Written By: Tamsyn Muir
Narrated By: Moira Quirk
Date: September 2019
Duration: 16 hours 52 minutes
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Gideon the Ninth Audiobook Summary
The Emperor needs necromancers. The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense. Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy. Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die. Of course, some things are better left dead.
Gideon the Ninth is notable for its writing, which mixes gothic horror with contemporary humor. Muir acknowledges that her writing “includes useless memes and jokes for the reader that nobody in my universe would get.” In her review for Vox, Constance Grady commended Muir’s ability to slide her “voice seamlessly from Lovecraftian gothic mode into a slangy contemporary mode without ever undercutting one or the other for cheap comedy.” Adam Rowe in Forbes also commented on Muir’s incorporation of “2019 language tics.” In Rowe’s interview with Muir, Muir said that the “irreverent tone” was intended “to balance out the horror aspect and some of the heavier, more Gormenghastian stylings.” Jason Sheehan’s NPR review said of the novel’s genre: “Gideon the Ninth is too funny to be horror, too gooey to be science fiction, has too many spaceships and autodoors to be fantasy, and has far more bloody dismemberings than your average parlor romance.”
Muir consulted with writer, HEMA martial artist and fencer Lissa Harris on realistic depictions of swordfighting and combat. The collaboration is reflected in Gideon’s journey retraining from a soldier’s longsword to a duelist’s rapier; Harris herself transitioned from fencing to the longsword. Harris said that Gideon is a “fiendishly talented fighter who is forced to use new and unfamiliar tools, and has to sacrifice some measure of subtlety in favor of crude effectiveness.”
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir Reviews
“Deft, tense and atmospheric, compellingly immersive and wildly original.” ―The New York Times
“Unlike anything I’ve ever read. Muir’s writing is as sharp as a broken tooth, and just as unsettling.” ―V.E. Schwab, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
“With a snorting laugh and two middle fingers, the whole thing burns end-to-end. It is deep when you expect shallow, raucous when you expect dignity and, in the end, absolutely heartbreaking when you least expect it.” ―NPR
“Warm and cold; goofy and gleaming; campy and epic; a profane Daria in space.” ―Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
“I can’t remember the last time I was so delightedly baffled by a book. An astonishing, genre-defying, hilarious-violent-tragic-horrifying-thrilling wonder of a novel.” ―Kiersten White, NYT Bestselling Author of And I Darken
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The Seventh House candidate reveals herself as an impostor. The seventh Lyctor, Cytherea the First, killed the actual Seventh House heiress and cavalier, assumed the heiress’ identity and has been murdering the others. She has been suffering from blood cancer for millennia, and now wants to kill the Emperor in revenge. Cytherea hopes the murders will lure the Emperor away from his Lyctors and the Cohort, leaving him vulnerable. The survivors battle throughout the House, but Cytherea is apparently invincible. Just as Harrow is about to be killed, Gideon commits suicide to force Harrow to become a Lyctor. Harrow kills Cytherea before falling unconscious.
Harrow wakes up on the Emperor’s flagship; she and a wounded Ianthe are the only confirmed survivors of Canaan House. She begs the Emperor to resurrect Gideon, only to learn that Gideon’s soul is irreversibly merged with hers. The Emperor reveals that the Empire is in decline and most of the Lyctors have fallen in battle or gone insane. He promises to restore the Ninth House to glory, and in exchange Harrow agrees to serve the Emperor as Harrowhark the First.