From a review I saw: “70% of deliberate confusing insanity before reaching the big payoff in the final 100 pages of the book,” and has anything been more truth?
I posted an update at 10% of the book, going “ah I get what’s going on,” or something similar, and as it were I was right. But even with that, even with that thread of thought keeping me grounded, I fell asleep pretty consistently for the first 55% of this book. On one hand, I was very tired as it was constantly close to midnight when I was able to get to reading these past two weeks (boo! his! job that pays for leisure time to read gets in the way of time to read!). On the other hand, books I simply cannot put down I also tend to read during downtime at job that pays for new kindle, and sometimes (and quite inadvisably) during time that should be productive time at job that also paid for A Promised Land.
And, to be clear, by around…80%(?) that last impulse took over. It is now a solid two hours since I told someone “oh yeah, I’ll get it done as soon as I make dinner,” because I spent the last hour finishing this book. So there are parts of this book that are magnificent, and engaging, and make you wrench your heart out and feel pain. And there are parts that are deliciously gruesome, full of works like slick slime sweat smoke severed smear, just all the filthy bloody messy bits of a wrestling movie played out loop, with greasepaint all over for a cherry on top.
Speaking of which, I loved Ianthe’s noticing of how smooth Harrow’s face was despite her having smeared Ninth House greasepaint all over her pores for ages.
SO before I go into spoilers, I’ll say that the first, I am now all in on the third and final book in this series but I am definitely going to have to hit up reddit to get a summary of what happened before I do (some good ones I found here and here). I also think if I re-read this book a lot would suddenly make sense to me. That’s if I even could, my nerves are jangling like after they did after watching Mad Max: Fury Road (a short digression for the beginning of the best movie review series ever, although it only was two episodes, Movie Yelling With Shrill And [Daniel]:
[Daniel]: I AM SO STRESSED OUT RIGHT NOW
my arms are still vibrating from the stress of this movie
[Daniel]: WELCOME TO THE STEAMPUNK FUTURE, SHRILL
THERE’S NO WATER BUT DON’T WORRY WE GLUED SKULLS ON EVERYTHING SO THERE IS THAT
Actually, not a bad summary of this book.
Serious Spoilers ahead: While I continue to find Harrow’s despair over Gideon suspiciously (teenagerly) strong for someone she’d only tangentially spent time, the overall pathos of the Lyctor’s griefs over their cavaliers, whom they knew for many years longer and whom they had grieved many years longer still d e s t r o y e d me. That is the sort of oh shoot type gut punch that gets you, that makes you forget the ridiculousness of the beginning of this confusing book (I can’t believe I ever called Gideon the Ninth confusing) (nah I mean it still is, but Muir just went HOLD MY DRINK. I won’t even be able to read Alecto the Ninth without someone’s graduate thesis summarizing it).
And yes, I was one of those people frustrated by the ostentatious seeming second person narrative for half the beginning of this book. Even though the third person sections set in “Canaan House” were super confusing (even though, as I noted before, I was like duh Harrow swore an oath to Ianthe in return for having Gideon struck from her memories the second this plot started), at least they were confusing in a manner that my third-person-narrative-favoring brain understood. But that reveal! That reveal that it was Gideon narrating all along! Excuse you if you got it, but I didn’t and I was just…gutted, only second most to the despair of Augustine and Mercy.
And oh! Augustine and Mercy! Can we talk more about how much I love them? No, actually, because their deaths ruined me the most.
I assume they are dead, right? My sweet Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter stand-ins, this universe was not enough for you, even with ten thousand years. I hope you get a resurrection too, although I know that the reason your deaths hurt so much more than Gideon’s is that no one ever expected that we wouldn’t see Gideon again. R.I.P, as you plunge forevermore through the maws to Hell.