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Warning: This review may contain spoilers for Gideon the Ninth, the first book in the Locked Tomb trilogy.

Seriously.

It’s really hard to talk about Harrow the Ninth without major plot reveals from Gideon, though I will do my best. If you haven’t read it yet, well…

First things first. Gideon the Ninth was probably the best book that I read in 2019. Like, hands down. I went all out to try to track down a first printing.

2nd.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Y’all.

Like.

Y’all.

Harrow’s back, but she’s not altogether all together.

She passed the Emperor’s test back at Canaan House. She survived the trials, and solved the mysteries of Lyctorhood. She succeeded, as only the genius Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House could do. She gained supreme necromantic power.

And she lost her mind.

Unless she didn’t.

Now she finds herself on board the Emperor’s space station, preparing for a war the likes of which she never could’ve imagined. God himself is there, the Necrolord Supreme, with the rest of his remaining Lyctors, helping to train Harrow in the use of her newfound abilities. But something, or someone, is stalking Harrow through the halls, bypassing every layer of protection she can come up with. Her talents with skeletal constructs alone will not be enough, and if she can’t fully tap into her Lyctor powers, she will die. Not even God can help her if she can’t acknowledge the reality she faces.

But…

Now she finds herself at Canaan House, arriving for the first time to begin her training to become a Lyctor. The heirs to the other seven houses are there as well, and Teacher bids them welcome as they begin studying the ancient arts of necromancy that will help them to unlock their greatest power. Familiar and wrong as the same time, most seems well until something, or someone, begins to track them, killing them off one by one. Harrow’s cavalier stands as bravely as he can beside her while… wait…

He?

Where’s Gideon?

Tamsyn Muir skillfully ties her timelines together, blending Harrow’s present-day trauma to that of her past, leaving readers to spend much of the novel pondering the necromancer’s reliability as a narrator. Muir provides a much wider view of the world of the nine houses and the magic blending life and death that powers so much of it. New characters and old try their best to help Harrow navigate a vast universe in which she may well be her own worst enemy. Harrow the Ninth is just as difficult to put down as its predecessor, and it left me yearning for the release of Alecto the Ninth, currently scheduled for 2021.

“Are you sure this is how this happened?”

 

“One for the Emperor, first of us all;
One for his Lyctors, who answered the call;
One for his Saints, who were chosen of old;
One for his Hands, and the swords that they
hold.
Two is for discipline, heedless of trial;
Three for the gleam of a jewel or a smile;
Four for fidelity, facing ahead;
Five for tradition and debts to the dead;
Six for the truth over solace in lies;
Seven for beauty that blossoms and dies;
Eight for salvation no matter the cost;
Nine for the Tomb, and for all that was lost.”

Harrow the Ninth is available for purchase tomorrow, August 4th. Gideon the Ninth is available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and digital.

My utmost thanks to NetGalley for providing an eARC of this book in exchange for a fair review. It made 2020 bearable.

The literary world is rejoicing today at the announcement that Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, will be releasing a sequel this year. The new novel, Go Set a Watchman, was actually the first novel written by Lee, but was not initially published. Her editor advised her against the publication of the book, which focused on To Kill a Mockingbird‘s heroine, Scout Finch, as an adult. Instead, flashback scenes of Scout’s childhood were reworked into the classic novel we know. According to initial press, the sequel will follow a now-grown Scout returning home to visit her father, Atticus. July 14th is the current planned release date for Go Set a Watchman, and frankly, I can’t wait to see it.

I haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird since I was in junior high, in Mrs. Crocker’s English class. It’s been far too long since I watched Gregory Peck star in the film adaptation as Atticus. I need to make another trip to Maycomb, Alabama, because it’s tragically clear that the prejudices Lee wrote about in 1960 are just as present today.

2014 is going to be the best year yet. I said that last year, and it’s just as true today. It’s going to be a big year, with lots of upcoming books, movies, and more. Here’s a little preview of what I’m looking forward to in 2014.

Books: Mr. MercedesA new novel from Stephen King hits shelves this June. King is always worth a read, and I can’t wait to hear what his latest tale has to offer.

Karen Traviss is releasing a new Halo book this year, with Mortal Dictata. She’ll be concluding the story she started with Glasslands and The Thursday War. I’ve really enjoyed Traviss’ take on the Halo universe, especially her depictions of the Sangheili (Elites) and their culture.

Conferences: I’m adding a category this year, because I’m planning (and hoping) to attend the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference for the first time this year. Guests of honor include Gail Carriger, Jim C. Hines, and Chuck Wendig. It’s going to be an incredible weekend, and I’m hoping that some of my local writing friends, including V are able to join me.

Movies: Marvel’s Cinematic Universe continues to march into Phase 2. Following last year’s Iron Man 3 and Thor 2: The Dark World will be Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the relatively risky Guardians of the Galaxy. Winter Soldier should be a solid follow-up to The Avengers, with Cap having his WWII past catch up to him. Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be interesting, since the comic isn’t exactly the home of Marvel’s A-list characters. Still should be a hell of a movie to catch in the theatre.

Also this year, Wes Anderson’s new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel opens. I love Anderson’s style, and this looks to be a grand collaboration with all of his usual cohorts. Look for Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and more great stars in the tale of a legendary concierge, Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes).

Television: Sherlock. It’s back, after far too long. British audiences got to see “The Empty Hearse” premiere already. American audiences should be getting in on the action by mid-January thanks to PBS (or sooner, if they’re clever).

Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. Now that Matt Smith has handed the sonic screwdriver and TARDIS key over to Peter Capaldi, it’ll be heading in a new direction. Having not yet seen the most recent Christmas special, I can’t speak to Capaldi’s role just yet, but any time the Doctor regenerates is exciting.

So here we go, 2014. I’m counting on you to be the best year you can be. I’ll do everything I can on my end.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Caution: Spoilers may lie ahead. You have been warned.

Back in the early 90’s, Mike Mignola began writing stories about a character named Hellboy, a demon pulled through to Earth during an occult ritual performed by a group of Nazis in 1944. Hellboy, then a child, was adopted by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, founder of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). Through the professor’s kindness, Hellboy became a champion for good, fighting against ghosts, demons, and eldritch abominations for years. Over time, Hellboy learned the truth of his origins and eventually sacrificed himself to save the world. (Hey, I warned you.)

That’s right, folks. Hellboy is dead, but that’s not about to slow him down. Late last year, Mignola announced that Hellboy would be back in a new ongoing series entitled Hellboy in Hell. 

Mike Mignola's Hellboy In Hell issue one cover

Exactly what it says on the tin.

Now I’ve read through the entirety of Hellboy and a good chunk of the spin-off series, BPRD, but I can’t wait to see how this one turns out. I love Mignola’s art and stories, and I’m thrilled to see one of my favorite comic book characters have new life in him, so to speak.

J.K. Rowling‘s first post-Harry Potter novel is coming soon. The Casual Vacancy is the writing superstar’s newest work of fiction, and is apparently a standalone work rather than the start of a new series. The literary world is buzzing with rumors about the book and how it might stack up against Rowling’s previous work. I can’t wait, though I find it hard to knowingly invite comparisons between what quickly became one of the best-selling (and most frequently challenged) books of all time and something that would seem to be in a completely different genre. I’m doing my very best to avoid any spoilers, because I want to take on The Casual Vacancy with as open an outlook as possible.

People are complaining that it’s too simple, too 70s, too garish. I like it.

To add to the excitement (at least for me), the book is releasing days before the start of Banned Books Week 2012. Considering the fuss that Rowling’s earlier works caused in the community of morons who decide that they have to determine what other people read, I can’t wait to see the reactions to this new novel. To sum up, I’m thrilled for next week, even though I’m probably going to have to wait for a library copy to arrive (it’s on hold for me). A fan on goodreads said it best, and so I’ll paraphrase. The topic of the book makes no difference. Rowling’s words are always magical.