September 3, 2020

Review: Harrow the Ninth

Review: Harrow the NinthHarrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Series: The Locked Tomb #2
Published by Tor on August 4, 2020
Genres: Science fiction
Pages: 513
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower

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She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?

My thoughts

I could not get my grabby hands on Gideon the Ninth fast enough when I heard it described as necromancer lesbians in space. And I was not disappointed. Tamsyn Muir wrote a fantastic gothic locked room mystery, peopled with aristocrats vying to be the Undying Emperor’s new Lyctor. In the process, she managed to crush my heart with the ending.

So I was Very Excited to receive an ARC of Harrow the Ninth. I needed to know what happened next. And oh my Necro Overlord, this was not the book I was expecting. It was better. Muir could have done the expected and written more of the same. We could’ve watched Harrow train and hone her powers, mentored by Emperor and his three remaining warriors.

But oh no, Muir gives us second person POV, switching it up with first and third. Harrow’s body and mind are failing her so she’s an unreliable narrator. The book moves around in time so when events from Gideon the Ninth are revisited, you get a different perspective. And you’re left wondering which version of the events are the real ones.

And there’s still that coming, unwinnable battle looming.

The story line was bonkers, the writing exquisite. The shoutout to Starbucks had me gigglesnorting. This book is a rare and beautiful gem.

warning: Do NOT read this before Gideon the Ninth. You’ll be hopelessly confused and lost and frustrated. To be honest, even if you have read Gideon first, you;ll probably be experiencing those. Persevere! The pay-oss is worth it.

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Your thoughts

Have you read Gideon the Ninth? I was crazy-excited to read Harrow the Ninth.

What book are you excited to read now? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Other books

The Locked Tomb series begins with Gideon the Ninth. You must read it first to fully understand and appreciate the writing and events in Harrow the Ninth.

book cover for this is how youlose the time war

This Is How You Lose the Time War would appear to be the polar opposite of the Unlocked Tomb books. It’s a lean bit of book but it’s also about vast space empires waging war and the small intimate relationships that happen against a backdrop of sweeping grandeur.

About Tamsyn Muir

TAMSYN MUIR is the bestselling author of the Locked Tomb Trilogy, which begins with Gideon the Ninth, continues with Harrow the Ninth, and concludes with Alecto the Ninth. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the World Fantasy Award and the Eugie Foster Memorial Award. A Kiwi, she has spent most of her life in Howick, New Zealand, with time living in Waiuku and central Wellington. She currently lives and works in Oxford, in the United Kingdom.

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