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The Locked Tomb trilogy: teenage lesbian necromancers... IN SPAAAAACE!!!!

upupdowndown

REVOLUTION GRRR STYLE NOW
(he / him / his)
has anyone been reading Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb trilogy? it started with GIDEON THE NINTH and continued just recently with HARROW THE NINTH.

It's set in a (very far) future setting, where an Undying Emperor rules over a space empire through necromancy. The language is exquisite and often extremely funny.

and the cover art is relentlessly baller:

 

jpfriction

You'll never take my hat away
Best books I’ve read in years. I’m still thinking about Harrow the Ninth, that was a mind bender.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I didn't realize Harrow the Ninth was a sequel. I have it reserved at the library. Guess I need to find the first one!
 

upupdowndown

REVOLUTION GRRR STYLE NOW
(he / him / his)
I didn't realize Harrow the Ninth was a sequel. I have it reserved at the library. Guess I need to find the first one!
yes you do!! Harrow will make... virtually no sense without having read Gideon, and you won't be able to appreciate how truly audacious a risk Muir took with upending expectations for Harrow.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
I just polished off Harrow and it was an excellent sequel that shot off in new directions in interesting ways.

You DEFINITELY do not want to start with Harrow.
 

Matchstick

(He/Him)
I read Gideon last year and totally dug it. I'm reading Harrow now and will be refraining from comment until I finish it.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
I think I should unsub from this thread until after I read at least one of the books!
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
My library hold on Harrow the Ninth is supposed to arrive in about four weeks, which is four weeks too long. Hurry up, book!
 

upupdowndown

REVOLUTION GRRR STYLE NOW
(he / him / his)
I heard these books had a meme
There’s a few joke lines that reference memes, but they’re few and far between. Part of what Muir does is mix a wide variety of tones and discourses throughout the novels; in a weird way, it makes the cosmic horrors feel more real.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Yeah, one of the standout strengths of both books is the way those differing tones and methods of speaking strongly differentiate the characters. It's basically the only reason I partially twigged to the antagonist's reveal ahead of time in the first book.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
Yeah, some people have isolated or noted the memes and made it seem as if they're frequent. But it's not many, most of them are recognizable but not directly quoted, and all are in context to at least some extent.

One thing this series does incredibly well is narrow focus. You could stage these books as plays. The larger details are only vaguely sketched in, but the setting still doesn't feel to claustrophobic, because the narrow focus is always set in the context of something mysterious and larger that's looming outside the zoomed-in frame of reference the characters are locked into.
 
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Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Gideon was one of the best books I’ve read this year, Harrow I’m only partway through and it’s made some pretty wild swings as a sequel.

Don’t know how I’d rank them compared to one another just yet, but both are excellent.
 

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
(He/him)
I've never clicked "Watch" in a thread so fast.

I don't know how much you know about teenage lesbian necromancers in space (I'm an expert) but I can see how the memetic content might have turned some people off. Me? I loved them - helps that most of them are coming from the mouth of a 10,000 year old edgelord and his friends who of course would talk that way. It also fits somewhat the theme of Harrow, which is all about narratives (and how their alterations can make us stronger or drive us insane).

Also, the coffeshop AU is the best in-joke/meta-meme/celebration of fan culture I've read this decade
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
Many of the meme references are also so smoothly layered and well-integrated that if you're not familiar with a specific one (like, for me, the coffee shop one) they don't even really register as anything other than a part of the story.

Of the ones I did recognize, "Well, jail for Mother" got me the best because that's one of my favorite tweets of all time.
 

Seven

Enters, pursued by a bear
(he/him)
This is the second time I've heard of this series, my co-worker before the pandemic loved the first book and recommended it to me all the time before shit went down. I'll be sure to grab a copy soon since I've been itching for a good scifi/fantasy story.
 

Egarwaen

(He/Him)
I read Gideon a couple months back on the recommendation of folks on Discord, and preordered Harrow on the strength of it. They're fantastic in practically every regard - the characterization and setting construction, of course, but also how they narrow from that sprawling scope down into a more conventional horror/mystery frame. Muir is especially good at clues; if you pay attention it's possible to work out almost every twist and reveal in advance.

The memes did inspire an "Oh, that's a meme" reaction from me, but they're scattered and mostly come from characters who are established as irreverent assholes, so I didn't mind them. I could see them wrecking the books for someone with a toxic allergy to meme culture, though.
 

Paul le Fou

AAAAAAAA
(He)
I'm still very slowly pushing through Wolf Hall but I'm thinking I might take a break for Gideon since everyone is talking about it.
 

Rosewood

The metal babble flees!
(she/her)
I've read the first one and it's my favorite full-length book this year. The reviews I read before reading Gideon itself front-loaded the hyper-contemporary dialog but it wasn't anywhere near as grating as I thought it would be.

Haven't read Harrow yet--I have a buddy read for it planned for Spook-tober. Then I'll be able to read those so-tempting spoilers!
 
This is now the second time I've heard people gushing about these books (the first was Chris Sims on the War Rocket Ajax podcast), so I guess I have to read them now. "Teenage lady necromancers" has shades of Sabriel anyway so my arm doesn't need much twisting.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Finished Harrow last night. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it! I do have one small criticism, which is that I don't love how Muir will drop things into the book that are only there very briefly, and only exist to set up stuff in the next book, like Palamedes' skull fragments getting turned into a hand. I trust her enough as a writer to know that she'll do something good with it in time, but in the moment it's kind of unsatisfying; I feel like the book is long enough that more time could be spent in these moments.

Also, uh, do we have a release date for the finale yet or anything, because damn what a cliffhanger.

Many of the meme references are also so smoothly layered and well-integrated that if you're not familiar with a specific one (like, for me, the coffee shop one) they don't even really register as anything other than a part of the story.
Yeah, I must not be Online enough because I don't know anything about this coffee shop business. Can someone enlighten me?
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
Apparently it's a fanfic trope (and Muir comes from writing fanfic). Take well-known characters, strip away their powers, and stick them in the heavy romantic tension space of a coffee shop.

Maybe it's just me but the skull-hand thing didn't bug me much in not playing out. Clearly it's setup for later, and she's good about reminding the reader of the significance of things from earlier.
 

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
(He/him)
Apparently it's a fanfic trope (and Muir comes from writing fanfic). Take well-known characters, strip away their powers, and stick them in the heavy romantic tension space of a coffee shop.
Yep - your entertainment franchise hasn't made it until someone writes a coffeeshop AU for it. They are inevitable. They also tend to be sappy as heck, with tons of Unresolved Sexual Tension. Muir providing her own in a book where the day is saved by Abigail bringing Ortus' badly written fanfic to life is *meta-chef's kiss*
 

Rosewood

The metal babble flees!
(she/her)
It's a mark in these books' favor that you don't have to know All the Memes to enjoy them.

/me knows no memes
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Just finished Harrow; honestly didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Gideon (a clear-cut mystery to solve with likeable characters, whereas the other was a purposely obfuscated set of vague mysteries with a lot of purposely detestable characters), but I still enjoyed it. Particularly after Gideon came back and suddenly the plot started clicking into place.

"I am sick of roses and horny for revenge" is one of those perfect lines you see sometimes.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
Just finished Harrow; honestly didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Gideon (a clear-cut mystery to solve with likeable characters, whereas the other was a purposely obfuscated set of vague mysteries with a lot of purposely detestable characters), but I still enjoyed it. Particularly after Gideon came back and suddenly the plot started clicking into place.
I'm with you on that spoiler! I wish the book had gotten to that point sooner instead of spending like 4/5 of its length pretending Gideon didn't exist.
 
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