Reviews for Nona The Ninth

by Tamsyn Muir

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The third installment of a necromantic science-fantasy series continues working at puzzles of identity and the meaning of loyalty. Previously (Gideon the Ninth, 2019; Harrow the Ninth, 2020), sullen but brilliant necromancer Harrowhark consumed the soul of Gideon, her foulmouthed cavalier, to become a Lyctor, a semi-immortal officer in the Emperor Undying’s court. In a desperate attempt to preserve Gideon’s identity, Harrow deliberately erased the other woman from her memories, leaving herself confused to the point of delusion, unable to access her full powers, and vulnerable to enemies both within and without the Emperor’s court. This novel introduces Nona, a sweet but extraordinarily na´ve young woman who appears to be in Harrowhark’s body but with Gideon’s golden eyes, lacking both necromantic abilities and any memories prior to six months ago. Nona’s been happy despite her precarious living situation in a war-torn city threatened by the necromantic Houses and their foe, the Blood of Eden. Unfortunately, what fragile peace she has cannot last, and everything depends on recovering Nona’s memories and returning to Harrowhark’s home in the Ninth House, there to finally release the deadly threat lurking in the Locked Tomb. But who is Nona, really: Harrowhark, Gideon, a blend of both young women…or someone else entirely? (The reader will figure it out long before the characters do.) Meanwhile, the Emperor and Harrowhark meet in dreams, where he recounts events of 10,000 years ago, when, as a newly fledged necromancer, his conflict with the corrupt trillionaires who planned to escape the dying Earth and leave the remaining billions to perish led to nuclear apocalypse. It’s pretty gutsy of Muir to write two books in a row about amnesiac characters, particularly when it may very well be the same character experiencing a different form of amnesia in each. This work initially reads like a strange interlude from the series, devoted to Nona’s odd but essentially quotidian routine in the midst of war, riot, and general chaos. But the story gradually gathers speed, and it’s all in service to a deeper plot. It is unfortunate that the demands of that plot mean we’ve gotten a considerably smaller dose of Gideon’s defiantly crude, riotously flouncy behavior in the two books subsequent to the one which bears her name. A deceptively quiet beginning rockets to a thrilling finish, preparing us for the next volume’s undoubtedly explosive finale. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
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Nona feels she has a pretty good life: she loves her family, works with alot of people her age, gets to be around a nice dog almost every day, and hopes to celebrate her birthday with a party on the beach. Of course, all of this is overshadowed by the facts that her city—and the entire planet—is under threat of destruction; that the Emperor Undying may be coming; and that Pyrrha, Camilla, and Palamedes may care about her, but Nona is actually an intruder in someone else's body. Everyone seems to think Nona can save them from the Nine Houses, but she knows that to do that may mean she has to give up everything, including her own existence. This uniquely poignant arc of a young woman's search for an ordinary life within a very extraordinary world is both stunning in its simpler moments and shocking in its reveals. Readers get lost in the story lines, but Muir's clever prose always provides a path to the end. VERDICT Muir's third entry in "The Locked Tomb" series (after Harrow the Ninth) is as immersive and original as its predecessors.—Kristi Chadwick


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The third installment of a necromantic science-fantasy series continues working at puzzles of identity and the meaning of loyalty.Previously (Gideon the Ninth, 2019; Harrow the Ninth, 2020), sullen but brilliant necromancer Harrowhark consumed the soul of Gideon, her foulmouthed cavalier, to become a Lyctor, a semi-immortal officer in the Emperor Undyings court. In a desperate attempt to preserve Gideons identity, Harrow deliberately erased the other woman from her memories, leaving herself confused to the point of delusion, unable to access her full powers, and vulnerable to enemies both within and without the Emperors court. This novel introduces Nona, a sweet but extraordinarily nave young woman who appears to be in Harrowharks body but with Gideons golden eyes, lacking both necromantic abilities and any memories prior to six months ago. Nonas been happy despite her precarious living situation in a war-torn city threatened by the necromantic Houses and their foe, the Blood of Eden. Unfortunately, what fragile peace she has cannot last, and everything depends on recovering Nonas memories and returning to Harrowharks home in the Ninth House, there to finally release the deadly threat lurking in the Locked Tomb. But who is Nona, really: Harrowhark, Gideon, a blend of both young womenor someone else entirely? (The reader will figure it out long before the characters do.) Meanwhile, the Emperor and Harrowhark meet in dreams, where he recounts events of 10,000 years ago, when, as a newly fledged necromancer, his conflict with the corrupt trillionaires who planned to escape the dying Earth and leave the remaining billions to perish led to nuclear apocalypse. Its pretty gutsy of Muir to write two books in a row about amnesiac characters, particularly when it may very well be the same character experiencing a different form of amnesia in each. This work initially reads like a strange interlude from the series, devoted to Nonas odd but essentially quotidian routine in the midst of war, riot, and general chaos. But the story gradually gathers speed, and its all in service to a deeper plot. It is unfortunate that the demands of that plot mean weve gotten a considerably smaller dose of Gideons defiantly crude, riotously flouncy behavior in the two books subsequent to the one which bears her name.A deceptively quiet beginning rockets to a thrilling finish, preparing us for the next volumes undoubtedly explosive finale. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Muir tackles a new perspective in this characteristically brilliant successor to Harrow the Ninth, which offers a much more personal and tightly framed focus than the rest of the Locked Tomb series. Nona’s been alive for six months with no memory of who she was before awakening in her new body. She enjoys working as a teacher’s aide, petting dogs, and hanging out with her squad of friends, and she has no desire to reckon with the world beyond her comfortable little life: the zombies, the resettlements, the giant blue sphere that hangs above her planet. But whether she likes it or not, Nona’s true identity is the key that shapes the empire, and with that empire in disarray, every force in the universe has their eyes on her, fixated on who she may have been and who she could become. Muir’s skill is such that readers will be desperate to find out the truth of Nona’s background but will still savor the quiet moments with this heartbreaking character. Nona’s lovely, simple, and occasionally silly voice works especially well in juxtaposition with the dark, dense backdrop of the series so far, creating a riveting contrast. Readers will be on the edges of their seats. (Sept.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

At just about six months old (in a nineteen-year-old body), Nona lives a full life. She recounts her dreams to her protectors and works as a teacher’s aide at a local school. She’s been grudgingly accepted by a gang of streetwise kids and is trusted to watch a beloved teacher’s dog. At the edges of Nona’s life, glimpses of other truths occasionally slip through: there’s a giant blue sphere hanging in the sky, for one thing. Zombies are a problem. Occasionally Nona and her family are kidnapped by a clandestine local cell and interrogated about her true identity, but she manages to find the best in even those situations. In this ancillary volume set between Harrow the Ninth (2020) and the forthcoming Alecto the Ninth, Muir takes the time to explore unfolding calamity through the eyes of a true innocent. The book is set over the course of five days in the prelude to an apocalyptic event, with chapters interspersed where the reader learns how the death and resurrection of the people of Earth came to pass. Muir fans will be even more eager for the imperial scope of Alecto once they’ve finished Nona’s quiet character study.

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