I’m at a loss as to how to describe this book. It’s part science fiction, part fantasy, part locked-room mystery and that really only scratches the surface. Gideon the Ninth has gotten a LOT of hype in the book community and it absolutely lives up to it in my opinion. I’ve already preordered the sequel, Harrow the Ninth (number 2 of a trilogy) from my book store.
Gideon is an extremely reluctant servant of the Ninth House. At the beginning of the book we find her attempting to leave the planet with her broadsword and her supply of dirty magazines. Her plan is quickly foiled by her nemesis; Harrow, Reverend Daughter and Necromancer of the Ninth House. Harrow makes a deal with Gideon; travel to the imperial planet of the First House and act as Harrow’s bodyguard in a competition and she can have her freedom. Gideon agrees and the two head off. In the midst of this competition between each house’s best and brightest, people start dying in very nasty ways. Since there’s no way on or off the planet, it’s a safe assumption that one of the guests is responsible.
I had a lot of fun reading this book. It’s very high concept but never gets lost up its own ass as many high concept books are wont to do. Obviously Gideon and Harrow are the main characters but the other competitors are fully realized. You genuinely regret seeing them get bumped off (some more than others). Finally, despite its irreverence it never veers into “zaniness” which I have no patience for. Tamsyn Muir is a really exciting new voice in the sci fi/fantasy genre and I can’t wait to see where she goes next.