Tamysn Muir’s debut novel, “Gideon the Ninth,” blurs the lines between science fiction, fantasy and mystery. In Muir’s creative world, there are nine Houses, each home to a different sort of necromantic magic. Gideon calls the Ninth House home, or as much of a home a place filled with skeletons and people who are practically dead themselves can be. Gideon attempts time and time again to escape, unsuccessful each time, until Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch Harrowhawk Nonagesimus offers Gideon a way to finally escape but with a price. Gideon must pretend to be the Ninth House’s cavalier in a deadly trial to determine which House’s necromancers and cavaliers will become the Emperor’s Heirs, despite the competition turning up dead.
“Gideon the Ninth” is a very confusing book. Muir’s world is obviously well developed but is not easily understandable. Practically nothing was explained throughout the entire novel, and I struggled to understand the reason behind almost all of the major events. The genre of this book is unclear too. Muir does not intermix science fiction and fantasy well in this novel. All of the advanced technology, such as LED lights and space shuttles, seem incongruous with the fantasy aspect of the novel.
Even though I do not understand this book in general, Gideon’s character is a different matter. Her sarcasm is brilliant in the most unexpected of moments, and several times, I actually laughed out loud at her and what she does. I also loved to see the relationship between her and Harrowhawk develop.
The very last pages of “Gideon the Ninth” are absolutely the best parts of the book. By this time, the story reaches its tipping point, and what happens next is an intriguing promise to a great sequel. So many things are at stake by the end of the book, and what some of the characters do is stunning, which means that there is only room to grow in Muir’s next book.