Harrow the Ninth - book 2 of the Locked Tomb
Being a Lyctor isn't at all what Harrow expected and Ascension has brought her nothing but grief. The Emperor immediately arranges for some of the resurrected, who have been in stasis for ten thousand years, to be transported to the Ninth, her former House. However, as a Lyctor Harrow has little time to brood over their fate because she must begin preparing to join the other Lyctors in battle against the great Resurrection Beasts. Each beast started as the soul of a planet that was altered by that planet's Resurrection and now Harrow and Ianthe, the other new Lyctor, have only a year to become fully functional or they will likely die when the next Beast is engaged. Of course, that is assuming the other Lyctors don't kill Harrow first.
There are several reasons the three remaining Lyctors might want to kill Harrow. One thinks it would be a mercy because something went wrong with her Ascension and she's not a fully functional Lyctor. Another despises her, but finds Harrow's struggles to be a convenient distraction for the Emperor. The third simply attacks her repeatedly without ever offering a reason. Surprisingly, Ianthe seems to be trying to help Harrow, and says they have an agreement that Harrow won't remember. As proof she offers a packet of letters with instructions on when to open each one which written in Harrow's own hand. The first letter confirms that Ianthe is helping her but she magically prevented Ianthe from talking about it.
At first nothing makes sense in this book as this is not the relatively straight forward plot of Gideon the Ninth. This is a convoluted examination of Harrow's psyche and the book is nearly finished before Harrow understands exactly what she has done in regards to her memory as well as the consequences of her forbidden peek into the Locked Tomb. Much is revealed about the Resurrection itself and the consequences that they are still fighting to make right. The mystery of just who or what Gideon is gets answered and while I had guessed most of it, there was a lot more to it than I had imagined and that information is the catalyst for dangerous acts that threatens the existence of all life orbiting Dominicus.
Each chapter is labeled with the time remaining until the Emperor's murder. Some focus on Harrow's efforts as a Lyctor but half focus on her past, including the events that occurred in Gideon the Ninth, which happen to bear little resemblance to the events as they were described by Gideon. One obvious difference is that Harrow's cavalier is not Gideon bur rather it is Ortus, the ineffectual coward that Gideon replaced. We also discover that Harrow believes she is insane and she has been followed by the woman interred in the Locked Tomb ever since she followed Pandora's example and opened what should have remained closed. She desperately wants to ask the Emperor who the woman was, but fears his disappointment when he learns that she disobeyed his strongest command and the purpose of the Ninth House.
Harrow the Ninth is a very different book from the first and the nickname Harrow is quite appropriate for some of the ideas here. Harrow's tone is very different from Gideon's and its an ambitious plot that lacks the levity injected by Gideon's irreverent personality. Still, another well written installment in a truly unique universe. I look forward to the third book, Alecto the Ninth, due to be released in 2021. The audiobook is once again narrated by Moira Quirk for which she got 4.9 out of 5 stars on Audible.