9 Thoughts I Had While Reading Gideon the Ninth

Tamsyn Muir
rating: ☾ ☾ ☾ ☾ ☾ {5/5}
publication date: September 10, 2019
tw: gore, excessive violence
rep: lesbian mc, sapphic non-pov mc, ownvoices author
age range: adult

summary: Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Gideon the Ninth, one of my most anticipated books of the year. Also the book I waited over two months for since apparently no one at my library can read fast… What gives?? Anyways, I feel like I should let you all know I had a planned a perfectly decent blog post for this week but this book has literally taken over all my thoughts lately. So I went with the inspiration and decided to talk about some of the things I was thinking while I read this book. Note: this does not even begin to cover all the things I wanted to say about this book, but it does cover some of my main ideas.

The setting is amazing

I’ll be honest I completely forgot the premise of the novel when I picked it up. I just knew there would be lesbian necromancers and that was enough for me. However, the setting of this story is MIND BLOWING. It’s haunted and spooky and full of secrets. I’m such a fan of gothic castles with secrets and trials (you can blame Guillermo del Toro for that), so this story was completely on-brand for my tastes. I loved the feeling of suspense, the terror of seeing characters watched and picked off. It had murder mystery vibes akin to And Then There Were None. Which the abandoned house that characters are trapped in, is honestly my favorite type of mystery trope.

The Magic is terrifying

I have to hand it to Tamsyn Muir, the magic system she created in this story was terrifying. I’m still getting into necromancy magic systems in fantasy but this system felt unique and it was obvious that the characters felt the effects of using this magic. When authors create a magic system that is used at a cost? Beautiful, mindblowing, fantastic. I was genuinely worried for the characters when they used it, especially at the end when the stakes were high.

Gideon is relatable

This was a reoccurring thought I had throughout the entire novel. Gideon always has a snarky response for everything. I was constantly laughing out loud because so much of this story was full of this snarky class clown sort of humor I love to read about. It feels reminiscent of humor in the Borderlands games, it’s irreverent and a little stupid at times, but it was one of my favorite elements of the story. Also, Gideon was very much a lesbian who just loved all girls all the time. It was relatable because as a fellow sapphic I too find myself attracted to cute girls. You know that meme with the dudebro who says, “I would never date an ugly girl. Why? Because I don’t believe they exist.” That meme is Gideon in a nutshell. If I had more talent editing, I would have tried to include the meme.

† IT has excellent quotes

While reading the book there were so many times I wished I had bought it instead of borrow it from the library because I genuinely wanted to annotate it and highlight my favorite quotes.
There’s some really fun ones like:
Show them what the Ninth House does.”
“We do bones, motherfucker”

and
“The arms kinda look like swords. I want to fight it”
“You want to fight it.”
“Yep.”
“Because it looked. . . a little like swords?”
“Yep.”

But then there’s some poetic quotes that Harrowhawk says to Gideon like like:
I’ve lived my whole wretched life at your mercy, yours alone, and God knows I deserve to die at your hand. You are my only friend. I am undone without you. or I cannot conceive of a universe without you in it.” (Seriously, read this and tell me its not gay, I dare you.)
I know its dramatic but this book tore me apart while I read it. There was so much I expected and so much that I did not expect at all.

Harrowhawk’s soft side is sweet

From the beginning, Harrowhawk does her very best to convince Gideon and the reader that she is conniving and not someone to be trifled with. In the story, she continuously proves time and time again that she is tough and hates asking for help from anyone. However, there are these little moments where you see her interact with Gideon and she softens instead of trying to put Gideon down, Harrow opens up. These softer interactions with Gideon were a little surprising for a book that is fairly obsessed with death, gore, and irreverent jokes, but Tamsyn Muir knew just how to arrange these scenes to compliment the events happening around them.

Why DO THINGS KEEP GETTING HINTED AT BUT NOT EXPlAINED

This is going to remain slightly vague because I don’t want to drop spoilers and I may end up writing a theories post later to discuss some of these things in more detail. What I will say is that there was a lot of name dropping that was never explained! People were constantly finding old notes hinting at someone’s past or ancestors and yet none of it got explained. I just want answers!!

However, I will say I was impressed because usually, stories in a trilogy or duology contain their own mysteries for each book and maybe one larger overarching mystery to connect them, but this book doesn’t give you many answers about anything related to the big plot or the world in general. It baits you with these hints and clues and then leaves you wanting more. You’ll get a few minor answers but you better stick around for the next book if you want any more answers related to the big things.

Gideon and Harrow’s banter is fun

This story helped me come to the realization that if you want to sell me on enemies to lovers, the characters need to have a lot of banter that builds that tension. Gideon and Harrow are constantly being snarky and petty with each other to aggravate the other one. However, when push comes to shove they have each others backs and learn to trust each other in the process. But it is a process because half the time they’re pointedly ignoring each other to do their own crap that rarely pays off.

† The slow burn is good… too good. (Minor Spoilers)

So like I said above, the Gideon and Harrow mostly like to antagonize each other for petty purposes. As the story progresses, they realize more and more that they can only trust each other, since their competitors all seem to have ulterior motives. I loved watching their relationship slowly progress, I will say I was disappointed we didn’t get more action between Harrow and Gideon… Don’t get me wrong, Gideon is definitely a lesbian because she’s constantly talking about getting small crushes on all the girls she interacts with. (For reference, the author is LGBT+ and has stated that both protagonists are LGBT+)

What we do get for Gideon and Harrow is some incredibly emotional and dramatic lines about how incomplete they are without each other (see the aforementioned quotes section). It’s definitely that good gay content, it just wasn’t what I expected. Mostly because I’ve been so used to reading books with quicker developing romances I just wasn’t prepared for a slow burn one.

TL;DR I played myself by asking for slowburn romance because that romantic relationship is actually a slowburn.

† IS THAT HOW THIS ENDS?

WHY DID IT END THAT WAY??? When I got close to the end I kept thinking, “Wow there’s a lot to wrap up and so little time to do it.” That’s when I realized most everything I had been taking for granted in this story was about to be ripped away from me in the cruelest of ways. It’s been a LONG time since a book has provoked such a strong reaction from me. I’m currently living in constant fear that I’m going to have a book slump from this book because nothing I’ve been reading has hit so many of my favorite tropes in just one book. I’m a little frightened by how much I loved it tbh. a slow burn one.

overall

This was a fantastic book and it didn’t disappoint me. It was one of my most anticipated reads and I’m so glad I didn’t forget about it. Now all that’s left is to cross my fingers and hope I can get approved for that Harrow the Ninth arc and get some answers!

I highly recommend this for sci-fi fans, sapphics who also love all the girls they meet, and anyone who enjoys irreverent humor.

Have you read Gideon the Ninth? If so what did you think? If you haven’t, how have your most anticipated books of the year been treating you?

3 thoughts on “9 Thoughts I Had While Reading Gideon the Ninth

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