Gideon The Ninth

In September 2019, a fever dream of a fantasy book was published, acclaiming not only the Hugo Nominee for the best novel but a relatively tight-knit following. A tale of a knight and a necromancer whose life’s purpose is to make one another miserable. I am, of course, talking about Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth, the first book of The Locked Tomb series. Now the book received a lot of praise in one primary domain as it casts two LGBTQ mains who also happen to be female. Something, mind you, I have a ton of respect for; however, as I read the book, I only loosely felt that vibe.

The book follows Gideon, a talented swordswoman of the ninth house. It is essential to remember that Gideon has no love for the house; it’s actually quite the opposite. She longs for the day she can leave the cursed place, time and time again plotting an escape to finally be free of the house and, more importantly, its head, Harrowhark Nonagesimus. Completely done with her life of servitude, Gideon packs her things and leaves the chance of freedom in her grasp for the first time ever. Naturally, Harrowahark rips that away from her in the last moment adding salt to the wound out of simple spite.

The first quarter of the book plays on like this. The two bicker, insulting each other and doing everything in their power to make the other miserable. This is complicated by the fact that (of course) they need each other. Harrowahark is one of the most potent necromancers ever and, being such, is invited among the other heirs of the houses by the emperor to partake in a trial. The winner of this trial will pass into the realm of immortality, but this isn’t something she can do alone. She needs a partner, a retainer to aid her in this upcoming battle of wit and skill. Gideon is one of the most skilled sword-wielders in history. Harrowahark’s choice was made for her.

So alas, the two nemesis pair up on the contract of Gideon’s freedom if they succeed. What follows is an often awkward but quite funny banter as the two try to work out their past aggressions, learning to rely on one another as slowly. Still, undoubtedly they become a little closer to each other than they ever thought possible. Even with the world-building and often over-the-top environment, Muir builds in this book that the real bread and butter always come back to these two, specifically how they interact. In this slow admiration, it occurred to me that their interactions reminded me of another famous fictional duo, and once I made the connection, I couldn’t unsee it.

Gideon is often the butt end of the commentary, much like Jessie Pinkman is to Walter White in Breaking Bad. Many “Gideon, what the fuck are you talking about?” moments are often paired with a bad-faith compliment throughout the book. Naturally, as the book progresses, admiration becomes more genuine, unlike Breaking Bad, but the similarities were striking for good three-quarters. Nearing the end of the book, the two strike up a type of “I only have ever lived for you” commentary even though the context was making each other miserable, and thus the lesbian power couple is made.


My biggest issue with this novel was that I never felt that tag was justified. It alludes too many times that Gideon and Harrow have some feelings for one another, but it’s hard to break away from the sheer abuse the two of them deal out through 80% of the book. Most of which comes from Harrow. But even with that, they never make an official or explicit declaration. The closest they get to it is near the end, which, let’s say, one of the two fails to get out of their following situation. Gideon The Ninth is a fun and (though sometimes confusing) fine novel. I enjoyed the banter between the two even though it was primarily hostile, and I found myself waiting in anticipation of the next time the two were together, as the book frequently paces around Gideon just wondering around. All in all, the book was fine, a little long-winded for what it ended up being, but given the fact it was free with Amazon Prime the month I read, it was a good investment.

If you are interested in checking out Gideon The Ninth, you can see the Goodreads here; as always, thanks for the read!

Published by Johnathan

Freelance weeb and ranter.

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