This is the review of the second half of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, if you would like to read the review of the first half I did then you can find it here. This review is going to have a lot of spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book yet might I recommend stopping here and buying it? There are affiliate links at the bottom of this review that will earn me a little bit of money for directing you to the companies and if you used them it would be really helpful!
So what to say about this second half of Gideon the Ninth, well if you remember what I said about how it gave me a really strong And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie vibe? Yeah, I freaking called it. The amount of death that immediately ramps up from the middle point of this book to the end is nothing short of astonishing. By the end of it they have to bring in a new character just so that the one remaining character has someone to talk to! And the remaining character isn’t even the point of view character from earlier on in the book!
I was being serious when I said there were going to be spoilers in this review. Not just for Gideon the Ninth, also for And Then There Were None. Which I think is possibly allowed given the book is like a hundred years old. But, you know, beware.
In And Then There Were None, the main plot twist is that after nearly everyone has been killed off it turns out that one of the people who was supposed to be a victim was actually the murderer and had orchestrated everything. This is also a plot twist that happens in Gideon the Ninth. It’s also a plot twist that often does not work in books, the suddenly bad guy twist is either overly foreshadowed so that it doesn’t come as a surprise, or it is underdeveloped. Muir does it perfectly, there is foreshadowing aplenty, but most of it is only really visible once you are looking back. As you are moving through the book you are completely swept along. You love the characters you are supposed to love and you buy into Gideon’s view of the world entirely. Well mostly. By the time everyone starts dying you start getting paranoid and suspicious of everyone, even of the people Gideon isn’t. Or maybe that was just me?
But I loved it, the only problem is that I can never recommend it to anyone as space necromancy And Then There Was None, because that would probably be an unforgivable spoiler. It’s so good though! I mean honestly, the further I got into it the more I started to pick up on the things that were similar between the books. it’s incredible that even in a Science Fiction/Fantasy world like this, there are still very, very Christie-like characters. The “I’m morally superior because it’s me” character is one excellent example. I’m still upset that a lot of characters I liked died, there were so many people in this book who did not have it coming. But that’s what you need in books, if only objectionable arses died then, well, I think that’s a different genre? But that’s probably enough meandering. I should get back to the actual plot.
So you start off this second half with a sudden dismembering of the cast. Of the people you see wandering around the main setting of the novel, only one is still alive by the end, Harrow the Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House. Aka, the main character, Gideon’s, Best Friend/Best Nemesis.
This was an incredibly brave step to take by Muir, especially because she was a fairly good bet for main antagonist through a lot of the book. Of course she has been redeemed to some extent by the end of the book, she’s still terrible, but Gideon forgives her and even sacrifices her life for her. I’m not sure how I feel about this, mostly because I am wary of expecting the death to stick considering that A this is a book (and series) about necromancy, B, there are still a bunch of unanswered questions about Gideon’s origins and general survival-ability which makes it seem unlikely she will be written off just yet, and C, there is a pointed lack of body at the end of the book. And if there is one thing I have learned over the years is that if a writer doesn’t show you a dead body, and that body stays right where it is supposed to through the end of the book, there could be something sneaky going on. Especially in a book with necromancy. I mean even if she is dead dead that doesn’t necessarily mean it is permanent. Oh, and D, Gideon sacrificed herself for Harrow and her soul got absorbed into Harrow, which honestly might be evidence for it either way. Does it mean that she is extra dead and that her soul has been used up as a battery to supercharge Harrow? Or is it a way of leaving the door open for her return? Who knows.
What I am saying is that honestly, I have as many, if not more, questions after finishing the book as I did halfway through. And a lot of stuff got answered! It’s just so much more got thrown into the pot to be puzzled over that it’s given me more to think about.
So what more can I say about this book? The scene and setting continue to be great right up to the end, everything is very easy to imagine but doesn’t get in the way of the dramatic moments when Things are Happening. The characterisation is fantastic, I think this is probably made clearer by the point of view change at the end. We’ve gotten used to Gideon by that point, she is a grumpy yet comfortable point of view to have a story told through. Then, bang, the entire world gets turned upside down and instead you are seeing the world through Harrow’s eyes with dialogue from a possibly imaginary Gideon.
I’ve just finished this book, so I imagine that I will start thinking things over and have a lot more to say once I have digested it a bit more. But I really liked it, can’t wait for the rest of the series, though I’ve heard the next one has been delayed a few months. This is one of the things I find difficult about writing reviews, because at this point what do I say? I really liked it. But the main character and pretty much everyone else dies in this, so it might be a bit rough for you. It also talks about masses of murder and everything associated with necromancy and such things. So, I really liked it but I can’t entirely recommend it to everyone? It’s also very gay, which I loved. And to be honest, if that upsets you then this isn’t the book and actually, this probably isn’t the website for you.
But, if you are looking for a dark, grim book, with very funny necromancers and sword fighters, and everyone’s really quite gay, then you’ll have a delightful time with this book. I had a great time.
If you want to buy one or more of the books I have reviewed, here are some links for you to follow. Plus, the link to the main Virtual Book Club page.
I hope I will see you again, stay safe,
- Link to the main Virtual Book Club Page.
- Link to the review of the first half of Gideon the Ninth.
- Link to where you can buy this book on Amazon.
- Link to where you can buy this book from indie book shops at Bookshop.org for US and Canada buyers.
This note was written a bit later than the rest of the review, but I figured you would need to know this and it would be easiest to stick the info here.
So at this point, I was supposed to be reading a book for the next review, however, I got 50 pages into it and I was not enjoying it. So I have changed my mind and I will now be reading Aliette de Bodard’s House of Shattered Wings. I’ll be changing the details on the main Virtual Book Club page today as well, so you will also get to see what other books I have plans for! But yeah, apologies if anyone actually is reading along with this book club but after 50 pages I just wasn’t having much fun and it’s a long book so I didn’t feel like forcing myself through the rest of it. Also, I won’t be saying which book it was that I didn’t like, because that seems rather unfair.
It is a book that a lot of other people have enjoyed and there is nothing exactly wrong about it. I just wasn’t enjoying it enough to read 400+ pages.