We come here together to talk about Gideon the Ninth, written by Tamsin Nur.
I love Necromancers as a general rule. Most gaming systems (eventually) offer them as a class choice and I love playing them. There’s not a whole lot of variation, sadly, almost as if people really don’t know what to do with Necromancers save “raise the dead” and “summon ghost”. It means that while you get the option of playing one, you’re very limited on what you’re allowed to do. No one wants to make Necromancers more deadly than Tanks for some reason. Like its an offensive threat to the Nerd Gods to up-end some sort of classic and traditional “He-Man Protects Nerdy Weak Magic Class” dynamic. Can’t have freaky Goth Kids saving the Captain of the Football team, right?
But I digress.
The fact that Gideon the Ninth is a book entirely about futuristic space necromancers (bear with me) was a big draw. Not gonna lie. I would not be surprised to find out that the author is a closet Warhammer 40k fan. Or at least has spent a goodly amount of time flipping through lore books. There are nine – count them nine! – noble houses all with their own variation/flavor of necromancy, and they serve/worship their Undying God Emperor who apparently is battling some space war with something never specified.
Its the never-specified that gets me. Were I to go with a traditional Five Star Rating, I’ll have to go with a Four just because while I really liked it, I had no goddamn idea what was going on for the start of the book. It opens cold into this universe with no explanation and you have to scramble to fill the holes as you find them. I don’t mind scrambling if the story is good, its like a treasure hunt and the map unfurls oh-so very slowly.
Oh you terrible tease!
Once you settle in and come to terms that some things will not be explained, like most of the worlds and their cultures, you can focus on the characters, which are a delight. Gideon is a straight up Sassomancer and who doesn’t like some mouthy chick with a sword, amirite? Every house has a necromancer at the lead, and every one of those house scions has a dedicated sword master to serve them. Nice to see the Goth Kids in charge for once, even as there’s still the thug-protecting-the-scholar set up. This story centers around Gideon as the sword master (they call them cavaliers) to the Head of the Ninth House. Personality conflicts ensue.
I can only guess that there will be more explanation of WT Ever Living F (“ever living” ha ha, see what I did there?) is going on with this never ending necromantic war and why everything seems to be multiple millennia old and crumbling around them. Maybe how they got an Undying God Emperor, how you resurrect an entire solar system, and for what purpose? Where are all the regular people?
I guess this is more of my map slowly unfurling. There are four books in this run, the fourth not yet published. I only recently discovered there’s a couple Point(tm) in this series. And by Point I mean this new (and weird trend) to publish books slightly out of order and “to the side”. Example? Having just finished Book #1, I discovered there’s a Book #0.5 (which is NOT in my local library!). Book #1 was published in 2019, book #0.5 published in 2020. I suppose all the explanation I didn’t get in Gideon the Ninth was published in a
later game supplement back up novel? There’s also a #2.5 novel which seemed to be published in correct order between #2 and #3. Does that mean I don’t have to read it to make the novel make sense? And if I do have to read it, why isn’t #2.5 just #3? I guess I’ll figure out when I get there.
I would like to know why this is now a thing in writing. It’s a bit aggravating.
But I digress again!
Some of it was way sciencey. I glossed over that a little bit, wanting to get back to the witty sassomancer and her necromancer. It gets a little deep with the science experiments and the alluding to previous studies. Like, the actual scientific theorems of various necromantic abilities. They put a way lot of thought into what Necromancers can/could do if given the ability to really stretch their magic class. A little hard science in your sci-fi-fantasy, I guess. Hey – DMs & STs – read these books and take some damn notes so your Necromancers can do more than just tag along behind the party to question the guy you accidentally killed.
This here book is getting Four Stars because I don’t have a witty rating for it that doesn’t somehow involve Bela Lugosi.