Cover Image: Harrow the Ninth

Harrow the Ninth

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Member Reviews

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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The first things to know about this book is that the timelines are not linear, happening at the same time, or in the same place, but trust that Muir will bring it all together. 

The religious aspects are front and center in the sequel, as expected since Harrow is training to be a Lyctor with the Emperor, with God. 

It's full of monsters and some extra gross stuff (seriously, so gross, and it was so awesome) with a unique mystery at the center of it all. Fans of the first won't be disappointed, but if you left Gideon not at all liking Harrow, then this is going to be a rough book for you. If you finished Gideon liking Harrow, even just a little, this is a great sequel. 

Now we all wait and wait and wait for the final book.
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A worthy sequel. 

As with the first one, there is SO MUCH in this book that I'm not sure where to start. Muir is a master worldbuilder and those skills are at the forefront. The amount of new information about the world of the necromancers is staggering. 

This book is for anyone who finished Gideon with a soft spot for Harrow. If you didn't end up liking Harrow at least a little in Gideon, then this isn't going to be for you. A good portion of the book is told in second person, which also isn't for everyone, but the use of the second person serves both as a plot point and an immense part of understanding Harrow as a character. This is the most raw depiction of PTSD I've ever read, and it's obvious by the acknowledgements at the end that it's based on some of the author's own experiences. There's a really poignant scene near the end that ties it all back together with how Harrow was raised. 

The book is complicated and a little confusing. The timelines are not only not linear, but aren't all real, and are definitely not even happening in the same spaces. Just trust that Muir is going to make it all (mostly) make sense at the end while leaving us with new questions. 

After binging these two, it's going to be an interminable wait for book three.
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Necromantic lesbians save the day--again! This was the perfect follow up to Gideon the Ninth. The form and story choices were strong and surprising, immediately dumping the reader into some unexpected places. It took me a minute to catch up, but I trusted Tamsyn Muir enough to go along for the ride and oh boy am I glad I did! I don't think anyone else could've pulled off what she did with this book. The carefully crafted twists and turns, the complicated storylines, the overlapping understandings of events--it was just incredible. 

If you liked Gideon the Ninth, you need to read this book. If you haven't read Gideon the Ninth, you need to read that book and then read this one. Dark space necromancy certainly isn't for everyone, but it is for me. And honestly it's probably for you too.
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While I was pretty quickly hooked on the first novel, Gideon the Ninth, Harrow took me a lot longer to get into. Even after reaching the halfway point, I was still confused about what the hell was going on.

This is why I tend to stay away from the world of fantasy. I can never keep track of the characters, the world is always filled with ideas I can't wrap my head around, and I tend to only understand the big picture without really getting how we got there. That's pretty much what happened here.

What I loved about Gideon was that she was about as in touch with what was going on as I was. I had a character to follow who needed things simplified, so I always kind of got an explanation. No such luck for the most part with Harrow.

It's hard to talk about this one without spoiling too much, but the majority of the novel sees Harrow preparing for a showdown against a massive resurrection beast that seeks to destroy their Necrolord, whom Harrow has pledged her allegiance to when she became a Lyctor.

The problem is that Harrow is worried she's gone mad. Reality doesn't really seem to connect properly anymore, and her fellow Lyctors just seem to be waiting for her inevitable demise. Plenty of astounding secrets are revealed, and fantasy fans will surely enjoy (and understand) far better than I did.

Honestly, I was halfway through before I could really understand what was going on, and I was three quarters of the way through before I finally got it. Of course that was thrown into disarray with some last minute revelations, and the epilogue had me back at square one wondering what the hell was going on.

The writing is wonderful, and the world created is incredibly rich, but the time jumping, reality bending story just left me lost too often. I wanted to love this, but it never really connected with me. With that said, I'm still fascinated by where things left off, and will undoubtably return for the final novel, even if I must turn to friends to sit me down and explain what is going on.
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Dear (potential) reader, please indulge me while I take you on a short journey that has both everything and nothing to do with the actual contents of Harrow the Ninth.

Imagine for a moment that you’re seated at a night-black table in a room. The room could be said, depending on how many times you’ve blinked, to resemble any number of spaces you may or may not be familiar with: a projection booth, a bedroom where a box full of magazines not enjoyed for the scholarly articles sticks out from under the bed, the command deck of an imperial spaceship, an ancient tomb that serves as the locus of a necromantic cult’s entire religion, your mother’s basement. Whatever tickles your fancy—I certainly can’t speak to what resonates most with your psyche.

In any case, once you focus, your attention is drawn to an open film reel canister in front of you. It seems you’ve settled on the projection booth. Except… if you want to watch the movie, you’re going to have to piece together the perfectly square and indelibly separated pieces of plastic in the canister before you. Of course, you could turn around and walk back out of the projection booth, but you came here for a reason, and it would be pointless to waste all the time and energy you spent getting here.

(Wouldn’t it?)

So you settle at the table and you begin to piece the story together, frame by frame. It’s not exactly an easy task—you’ve seen other entries in the franchise before, so you have a contextual reference for the characters and events playing out before you, but as far as you can tell, there doesn’t seem be any sort of coherent time line. Still, the scenes before you range from gorgeously grotesque to heartbreakingly painful, with a nice smattering of vicious clarity throughout. There are even stills of a notable politician staring plaintively into the camera and a cartoon drawing of a dog sitting at a table while a house burns around it, which shouldn’t really fit anywhere into the narrative you’re trying to construct and understand, but it does. Somehow. You don't know, you're just here to watch a movie. Right?

There are some setbacks as you work. Sometimes you close your eyes for a moment of rest and find the strips re-arranged in front of you in a different order. Sometimes, there’s a scene so vivid even without the gifts of sound and motion that you’re moved to tears, and you’re forced to stop for a moment while you dry your eyes. At one memorable point in the process, about halfway through your dusty tin of piecemeal bits, gravity asserts itself in a decidedly undownward direction and you continue your work on the ceiling—or what used to be the ceiling, anyway.

You finish. You load the newly constructed reel into the projector, because in all of this, your sudden knowledge of how to operate movie theater equipment is the least delightful part of this journey. You watch the movie the whole way through.

And, when the acknowledgments start to roll, you realize that everything you thought you understood as you diligently worked at your task of reconstruction… you didn’t. The story has simultaneously met, exceeded, and defied your expectations. You give a standing ovation of one in the projection booth, elated, your mind blown apart and put back together like the magnum opus of a flesh magician. You are but a humble sack of meat, moved by base electrical impulses and the grace and glory of the magnificence you just experienced.

This is what reading Harrow the Ninth was like.

Be still my queer, hot, wetly thumping heart. I cannot wait to have this physically on my shelves and treasure it as dearly as Harrow does the very notion of bones. Tamsyn Muir’s electric, weird, wonderful, sharp, intelligent, emotive voice shines through every moment of this book, and if you loved Gideon the Ninth, you will be delighted with this continuation of The Locked Tomb trilogy. There are even more lesbians, there is even more mayhem, and the novel is nothing short of unforgettable.
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DNF at 15%, my eyes are bleeding, reading this felt like I was drunk, and I do not have enough alcohol in my possession to be able to even attempt to wade through this.
Disclaimer: I thought Gideon the Ninth was alright. I didn’t really like it that much, it was hard to get into, the language felt really weird and unnatural, etc, but I had nothing else to read so I requested an ARC from Netgalley.
It was a huge mistake.
So, it’s from Harrow’s perspective. But it’s in second person. “You looked at the letter, you tried to grab the greatsword, etc” I am NOT a fan of that at all. Maybe I would be okay with second person if it was like, maybe one of those chapters that’s a few sentences and that’s it? You know, for dramatic effect? Not this. Entire whole chapters were second person. Sometimes it blipped you another time period and it switched to third, which was better, but those were rare.
Not only is it weirdly in second person, it is INTENTIONALLY confusing.
Harrow sort of has amnesia, she fades in and out of coherency and memory, she remembers events of the first book entirely differently. As in, she has no memory of Gideon at all.
As most of you probably know, amnesia is my most hated trope that had ever plagued the literary-verse. It’s dumb. It does nothing but cover the fact there’s no plot. It’s not enjoyable to read. Et cetera.
I read a little more, hoping it would be over quickly, maybe I could bear it if it was just in the beginning, but it continues, I go to goodreads and look at reviews... To my utmost horror, apparently the first HALF of the WHOLE novel is like this?
No. Goodbye. I’m not going to do this to myself because I’m not a monster. Maybe the ending is good, but to me, no ending would be good enough to make up for the fact that the first half of the book is waxing insanity and amnesia. Will not be recommending this to anyone and will not be continuing the series.
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People who didn’t like Gideon the Ninth for the utter unwillingness to slow down for the readers are not going to like Harrow the Ninth. The pace is unforgiving, and much like the early sections of Gideon, it’s going to take a while for readers to get their feet under them. Luckily, the action is so bizarre, and terrifying, and the mystery so compelling that it pulls you along, and your faith in the story is rewarded-- the pace picks up significantly about halfway through and the tentacles of the story that have wormed their way into your heart explode and everything hurts (but in a good way, I swear). I think this is a series that benefit from rereading, not because it isn’t awe-inspiring the first time around, but because when you know what’s happening you can go back and see all the little clues that were left along the way. I’m sure there’s a skeleton-being-summoned-from-bone-dust metaphor there, but I’m not Tamsyn Muir, so I won’t even try writing it. 

I don’t know a single author who can so deftly weave so many genre elements, completely disregard convention, write highbrow literary elements right next to references to shitposts and memes and have it work. There is no way this series should work. And yet… Construction wise, emotional impact wise, it works better than almost anything I’ve ever read. The sheer, naked explosions of convention and utter disregard for everything people expect in a book is like lightning in a bottle. Except I think Muir has several bottles and a lightning machine. I’d put this series up with some of the top books I’ve ever read, and I think it’s going to hold the test of time as both an outstanding series and an expert crystallization of the time it’s being written. 

Also, that ending? My heart. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to wait for HtN after reading GtN, but now I’m certain I’m going to die from the wait for Alecto the Ninth.
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Harrow the Ninth takes all the twisty, intricate worldbuilding of Gideon the Ninth and just catapults it to another level. I highly recommend rereading the first book before starting this one, as it throws you right in to its fascinating, many-layered story. I absolutely devoured this book and can't wait for the next.
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This book took what I loved about Gideon and amplified it. It had been a while since I'd read Gideon, so I was a little confused on what I'd happened prior and what exactly was going on, but oh boy oh dear the writing was amazing and I loved Harrow and I cannot wait for Alecto the Ninth to come out.
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