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

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
Makes sense, come to think of it. Looks like she's a year younger than me, which puts her probably at or slightly under the average age of the members of this forum. We grew up at the same time, through the same media. I never really got into "the fandom" or fanfiction in general, but there still weren't so many degrees of separation between us at any point, clearly.

Heck, the HEMA person Muir used as a reference for sword-related stuff in the first book is only a degree or two of separation away from me, as well, having come to the event we run at least once.

Sometimes the world can still be pretty small.


Same as I ever was
I am not suprrised!

N.K. Jemisin has also mentioned being a Final Fantasy fan (and livestreamed playing FF7R for a while). I definitely caught what felt like some references/influences in the Broken Earth books before I knew that, which are just chockablock with significant crystals, a protagonist with a secret magic power, and ruins of old societies and such, in a way that feels distinctly FF-ish.

It's actually really interesting seeing authors my age come into prominence with the same kinds of influences I've had, in a recognizable fashion.

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
Finished this the other day! Time to look up analysis and theory posts and pick it apart until next year! (It'd better fuckin be just next year and not 2024 for Alecto!!)


can stop, will stop
Hey I keep forgetting to post about Nona. I liked it! It was good! Except I have one major issue, which is (major spoilers for the whole book/series to follow) it answers almost none of the fundamental questions posed by its premise (which is to say, none of the cliffhangers from the end of Harrow the Ninth).

So we learn that Nona was Harrow's body plus some piece of Gideon's soul, minus any memories. And at the end of the previous book, Harrow's soul somehow gets back to the Locked Tomb and falls asleep there, and Gideon in Harrow's body ends up drowning in the River after the Mithraeum is dropped there and is then rescued/revived by a white-haired woman. But then we never find out how we get from that point to the beginning of Nona! We're told that Camilla/Palamedes and Pyrrha found Nona somewhere, almost entirely non-functional. Where did they find her? None of them have white hair, who found the body at the end of Harrow the Ninth? How did Palamedes get out of his River bubble and into Camilla's body? How did they meet Pyrrha at all? How did they all hook up with Blood of Eden? If Blood of Eden had Gideon's body, how did the Emperor get ahold of it to bring her back as Kiriona? (I've got more, but you get my gist.)

There were so many dangling threads left at the end of Harrow, and instead of giving any answers this book just frays them into even more threads.
As stated above, I still liked the book! But I don't think a little more payoff would've been too much to ask for.

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
You're not wrong. I had to keep remembering that Nona the Ninth was the first half of Alecto the Ninth that spun out into its own book, or as I think she put it somewhere, the prologue that she wanted to cut. I agree that I liked it, and I don't think it was unnecessary or needed to be cut, but it did definitely feel like the first half of a book to me (albeit one with - ending spoilers - a very big mid-book turning point, which is an argument that it does belong as its own book; an entire character lives and dies in it, after all) . Also, god, the amount of "How did we get here" left unexplained is bad enough as it is; imagine how bad it could've been if she wanted to cut most of what we saw here!

Also, all the way back to Gideon the Ninth my biggest complaint was that even though I very much appreciate being thrown into the world and piecing it together (similar to the way I love Fromsoft games' lore and its presentation) as a writing style, I felt like even then I could have used a bit more history and context than we got. Similar in Harrow the Ninth too. So this is just a thing Muir does, it seems! Which, again, I love and find frustrating in equal measure.
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can stop, will stop
Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way, at least! I agree with every other thing in your post too.

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
I agree, lots of dangling threads, but a couple notes to shed a bit more light on the ones that were addressed.

Nona was Harrow's body plus some piece of Gideon's soul, minus any memories.
Nona is Harrow's body and Alecto's soul - that's why she speaks Resurrection Beast, being one herself, and why she shares John's freaky tendency to not die, because one cannot die while the other lives. There probably were pieces of Gideon, whatever was left of the Lictor process when Alecto and Harrow switched souls at the end of Harrow. Gideon knew who Nona is, or at least strongly suspected, since she knows Harrow and Alecto were linked when she was in Harrow's body, which is why Gideon is so hostile towards Nona.

There's also a throwaway mention of Eden losing Gideon's body when they rescued Harrow and Pyrrha - something went down there, I hope (and expect) we'll get more details when we find out what Gideon has been doing with Dad when the final book comes out.


can stop, will stop
Nona is Harrow's body and Alecto's soul - that's why she speaks Resurrection Beast, being one herself, and why she shares John's freaky tendency to not die, because one cannot die while the other lives.
Wait what? I mean, this makes sense, but somehow I clearly missed the part of the book where this is revealed.

Dark Medusa

Diamond Crusader
Most of those things aren't clearly spelled out although Harrow's body is made clear before halfway through, and Alecto's soul is made super clear in the ending. The fact that she's a Resurrection Beast is partially hinted in that the stoma wanted to eat John during the climax of Harrow, and then when John says that he basically took the soul of the planet and made it into Alecto. The part where one cannot die while the other lives is probably the least spelled out of them all, although Nona basically regenerating indefinitely plus the part where John can seemingly survive death, along with John's insistence never to open the tomb etc. etc. seems to hint at that heavily, although there may be a place where it was spelled out that I missed.


Gideon claims that John wants the tomb opened as an elaborate method of suicide, so it doesn't seem unreasonable to conclude that about Alecto.

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
The part where one cannot die while the other lives is probably the least spelled out of them all, although Nona basically regenerating indefinitely plus the part where John can seemingly survive death, along with John's insistence never to open the tomb etc. etc. seems to hint at that heavily, although there may be a place where it was spelled out that I missed.
I was sure this had been spelled explicitly but I cannot find the passage, so I guess this particular bit's canonicity is up in the air for now.


Summon for hire
So I’m not clicking the spoilers because I hope to read these books someday, but man, now the unspoilered comments are making me feel like maybe I want to wait til the *next* book is out to dive in!


can stop, will stop
Alecto's soul is made super clear in the ending.
I'm gonna need someone to explicitly tell me where this is made super clear, because I'm still not really seeing where that happens. I got everything else in your post as I read, but I didn't add it all up to "Alecto's soul is in Harrow's body". How did it even get there? All I took away from that knowledge was "Alecto is a Resurrection Beast and also the Emperor's cavalier/power source", the latter bit we already knew from the end of Harrow. I figured Nona could talk to Varun because if it was Gideon's soul in there, there would be some weird connection since she was the Emperor's daughter.

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
The question Who is Nona, posed as early as the epilogue to Harrow the Ninth and central to this book:
  • We find out that Nona, the soul in Harrow's body, is explicitly and definitively not Harrow when she admits that directly. We're also pretty sure it's not Gideon because we later meet Gideon's soul. (Though I think there are pieces of Gideon there in the body too, likely the pieces that Harrow digested before she stopped the process; this from the way she held her sword in 2 hands, which Cam recognized).
    [*]Alecto has been with Harrow, potentially haunting her, since Harrow first saw the body when she was 10. When Harrow laid her spirit in the tomb at the end of Ht9, it seems to have either displaced Alecto's soul allowing it to occupy the body (which was vacated when it died while Gideon's soul was driving). Or perhaps it had always been there and filled the void that way.
    [*]In several cases, the resurrection beast in the sky speaks to Nona (mainly through Judith Deuteros in visions that no one else can see), and speaks as though it recognizes her and knows her past; this is because Alecto is the the ghost of Earth's soul put into a human body, and therefore an RB herself (or something close to one).
    [*]Nona is also capable of amazing feats of recovery/immortality, plus and other physical and necromantic prowess when she loses control of herself, and she can confidently navigate the river. Like when she screams in the barracks and all the necromancers get blown away by sheer RB power, or when she leaps from moving truck to moving truck and leaves a dent as she lands, or when she goes on her rampage out of the jail cell. She's way more powerful than even full-lyctor Harrow was or would be capable of.
    [*]Alecto returns to her own body, and Harrow back to her own body, in the epilogue after Nona reaches the tomb, presumably because the bodies and souls have been delivered to each other (Harrow's soul and Alecto's body waiting in the tomb, Nona bringing them Alecto's soul and Harrow's body).
It seems pretty definitive to me.

Paul le Fou

24/7 lofi hip hop man to study/relax to
SO, I went back and re-read the poem at the very beginning of the book, in the front material:
You told me, Sleep, I'll wake you in the morning.
I asked, What is morning? and you said,
When everyone who fucked with me is dead.

When everyone we loved has gone or fled,
That's morning. Empty's just another word for clean.
Let's put this first-draft dream of mine to bed.

In the appointed hour,
I'll pull up your sheets. I'll kill the light,
Lie down beside you; die; and sleep the night.

This time will be the time we get it right:
Forgiveness not so hard, nor anger long;
Our graves will be less deep, our lies less true.

You held aloft the sword.
I still love y
We can tell that this is from the POV of Alecto (because of "I still love you") and the italics are John's quotes. He's putting her to sleep, cutting off her thought mid-sentence.

OK, so, pair this with the final line of the epilogue:
At which John awakened and said, Annabel, good morning.
ohhhh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit

OK so, here's my theory as to what John is doing:

I don't think John told Gideon to let Alecto out because he doesn't care that he'll be mortal or that he has a death wish. I think he needs her out of the tomb because he's going to do what he did back on Earth again - kill and wipe out everything, commit resurrection and start over. "This time will be the time we get it right." This "first draft" of his dream has failed; all his friends have died or betrayed him ("everyone we love has gone or fled").

I think he's failed to kill the non-House humanity but is going to include them in it this time, wipe them out and use the opportunity or use the thanergy bloom to finally kill them and get his revenge. "Forgiveness not so hard, nor anger long." He's been seeking revenge on them for a myriad for their abandoning Earth; this time he'll be able to let go of his anger and forgive more easily, but I dunno if that's because he's going to kill them all or finally actually walk away.

As for how he's going to do this: His first time, he gained his power by killing everyone on Earth, and then Earth itself, and then all of the other planets and people in the solar system, and the sun itself; He used that thanergy bloom to become god, eating the sun and the Earth's ghost to empower himself, then later went about resurrecting people. Well, the planets and sun are already dead, but he plans to "Lay down beside [Alecto]; die; and sleep the night." His own death will create such a massive thanergy bloom that he, I believe, plans to harness to empower himself even farther. (We know his power, while cosmically enormous, is not infinite, because people can hide from him, lie to him, get the drop on him and tear him apart even if it didn't stick.) That's why he's letting Alecto out of the tomb now; he wants to die, but keep in mind that it won't be "dying" in the normal sense; he doesn't plan on going away anywhere.

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
That's a heck of a theory, Paul, and I it makes too much sense. It would set a nice endgame.

Regarding Nona's identity, one more overt clue is that Gideon acts jealous and asks Nona where is Harrow and if she loves her (Harrow) - who do we know Harrow is in love with?


Dostoevsky is immortal!
Okay, finished Nona, and I have some thoughts and questions (mostly questions):

  • First of all, good call by Paul on his theory above; I totally think John wants to reset everything and start over.
  • Maybe I missed it because I was reading too quickly (which often happens, which is why I tend to get a lot out of rereads), but was I the only one confused about the various Edenites and their loyalties/organizations? It was all Troia Cell this and Merv Wing that, and I had a hard time keeping track of which group everyone belonged to.
  • Similarly, I wish I had a clearer picture of the interstellar politics. Is the empire only fighting against dissidents, or are there other sovereign planets/systems that they're fighting? Is Antioch a rebelling planet/system, or a sovereign one?
  • Also, why is everyone on the planet (is it ever named?) the book takes place to begin with? Are they civilians of the empire that are being resettled because their planet(s) were taken out ahead of the path of Number Seven?
  • Small question, but how did Honesty knowing where the convoy had been a couple of days ago help them know where it was in the end? Isn't the whole point of a convoy that it can move around? (Again, maybe I was reading too fast).
  • Also small question, but why are there teenagers younger than Gideon and Harrow among the Ninth House residents at the end of the book? Were they pilgrims or immigrants that came after Gideon and Harrow left at the end of the first book?
  • Small quibble, but we spent an awful lot of time with Nona's gang for them to end up being largely inconsequential. Maybe they show up in the next book, but I thought Hot Sauce in particular would have a larger role to play.
  • In case anyone is interested, here are the bible verses (King James Version) that correspond to the flashback chapters. I haven't gone back through to see if the verses somehow hint at or line up with the action in each chapter:
    • John 20:8. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
    • John 5:20. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
    • John 15:23. He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
    • John 5:18. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
    • John 8:1. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
    • John 19:18. Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
    • John 5:1. After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
    • John 3:20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
    • John 9:22. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
    • John 1:20. And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
    • John 5:4. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
Some of your answers

* Edenites are divided in cells with little communication between them, just like real life guerrilla organizations. So, bad stuff happens.
* The Empire is supposed to be fighting only the non-Imperial remains of mankind, the ones who escaped John when he ascended, but as Gideon revealed they are lately fighting something worse, the zombie-like wraiths that attack the Ninth at the end.
* The people in the planet whose name I don't remember where the book takes place are not citizens of the Empire. They were relocated because the Empire took over their planets as part of the war, and Seventh is there because it's shadowing Nona/Alecto/Earth.
* The young ninths are the bodies John send to the Ninth at the beginning of "Harrow the Ninth" in exchange of Harrow joining the First

About the chapter thing - it's a simple substitution cypher. In case you want to take a stab at it yourself, I'm hiding the meaning beyond more spoiler tags

A is 1 - From there there are tools that can help you

The unencrypted message is: THE TOWER HAS REACTIVATED
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Positronic Brain

Out Of Warranty
I just realized... FF8 was quite likely a big influence for The Locked Tomb series, but there's a lot FF7, particularly after Harrow and Nona The Ninth: of course Planets are alive, of course their life stream can be used as a power source and of course they leave behind angry ghosts when they're killed.