Dithered Cover of Harrow The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir; art depicts a thin woman with shaggy black hair addorned in black robes and bones with detailed skeletal facepaint, surrounded by skeletons.

Preface & Content Warnings

Welcome to the page where Ophelia goes insane! Here I am going to be reading, reacting to, and discussing Harrow the Ninth, the second book in The Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir. I just didn't do this when I was reading Gideon because I'm a fool, but I'll make an equivalent on my reread, I promise. The first book was an utter delight to read, and so far the first 42 pages of Harrow have been compelling in a completely different way, I'm excited to write about it as I go. I expect a lot of pure and honest gushing about women with problems. I love women with problems.

As for content warnings, there will be:

  • Blood & gore
  • Vomitting
  • Second person quotations
  • Bone based body horror
  • Other kinds of body horror, too
  • Emotional Trauma & Angst
  • Hallucinations
  • Unethical horrors beyond justification, justified
  • Real actual Ianthe Tridentarius did nothing wrongism

Please check this list every time the page updates to avoid getting startled, I don't know what all waits amongst these pages. Aside from that, there is no goal here. I don't even expect to have a real analysis of this book until I've read the whole series 3 times, considering Muir's got a 5 book deal with Tor for the series. I'm just talking because I love my own ideas and interpretations so much I'd suck my brain off if I could. For future reference, this reading is starting at 06:25 PM on Aug. 22nd, 2022. It will end when I am done.

If you would like to read my thoughts and Ideas but you don't like walls of stream of conciousness: please check the End of Act Thoughts. These are a little bit more composed and thought out and will be linked at the end of the Act navigation.

Prologue

Okay, let's fuckin go, girlies.

Oh my fucking God, the second person, though? This second person? I could read Tamsyn Muir's second person prose until I die. Oh, and our prologue is subtitled 'The night before the Emperor's murder'.

"There was nothing to see—the shutters were down—but you could feel the terrible vibration, hear the groan of chitin on metal, the cataclysmic rending of steel by fungous claw."

God that's cool as fuck, isn't it? First paragraph, that one. Everything is so beautifully written and this prologue is immediately so tense, usually something prologues struggle with in my opinion. But this one, this one immediately makes me wanna go nuts; Heralds? Chitin? "I haven't died yet"? It's all just perfect I'm going to be so abnormal.

"I could protect you, if you'd only ask me to," said Ianthe the First.

I did mean it about Ianthe; I'm in love with her.

Oh my GOD I can't tell you how excited I am to see them get to this point over the course of this fucking book. The contempt between Gideon and Harrow was something beautiful and the vibes between Ianthe and Harrow seem, while maybe not as intense, way more insane. Which is funny it's a pretty high bar to out insane 'i hate you because you didn't die'. I hope I'm right.

"Well, I tried, and therefore no one should criticize me,"

Goals?

"Throughout the Mithraeum, five pairs of eyes closed in concert, one of them yours. Unlike theirs, yours would not open again. In half an hour, no matter what Teacher might hope, you would be dead."

I don't really have a comment to attach to that, that bit just makes me go UGH FUCK HOLY SHIT OH MY GOD HARROW, so I wanted to slap it here.

"Outside the plex, the stars were blocked by the skittering, buzzing Heralds of the Resurrection Beast, beating their wings furiously to roast everything inside."

Oh that's just sick as hell, they're like bees, they're doing a bee oven on a space ship. Oh. God. Damn that's so fucking dope. Horrifying! But cool as hell oh my god??

What an incredible prologue, I love it. The harsh tone change from the end of Gideon's epilogue, including a switching of narrator position? Love it so much. I really dig Muir's second person, as I said. It's enchanting and compelling in a completely different way from her third person; which is really comedic until shit starts going down.

Parodos

Hey so like no shame, this is a shame free zone, here's the definition of Parodos if you don't know.

A parodos, in the theater of ancient Greece, is a side-entrance to the stage, or the first song that is sung by the chorus at the beginning of a Greek tragedy.

Cause I didn't.

Our Parodos is subtitled 'Fourteen months before the Emperor's Murder, and this has some stuff I do want to quote in it but it diesn't like immediately fuck blast my brain out like the phrase fungous claw did. The Parodos is really straight forward in comparison to the prologue's imagery. My roomie has read a bit ahead of me so I'm aware of our dear Harrowhark being, unreliable, so I actually like, hope to hear more of Ortus? I really like Ortus, he reminds me of the gentle kid with asshole brothers.

"He was perennially downcast, and not out of modesty; the faint crow's feet trampling each eye were lines of sadness; the fine creases at his forehead were a careful act of tragedy. [...] any jaw├ęd skull he affected became a wide white skull with depression"

My last halloween out I dressed as Papyrus Undertale and that's exactly how it felt, ngl.

"[...] pressing her thumbs together, testing with risky pleasure how malleable she might make her distal phalange. One misstep, and her nerves might split."

This is a fun character moment, really it is, it so is. But it just makes me mad that I will never be able to stim by ensoftening my own bones. That sounds so fun. If I could do that this whole time maybe my risk taking behaviors would have been limited, you know? I would like to ensoften my bones for fun.

The last of the Parodos is great. I can't retype the last 4 paragraphs, or really even summerize them with justice but UGH. It's gorgeous. Even the tiny bit of Ortus we got from the beginning of Gideon is enough to tell us this is wrong, then Harrowhark begins seeing The Body as a serving sister? And then The Body,

"This isn't how it happens,"

IT SURE ISN'T BABY GIRL PLEASE TELL ME MORE ABOUT HOW YOU'RE REWRITING THE PAST BECAUSE OF YOUR GRIEF AND VARIOUS PROBLEM SYNDROMES ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Incredible way to start a book; unrivaled way to start a book even. I'm desperate to chew through the rest of this.

Act I

Ch.1

And finally, chapter 1 is nine months before the Emperor's murder; I really appreciate the timeline, those are so hard for me.

I love that it opens immediately on some necromantic body horror. The description of the bone growth to support the sword, the sword hating her. It's all important as hell to me. As someone who has been writing terrible women to myself for years, Harrowhark being gross and hyperemetic means an impossible amount to me. It's because I'm very vomitty when my mental health tanks.

"Maybe the sword had reified your grief into six feet of steel. You had loathed that thrice-damned blade from sight, which might have been unfair before you knew it loathed you in return."

You can't see it but I am vibrating with excitement.

Harrow freaking out about her own hair, and the desperate attempts to veil herself also hit really hard. There's just a lot of 'heehee she's just like me for real' going on right now. I have problems syndromes. And sensing the living? Constantly? Impossible to bear, it would put me into exhausted sleep too. Everything about this feels so relatable to me as a girl who has an Autistic Girl Saturday twice+ a week.

"Sometimes you would forget who you were, and at recalling yourself, weep like a child."

Damn, yeah, okay, that's totally never happened to me.

The absolute state of Harrow is just, *Chef's kiss*, you know? I'm thankful. I'm thankful for this. Everytime I've read a similar utter break it's been a far more boring man going through the whole thing, and this time it's a wet cat of a space necromancer. How wonderful. How enriching for me specifically.

Ch.2

And our dear(potentially derogatory) Necrolord Undying instructing someone to make static noises at one of his saints? Hello Benjamin Sisko behavior.

"You rolled over onto its flat steel breadth and bound crisscross straps of dense bone across your back, around the blade, around the hilt. "

Sick. As. Fuck. I love all the weird bone shit you're doing Harrowhark, my own fictional necromancers are going to get so weird thanks to you. The vibes of the ship and the Emperor are really good. I really love the bone topped with thin skin containing resurrected bodies IN STASIS? That he's had for nearly 10,000 years? Okay cool sweet dope.

"You paused over their cradles and stared through the blurry films of skin, with their little radiating burses of veins and cells, at each face in turn."

I love the descriptions so much ❤. Basically everything Tamsyn describes is something I would like to touch very badly, even the gross stuff. There's just something about it all.

""The cavaliers—"
"Have joined their Lyctors," he said. "It's not really a lie. It's simply a flattening of an awsome ... and sacramental ... truth.""

Oof ouch my bones :-)

"You wanted to be relieved, but no longer recalled how that worked, glandularly speaking."

OOF. OUCH. MY BONES. :-)
Sorry for the wall of quotes, I haven't had much to add as of yet. But this next one, ooh;

"[. . .] a flesh magician: someone whos entire education was in the carnal. [. . .] People who thought there was something really interesting to be found in meat.
He mistook your deeply bigoted hate for disbelief,[. . .] "

Something about that after a reminder of people Harrow doesn't want to remember is; well, like, something. The word choice gives me feelings. The use of carnal is in the sense of the flesh, but something about Harrow's disgusted hatred of the flesh just; uhm. It's doing something to me, girlies. It's one of those little things that sticks out to me, maybe for no reason, who knows. I can justify the significance of anything if I try.

Oh, dope, we're to the first discussion of ressurection beasts. Oh and they follow everyone that's subsumed another human soul? Cool! Sucks so bad for Harrow but cool! And now she's breaking down and speaking to The Body in front of her God? Wondrous! This is insane! And the erasure of Gideon my beloved! Oh, it is so fun how badly this hurts.

At least you only threw up next to God.

Ch.3

"[. . .] she could never recall her parents being anything but exhausted, their joy all spent."

Don't–

Harrow loving The Body; the "the gender was only a self-interested guess." fucking hell. The casual and even macabre dykery brings me immense joy.

"She had cost too much to die."

Oh yeah. Yeah that's something. Mhm. I'm normal don't worry.

The description of her regaining a modicum of control during puberty is; again; something to me. It's not like the Autistic Girl Saturdays were infrequent when I was a teenager. What I'm saying is: oh no the pathetic wet cat necromancer is relatable to my mentally ill ass specifically that's probably not good.

"She'd always disdained flesh magic, but she had a knack for the aorta."

YEAH SHE SURE DOES. Vile living warcrime queen of my heart.

Oh shit there are vat wombs? There are vat wombs? TAMSYN, THERE ARE VAT WOMBS?

I love the lingering on Ortus as the only man of reproductive viability in the Ninth house, and the convienient skim over the only other womb-bearer young enough; aside from Harrow. Real Slick, Nonagesimus. Real slick rewriting reality. Also;

"Harrow would be tripping over herself for her whole existence, a frictionless hoop of totally fucking up."

Biggest. Mood. Ever.

Ch.4

Oh, good, Ianthe's back—

Okay so I don't know why I didn't write anything down about the Nail Thing yesterday? The nail thing is interesting let's put a pin in that okay? Who would try to kill my rotten gal?

"What bothered you was that now the Princess of Ida—pale haired, all height and elbows, twilight shadows beneath her eyes—was looking at you with an expression you struggled to remember ever seeing on her face. Ianthe was fond of languid attitudes and postures; she affected a heavy, artificial tedium, or a faint and glittering malice, sometimes even a self-deprecating and idle humourousness; but she looked at you now with a soft and thoroughly uncharacteristic hunger. She smiled down at you with a frank, overfamiliar indulgence that frightened you. Ianthe looked lit from within."

I have to suck her silly kiss her so bad you don't even understand. I'm not sorry but I am also sorry but I'm really really not.

Oh and she's just fucking talking like that? I feel so catered to.

OH FUCK A LETTER FROM PAST HARROW? OHHHHHHHHH.

"Your only settings were power-vomit and murder."

We've all been there, right?

Right?

Oh and the letter is cryptic and there are Twenty-four of the things? Oh goodie oh beautiful. What the fuck did you do to yourself Harrow my darling?

OH SHIT AND—

"[. . .] and you reached out to cup Ianthe's face in your hands. Your thumbs pressed up against the warm flesh that skinned her ramus and your other fingers butterflied over her cheeks. Your metacarpus nudged up against the body of the mandible. When you tilted her jaw up to you your skin was discoloured against her skin; her skin was discoloured against your skin. There was the faintest suggestion of dried blood beaneath your fingernails.
You found your mouth and eyes screwing up, as though against the light, or a sour taste; you could not help it. But the vile course of action was obvious. You leant down and—holy shit—kissed her squarely on the mouth."

KISSING AS A MEANS OF INVESTIGATING BONES OH FUCK YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH—

That all fucks severely. I'm painfully into this. It's so painful and pathetic and it's making my sadgirl spookygirl brain go brrrrr. I have to know what decision Ianthe and Harrow made.

I am glad harrow at least gets close-enough to be real comfort from burying her face in the body's legs, that's important. Fucked up about those nail shards hidden behind those crates huh? :-)

Ch.5

Ah, so her description of Ortus is also like, actively degrading. I'm liking the swapping in time a lot. I think it's very interesting. The pacing of the 'remembered' conversations is really intriguing, the inclusion of bits still deemed irrelevant enough to skim? ❤

"[. . .]Oh, your cavaliers are young? And they fight? How classic! So jejune!—but that would not have been the wild and confident fuck-you of the Ninth House. The Ninth House character, she was forced to admit, had always been low on wild and confident fucks."

Well, now I'm aware im being deprived of both Gideon and Aiglamene, so thanks. That's making this easier.

Oh shiit and some hallucination messages? fuck okay!!

"THE EGGS YOU GAVE ME ALL DIED AND YOU LIED TO ME"

WHAT IN THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN, BABE?

Ch.6

And then the next chapter starts and we swing right into a description of necromancy that makes my entire gross little heart sing. ❤ There are few ~magic~ things I love more than the bodily changes possible through necromancy in this book so far.

"[. . .] someone had pinched a high cervical nerve right into your spinal cord— not deforming the bone at all, but manipulating the flesh only— in such a way that you were locked out of your body from the neck down. [. . .] You were righteously indignant, but amazed at the act."

Like, I've just got creepy little stars in my eyes right now. I am being changed the way I write is being changed I can feel it in my bones thanks Tamsyn.

"The sword was laid across your lap; a thick, fatty webbing joined the hilt to your forearm [. . .]"

It's so fucking gross and cool and gross and amazing.

Oh shit saint of joy I've seen this bitch mentioned in the tumblrina postings. This scene is going great I love an intense bitch who is causing problems good for her good for her can we just pause on:

"Saint of Emesis."

That's just who she is in my heart now, really. I mean it.

Oh so Saint of Joy hisses? as in says the word Hiss like a hiss? Really? Real shit?? Tamsyn your homestuck is showing.

"[. . .] And now we reap what he sowed. Hiss." (For a moment you thought you'd had an aural hallucination, that nobody who had lived ten thousand years—that nobody who had lived—would veralise the word hiss.)"

Oh and she's called Ianthe one of "those animaphiliacs"? Really? fucking hell. I don't know what her deal is but I love a bitch that hisses and articulates additional punctuation and talks like that. She is sooo important to me.

"The Emperor mumbled something that, you would swear on the wrong before the Tomb, sound like For fuck's sake."

Imagine being like 17 and hearing God mutter 'for fuck's sake' over someone whos half dead. The exasperation. And Mercymorn just talks like that and there's so many simmering problems and conflicts. I have no fucking clue what is going on but Ianthe is here and that's pretty sweet.

"[. . .] she whispered coyly: "Should we hold hands, in girlish solidarity?"
At your expression, she puffed away a strand of colourless hair and remarked, "You're the one who investigated my tonsils.""

I would like to hold Ianthe's hand.

I really want to know what there is to be said about all the war stuff and the empire I want ot know very badly. Like most of us I do have my own preconcieved opinions about war and empires. I think they're both bad, if you couldn't guess. The few chunks of speech we've gotten from the Emperor have been making me vibrate with excitement. What could possibly happen? How can all these clear contradictions and conflicts resolve? I just don't know.

Haha hyperpotamous travel.

""We can live in magma," said Mercymorn, then pressed one elbow into the pilot's deck and pressed her head into that elbow, and complained: "Now I'm doing it.""

Mhm. Yeah. Tamsyn Muir keeps writing characters I want to kiss every time they move. I don't know how she's so good at it. She's really really good at it—

"You are like a little baby."

Mercymorn please I can only get so hard about the idea of a myriad old tumblrina.

The initial description of The River is pretty intense and I'm really interested in the concept of a metaphysical energy space full of feral ghosts. Heavily reminds me of Warframe's concept of The Void which is neat, considering Warframe is also future sci-fi set in our very own solar system. I just think its neat how many things I enjoy involve secret dimensions full of horrors that will kill you good luck being special enough to live through it.

And the brief illusion to Steles? What is a steles? I mean I know what I've been told about Steles; 8ft tall, covered in dead languages, continually bathed in oxygenated blood, but like OH MY GOD, TELL ME MORE?

My roomie has assured me I will get all the necromancy I want and some I don't. I'm excited. I like this necromancy a lot.

Ch.7

"The water came bubbling up through the bolted seams in the floor panels, a filthy, rust red, with a bloom like sewage upon it."

Well!!!! And Mercymorn immediately being all business? Ugh. Yeah no this shit is terrifying I want nothing to do with this River business that's for fucking sure. I'm in love with the idea of having to actively hold your conciousness to your body while you go through the fucking spirit realm, that's sick. Also, again, Feral Ghosts? You guys have a feral ghost dimension? And Ianthe isn't handling it well at all. I cannot blame her, I do not think I would handle the unreality water world full of feral ghosts. I know I would not, actually. This is stressful and disgusting!

Thanks Tamsyn those are two of my favorite emotions to expierence.

"A nude, fish-eaten body thudded down hard atop the plex, leaving a momentary bloom of blood before it bounced off again."

Gross!!!! Horrible!!!! I am so glad Mercymorn constantly articulates multiple punctuation points because Same bitch this is terrible!!! OH FUCK HARROW NO—

""Harrowhark, no theorems!"
"Don't be ridiculous. She can't be using theorems," said Mercy. "She'd be barely awake and it's totally beyond her at this poi—John, stop her, she's using theorems!!""

I quoted that one because the wet plug bit made me wanna vom.

Oh I thought I would have a moment to go insane about the fucking no necromancy in the ghost zone shit no I dont actually you know what I do have? you know what both of us have, dearest reader?

"A rubber-bodied toddler with a painted face and very red hair lay dead beside your knee and for some reason it was this that destroyed you, it was this that kindled within you something you had no hope of defending against."

YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT TAMSYN AND ITS DESPAIR IT IS LESBIANIC DISPAIR THANK YOU SO MUCH BABY GIRL I AM DOING SO GOOD.

Yeah I do wanna say something about the fact that preforming necromancy in the ghost zone seems to have done something to release the warcrime worth of children that make up Harrowhark's soul; yes I want to linger on the phrase 'wet plug from just above the epiphyseal line,'; yes I want to linger on the fact GOD IS NAMED JOHN LIKE GOD DAMNED JOHN ARBUCKLE BUT WE CAN'T WE CANNOT AND YOU KNOW WHY WE CANNOT?

Because like Harrowhark I too am incapable of being normal about Gideon fucking Nav.

Oh alright the River is just fucking with her then? the river is a predator?? what the fuck :-D What the fuck does that mean John? I cannot call this man Necrolord Undying or God or Emperor anymore his name is fucking John I'm literally picturing him dressed like John fucking Arbuckle now I'm not kidding. I know Muir described his outfit but I don't fucking care he looks like John Arbuckle in my head now. Seriously oh my god that's so fucked up the ghost zone is a predator?? Dope.

Yeah okay that entire section there is a banger I'm fucked up I'm. Yeah Harrow you sure are full of 200 dead children and yes that was a sufficiently haunting description of boiling in a corpse river it really was it REALLY was. Also hahahhahahaaaaa five?

Ch.8

Of all the characters to only drink water, by choice, Harrowhark Nonagesimus is not one I expected, but, is one who like, super fucking tracks. Harrowhark confirmed for killed by first taste of like, captain crunch. I drink non-water and captain crunch makes me want to die how do you guys all eat that actually I'm genuinely asking.

"Classic constructs stood by dressed in white. She hated it when people dressed constructs; it smacked of whimsy, like making one's hammer wear a hat."

I just really like that line.

Also oh my god holy shit I should have said this during the like three chapters ago but it JUST clicked!! Past harrow is in third person past tense because past Harrow textually fucking killed herself [memory wise] to become current Harrow, and current Harrow as a half-blanked slate that is our PoV character is a perfect way to use second person :-D oh well that's fuckin lovely. that is clever. and don't I feel clever. I shouldn't it took me like 4 additional chapters and 6 additional days to put that all together.

Oh and Ortus brings her back the keyring with a key, that's interesting, because Gideon didn't even realize the stupid iron ring was a key-ring until she had to go looking for Harrow after 3 days. Interesting. I'm liking your rewrites for brevity Harrowhark. Your reaching is barely noticable. And absolutely no one discussed the reasearch facility so openly, especially not teacher, wow wow you did some HEAVY rewrites babe. I'm getting offended here.

I do appreciate this little dump from Book 1 Teacher, really. But. It is hard to appreciate when you know Harrowhark is an unreliable narrator? Like yeah I don't think she has any vested interest in lying to herself about the broader strokes of the history of the Lyctors or anything but like. I cannot currently trust Harrowhark Nonagesimus she has done something to rewrite her own memories of her past that makes this all very sus. But, I'll try and suspend my disbelief, even though I, as an unreliable narrator lover, am going insane about all the ways Harrowhark could be lying to herself in her memories.

Oh good Abigail gets one line. I do miss her, I really do, but her and Magnus eating shit in the first book right there at the end of that act served an important purpose and that's another lesson Tamsyn Muir got from Andrew Hussie. I shouldn't be so mean to her about the homestuck shit its not like I'm not a homestuck. i mean im not im not a homestuck i dont know shit about homestuck i don't even know why we hate eridan i mean fuck shit fuck

"The pause stumbled execrably, fell down the stairs, and lay in a tangle at the bottom in full view of all listeners, who had to watch it bleed out in embarrassment."

Previous comment rescinded does that not read exactly like:

I find this rewrites emphasis on words like 'communal', 'group', and 'together' very interesting. If you are a commie like myself when you read the first book you were nearly ripping your hair out about the fact the necromancers would not cooperate and that no one would encourage them to; though I do honestly think Teacher would have, just didn't because like LOL and that's fair it was very LOL when that teenager I wanted to protect with my life died. But there is some open encouragement of working Together in the edit Harrow gave herself. Incheresting.

Okay, so in this Edit; Teacher immediately gave them the key to the hatch, openly discussed the research facility, and openly discussed the danger down in the research facility. Okay. Okay. Alright. I also feel like in GtN Harrowhark spit out the prayer, but like, I cannot cross reference that we're just going based on what's in my brain babes.

Yeah, no, there is a lot more information being given by Teacher in this edition; okay. Way more shit was said this time before he came out with the "and that's all i fuckin' know". Also the other two priests spoke! I don't think they did that at any point in GtN. What a fun little detail to give yourself Harrow.

HA and now you're getting questioned by constructs that are actually full of so many souls, get owned Nonagesimus.

Ch.9

"Your relationship with it was becoming increasingly complex: you hated its presence, but the world without it would be unimaginable."

I. just. 😶 😶 😶 you know like-; I'm fine and I'm normal about this.

Hahaha holy shit that description of the chapel; insane. I can't hold any of it in my head for more than the time it takes to read the lines but fuckin hell does it all sound sick as shit. I really appreciate Muir's enviromental descriptions they're always so pleasant to read. But, 3D space and I don't jive so they never actually work as reference points for me. But, like, BONE TILE AND GRANITE FLOORS BABEY.

god fuck—

"a roseate white like seconds-old bone."

I have to suck Tamsyn Muir's word-choice silly. And then the description of Mercymorn's sobbing and teeth grinding? I'm going to wind up in a 'why can't I write like this' hole if you don't keep giving me perfect phrases to lose my fucking shit about.

"The Saint of Joy gritted out: "I will kill you if you talk to me right now, you mean-souled little man.""

She's just like me fr.

YOOOOO WHAT? "The molar-clunching" CLUNCHING? I would totally accept writing clunching off as a mispelling of clenching but like; paired with the description of Mercymorn's teeth grinding "[...] like walnuts going through a rock polisher." it is literally the perfect word. I will not accept criticism of clunching. Clunching is my new favorite word.

And based on fucking John's words for Cytherea here she has always been a woman after my own heart. Seriously I adored Cytherea for the entirety of GtN so I'm glad that all additional character details are keeping me 1000% in love with her.

"He was very fair, but in a greyish, damp, slicked-back way that showed off the promontories of his skull. [...] These haughty features were set in a tall, aristocratic face, with an arched and supercilious nose, which nose he was currently staring down a tthe Emperor with an expression of supreme suffering."

OH DOPE I THINK AUGUSTINE IS GONNA BE ONE OF MY FAVORITE KINDA GUYS! Did homestuck give both Tamsyn Muir and I our favorite kinds'a guy? That's not fair with all the meme culture overlap we've got going on there was probably another fandom in the mix putting us on the same favorite kinda guy wavelengths.

And not to diverge back to GtN for too long but I am OBSESSED with Cytherea and Loveday? The vague details we got from her in the Last book were enough to break my heart. I literally laid up in bed at night staring at the ceiling like "Imagine dying to save someone and now you've just made her continuously suffer the approach of death for ten-thousand-god-damned years." So uhmmmmmmmmm

""Call her Cytherea Loveday," she said. "That's what she wanted to be called—[...]"

Sobbing and screaming and crying and ripping out my own hair and throwing my own body against the concrete full force. You know? YOU FUCKING KNOW?

Bright side is Augustine is charming I would like to kiss Augustine on his long nose. I'm sure I will not regret that. But, like, that tumblr post in the locked tomb tag about workplaces calling you family to hide how toxic it is, is starting to make sense. Context is starting to come together. And all of your vibes are mildly rancid—to put it politely.

"The became an exaggerated painting of tragedy: a lithograph of the moment before shirts were rent and hair was torn and blood rain pattered over the scene."

This is another one of those lines that I think only someone who wrote Homestuck fandom could have put out, honestly. It's a good line. I appreaciate the things Andrew Hussie did for our collective irreverence. And literally nothing else. Except Vriska.

I also enjoy Harrow taking a full two chapters longer to process God as John as we do. Because fucker's named John.

And then She just passes the fuck out, yeah. Yeah. Harrow I don't think whatever route you took to end up here was the right one considering names from your past like Ortus and Gideon are like Word of Power: Kill for you now. I just don't think what seem to be half-common names in this empire acting as a single word spell of 'make Harrowhark's ears bleed' is like, her best idea. But, it's not like I think Harrowhark is full of good ideas. Quite the opposite.

Ch.10

I am absolutely certain the line from Abigal on p.128 of the hardcover edition has smaller spacing than literally every other line. I don't know what to do with this information. But it's smushed and I read it differently. I'm pretty sure it's a kerning shift of maybe 0.05mm-;I can't actually check-; like, it's an abysmally small change, just for the purposes of keeping Abigail's speech restrained to a single line. It's nothing but I did notice it and spend 2 1/2 minutes comparing the spacing of words with my fingernails so! I felt I should document it. Don't worry I'm just detail oriented.

The rewrite of Canaan house really fuckin' gets me. I feel like there's a lot of Gideon seeping both into Harrow's rewritten actions and into literally everyone else involved. Like Abigal Pent articulating phwoar. We really don't see her long enough in GtN to know whether or not she is the kind of person to go phwoar, but she doesn't seem like she would. And Harrow does point this out to us:

"Abigail Pent had not seemed the type of woman to articulate phwoar. She said it very boyishly."

It's just like. How reliable is Harrow's "memory" of these character's... uh... character? I am aware there is some sort of speaking to ghosts in this book; I have heard whispers of that. But I don't think that Harrow, pre-decision to fuck blast her memories out, got to posthumously know Abigail and Magnus. And in GtN we did have some time where Harrow was separate from Gideon and we don't exactly know what she was up to. Though we do know it was Largely mapping Canaan house and then getting stupid in the basement and winding up exhausted and dehydrated in a bone-caccoon... So. I don't think she did a lot of speaking to anyone else at Canaan. Gideon has clearly seeped into Harrow; that is without question. But what about everyone else? We are being called in nearly all of these past chapters to question the portrayal of everyone involved by Harrow herself noting how they are behaving out of character or Harrow herself behaving out of character (for a pre-lyctor Harrow).

If I hadn't diverged for 15 minutes to write that I would have read the next page where Abigail literally brings up Ghost calling. Lol.

OH FUCK YOU HAVE TO FEED THE GHOSTS YOU CALL BACK? YEAH? THAT'S PRETTY FUCKING SICK. I love what Tamsyn Muir is doing with spooky girl magics here I am thrilled fucking. Her mind, honestly.

"Do Lyctors enter the River? Do Lyctors pass as we pass? I don't know where they wait. I don't know how to direct them. But I would so love to try."

👀 👀 👀 👀

I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to make my fantasy half as fucking cool as Tamsyn Muir's and I probably still won't ever let anyone else read it; 'the seethe of bacteria eating away at it' fucks so hard. Jeez.

We do gotta fight about "curly well-brushed hair" though. You don't brush curls. Don't do that to Magnus. He's my pun boy.

"I say, Reverend Daughter, is it an ancestral Locked Tomb tradition for your spirit energy to be so diverse?"

Yeah it makes sense that the living warcrime would run from that line of questioning. That'd be a pretty hard one to respond to considering the curiousities and fascinations that Abigail immediately starts to bring up about having "up to one hundred and fifty signatures contributing to you." And it's just immediate planning for avoiding and taking Abigail out. Because it would be pretty bad if anyone else knew you were 200 dead children in 1.

"This calm agreement made her all the more furious. She did not examine why."

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Same.

Harrow being a shit because she's scared and insecure with her secret is good. The text actively pointing out that Harrow knows she's being shitty is better. A lot of characters we are supposed to sympathize with in media will be shitty to self soothe but it's never really spent out so plainly and I like it. Because Harrow is absolutely the kind of person who just gives into her shittiest coping mechanisms and she knows it's not great; but what else is she gonna do? She's 17 and there aren't any therapists in the Ninth House. Ortus refusing to modulate his tone or emotions for her is also good, good for Ortus. And then he's passive agressive. As is his god damned right, Nonagesimus is a shit.

Oh good the note about dead eggs is back. And It's second iteration is immediately way crazier!

"THE EGGS YOU GAVE ME ALL DIED AND YOU LIED TO ME SO I DID THE IMPLANTATION MYSELF YOU SELF-SERVING ZOMBIE AND YOU STILL SENT HIM AFTER ME AND I WOULD HAVE HAD HIM IF I HADN'T BEEN COMPROMISED NAD HE TOOK PITY ON ME! HE TOOK PITY ON ME! HE SAW ME AND HE TOOK PITY ON ME AND FOR THAT I'LL MAKE YOU BOTH SUFFER UNTIL YOU NO LONGER UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF THAT GODDAMENED WORD."

I could stare at that paragraph with questions until I die, honestly. Incredible. The implications and the questions raised, ugh. I also love the voice the angry string has taken on with it's expansion. I am enraptured.

""For the love of God, Ortus, I need a cavalier with backbone."
"You always did," said Ortus. "And I am glad, I think, that I never became that cavalier.""

A) I would like to kiss Ortus on his fat face
B) You sure fuckin' didn't buddy. You sure didn't. I miss Gideon.

Ch.11

"You were leaning over the corpse, your arms stretched high above your head, clutched around the hilt. Your two-handed sword was thrust through Cytherea's breast for the second time."

Some pretty peak weird #girl behavior, honestly.

End Act One



End of Act Thoughts

If I had a version of the "wow she's just like me!" meme that didn't use wojaks I'd just put it here because Wow she's just like me! (Derogatory! Derogatory as fuck!) Harrow is so much like me at my worst in this book that it is actually making me wish I could give my 19 year old self a cocoa and fuzzy blanket. I don't know if you've ever been hyperemetic, dear reader, but it sucks. And Harrow keeps reminding me it did, in fact, suck. If you know any vomitty teenagers try to be nice to them. But also, like, her emotional problems are relatable. But I don't really want to discuss that here because that would involve processing my emotional problems and the fact I'm just like my Father but a #girl and that's more appropriate for myself and a therapist to discuss so...

I didn't really go anywhere with my very early focus on carnal which is my bad because like three chapters later Ianthe is described as a flesh magician and carnal is used again. While being paired with more disgust from Harrowhark? There are pins and they are coming together and I will connect a) flesh magician bigotry b) Ianthe Tridentarius flirting with harrow c)the weird girl impluse to believe that love is fake and disgusting and that connection with others will render you useless and vulnerable disguising itself as internalized lesbophobia. I mean that's just how I've been reading the whole thing so far.

Don't think that means I like want Harrowhark and Ianthe to be in love; yes, it did give me big lesbian warm fuzzies when they kissed; yes, I do want them to do it again; should they? Probably not. But do I think that Harrowhark more than any other #girl that has ever existed suffers from the weird girl belief that love and tenderness are fake and disgusting?? YES I DO; I'LL DIE ON THAT GOD DAMNED HILL. And without placing any firm guesses I feel like the reasoning behind erasing Gideon so thoroughly stem from that; since I have every reason to believe that Harrowhark willingly and thoughtlfully decided to change her recollection. If there was any sort of external influence or coercion behind Harrowharks decision then my thoughts are going to hard shift, like HARD shift.

Reguardless of any hills I will or will not die on, these are all pretty tentative ideas and thoughts, and I hope they come into crisper focus during act two. I'm trying very hard to speculate without assuming which is wicked hard for me right now because there are so many possibilities for the actual plot, but they all require making assumptions that I don't want to make at this point.

An important thought about Act One is OH MY GOD THE NECROMANCY! It's so cool I am so happy that the necromancy has such a heavy focus in this book. I was honestly disappointed by how sparse it felt in GtN when I was reading it. In retrospect however, I think the half-scarce necromancy and lighter tone does nothing but assist and elevate Harrow the Ninth's tone switch. HtN's tone switch bodied the fuck out of me; I don't think it would have hit so hard if not for the immediate and constant necromancy. Every part of the hard change from GtN works in a beautiful concert to fill me with compelled dread and curiousity. Near every new concept that we have been introduced to so far in HtN has excited and interested me. The Steles, the wards, the clear distinction of bone/flesh/spirit magic, the tense history between John and his Lyctors, The River--;the FUCKING RIVER OH MY GOD ITS FULL OF FERAL GHOSTS AND WE USE IT FOR TRANSPORT HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT--; all of it.

And an unnecessary aside but do you think the internet's grimdark-and-surrealification of Garfield and John Arbuckle had anything to do with Muir chosing to name God, John? It's certainly changed how I feel about him and she is demonstrably highly online... so. I just wonder, you know? Though I suppose "John Arbuckle" is actually "Jon" isn't he? Does that matter for what I am asking? When is the last time you saw someone refer to Jon Arbuckle and properly leave out the H? It's been awhile, for me.

I'm havin a great time I can't wait to see what the fuck else is going to happen. I have no idea! I have no clue where this is all going! One of those there Ressurection Beasts is coming! I know that much! But everything else is shrouded in mystery. I couldn't even really tell you if anyone's got any motiviations beyond continuing to be alive. I can tell you the remaining older Lyctors all have some shit going on between them, you can just feel it every time they speak to each other. 10,000 years is a long time to build up problems with another person.