Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

The basics

Title: Gideon the Ninth


Series: The Locked Tomb #1

- Gideon the Ninth (2019)
- Harrow the Ninth (2020)
- Nona the Ninth (2022)
- Alecto the Ninth (2024)

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Goodreads Summary:

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won't set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon's sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Here is a spoiler summary of what happened in Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir to help refresh your memory before you read the sequel. If you need help remembering what happened in Gideon the Ninth then you’re in the right place.

What happened in Gideon the Ninth?

  • Gideon is a servant to the Ninth house and has been trained as a swordswoman. Gideon’s mother landed on the Ninth’s planet with Gideon in an incubation tube, and Gideon’s mother could only say “Gideon! Gideon! Gideon!” before she died, and so Gideon was named.
  • The Ninth house is the last house in the solar system, and it is in charge of keeping the Locked Tomb secure. We don’t know what is in the Locked Tomb at this point.
  • We do know, though, that the Ninth house is dying. All its children apart from Gideon died 17 years ago, just before Harrowhark was born.
  • Anyway, Gideon has been trying to leave the planet because it’s miserable there. For her latest escape attempt she has booked a shuttle. Harrow, the Lady of the Ninth house, intercepts Gideon and challenges her to a duel. If Gideon wins she can leave, if Harrow wins then Gideon has to come to a meeting.
  • Gideon and Harrow battle, and Harrow taps into her necromantic powers and raises the skeletons which she buried the night before. She anticipated Gideon’s escape attempt and needed to stop her.
  • Gideon heads down into the depths of the planet for the meeting. We learn that Harrow’s parents died by suicide a few years ago, and Harrow has been keeping them in a suspended state using her powers. No one can know they’re dead. Gideon threatens to tell everyone about this, but since Harrow forged a release letter with her mother’s signature, if Gideon were to tell of the Ninth house’s secrets then her freedom would be void.
  • At the meeting, we learn that the Emperor is inviting a necromancer from each of the nine houses and their cavalier to the First house in order to pass some challenges to become a Lyctor.
  • Harrow’s husband, Ortus, weeps and then escapes on Gideon’s shuttle with his mother because he’s a bit hopeless. Gideon has to become Harrow’s cavalier instead.
  • In order to do so, Gideon must learn to fight with a rapier, which is not her preferred weapon because it’s so puny. Gideon spends three months training before she and Harrow head to the First house. 
  • They land on the planet and meet most of the other Houses and find that they’re to stay in a decaying mansion called Canaan House. They are told that they will need to explore the mansion and unlock rooms (with permission) in order to pass the trials.
  • Dulcinea of the Seventh house falls over as she leaves her shuttle and Gideon goes to help her up. Harrow is unimpressed by this heroic act, and tells Gideon not to speak to any of the other houses.
  • The houses gather and Gideon and Harrow realise the Ninth house prayers are different to the others’. 
  • Harrow spends a few days looking around the mansion by herself, leaving Gideon to explore the house on her own.
  • Gideon finds a locked door behind a tapestry in the pool room. She hides this so no one else can find it. 
  • Gideon goes to look for Harrow. She teams up with the Sixth house, who have been exploring by themselves and trying to carbon date items. They come across Harrow unconscious in an underground lab.
  • Harrow agrees to tell Gideon what she’s been up to so the pair can work together. Harrow has been managing to catalogue all the doors in the mansion to figure out which ones are locked and unlocked.
  • Harrow takes Gideon back underground and shows her a trial which they need to pass. Harrow will need to defeat a massive bone monster with swords for arms, but she’s not allowed in the room with it. Gideon decides to fight it, and in order to do so Harrow will need to enter Gideon’s mind and combine their sight.
  • Abigail Pent and Magnus Quinn of the Fifth house, who are married, decide to throw a party for their anniversary. Gideon and Harrow attend. Harrow overhears Abigail talking to the Eighth house about the underground lab, so Harrow and Gideon quickly leave the party so they can get a headstart on fighting the bone monster.
  • Gideon and Harrow win the fight and win a key. They leave the lab and find the dead bodies of Abigail and Magnus. They were supposedly carrying a key with the but it seems to be missing.
  • All the necromancers try to communicate with Abigail and Magnus to find out what happened but they seem to be blocked. Ianthe of Third house eats a little bit of her cavalier. Silas of Eighth house also goes ahead and syphons from his own cavalier.
  • Teacher tells everyone there’s a monster lurking around in the mansion. Some people want to leave the mansion and abandon the trials, but others want to hunt the monster.
  • Gideon and Harrow head to the tapestry door and use the key they’ve won. They find a dorm room where a necromancer and their cavalier had been residing. Gideon finds two notes: “One flesh. One end.” and “Gideon.”
  • Dulcinea tells Harrow and Gideon that she knows of a trial which she cannot physically complete, so she needs those two to do it for her. Harrow will need to syphon Gideon in order to do so. Harrow doesn’t want to, despite Gideon’s protests.
  • Dulcinea says she asked Sixth house to help her and they refused, so Harrow eventually gives in and agrees to help.
  • Harrow syphons from Gideon and nearly kills her. But they win the key. And Harrow uses Gideon’s actual name instead of “cute” nicknames.
  • Gideon takes some time to recover while Harrow continues searching the mansion.
  • Coronabeth freaks out and we learn that there’s a limited amount of keys to win.
  • Gideon notices tension between Dulcinea and Palamedes from the Sixth house. Camilla notices that Dulcinea’s cavalier is a bit weird and possibly sleepwalking his way through the trials.
  • Isaac from the Fourth house shows Gideon some remains he found in an incinerator. Everyone joins them, apart from Harrow. The remains seem to be about eight weeks old, and they’re from two people.
  • Gideon comes across Dulcinea outside in the rain, as she has been left there by her cavalier.
  • Silas steals Dulcinea’s keys.
  • Judith from Second house challenges the Sixth house for their keys but Camilla is a boss and destroys Marta, and wins the Second house’s keys.
  • Babs gets over excited and challenges the Sixth house, but because Camilla is injured so Gideon and Harrow fight in place of her. Babs chickens out.
  • Gideon and Harrow split up to go and find Protesilaus alongside the Fourth and Sixth houses.
  • The monster kills Isaac, and Gideon and Jeannemary go and hide in the tapestry dorm room. Gideon falls asleep and Jeannemary is killed too. Gideon gets upset and Harrow gets annoyed.
  • Palamedes shows Harrow a locked door which has regenerating ash clogging up the lock. In order to get in, Harrow syphons Gideon and picks the lock using her bone powers. They don’t get a key, though.
  • Gideon wants to visit Dulcinea and she and Harrow argue.
  • Gideon has tea with the Eighth house, and learns that Ortus and his mother died when the escape shuttle they were on exploded. Their ghosts were able to get back to the Eighth house and tell everyone there about the Ninth house’s secrets.
  • Now the Eighth house knows that the Ninth’s children are dead. Apparently the Ninth house was basically additional content in this solar system. The people who travelled there were meant to seal the Locked Tomb and then die, but they ended up being the founders of the Ninth house instead. The Eighth house know that the Ninth house founders abandoned their plan.
  • Silas wants to steal the keys from Gideon but Gideon is allowed to leave.
  • Gideon and Coronabeth duel.
  • Gideon returns to her room and finds Protesilaus’ head amongst Harrow’s stuff.
  • Gideon is obviously shocked and goes to speak to Palamedes. She tells him that it’s her fault that Harrow’s parents are dead. We learn that Harrow and Gideon got into a fight seven years ago, and Harrow entered the Locked Tomb. Gideon then snitched to Harrow’s parents, who took their own lives because they were distraught about failing to protect the Tomb, which would lead to the end of the world.
  • Dulcinea tells everyone that Protestilaus has been dead for ages and is a walking puppet corpse.
  • Judith wants Dulcinea sent home as she’s dying, but Teacher says no one is allowed to leave.
  • Harrow and Gideon return to the pool room and find the pool filled with salt water. Harrow jumps in due to her religious beliefs about discussing secrets over salt water. Gideon jumps in too.
  • Harrow reveals that she knew Protesilaus was dead the whole time, which is why Harrow was acting weirdly about Gideon spending time with Dulcinea. That’s definitely the only reason. Harrow apparently nudged Protesilaus’ head, which then tumbled off. 
  • Harrow reveals that her parents were struggling to conceive a necromancer baby. They became so desperate to have a child to protect the Locked Tomb that they gathered up all the Ninth children and killed them all in order to suck up their energy and conceive a necromancer baby. We learn that Gideon was supposed to die from the nerve gas too, but she somehow survived the attack.
  • We learn that the thing inside the Locked Tomb will bring about the death of the Emperor, and it’s a little girl who is asleep in a coffin.
  • Gideon and Harrow pledge themselves to each other.
  • The Sixth and Ninth house team up again to pick the lock which Harrow unblocked the day before. They find another lab behind the door, and discover that a few hundred souls have been used to power up the skeletons which have been serving them in the mansion, and also Teacher and the other priests.
  • An alarm sounds, and they find Marta dead and Judith injured after fighting and killing Teacher and the priests. Judith ended up calling the Emperor for help.
  • They learn that the missing Fifth house key was inside Abigail’s body, until the Eighth house cut her open to remove it.
  • The group comes across the Third house in a bit of a state. Ianthe is covered in blood, and Coronabeth is sobbing over Babs’ dead body. They learn that Ianthe has been the only Third necromancer this entire time, and she has decided to make herself a Lyctor by murdering her cavalier and having his soul power her forevermore. 
  • Ianthe is now super powerful and has all of Babs’ combat skills. She’s able to wield a rapier now even though she’s very weak.
  • Silas tries to defeat Ianthe by syphoning her, but obviously she is way more powerful than him now. She is struggling with her new powers because her and Babs aren’t the best team.
  • Colum becomes possessed while Silas tries to syphon from him. Possessed!Colum kills Silas, and Ianthe kills Colum.
  • Camilla tells the others that Palamedes had been infatuated by Dulcinea for years, but Dulcinea rejected his proposal. Gideon tries to apologise to Palamedes for getting in the way of the two of them.
  • Palamedes stops Gideon and goes to speak to Dulcinea himself.
  • We learn that Dulcinea isn’t herself, and is actually a Lyctor called Cytherea. Cytherea is trying to lure the Emperor to Canaan House in order to kill him. We learn that Cytherea intercepted the Seventh House’s ship when they were heading over to the First House.
  • Palamedes fights Cytherea, who has the same disease as Dulcinea. Palamedes tells Gideon to tell Camilla that she knows what to do.
  • Harrow, Gideon, and Camilla fight off Cytherea and her bone monster. Gideon and Harrow join minds to defeat the bone monster, causing Harrow to pass out from expending energy. Gideon and Camilla are kind of injured. 
  • Ianthe arrives to fight Cytherea, and Ianthe loses an arm.
  • Harrow wakes up. Gideon sacrifices her own life so she can join with Harrow and allow her to become a Lyctor. Harrow is now super powered up and defeats Cytherea.
  • Harrow passes out and wakes up with the Emperor on a space station. She demands he brings Gideon back, but the Emperor says he can’t do that because he can’t undo Lyctorhood.
  • Ianthe and Harrow are the only two to survive Canaan House. Gideon’s body is never found.
  • Harrow agrees to be a Lyctor for the Emperor and is now called Harrow the First.

That’s what happened in Gideon the Ninth! Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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