STARRED REVIEW
August 04, 2020

Harrow the Ninth

By Tamsyn Muir
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The second, much-anticipated installment in Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb trilogy delivers on its promise of high-energy necromancy and cryptic conundrums. The Reverend Daughter, Harrowhark Nonagesimus, has been transformed into Harrow the First, Ninth Saint to Serve the Emperor. But Harrow the Ninth has been forever altered by her battles in the previous book, Gideon the Ninth, which is told from the point of view of Harrow’s now-deceased cavalier, Gideon Nav.

As the mystery unravels aboard the Emperor’s ghostly space station, Muir’s seamless, inventive writing brings us dreamlike, labyrinthine plots, fantastical timelines and the continuation of secrets so surreal that readers will forever question who truly holds the power in this precarious but beautiful universe. As one of the Lyctors sworn to protect the Emperor, Harrow follows her lord to increasingly terrifying locations as he flees the mysterious Resurrection Beasts—horrifying creatures who ceaselessly attack him and his increasingly weary and rebellion-prone Lyctors.

Whereas Gideon’s story focused on spellbinding swordplay and fleeting crushes on dangerous temptresses with unexpected identities, this book hones in on the very marrow of Harrow—the bone adept’s fears, desires and personal history. Harrow was created by her parents’ morbid sacrifice of all of the Ninth House’s children, and she feels the need to stay true to her roots, always donning the skeletal face paint typical of the Ninth House, practicing her necromancy until her sleepless eyes nearly bleed and remaining nemeses with the narcissistic, ruthless Ianthe Tridentarius, who consumed her own sister and cavalier in her thirst for Lyctorhood. The one piece of herself that Harrow has left behind, however, is any memory of or feeling for Gideon Nav. Harrow’s unbearable grief has forced her to carve the cavalier from her heart and mind. As the perspective fluctuates from a mysterious second-person narrator to an omniscient, unbodied narrator, readers will wonder if Harrow is being haunted, and by whom.

Readers familiar with Gideon-and-Harrowhark, Harrowhark-and-Gideon will revel in the new dangers that threaten the Emperor and his Saints, all of which could only be conjured from the depths of Muir’s wild imagination: the River, an eerie, dangerous experience composed of both insurmountable amounts of energy and a void from which it’s nearly impossible to return; the Body, a vision of Harrow’s one true deceased love who proffers questionable advice and is most definitely not of this world; and a host of revenants, resurrections, hallucinations, illusions, ghosts and—of course—skeletons.

Muir reprises her attention to numerology, mythology, classic literature and intricate, complex secrets, as well as special appearances from the spirits of cavaliers and necromancers recently and historically lost. As secrets spill like the vibrant innards of terminated cavaliers’ corpses, Harrow and the Lyctors must struggle to stay alive as the true price of the Emperor’s power comes to light—and perhaps, justice.

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Harrow the Ninth

Harrow the Ninth

By Tamsyn Muir
Tor
ISBN 9781250313225

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