Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

Hannah recently finished Gideon the Ninth and it was a romp. What a fantastic book to add to any TBR. The book follows Gideon, an indentured servant on the Ninth Planet. She has been raised on this harsh planet with one other person her age, the Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House, Harrowhawk, a necromancer who is incredibly talented and absolutely hates Gideon. But when she is given the opportunity to train to be a Lycator (i.e., a demigod) from the Emperor of the entire planetary system, she needs to bring Gideon along as her swordsman.

First off, the storytelling in this book is amazing. I found myself going down each path with Gideon, trusting her completely to take care of any situation with humor and fun. I was shocked when there was suddenly a mystery inside a mystery inside another mystery. It was fascinating overall. I found myself distrusting everyone else and questioning everything that was going on. Although some parts were a bit confusing for me (there are many characters introduced quickly and it was sometimes hard to keep track), I found myself caring more and more for the people in this book. The storytelling is excellently done, and you should read it for that alone.

However, Muir doesn’t stop there. I was fascinating in how she seemed to handle the story of Gideon herself. Gideon was on a planet when she was often abused. Muir discusses the abuse for the first portion in great detail. But it also doesn’t push this abuse and it’s affects to the side. Gideon often reacts in dramatic ways when someone shows her kind decency. There are moments when she takes someone and really feels for them in ways that don’t always make sense, and when someone questions her, she admits it’s because they showed her kindness. This is a realistic way someone would react, and it makes you really feel how she was raised deep in your bones.

That brings me to some hard things to maneuver with this series, and slight spoilers. So if you do not want any, please stop reading here. Gideon is often paired with her abuser due to the plot of this novel. I think it can be said that sometimes that fact, the abuse, is often either dimmed or not handled enough when it comes to these two. I think it was handled deftly, but I would also be concerned for others who had experienced abuse who think it wasn’t or that there was a hidden romance in the way these two characters are coded. I honestly did not read a romance into the two characters, but others have disagreed. Instead, I saw someone seeing their abuser as a person and deciding to maybe understand them, but not necessarily forgive them. Gideon is able to point out issues with what happened to her. She is able to emote those issues and have realistic reactions. But she is also able to see the person in a new light and see what had happened and the pain and suffering of this other person. She does not condone the actions or say it is okay. She merely understands. There are a few issues with her being the person’s protector, for her fighting for her and trying to make everything okay for her. I understand all those things. But for me, this portion of the novel did work. I would ask others to read other viewpoints on this who were more critical. In fact, listen to Lilly on Fan Fictions Podcast and their Gideon the Ninth episode.

Overall, this book was fun and interesting. I can see other critiques, but for me, it was a valid way of looking at trauma, trying to get through it, with a fun plot thrown in. I highly recommend.

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