The Emperor needs necromancers.
The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.
Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.
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 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.
I love books where I don’t know what’s going on for the first half and then the story begins to coalesce in the second half. It’s only 448 pages but felt longer, not because I wasn’t enjoying it, but because there is just so much to unpack. There are lots of characters, many of who drift in and out of the story as and when they are needed – but you need to remember them because they do re-emerge. The settings are complex and creepy, and the story itself is complex and with several strands to it. I keep seeing references to “lesbian necromancers in space” and honestly, if that’s all those people are getting out of this book then I feel sorry for them. The character development is well done and there are some very poignant moments – made even more poignant because the author doesn’t labour them. This book has a bit of everything – humour, drama, valour, fight scenes, enigmatic characters, incredible settings, and more. The character of Gideon seems to be polarising reviewers but I loved her, flaws and all.
I couldn’t put this book down and will be moving onto the next book in the series, Harrow The Ninth.