Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Book Review
Book, Gideon the Ninth, open to title page.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.75/5)

I remember where I was when I first saw this book. I was standing in Schuler’s when my fiance came up to me, book in hand. He showed me the statement that appears on the bottom of the cover, “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space.” I laughed. There’s just so much going on there, and I said that it couldn’t possibly fit all of those things together. I wrote it off and bought something else.

Then I saw it again, and again. And almost a year later, I relented. I needed a grand adventure and I hope this would be it.

Gideon is an indentured servant on the ninth planet who desperately wants to escape and fight in the army. But her nemesis, Harrowhark, is determined not to let that happen.

However, Harrowhark craves nothing more than to work alongside the emperor as a lyctor (an advanced necromancer). She strikes a deal with Gideon. If Gideon accompanies her to the first planet as a badass sword fighting cavalier while Harrow completes her necromancy training, then Gideon can go free.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and I wish I could give it five stars. I’ll start by saying that the second book is already out, and I can’t wait to read it, so none of the issues I had with it were too damaging. It was enjoyable but not quite a masterpiece.

Gideon was a lovable character. Her voice was distinct, and I found her charming and funny. The way she’s written won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but she was mine. If ever there was a relatable character who I wanted to pal around with, it would be her. Other characters in this book had moments that touched me, but Gideon was clearly the star of the show. And I wanted more of her.

The first hundred to two hundred pages went by at a snail’s pace. I was interested, but it felt like we weren’t going anywhere. Then we hit a point somewhere in the middle, and BAM, interest intensified. At that point, the book became a mystery/thriller, and I turned up the audiobook speed from two to two and a half to get answers quicker. And by the time we were at the climactic end, things were going too fast. I slowed the speed back down, and the pages were still dwindling at too quick a pace. These pacing issues knocked off a star but didn’t deter me.

Tasmyn Muir knows about worldbuilding, and I have a feeling she knows more about this world than she’ll ever be able to tell us. While I wished the glossary had broken tradition and been put at the beginning of the book, I spent every moment excited to find out what it all meant and how it worked.

Another quarter of a star was knocked off because of the romance. I have mixed feelings about it; it fell a little flat for me. There wasn’t enough time building up the romantic part of the relationship. I think I would have loved it and shipped it, but there needed to have been more.

Another thing that contributed to that quarter-star knockoff was a few background tidbits that we’re thrown in. They did not allude to them enough and did not give them the full gravity they deserved.

I do recommend this book. While the cover promises so many things, it somehow managed to deliver them all. I can’t wait to read the second book, and I hope it only elevates my feelings for the first.

Thank you to all of you who found your way here. Have you read this book? What did you think?

Your friend,

Baylee Jean, aka The Blushing Book Girl