Review: Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House #1) by Tamsyn Muir

Rating: ★★★☆☆+


Gideon the Ninth is the most fun you’ll ever have with a skeleton.

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

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.


Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

First off, I decided to hold a buddy read for this one in anticipation of its release, deciding to start mid-August and end September 4th. Gideon was one of the most anticipated and hyped books coming into September, let alone 2019 as a whole, and having some blogger friends join me sounded like a fantastic idea. While it was an absolute blast as these are some of my favorite people in the book community, it ended up being quite a different experience than I anticipated. Some highs, more lows, and tons of confused middle ground led to the hype train finding some broken pieces of track along the way. You can find their reviews below:

Caitlin @ Realms of My Mind
Holly @ The Grimdragon
Mogsy @The Bibliosanctum
Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

With gorgeous cover art by Tommy Arnold (, blurbs by some of the biggest names in publishing like V.E. Schwab, and a synopsis that would make any fantasy lover drool, Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House #1) had all the pre-requisites of a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, a clunky beginning filled with a tough-pill-to-swallow writing style mixed with a protagonist who was, for the most part, insanely difficult to get along with, almost pushed me to set this one aside and move on to other things. Lucky for me, I had other bloggers lifting me up out of the muck and assuring me that there was a significant experience change halfway through.

It almost feels like this book was written at two (2) different times. A first-half that I slogged through was worth the wait for a second-half that I thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t want to say Muir couldn’t decide how she wanted this journey to start off because I am positive it is what she envisioned, but it is like she finally got her bearings around the 40% mark and the book absolutely took off. A protagonist in Gideon that I could not STAND became bearable and enjoyable to watch, though I have to say the focus of my attention was on Harrow for pretty much the entirety of the novel. The swordplay is enamoring, the never-ending hallways, thruways, and corridors of the First House led to constant intrigue, and the fact that this book is chok-full of necromancers had me wanting to love this book all the way through. (Note: if you cannot tell, necromancers are my jam. Just ask Michael R. Fletcher).

The most difficult part, aside from the writing style, was the amount of names you are given very early on. First off, there are nine (9) houses. Each house sends representatives to the First for the competition, and each plays an important role in the story so you are slightly required to know who is who. Lucky for you, there is a list at the beginning of the book but will lead to a bit of frustration if you are reading via ebook. Names aren’t always an issue, but when each one is a mouthful, and then there are secondary names or nicknames associated to them as well, it can become chaos. It is nice when a few are killed off and the list begins to shrink, letting your head settle a bit.

Gideon is sort of an odd book to sum up. While there were a few issues that laid heavy on my heart throughout, there was this consistent feeling that there is so much more to come. It is a book has so much going for it if you can just get past some of the intricacies of the prose and can handle the snarkiness of the protagonist. Muir has written a very interesting story that is highly original and just begs for a Kindle Worlds treatment. I could see a group of eight (8) authors writing stories about the other houses, maybe as prequels, and culminating to become this trilogy.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy says:

    “It was nice when a few were killed off.” LOL I felt the same way. I think she knocked off the lesser characters so she could concentrate on the more interesting ones. Had a blast doing the buddy read, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems we all have similar tastes, if our blogger reading group responses to this novel are any indication! I have to say the first half was a right mess. It still amazes me how the second half was able to turn things around and save the whole experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Off The TBR says:

    A lot of reviews I’m seeing for this one are sayin much of the same thing and that ultimately it didn’t live up to expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David W says:

      Yeah. The writing style was just so off putting in the beginning. Not sure how it is getting these 5-star ratings but 🤷🏻‍♂️


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