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Harrow the Ninth

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I noted in my brief add-on review of Gideon the Ninth that I was a clear outlier in terms of response to that book, and my guess is the same will be true of the sequel, Harrow the Ninth. So something to keep in mind as you read this review, which will be short as I don’t like to belabor points in a negative review.

Harrow the Ninth picks up shortly after its predecessor, with Harrow an “incomplete” Lyctor who has joined the few other Lyctors (including Ianthe) and “God” (the emperor) to continue her training in preparation for a battle against planet-eating Resurrection Beasts. Thanks to her incomplete nature, Harrow — and her companions — have good reason to doubt her sanity, to the point of her not knowing if what she sees is really there or if what she just experienced really happened.  Another story thread proceeds alongside this one, set in the same House as book one with many of the same characters so it seems as if it’s a replay, save that events play out wholly differently. 

The same originality of big-picture concept I enjoyed in book one remains here, though in a more limited fashion. And there’s clear craft here.  I have nothing to criticize on that level—it’s not badly written. For instance, Muir shows facility with multiple POVs, including second person. But what it came down to is I just didn’t care.  I found 90% of the book (based on my Kindle) truly tedious.  As for the last ten percent or so, interesting elements do kick in, but basically it felt like an overwrought, melodramatic rush of one character after another revealing a particular plot.  I could go into more detail, but I won’t bother. Suffice to say I wish I had stopped 100 pages in rather than continuing to slog through another 400+ pages.  I’m sure people will be raving about this one as they did Gideon the Ninth, but I’ll be ending the series here.  Sometimes you're just not the reader for a particular author and clearly that's the case here
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Who knew miserable Harrowhark contained multitudes? The second in the Locked Tomb Trilogy camps out in the Reverend Daughter's perspective as it introduces new, god-like characters and higher stakes.
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I could not get my grabby hands on Gideon the Ninth fast enough when I heard it described as necromancer lesbians in space. And I was not disappointed. Tamsyn Muir wrote a fantastic gothic locked room mystery, peopled with aristocrats vying to be the Undying Emperor's new Lyctor. In the process, she managed to crush my heart with the ending.

So I was Very Excited to receive an ARC of Harrow the Ninth. I *needed* to know what happened next. And oh my Necro Overlord, this was not the book I was expecting. It was better. Muir could have done the expected and written more of the same. We could've watched Harrow train and hone her powers, mentored by Emperor and his three remaining warriors.

But oh no, Muir gives us second person POV, switching it up with first and third. Harrow's body and mind are failing her so she's an unreliable narrator. The book moves around in time so when events from Gideon the Ninth are revisited, you get a different perspective.

And there's still that coming, unwinnable battle looming.

The storyline was bonkers, the writing exquisite. The shoutout to Starbucks hadme gigglesnorting. This book is a rare and beautiful gem.
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Just as brilliant, even more disorienting, but not quite as much fun as GIDEON. After the Events of Gideon the Ninth, we now switch to Harrow's POV - as a Lyctor, and in what are apparently flashbacks to her time at Canaan House. The worldbuilding gets even wilder and more interesting - we spend a lot more time in space, which is fun, and we get to hang out with God, the Emperor of the Nine Houses, and his horrible Lyctors.

Of course, the story leaving us where it did, we have now switched from Gideon's POV and delightful narration to Harrow's, which is not nearly as much fun. And even at the best moments of this novel, I found myself missing Gideon. The ending, which is truly bonkers, does set us up for a STUNNING 3rd book, so I'm glad to have had the chance to read this early and I can't wait for ALECTO THE NINTH.
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... 

Gripping and gruesome, disconcerting and sensational, powerful and tempestuous. Harrow the Ninth is science fiction fantasy at its nonpareil zenith.

So...

I read Harrow...I drank in every word...I swam through rivers of bones and blood...and even now...I still don’t know how to describe it properly...there are no words on this planet  that can 100% accurately summarize the mind-bending, reality-altering thing that is this book.

But because I received an arc of this from the publisher in exchange for a review, here goes my attempt at one.

Harrow the Ninth is a brave and bold leap into a 2nd person perspective that switches to 3rd and back throughout and includes drastically varying timelines that interweave in often baffling but always, in the end, rewarding ways.
I personally was terrified of 2nd POVs before now but reading Harrow was a baptism in fire that has won me over.
 
 Harrowhark is as bone-loving and sarcastic as ever and the cast of characters she encounters are marvelously compelling and terrifying in equal measure.  
 There are returning faces, who will not be who you expect to see, and new characters that will leave you questioning if black, may indeed be actually white.

It is gritter and darker then it's predecessor too, if that's possible.

The SCALE of the world we were introduced to in Gideon, expands massively in Harrow, and I mean...MASSIVELY.
We deep dive into necromancy in ways Gideon never did and it will leave you using macabre bone references for the rest of your life.

Long buried histories are pulled screaming and ghostly from their graves to overturn everything we thought we knew.
 We knew nothing.
And honestly, though I know a great deal more having actually read Harrow...i still know nothing.
 
 Gloriously grisly humour and leave-you-staring-into--the-void-for-eternity reveals and plot twists litter this book more thickly than bones do gravedirt.
 Every moment I thought I had something figured out Muir threw a whole new curveball at me and I was left hanging and with no clue what was going to happen next, once again.
  This book was a wild ride, i believe my brain itself melted more than once as the plot twisted and did backflips and about-turns I in no way saw coming.
 Then again, by the end, I realized at least one of my 5457 theories did prove to be mostly right, which pleased me no end.


 I could go on much longer about the fucking treasure this book is but it’s best to just say, if you enjoyed/liked/loved Gideon then get and pre-order this book asap.

P.S. I will probably need a resurrection or two before we get Alecto.
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Muir continues to deliver heart-stopping, raucous Science Fiction — thank you, Tamsyn Muir, for the lesbian necromancers! Harrow the Ninth opens and tells readers that, no, they will not get a straight forward story. Like the first novel in the series, nothing is as expected. Harrow's struggles with reality give the text a nervous energy, and at times makes it's hard to put the book down. The first novel does benefit from taking place primarily in one closed location, with a focused mystery. There are times in Harrow where the reader knows more than Harrow , and any suspense in that regard can feel a bit frustrating. Luckily, there is still plenty of mystery to be dished out. It's simply painful knowing readers now need to wait for the third book in The Closed Tomb Trilogy.
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When I read Gideon the Ninth last year, I didn’t know that I would be a wreck by the end of the book. I didn’t know it would create such an impact in my emotional well-being. I didn’t know that it would be one of the best books I read in 2019. Reading its sequel, Harrow the Ninth, now is like enjoying a nice, eventful walk… and then getting hit by a bus. This brilliant, confounding, and heartstopping sequel will quench the thirst of the fans, but not without leaving a new set of mysteries to keep us hooked.

Harrow the Ninth focuses on Harrow training in the Emperor’s haunted space station to fight an impossible war. Fresh off of lyctorhood, everything should be going easy for Harrow. But the truth is that both her body and her mind are failing her. And on top of that, someone just keeps trying to kill her.

Muir’s back with the same unique writing style, if not more visceral and more atmospheric. The author describes everything in great detail and uses metaphors and other literary devices that make certain lines and moments so poetic and powerful. I also loved that we get to see the signature humour and sarcasm we first witnessed back in Gideon.

A good chunk of the book is also told in a second person, which I was both excited and hesitant towards when I found out about this because I wondered, “why second person?” and “how will the author pull it off?” But trust me when I say Muir pulled it off—she pulled it off and more. With this new perspective, the readers are given a closer and deeper look into Harrow’s backstory and her new impossible situation. Add this to the shifting timelines and mind-twisting storytelling, readers will want to keep turning the pages to know more.

The plot, of course, is as wild as Gideon. Maybe even more. We see Harrow try to move forward and make sense of being a lyctor (all the while dealing with her unreliable mind), and we see her and the other characters try to fight a new deadly threat.

It starts out simple and slow, but Muir knows how to perfectly build up plot twists and shocking moments. All throughout the book, you will find bits and pieces that will make you gasp out loud, and by the end, you’ll definitely be holding your breath. I particularly loved how the author handled revealing the twists and turns. Other times in other books, multiple revelations near the end come off as cartoonish, but here in Harrow, it’s done so elegantly and carefully. Fellow fans will be delighted that several unanswered questions from Gideon are confronted here in Harrow. At the same time, I’m sure they will be astonished to know what Muir has in store for them.

New characters are also introduced here and they definitely made the story ever so interesting. We finally get to know the Emperor and his living lyctors here, and it was particularly exciting to meet these characters as they all share a history we don’t know about yet. This adds to the mystery and the puzzle of the book. We also see more of Ianthe and witness the newfound alliance/civil friendship between her and Harrow.

I also have to commend the author for developing and focusing on Harrow’s character beautifully in this book. We get to know more of Harrow like we have never before in the first book, and as a result, I rooted for her and I felt for her.

The world-building is one of my favourite things in Gideon the Ninth, and it gets even more expansive here in Harrow. We delve into new topics and get new information on the process of lyctorhood, spirit-magic, the planets and the space they move in, the Locked Tomb, the first saints and lyctors to serve the King, and even the Emperor himself. There’s a scientific explanation for almost everything, and yet, it still feels so otherworldly.

Overall, Harrow the Ninth is mind-boggling from start to finish, and it’s an electrifying sequel you do not want to miss.
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I really loved Gideon the Ninth so I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of the sequel. It was fun to experience the world through Harrowhark's eyes and to learn more about her past (unreliable as her memories may be). I thought the plot mechanic of (spoilers!) Harrow's memories having been tampered with was very interesting, although I will admit that I found certain plot beats hard to follow. I loved learning more about the world an getting to see some of the consequences of the long lives of the Emperor and his Lyctors. With the exception of some confusion due to the multi-level narrative (body-switching! unreliable memories! different planes of existence!), I had a great time. I can't wait for the next book in the Locked Tomb series.
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Harrowhark is an absolute genius of a necromancer, but the process of becoming a Lyctor, immortal servant of the undying Emperor, broke her. She begins her training with the Necrolord Prime hamstrung by her inability to trust her own mind or her supposed allies: a trio of 10,000-year-old warriors and a twenty-something sociopath as likely to kiss as kill her. As they prepare to battle an enemy of unspeakable horror, the narrative veers between past and present, second person POV, third, and even first, until ancient crimes and recent deceptions collide to upend the events of the past two books. The payoff is worth the wait.
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I admit that I was afraid that this might not have turned out as good ... as brilliant ... as the Gideon the Ninth, but now that I've read it, I'm happy to say that I'm very happy indeed.

If you're a fan of Nevernight and enjoyed it's sequel Godsgrave, then you'll need to pick this up and because it gave me major similar vibes when it comes to progression and character development.

The entire story read like you're watching an anime. It was like Soul Eater plus Tokyo Ghoul and Assassination Classroom and any other horror/humor anime there's out there. I absolutely ate it up with a giant freaking spoon! I love me some dark humor and some dark fantasy and this delivers both. Tamsyn Muir kept her cards very close to the chest being careful not to reveal too many secrets and surprises until the end. This was a similar circumstance to Gideon the Ninth and it's something I really love so experiencing it again was a JOY.

But as the story unfolds and more info is revealed, you start to see the twisted and demented world Tamsyn Muir invented here. You're introduced to the problem in book 1 and boom, here is how we're going to deal with it in book 2.

Aside from issues with the writing style, the rest of the story is fantastic. I think what really sells this book is how many surprises it can give you and the characters themselves.
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Just finished reading Harrow the Ninth. I don't have words for a traditional review at the moment, so I'm opting instead for the play-by-play of my reading experience: 

1-25% WTF is going on
35-45% okay, I'm with you
45-55% I have theories
55-70% WTF is going on
70-79% Bwahaha I am genius I guessed the thing
79-85% Cackling with laughter
85-95% I know nothing
95% SHE (author) ALWAYS DOES THIS
95-99% Maybe...maybe...
100% WTF just happened?

To be clear, I loved it, just don't ask me to explain it until I have time for another full reread of both Harrow the Ninth and Gideon the Ninth. Now I have to wait in agony for the final book in this, The Locked Tomb series, Alecto the Ninth. Gah!
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Harrow the Ninth is the second and incredibly highly anticipated novel in Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb series. Odds are pretty good that you heard about Gideon the Ninth, which blew through the literary world like a storm. Well, now it's time for Harrow to tell her story.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus is one of the most driven characters you'll find. She survived the events in Gideon the Ninth, and now, as a Lyctor. Unfortunately, she's not exactly sane or stable at the moment. She is a necromancer who has always been, shall we say...haunted.

That is a problem made all the worse by the fact that she's one of the last few necromancers standing at the side of her Emperor – a god in her eyes. It may even be an unwinnable war – especially when one considers the opposition. Yet here Harrow will stand.

“'I need you to hide my infirmity,' said Harrowhark. 'You see, I am insane.'”

Holy saints, my mind is reeling. It has been a week since I finished Harrow the Ninth, and I'm only now sitting down to write a review. Why? Because I feel like it took me that long to properly digest it all.

There is SO much that happened within this novel, and I loved all of it. But before I dive into all of that, I should mention a few things. First, a large chunk of Harrow the Ninth is written in second person. I know that this tends to put off many readers, but trust me, there's a reason for it.

The second person formatting intentionally obfuscates and confuses, which makes it absolutely perfect when coming from an unreliable narrator. Something that Harrow certainly is. Her sanity is even more in question this time around, which is saying something.

This was admittedly a bit of a risk, but frankly? I love that Tamsyn Muir was bold enough to take it. Given the success of Gideon the Ninth, she could have basically done whatever she wanted. Instead, she took a huge leap and created something like I've never seen before.

Harrow's journey lived up to its namesake – it was a harrowing read. It was intense and brilliant, and I personally loved trying to suss out the truth through Harrow's confusion and jumps through time. It was such a unique reading experience, and one I will not soon forget.

So let me just say this: if you're struggling with the second-person perspective, give it a bit of time. Around the sixty percent mark (I tried to make note of the transition), you'll be seeing less of it, all while getting answers to many of the questions that'll have been building up that whole time.

Speaking of buildup, it was exquisitely done here. I mean that with as much sincerity as possible. I was on the edge of my seat by the end of the book, something that wouldn't have had nearly the same amount of impact if not for the mystery that came before.

Looking back on it, and knowing what I do now, so many of the little details strewn around make sense. Additionally, I'm left wondering what Alecto the Ninth will be like. I have an idea now, thanks to Harrow's tale. Frankly, I can't wait to dive in and find out for sure.
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Harrowhark Nonagesimus has received the prize she strove for: a place at the Emperor's side, immortality, and incredible power. But now she's confronted with a dire war, and doubts about the price she paid for her reward. 

Muir had a winning formula in Gideon the Ninth, and she could have played it safe and stuck to what made the first book so fun. Instead, she took a risk.

Harrow opens written in the second person, is non-linear, and has the added spice of the narrator telling us herself that she is not sure she can trust her own eyes or mind. The result is a bit puzzling, definitely engaging, and when the pieces start coming together - completely amazing. (And don't worry. There's still plenty of skeletons, gore, and dark humor here, too.)

Atmospheric, tense, and utterly original - Harrow the Ninth is a spectacular followup to Muir's first book.
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If you are expecting Harrow the Ninth to have the same ease and ruthless charm as Gideon the Ninth, I think you may be disappointed. Instead, Muir cracks the world of the first novel wide open and creates something altogether different—yet perhaps even better. It is an unsettling and challenging read compared to its predecessor but worth every minute. And be warned: Muir is a modern master of the cliffhanger ending.
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Harrow the Ninth is a mind bending, adventurous, crazy mystery of a story being told non-linearly.
***
This book picks up where the first ended as we follow Harrow Nonagesimus, now Harrow the First. We are drawn into a mystery as she serves the Emperor/God to learn to fight a battle that has been going on for a long time and flash back and forth between different parts of Harrow’s story and learn not everything is what we think it is or maybe as we remember it. 
Harrow starts her harrowing journey into Lyctor-hood with an uneasy alliance with a very untrustworthy rival, Ianthe, and lots of questions about the other people she’s traveling with.
***
You guys, this is an incredibly hard book to describe without giving anything away. I had thoughts and theories and spent a majority of the story wondering what was going on and why, but in the best way possible, and kept mouthing “what?” “What? No!” at my tablet while I read. It was Harrow-ing (get it?), and so good. 
You will be confused at the start (and even half-way through and probably mostly until the end), but the pay off is worth it.
***
Thanks to Netgalley and Tor.com I was able to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Harrow the Ninth is a mind-bending adventure that really delivers on the gothic sci-fi goodness. Much like the first novel in the series, there are a slew of mysteries to work out as we are re-introduced to Harrowhark Nonagesimus, now Harrow the First, Lyctor to the Lord Undying.  As the reader is brought up to speed on what has happened since the end of the first book, we find that maybe things aren’t quite as we remember them, and as the story progresses you find it harder to trust Harrow’s recollection of events.

Harrow and her fellow nascent Lyctor, Ianthe Tridentarius, are brought to the distant home of the Lyctors, the Mithraeum. There in the station’s halls, decorated with the remains of heroes past, the two must learn to further hone their newfound power in preparation to face off against the Emperor’s enemies who pose a very real threat.

As the story centers itself around a group of millenia-old necromancers, the reader often finds that they are out of the loop on their shared history, or you may even question the reliability of what the narrator has to say. At different points in the story, I wished that some questions would give way to answer so that we would progress with the story, but these questions did a great job of building tension. Once the revelations and action converge towards the final quarter of the book, there are several scenes that are extremely satisfying, making any confusion totally worth it.

While the book has some tonal differences from the first installment in the Locked Tomb trilogy, there is plenty of mystery, sci-fi jargon, endearing comedy, and edgy necromancy to satisfy whatever you liked about Gideon the Ninth.
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One million gold stars for this incredible read.  Sad that the release date was pushed back but that just gives me more time to push the first book in the series.
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I'm not going to give a plot synopsis, (because good luck trying to do that) but know that there are two different timelines that unfurl throughout the course of the book.  One is in second person.  Astonishingly, that barely annoyed me and by the end, I thought it to be genius.   I went into this book expecting to have some clue of what was happening, but I was completely lost for the first fourth or so of the book, so adjust your expectations accordingly.  However, since I had read Gideon, which was also somewhat inscrutable for at least the first 30%, I trusted the author enough to relax and keep reading, and eventually, everything did make sense!   I've been mentally comparing Harrow the Ninth to Westworld Season 2 - it's not quite as good as the first, the timeline is unnecessarily confusing, but it contains some stand out moments that eclipse anything and everything in the first book (I'm looking at you, everything to do with that soup scene).  If you enjoyed Gideon, this is not to be missed.  I'm excited to reread both Gideon and Harrow's books prior to the trilogy's finale and I almost never reread books anymore.  4 stars: I really liked it.  

Thanks to Tor and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review.  Harrow the Ninth will be available on 04 August.
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Where to start with Harrow the Ninth? Tamsyn Muir has created a fantastic world that I fell in love with in Gideon the Ninth. In Harrow the Ninth she continues that story, but this time from Harrow's point of view. It is hard to talk about this book without giving too much away.  Filled with magic, dark humor, fantastic writing and of course, skeletons Harrow the Ninth is a fantastic sequel. Though it starts off a bit confusing for the reader, and does have chapter told in the second person which took some getting used to, the story brilliantly comes together in the end. Needless to say, if you where a fan of the first book then you should definitely pick up Harrow the Ninth and join me in eagerly awaiting for the third book in The Locked Tomb series.
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To say that Tamsyn Muir is a unique and interesting writer is almost an understatement. The writing is so good it's almost too deliciously complex and interesting for me to keep up with. Muir's first book of this series, Gideon the Ninth was such a splash on the scene for me that I didn't know if I felt that I loved it or just didn't. I couldn't quite get it, but I knew it was brilliant and the sense of humor is so original--this book follows the same lead. The way in which the book is written in terms of character perspective is great. Harrow and that world is so unique, dark and almost ridiculous at times, but it's so uniquely dark and undeniably rich. This is such an interesting world and it continues in this book. It's impressive to read.
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