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Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


The Locked Tomb trilogy is an SF/F/Horror series by New Zealand author Tamsyn Muir set in a far future where a 10,000-year-old interstellar empire is kept alive by literal necromancy. Mostly it's about bones.

1. GIDEON THE NINTH (released Sept 10 2019) (read the first few chapters free here)


2. HARROW THE NINTH (released Aug 4 2020) (read the first few chapters free here)


3. ALECTO THE NINTH (coming ??? 2021?)
(no cover image yet)


The blurb Charlie Stross gave for the first book is fairly accurate:

Especially the bit about skeletons. There are a lot of skeletons. (The lesbianism is mostly merely heavily implied but the necromancy is quite explicit.)
The tone of the first book is being something like Murderbot Diaries meets Gormenghast. It's a sort of a gothic murder mystery set in a decrepit mansion with a sardonic protagonist. The second book... gets weirder.

Our main point of view characters for the first two books come from the Ninth House, a decrepit monastery at the rear end-end of the Empire's home system which serves one purpose: To guard and venerate the Locked Tomb. They're the most secretive and reclusive of the houses, and consequently our POV characters don't have much exposure to the other houses and their goings-on. The Emperor (the Necrolord Prime, the King of the Nine Renewals, the Kindly Prince of Death!) is a mysterious godlike figure who apparently ressurected the Nine Houses after some great calamity 10,000 years ago and endowed their adepts with their necromantic abilities. Necromancy is simply a fact of life and after-life in the Nine Houses: skeleton servants abound, and the various forms of bone- and spirit-magic practiced by the nine houses have broad applications to everything from medicine to warfare. There is some sort of war going on, led by the Cohort of the Second House, but wherever the front is, it's a long long way from the Ninth House where the story begins.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus is the 17-year-old heir and Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House. She is a skilled necromancer who had an unhappy childhood and is very good at Bone Stuff. Harrow's main interests are Bones, persuing ultimate power at any cost, and thwarting Gideon.

Gideon Nav is the only other girl Harrow's age in the whole Ninth House since every other Ninth child died under sinister circumstances around the time she and Harrow were born. She's an orphan, an indentured servant, and probably the best swordswoman the Ninth has produced in a generation. Gideon's main hobbies are Sword Stuff, push-ups, dirty magazines, trying to escape from the Ninth to go join the Cohort, and hating Harrow for not letting her escape. There's not a lot else to do in the Ninth if you're not a nun or a necromancer.

When the call comes from the Emperor, summoning the necromancer heirs of the eight main houses and their cavalier-primaries to the First House, possibly for the purpose of becoming a new generation of Lyctors (basically immortal super-necromancers, of which there were originally only one per house, 10,000 years ago), Harrow drags Gideon along to play the role of her cavalier mostly because she's got no one else to do the job. It may not surprise you that in the ensuing chapters several characters suffer horrible deaths, dark secrets are revealed, and Gideon and Harrow come to loathe each other slightly less.

There's a BUNCH of characters in the first book, so the Dramatis Personae which lists out all the house necromancers and their cavaliers is very useful and you will refer to it a lot on a first read:



Tamsyn Muir has a tumblr where she often posts funny and/or useful things like this pronunciation guide for all the character names!

quote:

Ortus Nigenad

ORT-us (to rhyme with tortoise, unless you pronounce tortoise “tor toys”, in which case it doesn’t) NIGH-ga-nad.

...

Palamedes Sextus

Pal-AM-a-dees SEX-tus. (As in, Palama… deez nuts. Editor’s note: Sorry)

I would ask that you use spoiler tags here for HTN plot points as it only came out a few weeks ago, and try not to spoil the end of GTN for those who haven't read it yet.


2021 update: The tumblr/Twitter fan art community is extremely good.

Entropic fucked around with this message at 16:18 on Mar 3, 2021

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Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


Fun Fact: the Audiobook is read by Mo from Nickelodeon's GUTS

https://www.amazon.com/Gideon-Ninth-Tamsyn-Muir-audiobook/dp/B07XFGM24L

redreader
Nov 2, 2009

I am the coolest person ever with my pirate chalice. Seriously.



Dinosaur Gum

I loved this book, Gideon the Ninth, but (full plot spoilers) the end with Gideon dying ruined the whole thing for me. Doesn't make me want to read any more by that author. The book was great until the end though. I really enjoyed it until it made me feel bad.

Humerus
Jul 7, 2009

Rule of acquisition #111:
Treat people in your debt like family...exploit them.




redreader posted:

I loved this book, Gideon the Ninth, but (full plot spoilers) the end with Gideon dying ruined the whole thing for me. Doesn't make me want to read any more by that author. The book was great until the end though. I really enjoyed it until it made me feel bad.

Imo you should read Harrow, I was also bummed about the ending of Gideon but it's all going somewhere.

Harrow chat don't read if you haven't finished the book:
I'm confused about Harrow's hallucinations/visions of the Body (Alecto?). It said she had visions of her, then they stopped, then after Canaan house they resumed. But did she really have them before or as part of her brain fuckery did she invent memories of these visions in her youth?

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

Humerus posted:

Imo you should read Harrow, I was also bummed about the ending of Gideon but it's all going somewhere.

Harrow chat don't read if you haven't finished the book:
I'm confused about Harrow's hallucinations/visions of the Body (Alecto?). It said she had visions of her, then they stopped, then after Canaan house they resumed. But did she really have them before or as part of her brain fuckery did she invent memories of these visions in her youth?

Thanks for starting this thread, OP - I find myself loving these books way more than I feel like I should, since they're very obviously what they are - a mashup of YA and horror genre tropes with pop culture executed by somebody thoroughly embedded in fanfic culture. But for some reason Muir can do poo poo that I would passionately hate in any other author and it works. The "none pizza left beef" reference in Harrow is the kind of thing that I would usually throw a book across a room for but even that I didn't despise as much. I think she manages to dance between different voices from gothic to twitter really smoothly, somehow.

Re: Harrow, I think there's some interesting openness in how it can be interpreted. For me, I think that Harrow gave herself a targeted version of schizophrenia (see Teacher asking about her Temporal lobe), that both gave her an overwritten memory and a reason to mistrust her own perceptions in case she came up with something that didn't fit with her fake memories. To write her fake history, she raised a group of revenants to write a new story of Canaan house, and she also rewrote her history of the Body to give her a target for all of her love to write Gideon out of her head. The interesting question and the open door is that since we know that the revenants she raised have their own experiences and include Wake trying to take over her head, did maybe her connection to the Body leave an open door for Alecto to either directly do the same or to escape some other way. So to me most of her hallucinations were invented, or at least she invented the basic structure, but I think that Alecto might have/probably did use that to get out.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


redreader posted:

I loved this book, Gideon the Ninth, but (full plot spoilers) the end with Gideon dying ruined the whole thing for me. Doesn't make me want to read any more by that author. The book was great until the end though. I really enjoyed it until it made me feel bad.

The end of the first book is very much not the end of that character’s story, and the second book is largely about the aftermath and how Harrow copes (or doesn’t). Just look at the Dramatis Personae at the beginning of Harrow the Ninth for a clue as to how all is not cleanly tied up there. (That DP page contains one obvious and at least two lies or deliberate obfuscations....)

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

Entropic posted:


Tamsyn Muir has a tumblr where she often posts funny and/or useful things like this pronunciation guide for all the character names!


I have a Kindle copy of Gideon the Ninth and my copy has this as well as her notes on where the names came from. It's interesting and has some implications for the long-term storyline. E.g. (no spoiler here for anything that's been published yet) she says that Harrowhark's name comes from the Harrowing of Hell combined with "hark" as a cry for attention. She's put a lot of thought into layering different references throughout the book.

I love the fact that Gideon the Ninth has a consumptive damsel as a character - she's such a great take on a gothic staple.

Kestral
Nov 24, 2000

Forum Veteran

I just started reading Harrow the Ninth - have I now been spoiled on something by knowing the title of book 3 from this thread's title?

Ornamented Death
Jan 25, 2006

Pew pew!



Kestral posted:

I just started reading Harrow the Ninth - have I now been spoiled on something by knowing the title of book 3 from this thread's title?

Nope, the title has been around since Gideon was published.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


Kestral posted:

I just started reading Harrow the Ninth - have I now been spoiled on something by knowing the title of book 3 from this thread's title?

Probably less so than knowing the name of the second book spoils the first.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

So, looking back on Gideon after reading Harrow, I kind of wonder how the Emperor wanted and/or expected things on the First to turn out. Teacher implied that he really wanted eight Lyctors, and his demeanor kind of fits that, but at the same time he basically put up a big sign saying KILL EVERYBODY ELSE.

Of course, if you believe the author's Tumblr statements, Ianthe is the only one who would have gone through with it absent Cytherea, so he'd never have gotten more than one and it seems like a recipe to get the worst Lyctor imaginable since I'm not sure if the Emperor has any particular reason to select for vile, backstabbing sociopaths when choosing his right Hands.

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

Rand Brittain posted:

So, looking back on Gideon after reading Harrow, I kind of wonder how the Emperor wanted and/or expected things on the First to turn out. Teacher implied that he really wanted eight Lyctors, and his demeanor kind of fits that, but at the same time he basically put up a big sign saying KILL EVERYBODY ELSE.

Of course, if you believe the author's Tumblr statements, Ianthe is the only one who would have gone through with it absent Cytherea, so he'd never have gotten more than one and it seems like a recipe to get the worst Lyctor imaginable since I'm not sure if the Emperor has any particular reason to select for vile, backstabbing sociopaths when choosing his right Hands.


I don't trust Teacher at all - he also told Gideon to try to kill Harrow but never acknowledged that at all. I think that the Emperor has "kindly aspects," and Teacher is one of them - but they're aspects or roles, not really him. They're archetypes he puts on to interact with humans, but behind it I think he's truly evil and I suspect that in Alecto we're going to learn more about the Blood of Eden crew and realize they're the good guys in the story.

So my suspicion is that Teacher may have been disappointed with the outcome of Canaan house, but the Emperor got exactly what he wanted.

redreader
Nov 2, 2009

I am the coolest person ever with my pirate chalice. Seriously.



Dinosaur Gum

Ok, thanks for the replies. I'll give book 2 a go. I know it'll be good, I enjoyed the first one, mostly.

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

redreader posted:

Ok, thanks for the replies. I'll give book 2 a go. I know it'll be good, I enjoyed the first one, mostly.

Book two is.... extremely different.

They released a preview of it for free a while back that was basically Act 1 of the book, which in my thinking was a good idea because it meant that by the time the book itself dropped I had worked through my confusion, what the gently caress, and disappointment that the new book was so different and was able to enjoy it a lot more. If those previews are still up you might want to see if you can find one.

Having said that, Harrow the Ninth is a great book and it does an excellent job moving the story forward and it does have all the elements I liked from Gideon. It's just a very different book in its structure and tone and gave me whiplash when I started reading it.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


I was not at all confident that HtN was going to actually work out until about 1/2 - 3/4 of the way through. It does stick the landing, but it's such a weird journey getting there, and it's a very different book than the first one. My theory in the early chapters was that the second-person narrator would turn out to be The Ressurrection Beast. I liked the way it did end up paying off though.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


I was poking around on Tumblr because I saw Taz Muir's postings there and, of course there's a fan art community.






cptn_dr
Sep 7, 2011

Seven for beauty that blossoms and dies



Remember when drawing fanart, Naberius Tern was just a huge monitor lizard, godspeed.
(But also Gideon and Harrow are Māori, and I never want to let people forget it)

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013




cptn_dr posted:

Remember when drawing fanart, Naberius Tern was just a huge monitor lizard, godspeed.
(But also Gideon and Harrow are Māori, and I never want to let people forget it)

I've always pictured Gideon as super-pale white with freckles and bright red hair, because there's a point where Septimus goes "Oh! You're a ginger!".

Ornamented Death
Jan 25, 2006

Pew pew!



Entropic posted:

I was poking around on Tumblr because I saw Taz Muir's postings there and, of course there's a fan art community.

Folks are selling stuff on etsy, too.

Quinton
Apr 25, 2004



As a big fan of Team Sixth House, this sketch of Palamedes and Camilla is one of my favorites pieces of GtN fanart:



(via @dawndundundun on twitter)

Harrow Spoilers... I was so happy not only that Gideon was not gone forever but that Palamedes was still around -- he did say Camilla would know what to do and he clearly had a plan in hand to minimize the inconvenience of death. I suppose given that half the cast were necromancers should have been a clue that death might be less permanent than usual. Also so very Palamedes that stuck in a tiny bubble universe with a bad historical romance as his only entertainment he's composing a sequel using a pencil stub and wallpaper...

Humerus
Jul 7, 2009

Rule of acquisition #111:
Treat people in your debt like family...exploit them.




Notahippie posted:

I don't trust Teacher at all - he also told Gideon to try to kill Harrow but never acknowledged that at all. I think that the Emperor has "kindly aspects," and Teacher is one of them - but they're aspects or roles, not really him. They're archetypes he puts on to interact with humans, but behind it I think he's truly evil and I suspect that in Alecto we're going to learn more about the Blood of Eden crew and realize they're the good guys in the story.

So my suspicion is that Teacher may have been disappointed with the outcome of Canaan house, but the Emperor got exactly what he wanted.


Harrow spoilers:

I've assumed The Emperor was bad news since Harrow revealed what was in the tomb. Things don't seem as black and white since reading Harrow but I think necromancy as a whole is bad news, even if it did save the bulk of humanity. Guess we'll find out...some day.

Also a reminder there's a short story about Palamedes and Camilla set a few years before Gideon the Ninth. It's up for free on Tor.com and they also had a way to sign up for it and they'd email an ebook file. Not sure if that's still an option but if not and it's cool with the mods I can host the mobi file on Google Drive or something. It was never a paid for story so I don't think that falls under piracy but better safe than sorry.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


The short story is online at Tor.com here, just not in ebook format:

https://www.tor.com/2020/07/29/the-mysterious-study-of-dr-sex-tamsyn-muir/

Ornamented Death
Jan 25, 2006

Pew pew!



Here's the cover for the SubPress edition of Harrow:

Only registered members can see post attachments!

mewse
May 2, 2006




Bookmarked. I'm a few chapters into Harrow right now and it feels quite a bit different than the first book so far

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Humerus posted:

Harrow chat don't read if you haven't finished the book:
I'm confused about Harrow's hallucinations/visions of the Body (Alecto?). It said she had visions of her, then they stopped, then after Canaan house they resumed. But did she really have them before or as part of her brain fuckery did she invent memories of these visions in her youth?

After giving this some thought, I think Harrow wasn't willing to give herself any fake memories of the Body because she worships her and making up fake conversations with her would be blasphemy, and remembering the correct ones doesn't fit with her false memories, so she just decided that in her false history that Body was on vacation during that period.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


silvergoose
Mar 18, 2006

IT IS SAID THE TEARS OF THE BWEENIX CAN HEAL ALL WOUNDS



That...sure is a chart...

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

It's a lie; Silas almost certainly does not have food at home.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


Rand Brittain posted:

It's a lie; Silas almost certainly does not have food at home.

He does, it's just very bad food.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

"We have 'food' at home."

silvergoose
Mar 18, 2006

IT IS SAID THE TEARS OF THE BWEENIX CAN HEAL ALL WOUNDS



I mean the only one that is definitively correct is Gideon, of course.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Gideon will be yelling "McDonald's!" even though she doesn't know what McDonald's is.

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013




I sorta feel like Camilla should be a bit closer to "McDonalds! McDonalds!"

silvergoose
Mar 18, 2006

IT IS SAID THE TEARS OF THE BWEENIX CAN HEAL ALL WOUNDS



Khizan posted:

I sorta feel like Camilla should be a bit closer to "McDonalds! McDonalds!"

Her rolling her eyes while pushing a half plate of food towards Gideon is one of those moments that just sticks with me.

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

I'm trying to get my head around what we know about the universe so far/the timeline. Here's what I've currently got - it's all spoilered because it's drawing from both books but I separately flagged the only big reveals I think are actually important.


General knowledge:

1. There are lots of habitable planets in the universe, to the point where life is common
2. Many of the livable planets have humans on them, but not all do.
3. Many (most?) of the planets with humans on them are not part of the Empire. Non-Empire planets don't appear to use necromancy.
4. People can travel FTL either through the river (if Lyctor), or through the use of necromantic stelae, or possibly other techniques too
5. At some point in the past Dominicus died/went out and the planets it supports died too.

Big spoilers

6. At some point in the past the Emperor figured out the perfect Lyctor technique, giving him massive power

Back to general knowledge

7. The Emperor used his massive power to resurrect Dominicus as well as huge chunks of humanity, in several waves
8. The Emperor encouraged his buddies to experiment to discover Lyctorhood
9. The Emperor formed the Cohorts, establishing expeditionary militaries to go out and conquer.
10. The Empire is currently spreading out and conquering as much as it can.

So based on all of the above, I wonder a couple of things:
1. What happened pre-Resurrection? How did humanity get so spread out, or was that a post-Resurrection ocurrence? Was necromancy always a thing or was the Emperor the first real necromancer?
2. Why was the Resurrection necessary? Did people not know Dominicus was dying? Was it an attack?
3. Are humans the only intelligent species? Why, if life is so common? Why haven't we heard about others, if not?

The ending of Harrow makes me think we're going to get a lot of the answers to all of that in Alecto.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

I get the feeling the Emperor got a lot of his power by absorbing the death thanergy of ten billion people (note that humanity numbers only in the millions at the time of the books. The perfect lyctor ritual gives him additional power, but I kind of feel like the big-R resurrection is beyond him at this point (which is why most of humanity is still dead). He's clearly very powerful, but he's not actually God. The most impressive thing we've seen him do is survive the death of his physical body, and Harrow and Gideon both seem to have done that trick at this point.

My general impression is that the Emperor has basically decided that it's his job to resurrect "proper" Earth humans and culture, and that means going out and destroying/subjugating all the planets that were settled before Earth died and don't trace their culture to the Resurrection.

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

Rand Brittain posted:


My general impression is that the Emperor has basically decided that it's his job to resurrect "proper" Earth humans and culture, and that means going out and destroying/subjugating all the planets that were settled before Earth died and don't trace their culture to the Resurrection.



That interpretation makes a lot of sense. I think the big-R Resurrections were powered by the sudden deaths of entire planets, which would fit with your theory too - hence the Resurrection beasts.

Entropic
Feb 21, 2007

patriarchy sucks


Notahippie posted:


That interpretation makes a lot of sense. I think the big-R Resurrections were powered by the sudden deaths of entire planets, which would fit with your theory too - hence the Resurrection beasts.


Everything points to the Emperor having done to himself basically what Harrow's parents did to boost her necromantic potential, but on a planetary gigadeath scale. I can definitely see him having murdered 10 billion people to gain his power and then ressurrected some of them and cast himself as god and saviour.

KOGAHAZAN!!
Apr 29, 2013

a miserable failure as a person

an incredible success as a magical murder spider



There’s an exchange between the lyctors in Harrow- which I’m going to have to go and find, now, where I think it’s implied that the Emperor’s doing all of this for revenge. From which my brain immediately extrapolated from this “oh, so someone (aliens?) blew the Earth the gently caress up, and the release of thanergy apotheosised him, and he used that to spin up this entire empire so he can get back at them.”

Which is obviously a huge stretch but no one seems to have clocked the revenge bit either so now I’m doubting the whole thing.

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KOGAHAZAN!!
Apr 29, 2013

a miserable failure as a person

an incredible success as a magical murder spider



Ah, right, it’s this bit:

quote:

And Augustine said: “Stop your mission, John. Give up on the thing I know you’ve been looking for since the very beginning. Stop expanding. Stop assembling this bewildering cartography, this invasion force. I’ve puzzled over it for five thousand years, and I don’t believe I truly understand it now. But let it go. Let them go. Nobody has to be punished anymore for what happened to humanity.”

Augustine of course explicitly denies knowing what the point of it all is. But he also asserts that John is out to punish somebody, for “what happened to humanity”.

So at the least Augustine believes himself to have an understanding of the genocide wherein someone not the Emperor is the responsible party, and is inclined to re-evaluate this in light of the revelation that John has been lying through his loving teeth all these years.

e: though Mercymorn is:


quote:

Mercymorn said, “John, if you’d lied to me about anything else, about how the planet died, about the extinction of our species … or if you’d just admitted everything and said your hand was forced, or that it was for the common good, and said nice-sounding nonsense—I would have forgiven you.”

KOGAHAZAN!! fucked around with this message at 23:23 on Sep 5, 2020

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