Gideon the Badass
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Title: Gideon the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muid
Genre: Sci-fi/High fantasy/Science Fantasy
Setting: Space - Canaan House
Difficulty: Medium Pages: 448
Series: Yes. First in The Locked Tombs Trilogy
Always spoiler free
Another book I came across the bookstagram; I downloaded Gideon the Ninth (GtN) onto my kindle with only the knowledge of it’s cover (it’s a cool cover, dammit). I stayed up and read it in just over four hours – finally finishing at 2.30am and setting the aside the book with thoughts. Also a side of exhaustion.
To set the scene Gideon Nav of the Ninth House, Keepers of the Locked Tomb, is trying to escape her life as indentured servant. The Reverend Daughter is having none of this and after giving a Gideon an offer she can’t refuse, the two travel to a desolate planet as Necro and Cavalier to try and become Lyctors.
If you want a summary, I would say GiN is about necromancers in space. Necromancers who are trying to unravel a centuries old mystery, while caught up in chase to get to the answer first and dealing with a mysterious presence in a decaying house that’s trying to kill them all. Also with a side of personal shit that Gideon and Harrow are trying to sort out. Simple it isn’t. On the other hand, what a freaking great concept!
The first thing I noticed about the book is that it felt like Muir was throwing a thesaurus at her text. It does hearken back to a time of the older ‘space opera’ genre (think Dune), but it takes a while to get used to as you fumble over the slightly unnatural prose.
Gideon is the main character (our narrator, although the book is in the third person) and she’s sassy and sarky, which I love. Her internal monologue (and sometimes outward expression) is hysterical, foul and honest. She’s also a bit of an idiot, which means that you as the reader are often left in the dark about the plot. An interesting tactic, but I wish Gideon had been a little more on it as sometimes I couldn’t follow the leaps of logic the necromancers were making. Another thing that bothered me about Gideon is that she’s a supposed prodigy with the blade, but she’s not actually that great at it. I think that might come down Muir’s descriptions of the fight scenes, because it’s unfair to assume that Gideon should always win the fight.
Gideon unashamedly into girls, and naturally favours describing the women fondly but the males less so. This is refreshingly for a story featuring two female main characters and as a bonus there are no male love interests in sight. I’ve seen commentary suggesting that the main characters are in (eros) love, but I didn’t personally make that connection. I think they are two desperate people thrown together, with a bond forged in fire, but anything more moves into toxic relationship problems. Also, it is possible for two characters to love each and not be in love with each other.
The fundamental issue I’ve always had with high fantasy is that It’s always very complicated to pick up quickly. There is always new culture, customs, religion and terminology to learn and they are always excessively detailed. GtN is no different. Muir has made a smart decision in introducing her new world in a constrained place (i.e. an abandoned house) and having the Ninth House as a outlier, shut off from the rest of the Houses, as it allows her to build the world in layers throughout the book.
She also introduces vast supporting cast that are equally important; unfortunately, I have a terrible time with names. With an e-book it’s not as easy to flip between pages either! For the entirety of the book I was confused between the characters and the Necro and Cav distinction. It’s probably not that much of an issue for most, but it was for me. Muir in general is great at writing characters and complicated relationships, although some of the supporting characters could use a little more fleshing out.
I think, with careful review, that I really liked the characters and world, but was less a fan of the plot overall. It was slow to begin with and then rocketed off, leaving me at times lost. There were plenty of side plots, most of which got tied up neatly, but some felt passed over too quickly. For example, two major events that happened in Harrow and Gideon’s past, that have huge repercussions for the girls and overhang most of their relationship and the plot, are revealed, discussed and forgiven in rapid succession.
Still, with all my nit picking but aside, I’m excited to read the rest of the series!
Well Red Reviews
“’One flesh, one end, bitch.’”
“‘Why was I born so attractive?’ ‘Because everyone would have throttled you within the first five minutes otherwise,’”
“But Gideon was experiencing one powerful emotion: being sick of everyone’s shit.”
“‘He say anything?’ Gideon wavered. ‘He said to tell you he loved you,’ she said. ‘What? No, he didn’t.’ ‘Okay, no, sorry. He said—he said you knew what to do?’”