Book Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Title:  Gideon the Ninth

Author:  Tamsyn Muir


Publication Date:  September 10, 2019

Genres: Science Fantasy

Shelves: Female-fronted

You can go ahead and call this my disappointment of the year. I tried, I really tried. I gave it more chances, more pages, than I normally would before abandoning it. Time and time again, I put it down, took a break, and came back to it, hoping to find the magic, but that spark . . . that hook . . . that connection just wasn't there.

Gideon the Ninth is the most fun you'll ever have with a skeleton.

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

As cover blurbs go, those opening lines sounded awesome.

“Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” ―Charles Stross

As author blurbs go, that made this sound even better.

Unfortunately, nothing about this - not the characters, not the story, not the tone, not the writing, not the voice, nothing - worked for me. Gideon the Ninth is a book that throws the reader into the deep end without warning or explanation, and then drowns you in info dumps that somehow do nothing to explain or clarify the situation. What I could piece together of the world was as thin as it was strained, less world-building and more shades of world-sketching.

Characters here are unpronounceable names and varying levels of snark, sarcasm, and arrogance. I'm sorry, but none of that equates to personality. There was a single secondary character about whom I was curious, and who kept me reading when I would have otherwise given up, but she was not enough.

In terms of plot, there's a very basic scenario involving representatives of the nine houses being summoned to take part in some sort of challenge, which leaves them trapped in a weird sort of space-mansion where they wander around, look sideways at one another, eat bland meals, and - finally, after 100 pages - get down to one quick game of swordplay that is as light on detail as . . . well, everything else. Finally, I thought we were getting somewhere, that the story would propel itself forward, but after a few more chapters of the same I finally gave up.

I could use a lot of words to describe this, but "fun" would not be one of them.

Rating: ♀ DNF

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I'm in the middle of this right now, and the jury is still out. I've heard such great things, I hate to give up on it:-)

  2. With all the hype and anticipation, I felt bad for abandoning it, but I just ran out of patience and hope it might get better.

    It does seem to be a love it or hate it kind of book.


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