You still prided yourself on three things: firstly, bloody-minded composure; secondly, an inhuman intellect for necromancy; thirdly, being very difficult to kill. You were so immune to murder that you had not even been able to inflict the act upon yourself.
Beware spoilers below for Gideon the Ninth, but my Harrow the Ninth thoughts will be spoiler free. I’ve been putting off writing this review because it’s absolutely fair to say that Harrow the Ninth is probably my favourite book of all time. And that means that most of my thoughts about this book are incoherent screaming about how much I love it.
Rating: 5 stars!
She answered the Emperor’s call.
She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.
In victory, her world has turned to ash.
Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.
Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?
Previously in the Locked Tomb:
At the end of Gideon the Ninth, we left me sobbing on my bed after Gideon sacrificed herself to kill Cytherea. After the killings in Canaan House, the surviving adept-cavalier teams worked out that the secret to Lyctorhood was to kill and consume the spirit of their cavaliers. Ianthe Tridentarius, now Ianthe the First, discovered the trick but they were interrupted by Cytherea’s attacks. Gideon’s sacrifice forcibly ascended Harrow to Lyctorhood and let the two baby Lyctors fight their way to survival. In the dust of the aftermath, Harrow joined God upon his ship and swore her fealty.
What did I think?
It is so hard to talk about this book spoiler-free, and I can’t wait for everyone I know to read it so that I can scream about the incredible complexity of Harrow the Ninth. I also find it basically impossible to talk about books that I love this much.
I was pretty worried about what could possibly happen after the end of Gideon the Ninth. Gideon’s dead, Harrow is in a state, Ianthe is the only other one of our beloved cast of characters still around and kicking. But Harrow is a Lyctor now, and she’s met God. Things are looking less dire. Or not. Things are bad for Harrow in this book. She’s having a hard time and I kind of want to wrap her up in bubble wrap and kind of want to smack her in the teeth. I love her so much but for all her genius, she doesn’t have a scrap of sense. As someone with absolutely no sense, she’s a necromantic icon.
I loved meeting Lyctors and finding out more about how The King Undying came to be God and how the first Lyctors ended up in Canaan House and discovered the process of Lyctorhood in the first place. We’ve got plenty of strange characters to make up for the people we lost in the first book, and I got attached to them pretty much immediately. The threat facing them, and all of the Houses under Dominicus, is bigger than I expected and I liked the way that it tied into the mythology of the first book. I also particularly enjoyed the way that Tamsyn Muir expanded the world-building. After reading Harrow the Ninth, I reread Gideon and there were amazing throwbacks that I missed the first time that suddenly made perfect sense. I loved the way that clues had been so plainly visible in the first book but without context I totally dismissed them. And that leads into my favourite thing about this series, and Harrow the Ninth in particular. This book is so smart.
The second time I read Harrow the Ninth I tabbed it and one of my tabs was literally ‘times this book is smarter than me’. There were uh, a lot of tabs. (See the picture above!) Harrow the Ninth literally gets better every time I read it. The first time, I was reading it and I knew things were happening that I didn’t understand but I couldn’t put the pieces together. The second time, I saw all the clues staring me in the face and felt like an utter moron for not getting there sooner. Writing this, I honestly want to start reading the whole series again. The prose supports how clever it is, just like in Gideon the Ninth, and the balance of humour and complicated sci-fi aspects is done really well. Sometimes the jokes were a tiny bit reaching, but you know what? I love these books so much that I can let that pass. I still laughed out loud plenty of times.
The wait for Alecto the Ninth is already killing me dead, and I can’t wait to see how this series resolves itself because I could not predict a single fucking plot point in this entire book. Everyone I know in person is sick of hearing me talk about The Locked Tomb series, so by the time Alecto releases there’s a good chance I’ll have no friends and family left to watch me cry over it.
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