Who is Nona? No one, least of all Nona herself, actually knows who's soul resides in the body originally belonging to Harrowhark. Her memory begins six months ago on planet dominated by different rebel factions and threatened by one of the Resurrection Beasts. Her friends, Pyrrha Dve (in the still living body of the dead Lyctor Gideon the First) and Camilla Hect, (who is sharing her body with her dead necromancer Palamedes Sextus), have only told her that they believe her to be one of two friends. Their supposed allies from the rebel group Blood of Eden are only allowing her to live because they hope her soul belongs to Gideon Nav who they need to open the Locked Tomb. Nona's personality is cheerful and completely innocent with only occasional flashes of what might be either the irreverent Gideon or serious Harrow. As Nona struggles to make sense of the events around her while her friends analyze every bit of her dreams she can recall in the hopes they are the key to unlocking her soul.
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.
Because the marketing hype for Gideon appeals more to millennials it led me to avoid this book until I was desperate for something new. The publisher's blurb also gives the impression of yet another teen competition plot albeit with lesbian necromancers and dirty magazines this time. The first chapter does in fact mention dirty magazines, and there are in fact necromancers, but ignore the rest as the Post-Resurrection Empire is a unique and strange setting. The Undying Emperor, father of the resurrection, has spent the last ten thousand years fighting a terrible cosmic threat with the aid of his immortal Lyctors. For the first time he has issued an invitation to the eight noble houses to send their best necromancer, along with their cavalier, to attempt Ascension and become Lyctors to replace the fallen. The brilliant and psychotic necromancer Harrowhark sees this as an opportunity to save the dying Ninth House if she Ascends but first she needs a cavalier. Gideon only cares because the announcement interrupts her latest and best attempt to escape the Ninth and join the army but then Harrowhark offers her an irresistible deal. Help Harrow Ascend and she will not only sign the paperwork so she can legally join the army, but also have Gideon commissioned as an officer.