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Review of 'Gideon the Ninth' by Tamsyn Muir

tl;dr: 'Gideon the Ninth' is innovative, but poor pacing, rough prose, and inconsistent mood, ruin the experience.

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'Gideon', the titular character, is a bonded servant of the Ninth House of Necromancy, in a galaxy far away, in some leprous future. She wants to be rid of the House and strike out on her own. The Emperor invites Harrowhark, the heiress of the House, to take part in a series of trials. Harrowhark's current cavalier can't cut it, and so, Gideon gets pressed into service.

I wanted to like this book for a couple of reasons - the genre-mashing & the blurb. 'Gideon the Ninth' combines Necromancy and Science-fiction, which sounds fantastic, on paper. The blurb made me think that Gideon would be like a feminine Sandman Slim, kicking ass and taking names. Unfortunately, this is not true. The book turns into a 'Hunger Games' for some time, and then into 'Ten Little Indians'. The climactic scenes are action-heavy. Add in a bit of a love story, and the reading experience is a mess. I do not object to genre-mashing, or even, changing the mood of the story as it progresses. But the author needs to plan and execute them well so that the reader feels part of the flow. 'Gideon the Ninth' does a poor job of demonstrating this.

On top of this, the pacing sucks. The prose does not help either. The first half of the book made me lose focus at times, and I had to make a conscious effort to concentrate. As a result, I never truly got into the story. The climax has significantly faster pacing, and I could feel the energy in the author's writing too. It's not that I am an action-junkie, but Tamsyn Muir came through in the last few chapters. She would be better off picking a couple of genres & moods (preferably action) and just focusing on that.

I am still going to read 'Harrow the Ninth', and hopefully, it can make the series worthwhile.

In conclusion, 'Gideon the Ninth' has plenty of unfulfilled potential. But hold off until the trilogy is complete, to see if the books are worth reading.

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