The Emperor needs necromancers.
The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.
Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.
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.
It took me two months to read this book, but through no fault of its own. It just so happened I had just started Gideon the Ninth when exam season hit me. I read this in starts and stops, usually only reading a paragraph or a page a day, until I finished the last third in a few days after exams. It was not a good reading experience because of exams—I kept forgetting what had happened earlier in the chapter—but I had a lot of fun nonetheless.
This book is a wild ride. The writing is beautiful, but really dense and hard to read. It was thorny and hard to decipher, but still gorgeous. It did get easier as I continued the book, but I don’t know if I got used to it or if truly got easier.
The characters are magnificent, but there are over twenty and it was hard to keep track of them at first. I did learn them eventually, with much flipping to the guide at the beginning. The non-POV main characters are amazing (Harrow is my favorite) and the rest are mysterious and intriguing and unique. Despite having so many characters, they were all fleshed out and unique.
The plot meanders and we barely know anything about the world, which was frustrating, but you could tell that the reader only gets a taste of what’s really happening. We see only the surface of the plot for most of the book, but the pieces all move before coming together in a beautiful painting at the end. Similarly, the reader knows precious little about the world, but it is not underdeveloped; you can tell that there is so much she isn’t telling us. I want to know more about the other worlds and the history. I hope we get some answers in the next book.
The ending was perfect, devastating, and inevitable.
It was a really interesting choice to use Gideon as the main character (also the perfect choice). She’s not a key player in the plot, more of an observer. She doesn’t know what’s going on or anything about the world (which is why the plot meandered and the worldbuilding appears thin). It was breathtaking at the end when everything came together into a coherent plot and we saw the puzzle pieces of the book come together. But if it was a puzzle, we didn’t know we were even supposed to solve a puzzle when we started, so it was frustrating to read in the process, but beautiful when you finish.