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"In the myriadic year of our lord — the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death! — Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth."

This is the opening of "Gideon the Ninth" by Tamsyn Muir.

Does it entice you to read this book?

It did me. I even took the time to look at my personal library of books and pick out a few of my favorites to read the opening lines; this one is still the best. The story has everything in it: science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery and probably western if I looked hard enough. I was reminded of Harry Potter and comedy shows from the '70s like "Barney Miller" and "M.A.S.H." This book is truly a favorite of mine, and many publications have it in their top 10 list and as the best science fiction book of 2019.

The story takes place in the future, or maybe the past — it's hard to say and the story works better this way. Somewhere in the corner of the universe exists nine houses; the heirs of each house have special abilities, such as raising the dead or sucking the life out of a person. The Underlying Emperor requests from each loyal house a necromancer and their best bodyguard to send to an old rundown mansion filled with monsters and ghosts. At the mansion, they will face a series of tests to become lyctors for the Emperor, assuming anyone survives.

Everyone wants to be a lyctor — they're the cool kids on the block. Lyctors have superpowers, live forever and work for God (The Emperor). The Ninth sends Lady Harrow, the heir to the Ninth House, and Gideon as her bodyguard.

Gideon has tried to escape the Ninth House more than 600 times. Gideon is skilled in fighting and better at being sarcastic. Gideon and Harrow hate each other and they must overcome their hate to survive. No one really expects anyone to survive because there is a monster in the house, and this monster is hungry. After landing near the mansion, all the space shuttles are pushed into the sea and all communication is cut off. Enjoy the ride.

"Gideon the Ninth" earns its reputation as being the best science fiction book of the year, but it's much more than science fiction. The book is like a roller coaster of suspense, horror, comedy and science fiction. The main character Harrow — a black hooded, black gowned daughter of the Ninth — can kill anyone at the flick of her wrist. Gideon is a foul-mouthed, sarcastic, gay protector of Harrow with a skull painted on her face. Both characters are interesting, and their hate for each other is played perfectly to their abilities.

I give "Gideon the Ninth" five out of five stars. You can find this book at the library and on the library databases Hoopla, Overdrive and Libby.

Brian D. Bray is the IT coordinator at the Missouri River Regional Library.

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