RogerBW's Blog

Nona the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir 23 December 2022

2022 fantasy, third of what was going to be a trilogy but has now expanded. Nona is a child living in a city at war, but still just about managing to go to school, while Camilla and Pyrrha look after her.

OK, so I am already quite prone to say "read the first book first" – these days if you find volume three of something on a shelf it's not usually hard to find volume one as well. Here I say that at least twice: you won't have a clue as to what's going on without having read Harrow, and Harrow will make little sense unless you've read Gideon, and you should probably have read them recently. It's not just that familiar characters appear and it'll help to know who they are; several of them are under different names, and/or in different bodies, none of them talks about their motivations, and while you could read this as a straight story – Muir is after all good at this stuff – you'd be missing at least half of what's going on. Also the end would make no sense at all.

But if you have… well, another book, another style. It's less self-consciously literary than Harrow, and I think deliberately moving into the mode of the new-adult coming-of-age drama – but that's from Nona's perspective, and we have the extra layer of knowing who these people were before. The second half of this book was originally going to be the first half of the final book 3, more or less, so the almost pastorally relaxed first half of adolescent hi-jinks in a weird world feels out of place and almost filler in nature… but this is a series that's all about the contrasts, and to me it felt exactly right. I'd hate to have missed it.

We learn a lot about things that were previously mysterious: Blood of Eden, and how John got his start, and what life is like outside the Houses. This is both the fluffiest and the grimmest of the books so far, sometimes at the same time. Superb stuff.

He sighed and said, "We had the internet. We decided to stream."

She said, "What is this internet?"

And he said, "See, I did make a utopia."

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