Review: Nona The Ninth

Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was certainly something.

Tamsyn Muir seems to have created, with this series, a true experiment in making a genre book more about the journey than the destination. This is the second book in which almost nothing happens for most of the book. In fact, this is moreso the case in this book. It is not hard to see how this was originally just meant to be a small chunk of what is now book 4, Alecto the Ninth. In reality, the action in this book could have been just a few chapters of Alecto. And yet, this didn’t lead to a lower rating from me, because, by dedicating a whole book to this story, Muir earns the emotional payoffs with the characters.

In a series of dreams we learn the backstory that led to the creation of the Empire of the Nine Houses. It’s a real doozy. Unlike the second book, I think we’re meant to take John Gaius at his word rather than expect him to be lying about anything. Although he does admit to lying to those around him when it suits his purpose. It’s a wild ride that really doesn’t seem that too far off from reality (other than the magic bits).

If you found Harrow the Ninth annoying, this book may either be the same or worse for you. It seems Muir wants to give us protagonists that are less and less about to understand what’s going on around them. It almost makes me wonder how she can outdo herself with Alecto.

This was an interesting book for me in terms of the protagonists. If you’ve read the free short story “As Yet Unsent” (which you really should before this book), you’re set up for an understanding of what’s up with certain characters. Although, you should probably already know this from a chapter near the end of Harrow. Anyway, we’re meant (at least by narrative convention) to sympathize with Blood of Eden in this book. I don’t know if it’s because we were first introduced to the houses with BoE being terrorists or because of where I stand with John Gaius on his version of events, but I just can’t. I find the Houses to be in the right. (Although John definitely is a fallible god)

This book was like a roller coaster to me. Clanking all the way up before a series of plot twists and climaxes blew everything out of the water. I hope we don’t have too long to wait for Alecto, because I really want to see where Muir is taking things.

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