Petrik's Reviews > Gideon the Ninth

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
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really liked it
bookshelves: owned-physical-books, arcs-and-review-copies

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

Gideon the Ninth is a damn fine example of why readers’ reviews are incredibly important.

If you have been active on bookish social media, you should know by now that Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir’s debut and the first installment in The Locked Tomb (or The Ninth House in the past) Trilogy, has been tor.com's most hyped book of the year. The buzz and praise for Gideon the Ninth has been immense to say the least. Knowing nothing other than the fact that “Lesbian necromancers in space” was stamped on the front of the gorgeous cover art (illustrated by Tommy Arnold), I gave the ARC a try a few months ago only to find myself disappointed by how much it didn’t work for me back then. If I may be brutally honest, I DNFed the novel around 120 pages in on my first read-through. Since then, readers’ reviews have started pouring in, usually resulting in absolute love or disappointment; there’s almost no in-between. But there’s one common consensus shared by both factions: the second half improved significantly. After receiving another copy of this book, a limited edition with black sprayed edges and many goodies, it was only fair that I give it one more try. The result? I enjoyed it remarkably more than I did on my first try. I truly believe that knowing the right things to expect out of this book ahead of reading it will improve the reader’s enjoyment so much more.

Picture: The book and the goodies I received!



Gideon Nav—or Gideon the Ninth—prepares to escape again but she can’t do it without doing one last service for her childhood nemesis: Harrowhark Nonagesimus. The Emperor of the First House has sent an invitation to all the heirs of each one of his Houses to attend a trial of wit and skill; the winner will become a Lyctor—an immortal and a direct all-powerful servant of the Emperor. Each heir needs a cavalier, a bodyguard, to help them win the trial and this is where Gideon comes in, serving as Harrow’s cavalier. Gideon the Ninth isn’t an easy book for me to review because of the opposite reaction I had in the reading experience of the first half and the second half.

Several readers—myself included—have mentioned that the first half of the book was difficult to get through and I really can’t blame them. In my opinion, the first half was a struggle to read because of how annoying and tiring Gideon’s voice can be to read, which became even more intolerable when the vow of silence was put on Gideon by Harrow and Harrow herself wasn’t in the scenes to act as a counterbalance against Gideon’s attitudes for almost 100 pages. Gideon acted and talked like a juvenile trying way too hard to be funny and edgy and it became annoying quickly. The side characters—excluding Harrow—also took a while to remember and warm up to. Please remember that there’s a character glossary at the beginning of the book to help you remember who’s who more easily; put it to good use. But here’s the important thing, these minor complaints from me, somehow, existed only within the first half; the second half turned the book completely around and headed into a significantly better direction for me.

I honestly didn’t think a turnaround was possible. However, once the story entered Act 3, and the genre shifted more to a murder mystery, I found every single aspect of the book so much better to read. Gideon the Ninth is a bizarre book that doesn’t fall into one specific genre properly; it’s like a hybrid between sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery. I highly enjoyed reading the second half of Gideon the Ninth, because the murder mysteries elements were captivating, Muir’s prose became much easier to follow, the action sequences were awesome, and most importantly the character development—especially for Gideon and Harrow—was terrific. A huge part of why the sudden positive change in reading enjoyment was possible is due to Harrow’s role in the story. I loved Harrow and personally think she’s a much better character than Gideon. What made this even more incredible is that Harrow doesn’t even have a POV to follow; the narrative was told entirely from Gideon’s perspective and yet, Harrow stole the spotlight for me.

“Anyone can learn to fight. Hardly anyone learns to think.”


Also, I have to give tons of praise to Muir’s imaginative action scenes. The deathly army of bones and visceral swordplay unleashed throughout the novel were darkly delightful to read, but the final 40 pages exceeded everything that came before; it was simply glorious. I’m not kidding, a maelstrom of bones, gripping revelations, and cinematic scenes full of twists and turns, flashy swordplay, and extraordinary necromancy created a memorable final sequence that made me incredibly excited to continue to the next book as soon as possible. I want to read more of this necromantic whirlwind.

Picture: Construct by Tommy Arnold



As you can probably guess, I have a contrasting opinion regarding the first and second halves of the novel. However, and this is very important, it’s worth noting that the superbly thrilling second half won admiration and my utmost interest to continue to the sequel, Harrow the Ninth, which obviously will feature Harrow (yay!!!) as the main focus of the story. Imbued with intriguing mysteries, terrifically written swordplay, explosive final sequences, and a lasting impression, needless to say Gideon the Ninth has become one of the most original SFF debuts I’ve read so far. It’s bizarre, complex, imaginative, genres-defying, and distinctively memorable; I am very much looking forward to reading the continuation of Muir’s imagination in Harrow the Ninth.

You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

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

September 23, 2019 – Shelved
September 28, 2019 – Started Reading
September 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

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message 1: by Audrey (new) - added it

Audrey Yeah Tor made a lot of praise for this book even showed the cover of book 2 , seems to me that the story is pretty original to grasp but I will follow your advice. Great review Petrik 👍🏿


Petrik Audrey wrote: "Yeah Tor made a lot of praise for this book even showed the cover of book 2 , seems to me that the story is pretty original to grasp but I will follow your advice. Great review Petrik 👍🏿"

Thank you, Audrey! The cover of the second book is super gorgeous! This book didn't work for me at first but on second try it worked well. Just know that this is a complex and quite demanding book, I hope you'll enjoy it! :)


Lizzy (Bent Bookworm) Excellent review!! And such good points about reader reviews. I love the book community for this (and other, of course) reason!


Petrik Lizzy (Bent Bookworm) wrote: "Excellent review!! And such good points about reader reviews. I love the book community for this (and other, of course) reason!"

Thank you, Lizzy! Yesss, the first time tried this one, I was in the wrong mood for this kind of complex story. After knowing what I'm getting into, this book ended up being so much better! The book community is so important! :)


message 5: by Travis (new) - added it

Travis Great review! Happy to see you gave it a second chance and enjoyed it. Loved your honest insight!


Petrik Travis wrote: "Great review! Happy to see you gave it a second chance and enjoyed it. Loved your honest insight!"

Thanks, Travis! Yeahh so glad I gave it another go! It ended up being really good! :D


message 7: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter Wonderful review, Petrik (spelt correctly this time). Certainly a tale of two halves. The final scenes seem to be awesome. :):)


message 8: by Elena (new) - added it

Elena this book has so many mixed reviews but i still wanna give it a chance. great review petrik!


Petrik Peter wrote: "Wonderful review, Petrik (spelt correctly this time). Certainly a tale of two halves. The final scenes seem to be awesome. :):)"

Thank you, Peter! Hahaha no worries, many people got my name wrong xD

The second half and the final scenes are so damn good. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it! :)


Petrik Elena wrote: "this book has so many mixed reviews but i still wanna give it a chance. great review petrik!"

Thanks, Elena! I totally understand why too. Just make sure you're in the right mood for this one. It's quite complex, definitely more than I expected it would be! :)


message 11: by Griffin (new) - added it

Griffin Hansen Great review as always! I'm looking forward to reading this one.


message 12: by Avalon (new)

Avalon Wow, kudos for powering through despite your initial reaction. I may need to give this one a try. Wonderful review Petrik


Petrik Griffin wrote: "Great review as always! I'm looking forward to reading this one."

Thank you, Griffin! I hope you'll enjoy it! :)


Petrik Avalon wrote: "Wow, kudos for powering through despite your initial reaction. I may need to give this one a try. Wonderful review Petrik"

Thank you so much, Avalon! Yeah I know right? I'm so glad that I gave it another go though! Now I can't wait to read the sequel! :)


Virginie Great review! I already knew what to expect based on our little conversation about this book, but still, I'm surprised. You summed up my thoughts perfectly :p
I completely agree that Gideon, when left to her own devices, was intolerably annoying.


Petrik Virginie wrote: "Great review! I already knew what to expect based on our little conversation about this book, but still, I'm surprised. You summed up my thoughts perfectly :p
I completely agree that Gideon, when l..."


Thank you, Virginie! Hahaha crazy how much of our opinion aligned! Gideon was annoying without Harrow, Harrow though... can't wait for more of her in Harrow the Ninth! :D


 Charlie - A Reading Machine Great review! Why doesn't Tor ever send me these ones? I only ever get completely random unexpected 3rd book in a series I've never started deliveries :)


Petrik Charlie - A Reading Machine wrote: "Great review! Why doesn't Tor ever send me these ones? I only ever get completely random unexpected 3rd book in a series I've never started deliveries :)"

Thank you, Charlie! I think you might have to ask tordotcom for this one. Tor has so many branches! That being said, I too have received some books from Tor that's not the first of a series; one I never started as well xD


 Charlie - A Reading Machine Petrik wrote: " Charlie - A Reading Machine wrote: "Great review! Why doesn't Tor ever send me these ones? I only ever get completely random unexpected 3rd book in a series I've never started deliveries :)"

Than..."


They have more arms than Vishnu :)


Petrik Charlie - A Reading Machine wrote: "Petrik wrote: " Charlie - A Reading Machine wrote: "Great review! Why doesn't Tor ever send me these ones? I only ever get completely random unexpected 3rd book in a series I've never started deliv..."

hahahahaha good one xD


message 21: by Yuri (new) - added it

Yuri Hmm, I still don't know if I'll give this a shot, I'll wait until book #2 is out.


message 22: by Petrik (last edited Oct 05, 2019 02:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Petrik Yuri wrote: "Hmm, I still don't know if I'll give this a shot, I'll wait until book #2 is out."

Understandable, Yuri! I honestly can't wait for book #2! :D


message 23: by Yuri (new) - added it

Yuri Petrik wrote: "Yuri wrote: "Hmm, I still don't know if I'll give this a shot, I'll wait until book #2 is out."

Understandable, Yuri! I honestly can't wait for book #2! :D"


It can't hurt to wait either, because I've been reading a lot of books that don't have a sequel as of yet. If the second book is more consistent then I'll grab it.
Waiting on your review ofcourse to be the judge of that :p


Petrik Yuri wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Yuri wrote: "Hmm, I still don't know if I'll give this a shot, I'll wait until book #2 is out."

Understandable, Yuri! I honestly can't wait for book #2! :D"

It can't hurt to wait e..."


Seriously, I understand this approach so much. I'm stuck in way too many unfinished series and it's honestly painful! xD

Definitely watch out for the review next year! I'll make sure to read and review it as soon as I can! :)


message 25: by Yuri (new) - added it

Yuri Petrik wrote: "Yuri wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Yuri wrote: "Hmm, I still don't know if I'll give this a shot, I'll wait until book #2 is out."

Understandable, Yuri! I honestly can't wait for book #2! :D"

It can't h..."


Yup, all those unfinished series add up quickly!
And sometimes, (though rarely) I forgot over half of what happened when a sequel finally does arrive.

Will do! Your reviews are always a big help and you yourself are real lifesaver.


Petrik Yuri wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Yuri wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Yuri wrote: "Hmm, I still don't know if I'll give this a shot, I'll wait until book #2 is out."

Understandable, Yuri! I honestly can't wait for book #2! ..."


Hahaha! Forgetting things is a very common thing especially when the sequel takes too long to come out and we've read so many books in between. This is why I'm rereading Lightbringer by Brent Weeks right now from the beginning. It's been 3 years since I read the series and the last book comes out in a few weeks. I pretty much remember so little about it! xD

That's awesome, Yuri! So good to hear that! :)


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