believable, and almost everything doesn’t make any sense for the majority of the book.

It was clear that Muir refused to give any crucial hints or information to make the first 70% more accessible, and the final 30% will quite likely decide whether it’s worth all the struggle. Did this method work or not? Well, looking at the incredibly high rating and sales for this book, seems like it did for many readers; it goes to show that readers are willing to be confused for hundreds of pages if they’re in love with the story and characters already. Personally speaking, there were indeed some stunning and mind-blowing scenes in the last quarter; I assume that if you’re super invested in the characters of the series, Harrow the Ninth will overall be a very rewarding reading experience. However, I don’t think the revelations and the amazing pay-off were worth the 350 pages of struggles I forced upon myself. I’m actually not even sure whether this novel will actually works better on reread or not.

This is my final book review of 2020, and thinking about it, it’s probably the most fitting book to end this bizarre year. To sum up my thoughts on Harrow the Ninth, I’ll rate the first 70% of this book with a 1-star rating, the final 30% with a 4 stars rating. There’s a chance I might enjoy this more on reread, whether that will happen, that still remains to be seen when Alecto the Ninth comes out.

You can pre-order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping) | Bookshop (Support Local Bookstores!)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Edward, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Lufi, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Zoe.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
710 reviews11.3k followers
April 18, 2021
To sum up: it’s a lovely migraine of a book.
“I was not following all of this, because necromantic theory is a lot of hot bullshit even when I'm not busy having Complex Emotions.”
If you thought Gideon the Ninth was a bit bonkers, do I have a surprise for you. Enter Harrow the Ninth that makes “Gideon” seem like the easiest and most straightforward story there ever was. “Harrow” is so deliberately confusing, frustrating and over-the-top that I had to reach into my brain and forcibly shut off the part of it that’s responsible for logically trying to figure out what’s going on, instead just going along with a weird slightly insane ride where, like in a haunted funhouse madhouse nothing is what is seems and what it should be. I usually hate books that force me to do that. But with Harrow the Ninth it was ultimately worth it.
“I could protect you, if you’d only ask me to,” said Ianthe the First. A tepid trickle of sweat ran down your ribs.
“I would rather have my tendons peeled from my body, one by one, and flossed to shreds over my broken bones,” you said. “I would rather be flayed alive and wrapped in salt. I would rather have my own digestive acid dripped into my eyes.”
“So what I’m hearing is … maybe,” said Ianthe.

Our weirdo fanatical necromancer Harrowhark Nonagesimus (strange and creepy even by the murky standards of spacefaring necromancer society built on skeleton labor and bone magic and swordplay) has supposedly ascended to the coveted Lyctorhood at the terrible cost of a sacrifice of the only (living) person she ever cared for, becoming the superpowered magical knight to the Necrolord Prime, the Undying Emperor for the last 10,000 years. Or so it should have been. In fact, everything seems terribly and confusingly wrong. The powers are not what they are supposed to be, the memories are not what we know happened, the madness and insane confusion rule, and God seems to go by the name of John. Oh, also there’s a dead body ghost haunting you and a corpse that refuses to stay dead. And half of it is in second-person narration. And it refuses to make sense for two thirds of the story. Oh, and the time jumps, lets not forget that. And what I can only call reality jumps as well, in addition to time jumps.

Everything is just so *wrong*. And Harrowhark Nonagesimus seems to really be losing it.
“But Harrowhark—Harrow, who was two hundred dead children; Harrow, who loved something that had not been alive for ten thousand years—Harrowhark Nonagesimus had always so badly wanted to live. She had cost too much to die.”

Tamsyn Muir could have stuck with the snappy juvenile-ish snark that was both the best and the worst bit of Gideon the Ninth, the one that made me both entertained and a bit tired from all the eye-rolling. It would have been fun and familiar. But instead she throws us into the confused jumble of Harrow’s possibly insane and very much haunted mind without a lifeboat. It’s sink or swim narration, so grab the nearest piece of flotsam and stay adrift.
“In the real world, I have been fatally stabbed. The place that holds my body is about to be overrun by thanergetic monsters created by a galactic revenant. I am, put bluntly, on the verge of death. My soul is under siege, and I overwrote my real memories with a ghost-filled pocket dimension, which has now apparently been co-opted by some kind of poltergeist. From what I can tell I am stuck in here. I cannot get out. And I am about to die—I may even be dead already—which will render this all somewhat moot.”

Under all the craziness this is a book about loss and grief. It may be hidden and masked and avoided, but it’s constantly there, just underneath the surface, sharp and relentless. Harrow is grieving, even if she refuses to understand it. And she feels tremendous guilt. And let’s not forget the haunted bit either. She’s struggling to survive — all while around her the entire world is in danger, and dead planet revenants are threatening the fabric of existence, and the spaceship/boneyard can only protect them for so long, and while the whole Lyctorship has gone terribly wrong, and each chapter counts down to the Emperor’s murder.

And necromancers still have to make soup. That’s not a joke.

The clues to what is going on are scattered everywhere. You know those are all clues but putting them together is hard, and for the two thirds of the story you’d do better if you just collect them in your mind and let them sit there and wait until Muir comes to the part where answers start. It’s frustrating but also fun. Some of them are easy, some seem to come out of the left field, but they are all rewarding. There’s a cringeworthy immortal heretical threesome that made me (and Harrow) flee in terrified embarrassment. There are planetary homicides. There are poignant ruminations on very messed up childhoods full of cruelty and neglect. There are objectively terrible pop-culture jokes — and I am certain that Muir makes them glaringly obviously bad on purpose, as a self-aware mockery in this case. There are loving and horrifying descriptions of bones and viscera that would fascinate anatomists and graverobbers alike. Those who are dead make appearances (since when has death stopped anyone in a society of necromancers???) and some of those make me squeal with happiness, and you really should brush up on Gideon the Ninth plot prior to starting this book because otherwise it won’t be nearly as much fun.
"Do not fucking ask me for information. I could not be more lost right now."

Tamsyn Muir has created characters that are both immensely unlikable () and yet in the same breath real and complicated and worth rooting for. Morally grey and multifaceted is apparently easy for Muir to create. Kudos are in order. And there are enough power struggles and complex motivations to last a lifetime or two, necromantically speaking.
“Memory hit Harrowhark Nonagesimus with the inexorable gravity of a satellite sucked from orbit, flinging itself to die on the surface of its bounden planet; the world hit her like a fall.”

I think it took guts for Muir to flip the switch from inhabiting Gideon’s mind — fun, irreverent, sarcastic, snarky, and bristling with energy — to Harrow’s fanatical, obsessive, paranoid, glum, dark, confused, claustrophobic and for all intents and purposes insane mind. Taking the readers out of established comfort zone and plunging them into the new cold uncharted waters is a string and ballsy move, and after the initial shock I embraced it with all my heart. It’s wickedly powerful, once you let it take your brain over. Or maybe it’s just crazy talking. Who knows?
“Is that the truth, or the truth you tell yourself?” asked Augustine.
“What is the difference?” said God.

It’s cryptic, it’s fascinating, it’s frustrating, and it’s fun. If you hated Gideon the Ninth, you’ll hate this one. If you loved Gideon the Ninth, you still may hate this one. It’s prickly and often annoying and makes you really work for it.

It’s like a migraine in the book form that eventually unfolds into a beautiful creation.

I loved it. And I certainly will be queueing up to see how this bonkers and awesome story wraps up.
“I think the main thing I should have said was, You sawed open your skull rather than be beholden to someone. You turned your brain into soup to escape anything less than 100 percent freedom. You put me in a box and buried me rather than give up your own goddamned agenda. Harrowhark, I gave you my whole life and you didn’t even want it.”

4.5 bone shards. Or stars. Whatever.

My review of Gideon the Ninth is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


My Hugo and Nebula Awards Reading Project 2021: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Emily Duncan.
Author 5 books2,758 followers
February 7, 2020
So glad one of the greatest writers of our time is a memelord.
Profile Image for Eric Allen.
Author 3 books722 followers
October 2, 2020
2.5 stars.

And trust me, no one on this earth is more depressed about my low rating on this book than I am. This was the piece of media I was most looking forward to this year. More than Final Fantasy 7 Remake or Cyberpunk 2077, More than freaking Rhythm of War or the return of the Dresden Files, More, even, than the Mandalorian season 2 or the half a dozen movies I wanted to see that are now pushed back indefinitely. So I am really, REALLY depressed that I didn't like this book very much. It's been the year from hell, and with how much I was looking forward to this book, it kind of hit me pretty hard that it was basically boring, frustrating, uninteresting, confusing crap until the last 25-30% or so.

Okay. So. Up front. To be honest, this book reads like bad fanfiction. We all know the kind. Where all of the characters' personalities and motivations are completely wrong, and the writer fixates on the complete wrong things, and doesn't really know how to come up with a coherent storyline that makes sense. So then it just devolves into a confusing jumble of characters that happen to have the same name as those in a beloved piece of media, doing something because reasons, and it's really confusing, and you wonder how the fanfic writer got from there to here. And then they use a lot of really big words, and an overly verbose style just to show how smart they are. That's what the majority of this book feels like to me. Bad fanfic written by someone who didn't understand the first book, and is under the delusion that their wordsmithery is second to none.

The first two thirds of this book are extremely confusing, and, frankly, just not very entertaining on top of making absolutely no sense at all whatsoever. The Harrow in this book is really boring, and not herself, and the author doesn't let you know enough about what is going on to care WHY she is being really boring, and not herself until the very end of the book. Which, unfortunately is WAY TOO LATE for it to make a difference.

A mystery is set up almost immediately in the beginning, in everything you know being wrong. Not one single shred of information or progress is made in that mystery until the final third of the book. It's just sitting there, being mysterious. It's mystery, for the sake of mystery. There's no real point to it in the story except to be mysterious. And it completely fails at that because of one very important detail. Because the author refuses to give even a single shred of information for two entire thirds of the book, those two entire thirds of the book make absolutely no sense at all whatsoever. There's a pretty big difference between a compelling mystery, and not one single fucking thing in the entire book making sense for two thirds of its length. That's not a bold decision in storytelling, or breaking new ground. That is flat out terrible writing. Absolutely TERRIBLE writing. It's not entertaining to have no fucking clue what is happening and nothing to even work with on figuring it out for the majority of the book. THAT. IS. BAD. WRITING! Also, fast forward to the end of the book, and then look back on that letter Harrow wrote for herself, and, more broadly, the conditions for reading the other letters she has left. None of these things pays off. Not one. It's basically just gibberish that is completely meaningless to the story in the end, and serves no purpose within the plot except to start off the mystery. None of the points in that letter is even addressed, except for one single off handed comment by Ianthe about the tongue/jaw line. That is a COMPLETE failure to follow through on even the most basic aspects of the mystery that the author set up.

The fact that nothing makes any sense, is compounded by the fact that the author tends to overdescribe unimportant details to the point that they clutter almost every single scene, making it very hard to figure out what any given scene is actually about, and what is actually happening in it. I found it extraordinarily confusing. There are also several very gimmicky things the writer has done with the writing itself. Most notably would be the second person perspective that the overwhelming majority of the book is written in. Even knowing WHY it was written like that now that I've finished, it doesn't make any sense for the book to have been written like that, because it's not the character you think is narrating narrating, and even if it was, that character wouldn't have a reason to, because that character freely admits later on that she is not conscious for the vast majority of the book. It's just a gimmick that the author used to make the book stand out from others, that didn't really seem like she thought through entirely, because it doesn't work within the context that it's explained in the story. And it was really fucking annoying too, but that's probably just my personal tastes talking there. I couldn't make myself read it. I had to get the audiobook in order to get through it, because it was just that annoying to me, and the whole nothing making any sense thing was also killing my desire to read any more.

There's also another big problem with the mystery and nothing making sense. Even now knowing what's going on, it still doesn't make much sense, and it kind of invalidates almost the entire book leading up to the reveal. Because none of it really has a point except to be mysterious and make you ask what the hell is going on? And a lot of it is kind of really boring, because you're both confused and frustrated, and then the surface events that you are being shown aren't particularly interesting, and the character being displayed is someone completely different from the character she was previously. If I were to go back and read the book again, I still wouldn't really have any idea what's happening and why, because there's just so much going on that doesn't lead anywhere. It's just there to take up space and be mysterious. Two entire thirds of this book simply exist for the sole purpose of taking up space and not making sense.

On the other hand, the last third of the book is excellent, when the author FINALLY starts explaining things, and giving clues as to what's going on, like she probably should have been doing throughout the whole thing, the book is great. The second person perspective morphs into what I was assuming it was supposed to be, which is presented as a completely different POV within the story, which, kind of invalidates the entire reason the rest of the book was written in second person.

So, this one is hard to rate. The first two thirds of the book are a 1 star book. The last third is maybe a 4 star book. That last third DOES NOT make up for the rest of the book leading up to it, however. This book is annoyingly written, confusing, frustrating, and a lot of it just doesn't have a reason to exist. No matter how good an ending it has, that ending has a lot to answer for, and it just didn't deliver for me.

I love Gideon the Ninth. It's one of my favorite books. I've read it three times since I discovered it last year, and recommended it to pretty much everyone who will listen. I still do. Go read it if you haven't. It is a genuinely entertaining book. I will probably never read Harrow the Ninth again. The good parts are not worth the bad parts in my opinion. I'll definitely grab the third and final book in the trilogy, because I am still genuinely interested in where things are going, but I'm going to be kind of wary about picking up other books from this author in the future because of all the really bad decisions she made in telling this part of this story. I've lost a lot of trust for the author after this one. She's now on my do not spend money on ANYTHING without reading it first list. This is one of those times where someone really needed to be told no, but wasn't.
Profile Image for Baba Yaga Reads.
115 reviews1,355 followers
October 27, 2021
“Why did you ascend to be a Lyctor?”
“Ultimate power. And posters of my face.”

Most writers try to chase trends. They rely on formulaic plots, popular tropes, and safe narrative choices, hoping to give the public exactly what they want.

Tamsyn Muir is not one of those writers.

It’s difficult to explain what makes Harrow the Ninth so extraordinary. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I’d say that this book made me reconsider how stories work. It challenged me to a point where I seriously questioned my own sanity. If Gideon the Ninth was, as I often hear it described, a crazy book, its sequel dials the craziness up to a hundred; and what is most infuriating about it is that, somehow, it works.
It shouldn’t! It should fail spectacularly, going down like a shuttle falling into deep space (ahem). And yet, reading this book was akin to looking at a cubist painting for the first time: utterly confusing, in equal parts puzzling and fascinating. The most notable difference being that while a portrait by Picasso may certainly impress you, but will hardly make you laugh, Harrow the Ninth is also genuinely funny and moving. Muir’s writing is simultaneously full of heart and incredibly self-aware, as if the author was poking fun at her own characters and terrible puns.
This book has all the wrong ships done right, and all the right tropes done wrong; it’s raw, unflinching, and insanely creative. It takes everything you thought you knew after reading Gideon and turns it upside down, leaving you scratching you head and scrambling for clues.
It’s a Christopher Nolan movie – possibly Memento, or maybe Inception - tossed into a pool of lame Millennial humor and sprinkled with rainbow confetti; a love letter to fanfiction, 2000s pop culture, and romance novels, written with the lyricism of a biblical psalm.

It's also a book that is very frank about mental health, and the many ways trauma affects the way we perceive the world. I applaud how Muir portrayed Harrow's mental illness (which is based on the author's own condition), making it an integral part of the plot and delving deep into the consequences of grief and child abuse.

Harrow the Ninth is a science fantasy masterpiece, and my favorite book of 2020.
Now all I have to do is lay down in the Locked Tomb and hibernate until Alecto is released.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
January 24, 2023
“Harrowhark, I gave you my whole life and you didn’t even want it.”

This book made me claw at the walls of my enclosure.

As Harrow the Ninth begins, Harrowhark and her cavalier Ortus have just become lyctors to the emperor. Unfortunately, they have also been notified they’re being chased by resurrection beasts, a type of revenant created when souls are taken from planets via thanergy; the first nine that God created are now hunting them. [There were nine and the emperor has killed five; he says three still exist. This discrepancy in numbers will, I’m sure, not be relevant later ever.] And meanwhile, the BOE (Blood of Eden) cult, who hate the nine houses, is also in hot pursuit.

To top it all off, she lacks the powers she should have. Mercymorn, Augustine, and Ortus are growing increasingly unhelpful. Ianthe is acting even stranger than usual. And the Body has begun to speak again as a hallucination. What’s a girl to do? Well, if you’re Harrow, the most gremlin-esque woman in the world, the answer includes homoerotic behavior, second-person narration, evil soup [don’t ask but it’s around page 240], and a lot of really, really weird dreams.

But listen. I think if you read Gideon and you are anything like me, you already loved Gideon, you feel crazy all the time, and you know you want to read this book immediately. So the rest of this review… will be for those of us who have already read this book and are just going a bit crazy over it. Like me. In a normal way. I will now move on to the spoiler section, including a great deal of speculation. THESE ARE ALL FULL OF SPOILERS. STOP READING THIS REVIEW NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT THEM.

“Because all I ever wanted you to do was eat me.”
▷This is a line that makes me want to chew glass whole
▷It might end up coming up in my English thesis and it would be relevant too because I am a normal person who writes about normal things
▷I just had to take a break from writing this review because I felt so crazy just typing this line out
▷I feel normal about Harrow thee Ninth which is why I made a playlist about her because she makes me feel so normal
“But when she was scared, she was a child again, and she was more scared of being a child again than anything else in her life.”
▷and if I said kinnie moment what would you do then? what would you do
“You were so afraid she might touch you. You were so afraid anyone might touch you. You would always been afraid of anyone touching you, and had not known your longing flinch was so obvious to those who tried it.”
▷Mercymorn and Augustine are the worst (honorific) (loving) (full of mourning)
▷First of all I think having a threesome with God (page 281 in my hardcover) is funny bitch behavior
“I will let you know now that the plan for my funeral is in my top drawer, and I’ve got it down to a minute by minute framework, and it’s only 24 minutes, and it’s just lovely.”
▷Mercymorn was funny for that and I’m obsessed with her
▷I have a friend who's like, deeply obsessed with Augustine and he's not in the right for it but he IS funny for it
▷Gideon and Ianthe interacting is funny as hell I love it
“Get a grip. Don’t look at her blood, or lick her bones, or do any of the shit necromancers lie and say they don’t do the moment two of them get nasty.” “What can I say. I love a little gall on gall.” “Reverse everything I just told you. Let’s get married.”
▷Harrow being Ho calling in (page 332 in my hardcover) is also funny as hell
▷Ianthe’s arc with her arm was so fantastic
▷She is fucking crazy but she is free <3
▷The Matthias Nonius v the sleeper battle where they both speak entirely in tongues was funny also
▷I miss Camilla. I think it is funny of her to be with Blood of Eden.
▷Y’all read As Yet Unsent? Corona and Judith Deuteros make me normal also
▷Anyway, as we all know Gideon and Harrow make me feel extremely normal all the time, I think about them and they don’t make me crazy or anything like that
“Ohhhh, Gideon, I was so dumb to think a tub of ancient freezer meat was my girlfriend. Please show me how to do a press up. Also, I’m very obviously attracted to y- no, damn it, this is just sad. This is garbage.”
“His calm agreement made her all the more furious. She did not examine why.”
▷I genuinely am going crazy over this line. Harrow just wants to be fighting with Gideon :( I love gay people


Things We Know
▷AL/Annabel Lee/Alecto was resurrected, evil, and is now in the locked tomb, except also not because she and the Emperor had attained Perfect Lyctorhood. Ianthe sacrificed Augustine to save God. Pyrhha was inside Gideon the First the whole time, and now that bitch is dead but she’s fine. Also, Harrow is now asleep in her silly little coffin. [Nona] whose identity we do not know is somewhere.
This meme actually made me remember how this worked better not gonna lie
▷The BOE (Blood of Eden) cult who hate the nine houses, used to be run by Cytherea, who has been a revenant for twenty years??
▷Gideon (Ortus) and Cytherea planned to kill their Lyctor’s baby, Gideon, to start a thanergy cascade in order to open the Locked Tomb. But the baby wasn’t actually Gideon’s, it was God’s.
▷The Locked Tomb Body is maybe the one to have resurrected Gideon in Harrow’s body (??)
▷Also, just because I had to google this, necromancers turn thalergy (life magic) into thanergy (death magic)

Things To Speculate On
▷I have a long running theory that one of the characters is going to be the last revenant beast, because there's that one line in Harrow where they mention there are nine, five killed, and three left, which is obviously some Faulty math. I think John. I think this would compel me so I want it to be true. it could also be like, Cytherea, as there’s a note at one point that she was a revenant for twenty years which just made me go ????
▷Anastasia, the one who almost got Perfect Lyctorhood, will probably also be relevant
Here is some cool and sexy little speculation but anyway basically with no evidence I think Nona is Anastasia and Anastasia is also the body.
▷Also I think Alecto will be AlectoGideonbod [as the post would put it]. Again no evidence just vibes and I don't remember why I so firmly believed this four months ago there was probably evidence at the time
▷idk my brain is soup [not the evil kind] so I will just leave this for now but go speculate about women possessing each other in the gay way in the comments I really want to know what people think. your thoughts on the crazy people? tell me about them

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Profile Image for lucky little cat.
545 reviews100 followers
September 15, 2021
That was a train wreck pretending to be Inception. That was so, so bad that my ears are still ringing, and my edition was hardback, not audio.*

I understood almost all of it, and I'm not happy. Here's a short list of things that disappointed me. Major spoilers.

I have theories about what *I* think all those hanging clues mean. So, here are a few maybe right but potentially-wrong spoilers.

keywords: this isn't how the fuck it happens either; i've always had bette davis eyes, and none of you suckers figured it out 'til now; you weren't in your skull, so I left you a note; there were so many rebels in that little shuttle that it looked like a clown car; but if I repeat the iambic pentameter joke five times, doesn't that make it funnier? I did not have sex with that woman, we just swapped eyes

*On Edit: Okay, I lied here: my copy was actually digital, not hardback. Which means I can reliably tell you I spent 30 hours reading this book over a three-day period, which is the key reason I was ranting over the miniscule payoff.

**Seriously. I once used "tergiversate" correctly in a grad school essay, and the professor wrote "Do NOT use this word" in the margin.
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
514 reviews108 followers
September 7, 2022
Update: Re-read to get ready for Book 3. I loved this even more than before. The parts that confused me the first time around made sense the second time.

Amazing sequel. I respect this book a lot for taking serious risks and pulling them all off. It's markedly different from the first book but also fully grounded in the larger universe of the story. And without giving anything away, there are twists that are so good and seem to be set up so early that now I want to read the first book all over again.

I'm going to run out of words for how much I loved this book. It's funny, heartbreaking, riveting, and also dense with details throughout. I want to read at least the last quarter of the book again to better figure out everything that happened. Mostly I kept flying along because I was so totally wrapped up in all the necromancer drama. There were so many characters and I loved all of them.

Compared to the first book, there's a change in the writing style that took me a while to get used to. And there are some revelations throughout that relied on details I missed by not reading close enough. But I have no complaints about any of that. I love a book that's so well written that it can get going at full speed and trust that I'll try my best to keep up. And the result was just amazing.

Anyways, if you haven't read Gideon yet, go do that. It was my favorite book last year. Then read this. It's fantastic.

(And the audiobook is just as perfect as the first book. Please can Moira Quirk do all the audiobooks?)
Profile Image for Brittni Kristine.
174 reviews104 followers
August 20, 2022
If you enjoyed Gideon, I firmly believe you’ll love Harrow as well. While Harrow doesn’t have Gideon’s humor, what she does bring to the table in pure sass is truly enjoyable. Harrow, who was clearly the strongest character in the first book, is the underdog in her own story. We see her struggle and grow and I enjoyed every bit of it, even the confusing parts.

If you made it through Gideon and still liked the book, then you’re prepared to read Harrow the Ninth. Much like Gideon, the first 60% is supposed to be confusing. But unlike Gideon, you now have an idea of the world building, which you get very little of in the first book. For me that made all the difference and I managed to read Harrow twice as quickly because I wasn’t grappling for the “rules” of the universe. This entire series forces me to really put trust in the authors hands and accept what I cannot control.

Loved this book. Cannot wait for the third. It’s my favorite series of the year, easily. I’ve never read books like these before and I do not expect to find anything like them again.
Profile Image for Samantha.
401 reviews16.6k followers
October 30, 2021
I still want to give this one 4.5 stars but I did like Gideon a bit more so let that be known.

TW: allll the blood, gore, bones, and body horror; possession; implied necrophilia sort of?? This is a necromancy book so things are complicated and weird

This book is weirder than Gideon the Ninth was and if you were at all confused by that one, you are definitely going to be confused here. I was not confused in book 1 but this one I absolutely had no idea what was going on (and that is the point) until 75% into the book. But I still enjoyed the atmosphere and trusted the process because I had to know what the fuck was going on. And in some ways my questions were answered and in others not, but I continue to be impressed by the absolute originality of this series and complexity of what goes on while still being funny and weird and having a lot of heart. I’m excited for things this laid out and, like many fans of the series, cannot wait for the next one. So glad we have 2 books left! Review and discussion videos to come on my channel.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,878 reviews22.6k followers
August 14, 2020
The mindbending adventures of the necromancers continue! Full review, first posted on www.FantasyLiterature.com (along with 3 others from my co-reviewers there!):

Harrow the Ninth, the sequel to the Nebula and Hugo Award-nominated fantasy Gideon the Ninth, is incredibly ambitious, decidedly wordy, and highly confusing for about three-quarters of the book, at which point Tamsyn Muir (finally!) begins to gradually pull back the curtains.

Harrowhark, the heir of the declining Ninth House, a talented necromancer, and Gideon’s frenemy, has left the planet of Canaan House in the company of the Emperor (aka “God”) and his few remaining elite necromancer warriors called Lyctors, including Ianthe from Gideon the Ninth. As they travel toward an impossible-to-win war with a Resurrection Beast and its hordes of giant insectoid soldiers called Heralds, Harrow navigates a complex web of conspiracies and not knowing for certain who is on her side and who wants her dead.

On top of that, Harrow is struggling with a slower-than-usual process of attaining her full powers as a Lyctor, along with a mental illness that seems to be warping her view of reality. The first clue that all is not as it seems: As Harrow recalls the events at Canaan House, she remembers her cavalier as being not Gideon, but her original Ninth House cavalier Ortus … who reportedly had died in a spaceship bombing many months ago. In what may not be entirely a coincidence, one of the Lyctors who makes a regular play at assassinating Harrow — though it’s possible he’s just trying to put her out of her misery — is also named Ortus.

Most of Harrow the Ninth alternates chapters between Harrow’s travels and interactions with the God-Emperor and other Lyctors, which are told in second person POV (for what is actually a very good reason, made clear much later in the book), and a peculiar retelling, told in third person, of Harrow’s experiences at Canaan House, … peculiar because these past events play out so differently in this retelling. What is reality? (And, just to make matters more interesting, there are several chapters told in first person POV at the end.)

It’s been about five months since I read Gideon the Ninth, and if I had known when I started Harrow what I know now, I would’ve stolen Gideon back from one of my kids and at least reread the last 50 or so pages and refamiliarized myself with the characters, including the ones I thought were dead and gone (see above re: altered retelling of events at Canaan House).

Harrow the Ninth is both fascinating and frustrating, and it often made my brain hurt. Most of it was a difficult and opaque read because Muir is deliberately hiding the ball on so much from the reader for so long, and I’m a reader who thrives on understanding the overall context and scheme of a novel. Some mystery is good, but I felt that the confusing section (which is about the first 350 pages) should have been trimmed down by about a hundred pages.

On the positive side, Muir is unquestionably a talented author with a gift for words, and her prose was often a joy to read even when it wasn’t at all clear what was going on.
Then everything changed, forever. Harrowhark fell in love.

“Falling” was not the right term, precisely. It was a long process. She more correctly climbed down into love, picked its locks, opened its gates, and breached its inner chamber.

I also still love the interplay between fantasy and SF in these books, where necromantic magic takes places in a rather decrepit science fictional setting. The last 150 pages were excellent and truly enjoyable: they’re action-packed and, more importantly, some of the key questions raised in this series are finally answered (though, fair warning, Muir replaces those with several new questions). And clearly both of these first two LOCKED TOMB books would benefit from a reread. Time permitting, I’ll do that before I tackle the upcoming third book, Alecto the Ninth.

If you loved Gideon the Ninth I’d definitely recommend Harrow the Ninth, despite its challenges; if you weren’t a big fan of the first book, I’d probably give this one a pass.

Thanks so much to Tor for the ARC!
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
May 18, 2021
We follow Harrow shortly after the harrowing events of the last book (sorry not sorry).

She's quickly learning the secrets of the immortals from the emperor himself and it was all that she could ever remember wanting...and yet...something is off.

Her memory is becoming more patchworky (or is she just noticing it now)? She feels physically ill looking at a sword and there's secrets - oh so many secrets - that could result in her death any day.

But there's also a voice inside her head...one that may hold the secret to it all.

After the intensity, humor and sheer badassery of the first book...I truly did not think the second could even come close.

And then I read it.

Oh. My. Flipping. God.

Like...I can't even. I can't odd. This book has wrecked me in the best way possible.

This book is so wholly different and yet brings about such sheer amazingness that I can hardly keep from reeling.

If you haven't read it yet...you really ought to have started, like yesterday.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,846 followers
March 7, 2020
I'm pleased to say that this sequel to Gideon the Ninth not only answers a few questions, but breaks the mold established by the first and plows through the fields of the dead to create (or destroy) all of creation.

I mean, what else can you expect when you're dealing not only with necromantic gods in a supremely hi-tech post-humanity universe?

Them to make soup?

Oh, wait... yeah.

Honestly, I was slightly bemused and slightly weirded out by the kind of pacing and style in the first part of the novel, and it didn't have anything to do with the 2nd person storytelling. It even felt like a mystery novel, or rather, a gothic mansion mystery including ghosts, more than a full-out preparation for a battle against hungry resurrection monsters and surviving a river of mad souls.

And even in my strange feelings, Muir pulls through and turns the tale into something ELSE entirely.

And I'm happy to say she also goes ahead and fulfills all my other expectations. Big payoffs. I'm quite happy. :)

Of course, now... WHERE THE HELL IS MY NEXT BOOK? (Pretty please?)
Profile Image for elaine.
140 reviews77 followers
October 22, 2022
sometimes romance isn’t romance sometimes romance is wholly tethering urself to another person in such a way that u are the beginning and the end of each other’s suffering and their forgiveness of u and sacrifice for u and desire to be consumed by u in every sense of the word becomes the literal metaphysical axis around which the universe revolves btw
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,111 reviews1,975 followers
November 4, 2020
Be prepared when going into this book to have to work hard to understand it for a number of different reasons. Then accept that you have to wait to the end before much of it becomes clear. Finally have your reading calendar cleared so you can go back and read it all again, knowing what you have finally discovered. The author weaves a very tangled web and I loved it!

Harrow the Ninth is a great character and a very special necromancer. We begin to discover how special as this book progresses and we are introduced to some very major players. The bone magic throughout is horrific and clever and sounds very painful. It is not all bone breaking though. There is a lot of humour too and the book is very entertaining.

I am finding it hard to review Harrow the Ninth without giving away something very important, so I will just finish by saying that I thought it was brilliant and I loved the ending and I am now waiting with bated breath for book three.
Profile Image for Andrea Belfiori.
125 reviews964 followers
July 21, 2021
Vado ad ibernarmi nel Sacro Sepolcro fino all’uscita di Alecto The Ninth.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,379 reviews11.7k followers
September 6, 2020
I am not going to pretend that I understood everything that went on in this book, but I want more. Being confused is also not my fave thing, and yet, here it was fun to be completely lost. And I can’t resist the pleasure of saying names like “Necrolord Prime, The Emperor of the Nine Houses, The Prince Undying” or “Lady Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter by Her Own Desire.” I like these wacky people and the incomprehensible necromantic sciences and the ghost underworld. Oh, and, of course, obscenities and juvenile jokes.

I would have thrown away about 50 pages of battles towards the end of the book. Those pages were as tedious as the last half hour of every Marvel movie.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (semi hiatus).
1,458 reviews181 followers
September 24, 2022
UPDATE 25/09/22 - Reread in preparation to read Nona the Ninth! Wowsers! Even on a reread I was still scratching my head in some places. Absolutely loved it!

Original review

Well I can't put my thoughts together properly yet, and if I am being honest, it might not be until after I have re-read both books. I can't emphasise enough how incredible Tamsyn Muir's writing is in all it's descriptive, foul mouthed glory. I know the overly descriptive stuff won't work well for everyone but I absolutely loved it! The seemingly overworked sentences are essential to the style of humour Muir has mastered - the intelligent, insult laden type that had me in stitches. I will write a review but I have to think about it as I need to keep it spoiler free. I recommend Fiona's or Nataliya's reviews as they are excellent!

Love love love this series!
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books426 followers
February 6, 2022
“You’re not waiting for her resurrection; you’ve made yourself her mausoleum.”

So What’s It About?

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?

What I Thought

Welcome to a not-so-brilliant hot mess of a review for a brilliant hot mess of a book! I have a kind of tangle of thoughts in my head about this book and I’m going to do my best to express them…we’ll see how it goes. In short, this book is absolutely wild and I’ve never read anything like it before – even Gideon the Ninth was vastly different. I have a lot of respect for a creator who continually defies expectations by constantly trying new things. Harrow is a hilarious, baroque, oppressive and wonderfully weird puzzle of a book and I was glad to simply sit back and be along for the ride. I’ve rarely read a book that’s dripping so much unique character and atmosphere. I’ll also add that Muir has a way with words that is uniquely her own and is a delight to read.

One of my complaints about Gideon was that we knew so little about the world, and I’m glad to say that Harrow expands upon this part of the story in a very satisfying and inventive way. We learn all kinds of interesting things necromancy, God’s history, Gideon’s and Harrow’s histories, the previous book’s villain and plenty beyond that to boot. I will say, however that I think one of my struggles with the previous book still stands as I still can’t keep any of the houses straight. I’m not sure if this is my fault as an inattentive reader or a result of Muir not providing enough information about each of the houses.

I’d heard some readers say that each character was distinct no matter how much space they took up in the story but I am liable to disagree; I had a lot of trouble distinguishing and remembering several of the characters in the Canaan part of the story and I did not find any of them to be particularly interesting. This is one of this series’ conundrums for me, I think. I’m a massive Gideon fan but I can’t exactly say that I’m emotionally attached to any other character in this series other than Dulcinea. The vast majority feel either hastily sketched and caricature-y or deliberately unlikeable to me. There are some funny moments between characters but just as many are simply irritating to me, especially as the sniping and arguing and nastiness continues on and on.

I will say that I certainly don’t think characters have to be likeable in order to carry a story as long as they are interesting, and if I’m on the fence about the rest I definitely think that Harrow herself is a fascinating character. She’s a mess of fear and sorrow and grief, genius and paranoia, hate and misery. In this book we really get to see the immense amount of pressure that she puts herself under, her guilt for the deaths that birthed her and the debilitating weight of her grief over the end of the first book. In short, I think her characterization is largely brilliant.

There are a couple of aspects of her character development that seem to come rather out of the blue for me. It was hard to read about Harrow treating Ortus so horribly for the majority of the book and I love the moment where she recites his poetry with him during their confrontation with the Sleeper. Nevertheless, I don’t quite know how she gets from a place of disdaining everything about him to suddenly seeing his worth. And after spending a whole book doing literally everything in her power to avoid thinking about Gideon’s death I do feel like it kind of comes out of left field when she decides that she needs to face her grief head on and feel it.

Of course both of these happen after she realizes that Canaan House is all in her mind and Canaan Harrow fuses with real world Harrow, but nevertheless I think this part of the story might have been more powerful to me if it had been more articulate about how real Harrow and Canaan Harrow fusing lead to both of those revelations within her. As it stands now, I understood intellectually why they happened but I didn't feel that the internal process was as clear and impactful as it could have been.

I mentioned that this is something of a puzzle of a book with strange clues and hints and bizarre occurrences all throughout, and I really enjoyed the process of wondering what was happening and then finally having it all come together in the end. I’d heard some readers say (either in praise or complaint) that Harrow is something of a mindfuck and I’d agree with that statement. Twists and messy explanations abound and they’re all of the most amazingly creative variety. I also read lots of reviews where readers said that they still didn’t understand what was going on after everything was explained – that it was hopelessly and excessively convoluted- but I didn’t feel that way personally. I’m sure Muir will keep me on my toes in Alecto the Ninth (and maybe I’ll take this back later) but I feel like I have a solid enough understanding of what happened in the first two books now. I expect each reader’s mileage will vary on this front.

I’ll also say that while I understand why the Canaan House section of the book was important it was easily my least favorite part because it was so incredibly repetitive. I happen to be a massive fan of second person narration and I thought Muir did a great job with it here, although the reveal that it was actually Gideon narrating, speaking to Harrow, did fall rather flat for me because the second person narration simply felt so unlike Gideon’s voice to me except for when changed towards the end when Muir needed to make it apparent that it was in fact Gideon narrating.

I definitely respect the perspective that it's incredibly important that Muir is writing messy, disastrous queer girls in messy, disastrous queer relationships. However it *was* strange to me that the story (or Gideon, at least) went of out its (her) way to denounce Ianthe for preying upon Harrow’s vulnerabilities while never really satisfactorily addressing a similar level of cruelty or the unequal level of power in Harrow and Gideon’s relationship in the first book. The argument here could definitely be that this is just Gideon's perspective on the matter, of course. Whether it's also Muir's remains to be seen!

Last and perhaps least of all I have to say that I just hate the memes. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I just do!!!!!
Profile Image for Lena.
167 reviews54 followers
April 21, 2022
I had the same feelings about this one as about the first book. I really like the setting and the gothic atmosphere with a hint of dark humour. But the plot is dull and confusing at the same time. Maybe it's just my expectations were too high: I was extremely excited about books with necromancy in space.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
632 reviews3,075 followers
January 15, 2023
welcome to 202-Queer 🌈✨, the year where i only read queer books and finally have fun 🌈✨

i'm happy to report that i understood EVERYTHING that happened in HTN and i have no questions left because the plot was perfectly clear and very easy to follow and everyone who says i googled a reddit summary is lying and jealous of my genius

did i like Gideon the Ninth? no. has this book been haunting me in my dreams whispering read me Jonathan, read me? yes. you gotta do what you gotta do.

personally - and i know many people disagree with this - i think this series' strength lies in its writing. it's just absolutely unhinged. you will never, NEVER, read writing like this in any other book. it's just really convoluted and messy - but in a good way - and it literally gives zero fucks. i'm a big fan and the writing is holding half my brain capacity hostage at any given time.

now the plot

i have read two books set in this world. do i know what a lyctor is? fuck no!!! why is God named "John"??
do i remember a single character name? also no! .. but then again that's like not unique to this book series, i can only remember like one, maybe two characters max on a good day from any book series
this will have a reveal that's like "look it's xyz!! they're alive!!" and I'm like "who" and "were they dead"

honestly i forgot what i was talking about. this will haunt my nightmares. 4 stars
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
759 reviews1,452 followers
February 23, 2020
You are not ready for this book. I was not ready for this book. I am pretty sure that even when I re-read it, I will not be ready for this book.

Harrow the Ninth is like being put through a series of bizarre emotional windsprints. I laughed. I keened. I was buoyed up by triumph which was, even then, bittersweet. I spent the entire book not knowing at all what was going on and I still don't. Pressing questions were answered and even bigger questions posed without answers. New characters were introduced, old characters returned, and some who were somehow neither of the above became people I cared about very much.

As with Gideon, my girlfriend read this one out loud to me when it was my turn to cook or clean the kitchen, and that meant that we stretched it out over months with plenty of time to theorize. I was right about a lot of things, which I am very proud of... but I was wrong about plenty of others, and my theories went through many, many iterations as each new baffling piece of information refused to fit into the puzzle.

I don't know what to tell you all about this book and honestly, I don't want to tell you very much at all. Just let it happen to you and savor every single moment of carefully, skillfully crafted confusion and know that Tamsyn Muir is absolutely holding your heart in her hand and you can only hope she will be kind to it.

P.S. There is an honest-to-god 'none pizza with left beef' joke in this book. I'm not over it, and that's the one bit of plain fact I'll give away.
Profile Image for Mirko Smith.
131 reviews1,122 followers
July 25, 2021
Sono: 1) genuinamente confuso da tutto quello che ho letto 2) incapace di dare una valutazione a questo libro.

L’unica certezza è che Gideon, in confronto, è stata una passeggiata di salute.
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