Episode 56: Nona the Ninth (SPOILERS)

Crop from the cover of Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.

Further reading:


Charles 0:23
Hello and welcome to Assigned Scientist at Bachelor’s. I’m Charles and I’m an entomologist.

Tessa 0:27
And I’m Tessa and I’m an astrobiologist.

Charles 0:30
Today it’s just the two of us to talk about Nona the Ninth, the third book, but not the last book, in what was previously known as the Locked Tomb Trilogy by Tamsyn Muir.

Tessa 0:42
The book that is brave enough to ask the question, What if God were Captain Planet and also kind of an asshole?

Charles 0:48
To be fair, I think a lot of books ask the second question, but very surprisingly few ask the first. So Tessa, why don’t you give us a quick summary of the book?

Tessa 1:02
So Nona picks up sometime afterwards the last book Harrow the Ninth – unlike the last few books, the viewpoint is from the titular character Nona, who is awoken with absolutely no memory of who she is, and is being cared for by some people we will probably recognize: Camilla Hect, the revenant of Palamedes Sextus. Who else is there with them?

Charles 1:27

Tessa 1:28
Yeah, Pyrrha, right, Pyrrha. As they try to survive on a planet that has basically become a massive refugee camp for people fleeing the empire of John Gaius, as well as fleeing the resurrection beasts, one of which is parked out right outside the planet. So that’s not great either.

Charles 1:49
Although we don’t learn explicitly that it’s a resurrection beast, until a little bit in…

Tessa 1:55
I thought that was pretty obvious, though.

Tessa 1:58
Listen, in, okay. Okay. You know…

Tessa 2:01
We can edit that out, then.

Charles 2:03
I don’t think we have to edit it out. Because you know, it is it’s a big blue sphere. Yeah, like, Oh, no.

Tessa 2:10
And also, they are slowly getting involved in high jinks with the Blood of Eden who we met in the last book. And things really get to a head when it turns out the Empire may be planning on countering invading. And that’s basically where it picks up from there.

Charles 2:29
How do you… How did, how did this one treat you?

Tessa 2:32
I liked it. It was nice to get some answers and see which suspicions I had proved to be correct. And which ones proved to be wrong? I will say and are we getting into spoiler territory now at this point? Yeah. Yes. Okay. Okay. So the one question, or one of the major questions I was left with was, Has Gideon always been this much of an asshole? Or, and we just didn’t notice it? Because she was always the viewpoint character, or like, is this something new? Because she seemed it was hard to tell which side she was on. You know, she’s since found out that she is literally the child of…

Charles 3:08
The man who became God, the God who became man.

Tessa 3:13
Yeah. And seems pretty on board with that for the most part. But on the other hand, it’s also I think, implied, at least how I read it is that a lot of that was mostly a ploy. So she could eventually get back to Harrow, because I have a hard time imagining she would ever, like make friendship bracelets with Ianthe otherwise, given their history.

Charles 3:37
This is not important, but when I was reading it, I was saying Ianthe in my head.

Tessa 3:43
Oh, is it probably Ianthe, then?

Charles 3:45
Well, I don’t I don’t know if it’s a quote unquote, real name to begin with, you know, it’s kind of like when people disagree over how to pronounce scientific names where it’s like, there’s, it’s, it’s made up babes. It does look like Ianthe is a name… it’s from Greek mythology. So that’s all I have to say about that. This is… I haven’t fact checked this but according to the Wikipedia page, it means “she who delights.” Incorrect.

Charles 4:18
Yeah, for my part, I… I’ll say I liked about 75% of this one. Mostly because the early and first couple 100 in it’s in the ARC that we both read, because we’re recording this in May, but we’re releasing it in September, and the one that we read, it’s just under 500 pages. And the first 200, 300 pages I found kind of slow going…

Tessa 4:50

Charles 4:50
Most, mostly the known aparts particularly because I think it is difficult to make a compelling character who’s whole thing is that they have six months of memory, and they don’t know who they are. And they don’t know what people are talking about around them. There are some parts where it’s like tantalizing we hear Nona, hearing people who do know what’s going on talk and you’re like, Ooh, what’s that? Yeah. But there’s some parts of it. Like when she’s just at school and like walking noodle, the six legged dog, it’s like, what’s happening here?

Tessa 5:28
Yeah. And also like, the, the drama with, like, the friends she’s made at the school she’s attending was also kind of, I mean, it was kind of cute.

Charles 5:37
But it it was there was there was a lot of it for what it was.

Tessa 5:43

Charles 5:43
Which is, I mean, this is my plan is I’ve read it once. Now. And I’m gonna let it simmer. And then I’m gonna reread it when it’s officially released in September. And I wonder if after that amount of time, and on a second, reread a lot of the things that felt kind of inconsequential will feel more consequential. But yeah, I think, to to have some structure to this, rather than just 60 minutes of saying, not as gay, but still gay. We… I did make a Google Doc, so: lingering questions from here are the nine things that Nona answered and then questions that remain unanswered. And then miscellaneous.

Charles 6:28
So beginning with lingering questions from Harrow the Ninth, I think the biggest thing to me, I the one of the most interesting things to me from her the ninth was when Harrow was on that one planet, and then she got surprised by Camilla, who was with Coronabeth, Deuteros, and Palamedes. And by “with Palamedes,” I mean that he had attached his soul to his physical body and…

Tessa 7:02
Or fragments thereof.

Charles 7:03
Or fragments thereof, and Camilla was carrying around part of his skull, and was like, Harrow, can you get him? And then she was like, Yeah, I guess. That was very mysterious, because they were just there, and then they were gone. And we do get an answer to that, kind of, where we learned that Coronabeth and Camilla had willingly joined the Blood of Eden and Lieutenant Deuteros was with them, but appeared to be unwilling, unwilling.

Tessa 7:38
She wasn’t too keen on it.

Charles 7:40
She was not too keen on it. And then we see her again in this book, and she has been, beknighted by, like the necromancer madness brought on by the big blue sphere in the sky, which it turns out is one of the resurrection piece, and it is in fact, number seven, which had attacked the Mithraeum from harrow the ninth and we end harrow with Gideon having emerged from beneath harrows consciousness in her body, and getting in fights off the resurrection beasts, and Gideon the necromancer is in the river and he dies and then pura is left to take over the body. And it’s, but it’s a whole situation. So it seems like the uterus has been affected by the Necromancer madness that has apparently affected all the necromancers on the planet that Nona and Camilla and pura are on. So we find out what was happening with them. Do we find out how Coronabeth and Camilla and Dueteros got off of the First House and we’re able to join the Blood of Eden?

Tessa 8:58
Not directly. I’m assuming they sense. Oh, God, what was the name? Cytherea?

Charles 9:06
See, I was thinking Cytherea.

Tessa 9:09
Maybe Cytherea, I don’t know. Cytherea was like, had tipped them off to what was going down. So I assumed that they would have you been sort of swooped in immediately afterwards to like, reconnoiter.

Charles 9:22
Oh yes yes yes, Cytherea was working with Blood of Eden. Yeah. Yeah. And then she was dead. And then Harrow the Ninth it turns out, man, the souls in this universe really don’t want to just lay still because as it turns out, Gideon was the product of Augustine the first and Mercymorn the First, who were the first two Lyctors, having sex with John and getting a sample and then they tried to impregnate Mercymorn, but because she was a necromancer, it did not work because… you can’t… necromancers are bad at… well, I think less that she was just a, like a necro.

Charles 10:07
No, Alan – he’s trying to jump on top of my keyboard.

Charles 10:12
So less because she was just a necromancer and more that she was specifically a Lyctor, where the whole point of a Lyctor is that you have sort of an internal battery of thanergy, which is death energy. And so you can’t create new life inside of your body because it’s it’s just death all the time, baby. Anyway, so.. and then it was the leader of the Blood of Eden, who John humorously called “Wake Me Up Inside,” and I think her actual name was…

Tessa 10:41
Awake Ye Valiant Dead.

Charles 10:44
Yes. So commander wake actually impregnated herself with the sample and then she gave birth to Gideon, the ninth on a shuttle heading towards the ninth house to open up the lock tomb because the Locked Tomb was locked with like blood ward, and then as one of them puts it, it’s more like cell wards because it just has to have the DNA of John. And so the best way to get that DNA would be to produce offspring with it. I think they addressed why they couldn’t just use the semen sample itself, right and…

Tessa 11:19
I vaguely recall, either it couldn’t work or it needed to be like a living organism.

Charles 11:25
Yes. And so Gideon was the product of that. But the Lyctor for whom Gideon the Ninth was named – Gideon the First – had been having an affair with Wake, as had his cavalier soul who sometimes took over the body. They had both been having an affair with Wake, and they both killed her. So then Gideon was – Gideon the Ninth – was left orphaned in the ninth house, but that is how young Harrowhark had been able to open up the tomb because she actually had Gideon’s blood and cells and whatever on her person because they had gotten into a tussle.

Tessa 12:10

Charles 12:10
So that’s that whole situation. What were we even talking about… Coronabeth… Blood of Eden… Right! So then Blood of Eden had been working with Cytherea. So that is probably how they got the call to come pick up those individuals who had not been killed or become lyctors in the house trial. So we know what happened to them. How did they get Harrow’s body?

Tessa 12:38
Um, I’m pretty sure they picked it up after right after the battle with number seven in Harrow the Ninth.

Charles 12:45
But how? Because that that was at the Mithraeum, which like…

Tessa 12:48
Oh, that because they were nearby. I mean, the planet that Harrow encountered them was nearby the Mithraeum. But also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pyrrha was involved. You know, maybe grabbed Harrow on the way out.

Charles 13:02
Oh, true, because I don’t think they knew that Gideon, the First’s soul had been killed in the river.

Charles 13:10
Right, yeah.

Charles 13:11
So they, yeah, so they thought it was status quo. So Pyrrha may have pulled a little sleight of face and probably got Harrow and skedaddled. Okay. And Blood of Eden was nearby, which is probably how the resurrection bees ended up with the planet where Camilla at all have Nona. Okay. So that’s taken care of. Okay, so here’s the biggest thing. Let’s come back to who was Blood of Eden. So what is going to happen to Harrow after Harrow? It we find out that Nona is introduced as being six months old, approximately almost six months old. And it’s basically we get little dribs and drabs. And it turns out that Nona is some consciousness in harrows body, which is not being piloted by Gideon anymore, and is not being piloted by Harrow. And so then it’s like, well, who is Nona? And that’s we’ll come back to that one as well. So what is going to happen to Harrow after Harrow? Her soul is having a hard time event lately? It’s still hiding. Somewhere in a bubble in the river pretty much like a bubble in the river probably. But harrows body is with Camilla and Pyrrha and in Camilla’s body is also Palamedes, but not in a Lyctor way, in a different way.

Tessa 14:40
It’s more like a timeshare.

Charles 14:42
It’s more like a timeshare where Palamedes…

Tessa 14:45
The term he uses is like he’s basically possessing her on a temporary basis.

Charles 14:50
Yeah, so that gives us another answer to what happened to Palamedes as well where last we saw him he was in a piece of skull that Harrow then turned into like, a forearm and hand. And now he is chilling in Camilla, and they’re trading off back and forth.

Tessa 15:13
Where if he stays too long in her body, he could basically damage herself.

Charles 15:18
Yes. And then something very important happens with that which we can touch on later. So back and forth the structure of the book is we get these chapters with a Nona where it’s her perspective, her going about her day. Its overall, how many days is it? It’s just…

Tessa 15:35
Not sure. It’s like maybe a week?

Charles 15:37
Yeah, let me… “day one, five days until the tomb opens.” So it’s five days. So we get this back and forth structure of we get these chapters where it’s known as perspective. We’re, you know, we’re following known about her day. And then when she goes unconscious for any reason, we get these chapters that are John Gaius, aka, the necro. Lord prime. And it’s him telling somebody, the whole history of how he big basically all of the point up until the creation of lictors, it seems like Yeah. And so from this narrative, we see the whole, like, who he was before he was John, Gaius, what was happening on Earth? And what, how, when, and where and how he got his necromantic powers, because I think that was one of the biggest, sort of lingering things left unanswered were like, how did this guy become? Like, where did necromancy come from?

Charles 16:49
Because we know from the first two books, that the human the the people in the books, obviously, are humans, who share a history with us, because we learn about the nine houses that are obviously connected to the nine planets, before Pluto was on, categorized as a planet. Don’t get mad at me about it, but the nine houses or the nine classic planets. I mean, when did it get? Was it 2006?

Tessa 17:23
Yeah, it was 2006.

Charles 17:25
Okay, so 1931 to 2006, those classic nine planets. dominicus is our sun. Gaius… Gaia. And all of the memes, obviously. So we know that there’s a shared history between them and us. But crucially, we don’t have necromancers. I don’t know if you’ve noticed.

Tessa 17:45
Yeah, yeah. It’s been a distinct lack to know necromancers that I’ve heard of.

Charles 17:50
So it’s like, okay, they come from our Earth, they are us. 10,000 years in the future? Probably. Where did necromancy come from? And we get an answer to that. And it is the collective soul of Gaia chose John and gave him necromancy powers.

Tessa 18:12
And yeah, and also, if you thought that there were religious parallels or allegories in the first two books, oh, you ain’t seen nothing. Yeah, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Because this is very straight up, he is literally appeared and started like miraculously healing people at one point, he can resurrect the dead. It’s very obvious that this is, you know, a fascinating recast of a lot of Christian theology, I think.

Charles 18:37
Yeah, I mean, it’s…

Tessa 18:40
Or at least, it’s like the Messiah archetype.

Charles 18:44
It is an appropriation of Christian mythology. Let’s say that.

Tessa 18:49
Yeah. Yeah.

Charles 18:50
And the structure of Christian mythology. And you know, well, let’s dig into this for a minute. Let’s dig into this. So first of all the structures with John, I mean, before anything else, John is one of the Gospels, you know, it’s Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, right. And they are the chapters from, you know, John, Gaius telling whoever about what was happening. There are literally titled as if you were referring to verses of the Bible, it says, John 20:8, right? That’s the first one. And then additionally, in Gideon the Ninth the whole thing was all of the prime necromancers. And their Cavaliers from each of the nine houses, while from two through nine, would send them to the first house and the idea was that they would learn from and go through all of these trials that the first lictors went through and go through the process of becoming lifters. And then only two of them successfully do so partially because they theory is president who was one of the first lifters and it’s trying to kill everybody and prevent new lifters. From being creative because she was working with blood Whedon, and then partially because Palomedes and Camilla, I don’t I can’t remember if they directly figured it out before like…

Tessa 20:13
I’m pretty sure he did, but he rejected it because he was like, No, there’s no way this can be this is to all…

Charles 20:18
Because they their best friends forever get them friendship bracelets for real. And so he was like, I’m not going to do that. So only two of them succeeded anthy figured it out by herself and just straight up knifed Naberius in the back, and ate his soul, and then became a lyctor. And then Harrow became a lyctor under duress, because they were backed into a corner, they were all going to die. And then Gideon sacrificed herself – very much like space Jesus that she is – so she sacrificed herself. So then Harrow could become a lyctor and beat Cytherea. And then Harrow deals with all of the… Harrow the Ninth, the book, as well as Harrow, the character, deals with the fallout of it… I reread Gideon and Harrow before reading Nona, and the degree to which Harrow is just about how, if you try to disappear grief, it’ll just mess you up worse is like, that’s what that’s about, because she tries to bury any memory of Gideon so that she won’t fully absorb and digest Gideon’s soul, so that Gideon won’t really be gone. But then that means that she is a, you know, a fake lyctor or a half lyctor, everybody’s mad at her. It doesn’t quite work, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And then in the end, she ends up getting sucked into the stream bubble fully. And then Gideon’s soul rises up and takes over Harrah’s and then learns that Gideon, the ninth is the daughter of God. And then God pulls a dad joke that it’s great. Where was I going with this? Lyctors? Literally, what were we talking about?

Charles 22:03
Oh, I remember. So that’s the first thing is that lictors the whole idea is that you kill your Cavalier, and then absorb their soul so that when you are not at the wheel, and you’re like down in the river doing necromancer stuff, then the Cavalier can sort of bubble up and defend your body as well as you know, through energy necromancy magic, your body becomes like an eternal battery of death juice. So you can just keep because we we learned about pretty early on in the first book that like necromancer is can’t really play their craft and space, because there’s no dead stuff around to take the energy from. So lifters don’t have that problem, because they’re just a death battery because they absorbed somebody’s soul. So Paulo Metis at some point in the first book, figures this out and he’s like, I’m not going to do that. Camilla is my best friend forever. Absolutely not. And then it turns out in Nona, Palamidi is and Camilla have this body timeshare situation and they figure out at a certain point in the book, a way an alternate way to sort of combine souls, it to achieve something close to lyctorhood, where instead of one of them having to kill and absorb the other, they like, basically, not to reference Steven Universe in the year of our Lord 2022, but to reference Steven Universe, they become like a gem fusion.

Tessa 23:38
That’s actually a really good comparison, actually.

Charles 23:40
Yeah, I mean, and then they become even more powerful than they were before. But they’re not one or the other, taking over the other. They are both of them together. And the name that they choose is literally, Paul, like, Paul the Apostle.

Tessa 23:59
Oh, heck, I’m thought about that.

Charles 24:01
Well, yeah, because you weren’t raised in the Christian church. But I was. Paul, I literally, I had to close the book and like, set it down when that when they were like, call me, Paul. I was like, ah, Tamsin Weir. Got me again, because it is such a sort of like, they are the first of this new approach.

Tessa 24:26

Charles 24:26
Got me again. And so I think that was where I was. I think that’s the point of where I was going with all of that. But just to say that that is another part of the very heavily borrowing from and appropriating Christian mythology in the structure of Christian mythology. Got me again, Tamsyn. But now that we’re here at Paul, how did that strike you?

Tessa 24:49
Yeah, I mean, I’ll be sad to see the characters go as separate voices but the other hand, there are two of my favorite characters merged together. How can the resulting character not be cool.

Charles 25:02
To be fair, we’re… we’ve got one more book. So there’s, it’s not like you have a whole trilogy to be sad that they aren’t independent voices anymore. I will say I love Camilla and Palamedes, obviously, and I’m kind of mad at myself for how much Palo Metis is just one of my favorite characters, because it is. So he is such an obvious, like, it’s, it’s not an interesting, favorite character to have. Because he’s just the studious wizard boy, which is the same character that I’ve been in love with my whole life. And it’s like, you’re almost 30 – get some more interesting opinions. But on the other hand, I’m almost 30 – I’m locked in, you know what I mean? Like, the person that I am now is probably gonna be until I die. And the person that that is, is the one who loves put upon studious wizard boys at you know, that’s me.

Tessa 25:59
You know what, there’s no shame in that?

Charles 26:01
Well, it’s a little bit boring. But it’s… we all are who we are, then we can’t change that. Because unlike Palamedes, I can’t fuse with my best friend to become a new and stronger version of both of us together. And I also… it’s a little bit also like in Pacific Rim, one of the greatest movies ever made, where you go into the drift together. Anyway, so I have talked with my best friend many times about whether we would actually want to, like, be drift compatible and pilot a giant robot together? And the answer is we I don’t think that we would, because there’s no privacy left in your own brain after that. And it’s like, there’s some stuff in here that’s just for ole Charles, and not anybody else. Do you think that you and Alex would be drift compatible?

Tessa 26:50
Yeah. But that’s because we mutually process so much stuff already as it is.

Charles 26:54
That I mean… Yeah. I mean, it’s a great setup for piloting a giant robot, though, because you’ve already had, you know, cooperative problem solving. Listen, as the theme song to Roswell says, I am what I am. I’ll do what I want. And I can’t hide. So what’s next? What’s next? What else was… okay. So John became God by being granted that power by Earth, literally. I mean, this is not, it’s not that surprising that Earth would have a whole collective soul altogether, because that’s literally what the resurrection beasts are.

Tessa 27:35
It’s already established in the…

Charles 27:37
It’s already established. And so basically, and then the question is, but why this guy? Specifically? And I’m not sure that that question was really answered.

Tessa 27:46
That’s something that I’ve wondered a lot about, too, you know, and maybe we’ll find out more, because we’ll probably hear a lot from the person who gave him those powers in the next book, I’m just suspect, but yeah, cause like, I mean, yes, he was around dead people a lot. So I guess that’s helpful. And, you know, his heart was kind of in the right place. ‘Cause I guess it’s implied that he was given these powers to like, try to stop humanity from basically destroying the whole biosphere. Hmm. But yeah, in the, you know, why him? Why not Augustine or Mercymorn or any of the people who were hanging around with them pre resurrection, right?

Charles 28:26
Well, this kind of gets into the the next question also, which is, who were the first lyctors? And why those people specifically? And it turns out that they were mostly the people who were in his entourage beforehand, before the resurrection.

Tessa 28:41
Yeah. And anyways, it turns out part of that, though, and this is how things got really messy is that the people who would become the Blood of Eden, were in the process of literally fleeing the earth, they developed some sort of crude faster than light travel. And, you know, so a bunch of trillionaires got together and built their starships and were literally just leaving the rest of us to die. It was very strongly implied that like the entire biosphere was going to collapse soon.

Charles 29:10
Yeah, so the… Yeah, so the setup was basically, John was a scientist who was working in cryo preservation of like, preserving of like preserving a bunch of dead bodies. And they, through a series of events, it got to the point where like these trillionaires et al, were developing a plan to like take waves of people off because race actually at a point of apocalyptic collapse where like the Earth itself is becoming unlivable for humans. And so there are these different plans of like, we’ll take a bunch of people away will cryo preserve a lot of people, etc, etc. And it turns out that these trillionaires are planning they’re saying that they’re going to take waves of people But in point of fact, they are crying to get themselves gone. And then forget about it. And so the like 10,000 year long blood feud between John Gaius, and the Blood of Eden comes back to this instance where these trillionaires escaped from Earth at a certain point, he just decides, I’m going to nuke the earth, I’m going to kill, yeah, everything…

Tessa 30:26
And several things kick that off. First off the trillionaires fleeing. So there’s that betrayal. Secondly, a mentor has literally committed suicide in front of him, at which point he is granted understanding of how human souls work, he figured out you can, you know, animate dead bodies, but he couldn’t, like restore them to life. And he figured out you could heal living bodies, but the in between, he didn’t, he couldn’t get. But you know, having someone shoot herself in front of him not only gave him a huge burst of energy, which he described as like someone had just injected meth into my eyeballs. You know, he also finally understood how souls work and that he could like keep them in place and recover them and presumably restore them to a body if you wanted to. And in the same moment, also came aware of the soul of the earth. And then both because he sensed how much the earth was being hurt by humanity, but also because, you know, he has a massive vindictive streak over the trillionaires fleeing, he decided to, through various points of access he’d created in the world leadership, yeah, set off a nuclear war, which killed more people. And then anyone who survived after he’d absorbed the energy of the people killed by the bombs, he then just killed remotely. So he literally killed every single person on the planet except for himself.

Charles 31:43
Yeah. And he tried to kill the fleeing trillionaires. But they escaped his grasp just at the last second. So that is basically these two different sources of post apocalyptic humanity. One are the descendants of these fleeing trillionaires. And then one is everybody resurrected and defrosted, basically, by John Gaius.

Tessa 32:09
I think some of them were bodily resurrected as well, because I mean, I think it was Gideon, who like… he was, I think it was getting was he the one who went to Melbourne who was like, definitely hit by a nuke?

Charles 32:20
Yeah, he was like he was by the suitcase with the new candidates.

Tessa 32:24
So yeah, so… And so anyways, yeah, that’s where this entity comes from. And at some point, after the dust had settled on Earth, I will also point out that John literally went… in his race to try to get the trillionaires he literally also killed everyone in the solar system, which led to the creation of the resurrection beasts as he killed off the current human colonies on each planet, and also destroyed the sun. I’m still not entirely sure how that works, you know, if the sun would have a resurrection beast or not, probably not. But that’s still some pretty massive power.

Charles 32:56
I mean, does it specifically say that he turns off the sun? Or is he just lying about turning it back on?

Tessa 33:02
Oh, that’s true. Well, he said he bit down on the sun. But yeah, I don’t know. It’s possible he’s lying, because he’s not entirely reliable.

Charles 33:11
(laughing) To put it mildly.

Tessa 33:13
To put it mildly, yeah. Yeah. Have we covered… what else is there?

Charles 33:18
I think so it’s, I mean, the whole backstory is very much like, yeah, so the, the first 16, like, disciples that he had were the people who were basically his disciples pre-resurrection.

Tessa 33:35
Working on this cryopreservation project. And specifically, he was hoping to use this to help evacuate Earth, you know, basically, by freezing people loading them into starships and getting them off the planet. Yeah.

Charles 33:49
So I think who is Blood of Eden… we covered what happened to Harrow, how did John become God, who were the first lyctors and then what happened to Gideon after Harrow the Ninth and I think that’s still a little bit ambiguous where… Gideon was driving the car in Harrow’s body when she met John Gaius, and then he killed Mercymorn and Augustine for trying to assassinate him which like, fair enough. On the other hand, he probably should be assassinated. So yeah, you know, and then get in the first had died, and puro was occupying that body. So how Gideon soul got from inside harrows body to attached back to her own long dead but preserved body is unclear.

Tessa 34:47
Yeah, like all we got is like a flash to her waking up briefly, and then that’s where Harrow the Ninth ends and then the next time we see her she is piloting her own corpse as a revenant and has been recognized as the Imperial prince to John’s Empire.

Charles 35:08
Is in her… because we first see the body in like an announcement to the planet that Camilla et al. are on and it turns out… I don’t think we covered this yet, it turns out the sixth house had defected. They were like, we’re out of here, after Camilla got brought off of the First House, which is Earth, right?

Tessa 35:30
In part because also their founding lyctor had left messages for what to do in exactly the situation. Apparently it was get the hell out of dodge.

Charles 35:37
Yes. And their founding lyctor was Cassiopeia [as if a question on pronunciation].

Tessa 35:41
Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

Charles 35:42
Cassiopeia? Names. You know, and so their lyctor had been like, get… get the hell out of dodge. And so they had defected and Blood of Eden had taken them all to this planet. Turns out that there is a lot of like infighting amongst a lot of their, like different cells and branches, and they all kind of hate each other.

Tessa 36:04
Yeah, some are more extreme or than others or use different tactics.

Charles 36:09
Right. And so, so am I correct that like, that We Suffer is the head of the branch that Coronabeth is part of, that Camilla was part of… they got taken in by and or is it that the sixth house got? It seemed like maybe a different branch of the Blood of Eden had gotten…

Tessa 36:32
Oh, yeah. had captured them.

Charles 36:33
Yeah, had captured them. Yeah. But then they get them all back. It’s fine. And so what was I saying? So everybody is trying to get Gideon’s body because obviously, it’s got that sweet, sweet God blood in it. And they need that to open the tomb. Because then the idea is that if you open the tomb, you can kill Alecto or, you can kill the body in the tomb. And then that will cause John Gaius’s death. And now we know of course, we learned in Harrow the Ninth, that there was like a reciprocal… he was the only person who ever pulled off the like reciprocal lyctorhood situation where part of him got put into his guardian and part of his guardian got put into him, which is why he has the totally black eyes. And why his guardian was so weird, because it wasn’t a human soul – it was the composite soul of Earth, which also gives him his necromancy powers. And so then, at a certain point, do we know what was it that made him be like, you gotta go in the tomb, my dude?

Tessa 37:35
Um, that’s a good question. I’m trying to remember because like, I think he was concerned that Alecto would get out, and then I guess, come for him. But I don’t know. Like, like I said, you know, one of the things I was very confused about this book is exactly who Gideon’s allegiance is to. When she tried to help her father was she trying to kill her father? Was she tried to kill Alecto? Was this all just a grand ploy, and this is my theory, to get Harrow back?

Charles 38:07
I agree with you on that one. I think it’s the power of lesbianism that’s motivating her,

Tessa 38:12
Because that seems to be the major thing she’s concerned with, above all else. She triple crosses Ianthe several times, which makes sense because there’s no universe in which Gideon would actually enjoy Ianthe’s company otherwise.

Charles 38:27
It’s… come on, yeah. Right. So I agree with you. I think Gideon is just trying to get back to Harrow. I think Gideon is set up very much as a as a character who doesn’t have like broad ideological motivations, but rather more narrow, person-based motivation.

Tessa 38:48
Which is fine.

Charles 38:49
Yeah. Listen, the Blood of Eden have wider ideological motivations and look where that got them.

Tessa 38:55
Yeah, exactly. But anyways, yeah… I’m still not entirely sure why Gideon and Ianthe were directed to the tomb. There was also the weirdness going on with like, now people are getting possessed by some unknown force.

Charles 39:09
I… I don’t actually remember… what are you? What are you talking about, specifically?

Tessa 39:14
The, all the people in the Ninth house save a few have gotten possessed by something?

Charles 39:18
Oh, yeah.

Tessa 39:19
The same thing was happening on another planet Antioch, which is where Ianthe and Gideon have been most of the time.

Charles 39:25
Oh, yeah. I completely… I literally I finished this book two or three days ago and I forgot about that. I forgot about it. But you’re so right. You’re correct.

Tessa 39:38
So that may have been why they were sent as well.

Charles 39:40
Could be. So we leave the book with… Alecto, the body in the tomb, has woken up and has left the tomb. And we’ve got collected… Ianthe, Gideon in her dead body, Harrow, who has passed out again – typical – Paul who was Camilla and Palamedes… is that everybody?

Tessa 40:07
Yeah, I think that was everyone.

Charles 40:09
Aglamine? Is she still alive?

Tessa 40:11
I don’t know, but I don’t think she was in the tomb.

Charles 40:16
Okay, not in the tomb and then Marshall Crux who volunteered himself to be killed. So Gideon in her dead body killed Marshall Crux and then she was like, and then she was dissatisfied, like didn’t make her feel good.

Tessa 40:29

Charles 40:29
I… yeah, I think to your earliest point about whether get in was always such a drip. I think she is markedly worse than she was. Because previously she was just like, eight year old little brother energy of just like, I’m gonna, you know, and now she is like, 16 year old, maladjusted little brother who’s…

Tessa 40:55
Yeah, okay. I’m glad it wasn’t just me picking up on that one. Because it was like, you know, I don’t remember her being this much of an asshole even if from her own point of view…

Charles 41:03
I think she’s definitely worse than she was before. And I think that probably comes, just my speculation, from living inside your own dead body separated from your best frenemy who you’re in lesbians with.

Tessa 41:16
Yeah, yeah. I mean, she has been through a lot of trauma recently, so…

Charles 41:20
(laughs) Yeah, a little bit, just a little bit plus also finding out that you are the daughter of God, but also that God is just absolutely the worst.

Tessa 41:32
Yeah, completely the worst.

Charles 41:33
Just can’t even just… just the worst. And the very last thing that happens in the book is Alecto picks up the two hander, Gideon’s two hander, and stabs John through the heart with it.

Tessa 41:47
And John’s response is, Good morning. Annabel Lee. Yeah. Or Annabelle?

Tessa 41:52
Yeah. Yeah, quote, “at which John awakened and said, Annabelle, good morning.” And then we go to the acknowledgments. So Nona was always meant to be… like, this stuff that happens in this book was meant to be part of Alecto the Ninth and then it became 500 pages. How does… how does that… do you think there is enough in Nona to justify its own book? Or do you kind of think…

Tessa 42:17
So I think in part, because obviously, a lot of this is going to be from Nona’s perspective regardless, and so it would have been, I think, confusing to have Nona for the first half of the book, and then switch to…

Charles 42:30

Tessa 42:31
Yeah, Alecto. Even if Alecto and Nona are basically the same person, their experiences are radically different from each other. So I think that in terms of like, smooth narrative transitions, that may make more sense.

Charles 42:48
I agree, although I think that Nona maybe should have been 300 to 400 pages.

Tessa 42:52
Yeah, yeah, I do think some of it could have been cut.

Charles 42:55
Just because a lot of the stuff with Nona really kind of feels like we’re treading water, and not because the overwhelming feeling that I got, for the first couple 100 pages from the Nona parts were it reminded me a lot ,and not in a way that I felt positively about, about the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. And… have you read the MaddAdam Trilogy?

Tessa 43:21
I’ve read parts of the first book, and I’ve been spoiled…

Charles 43:24
I wouldn’t recommend them, frankly, I wouldn’t recommend the third one at all, because it is a lot of like, flashback perspective is from a character that I just, I don’t care about are all and I’ve read all three of them. The Nona sections before things really start kicking in, reminded me a lot of the sort of pre apocalypse, but still feeling pretty apocalyptic future setting of Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, where it’s just like, everything is terrible, people are dying left and right, there’s no safe way to live, you know, like that kind of sense of just everything is awful. And there’s no reprieve from it. And it’s, we’re just having a bad time all around. Like there wasn’t even…

Charles 44:12
And a lot of those sections for me to keep me like, we’re just like, you know, which is may just be a personal problem, but I don’t because, again, a lot of them felt like they were kind of there to fill up the day rather than actual interesting particularly because, tonally, this book is so different from both Gideon and Harrow.

Tessa 44:37

Charles 44:38
Where Gideon slams you face first into a completely alien, like future world, where it’s like, okay, we’re living on Pluto, okay, their skeletons walking around. What’s happening? 10,000 years ago, something happened well, we don’t even have right from 10,000 years, and then harrow continues with that where It’s an even more narrow scope where they’re just on the Mithraeum. And there are like five characters that were, you know, dealing with day to day. And then this one, it felt a lot like I’ve never committed, I’ve never done necromancy, but I have eaten a hot dog. You know, so I started really liking Nona once we really got back to the like, okay, necromancy stuff is happening. Okay, galactic world building. Okay, let’s, let’s get up and go. But I don’t know, your your mileage may vary on that one. Well, getting to that point. What are the things that we still don’t know, going into Alecto the Ninth? First off, most obviously, what are the things possessing people in the ninth house?

Tessa 45:45
Yeah, and I’m wondering if, because during the flashback sequences where you learn about the resurrection, Well, John hoovered up most of the souls of humanity when he killed everyone in the solar system. Apparently, there’s some he can’t account for. And he asked Alecto slash Gaia, you know, where are they what, you know, what did you do with them? And she has never answered him. So I’m wondering if there’s a connection there or not? Or if this is something completely different, along the same lines, two of John’s lyctors, Ulysses and Titania, weren’t people who were killed in the nuclear war. They were dead before he even got his powers because they were part of the bodies he was doing cryo preservation experiments on, but presumably he resurrected them, which makes you wonder, Where did their souls come from? How did he pull that off?

Charles 46:39
So we don’t know where those souls came from, and speaking of souls, what, what’s up with the resurrection beasts, right?

Tessa 46:47
Yeah. What exactly do they want? If anything?

Charles 46:51

Tessa 46:52
What’s the game plan?

Charles 46:54
Because we’ve been told that they’re just kind of mindlessly pursuing John, but John says a lot of stuff, and who cares about him? And also, Augustine gets stuffed through the stoma, right? Because in Harrow the Ninth, basically Augustine and John are fighting in the river, and Ianthe shows up and she has the option to either save Augustine, or to save John. And of course, she saves John, and then Augustine gets stuffed down in a stoma, but that then brings to me… is the stoma actually a place of no return? Or could things that have been theoretically killed by being stuffed through the stoma come back? And I don’t know. And then also, this is interesting to me, you put “are Coronabeth and Judith going to hook up or what?” I didn’t get those vibes. So could you could you speak on that?

Tessa 47:57
Oh, well, partially, that’s from one of the short stories that came out strongly implied that Judith Deuteros had very conflicted feelings about Coronabeth and that she did, you know, was attracted to her but at the same time was like ostensively on the opposite side of her being a loyal soldier of the Empire.

Charles 48:20
Oh, specifically in the Blood of Eden set…

Tessa 48:23

Charles 48:24
Because I was about to say… Coronabeth was like the princess of Ida, like she was in it. I am interested to get more on Coronabeth’s whole situation because is her joining the Blood of Eden like, I believe in the Blood of Eden or is it kind of, I’m saving my own skin or is it, you know, following just the, the ebbs and flows of the river of life, you know, like what is actually going on inside that head crowned with curls? Because Nona loves Coronabeth. But, of course, we knew that Harrow disdained Coronabeth and isn’t too hot on Ianthe either. So it’s like, what’s happening here? So I’m very interested in that because I thought there was at one point when I think Nona says to Coronabeth, whom she calls Crown because her Blood of Eden name begins with like “crown him with many crowns,” which is also Christian. It’s like a hymn, like, (hums) “crown him with many crowns, (hums).” And she says, You’re in love with the or whatever. And I thought that she was implying that Coronabeth was in love with the Warden. And I was like, I don’t know how I feel about that.

Tessa 49:41
Yeah, yeah. Actually, that is a good point. I hadn’t thought about that, that may also be going on.

Charles 49:47
And so then the question, also unanswered, is Coronabeth now going to be hot for Paul?

Tessa 49:51
You know, I was wondering about that too, because like, beforehand, it was clearly… the couple to ship was Camilla and Palamedes but now they are absolutely…

Charles 50:02
(offended) Tessa. They are best friends.

Tessa 50:05
Yeah, right. Right. Right. But they are the same person now. So yeah, that. That brings up some interesting questions.

Charles 50:15
I will say… I don’t think that Camilla and Palamedes are set up as romantic at all. And I’m willing to fight about this.

Tessa 50:22
You know, actually, right. Yeah, I can see that

Charles 50:25
Because it’s… they’re best friends forever. They’re best friends because it’s also we were, it was established in Gideon, that Palamedes had the hots for the real Dulcinea.

Tessa 50:38
Yeah, yeah.

Charles 50:38
And they were gonna get married. I mean, I think that they’re both bisexual. Obviously, look at Camilla’s hair, right?

Tessa 50:45
There’s no way [that they aren’t].

Charles 50:46
There’s no way. But I don’t think that they were bisexual for each other. Now that they are… now they are the purest – well, I might edit this out, because I don’t know how bisexual people would feel… But the purest distillation of bisexuality, where not only are they bi in their attraction, they’re bi in their very existence, because they’re two people.

Tessa 51:11
I mean, there is a beautiful symmetry to that.

Charles 51:13
And then I guess, finally, because we talked about whose side is Gideon actually on, and it’s like, I think that she’s trying to get back. I think she would be on anybody’s side if Harrow was also on that side with her.

Tessa 51:26
Yeah, that’s true.

Charles 51:27
But I also think she’s she, I, I, it would be hard for me to believe that she doesn’t harbor a lot of wild resentment towards dear old dad.

Tessa 51:38
Like, I think I would be shocked as well.

Charles 51:41
Yeah. And then will Gideon and Harrow actually want to admit their feelings to each other. I mean, they are lesbians. And we know how you guys are.

Tessa 51:49
Yeah, it could take a while.

Charles 51:52
Could take a while. But theoretically, they’re both immortal now, in that Gideon is dead already…

Tessa 52:00
To say though, I’m putting money that Gideon is probably gonna be restored to life at one point, at some point, if for no other reason than Harrow tells…

Charles 52:09
Well don’t pre-empt me, don’t… I want to introduce it as a thing that works of where do we, what are our predictions for… yeah, what are our predictions for Alecto the Ninth?

Tessa 52:20
Yeah, but as you were saying, Gideon and Harrow are essentially immortal now. Yeah, it could take eons for them to admit it to each other.

Charles 52:27
They got 1000s of years.

Tessa 52:28

Charles 52:29
And they’re gonna need ’em, am I right my fellow LGBTQs? We know what’s up with lesbians. Okay, but what, so what do you expect from Alecto?

Tessa 52:40
I think it’s going to be wildly entertaining. And we’re gonna find out more about what Alecto really thinks of John and what he’s done. There’s the final enemy is probably not going to be John. It’s probably going to be whatever it is, that’s possessing people. Because that’s been hinted at since like, Gideon the Ninth because it was one of those things that killed the eighth house representatives, one of them.

Charles 53:04
Oh, yeah. Because that they kept referring back to whatever weird thing happened to the Eighth House. And I don’t remember this at all. Because that’s the thing because most of the people at the First House in Gideon, were killed by Cytherea, and then some of them became lyctors. But then the eighth house

Tessa 53:24
one of them got possessed by something and tried to kill the, and succeeded in killing, the other. And then someone else I don’t might have been, yet they killed, but possessed one.

Charles 53:38
Man, what a tangled web we weave.

Tessa 53:41
And then in addition to that, I believe that Gideon will be resurrected back to life instead of being this weird corpse thing. If for no other reason, than at some point, Harrow is going to say to Alecto, bring back Gideon or fix Gideon or whatever, probably just as an aside and get things going and, and Alecto will interpret liberally, will interpret it literally and using presumably vast godlike powers will just bring Gideon back to being alive again. And since Gideon’s soul is already there, conveniently, I’m sure it’d probably be pretty simple for her to do.

Charles 54:17
I think Harrow might be un-lyctor-ed.

Tessa 54:23

Charles 54:25
And the reason I think this is that it hasn’t turned out great for her so far.

Tessa 54:29
This is true.

Charles 54:30
Because I think there’s also because sort of a large part of the driving drama of Harrow the Ninth the book was how mad all of the lyctors were about being lyctors. Like literally the only person we’ve seen, just be straightforwardly happy about it is Ianthe, who in every opportunity makes the worst possible choice.

Tessa 54:54

Charles 54:55
So I don’t… because like we have the Paul model, but, no offense to them, I wouldn’t want to be that version of elector either.

Tessa 55:06
Well, the other thing is, you know, clearly, John and Alecto have some sort of setup where they’re both able to inhabit their bodies. That’s why he didn’t flat out just kill Alecto.

Charles 55:19

Tessa 55:20
But on the other hand, they may be unusual in that respect. I do wonder if the reason Camilla and Palamedes did their fusion was not because that’s what’s required necessarily, but because Palamedes literally didn’t have a body to go back to.

Charles 55:35
Right. He was just… because the we didn’t specifically say this, but Ianthe in her body doesn’t actually appear on the planet with the blue sphere, she sort of projects herself into Naberius Tern’s body.

Tessa 55:53
Because she held on to it, I guess, for exactly that reason.

Charles 55:56
For… yeah, And then Coronabeth is like, Oh, you’ve done his hair all wrong. And we’re like, oh, Coronabeth, you’re the best and the worst, I love you so much. And so then Palamedes and Camila challenges and Ianthe to the duel that they never had back on the First House. And Ianthe is like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna kill you, babe. Like, I’m in a dead, like, what are you going to do?

Tessa 56:23

Charles 56:23
And then Camilla actually wins because of course she does. And then Palamedes basically fights Ianthe for control over Naberius’s body and takes it over. But so then at that point, it’s like, well, I don’t want to be stuck as a dead body forever. And so then they fuse in Camilla’s body.

Tessa 56:43
So the question is, yeah, wouldd, would, in order to be sustainable will Gideon and Harrow have to undergo a similar fusion, even if they do have separate bodies or yeah, well, as you say, well, Harrow get unlyctor-ed.

Charles 56:55
Yeah. Well, I think it’s because I imagine… I cannot imagine that Alecto happens without John being defeated.

Tessa 57:06

Charles 57:07
So then he’s going to be functionally un-lyctor-ed, probably with the release of Earth’s soul from the Alecto body.

Tessa 57:18
And I’m willing to expect that is something that’s going to happen and you know, she’s going to be liberated from the body that John stuffed her into.

Charles 57:29

Tessa 57:29
Go back to being planted again.

Charles 57:31
Well, the return to her true body, which is the planet Earth, yeah, yeah. And John will be ripped of his godlike powers and killed and so I think in that way that Harrow will be unlyctor’d somehow, because she’s also… she’s probably functionally, like halfway there already because some part of Gideon’s soul is attached to her dead body. And so while I think maybe happening is that part of Gideon’s soul is incorporated into Harrow enough that she is still like she has a regenerative powers and whatever, but then part of it was able to be attached to her body and that may be why she’s such a jerk is that she’s not you know, a full person right now. And so I think Gideon is going to be re-Gideon’d and Harrow is going to be un-Gideon’d, and… and then they’re going to kiss.

Charles 58:27
We can only hope.

Charles 58:32
Okay, if you want to find me online, I am on Twitter @cockroacharles.

Tessa 58:38
And I am online on Twitter @spacermase or on my website tessafisher.com.

Charles 58:44
The show’s on Twitter @ASABpod or at our website, where you can find show notes and transcripts for each episode, asabpodcast.com. And if you liked the podcast or you think other people might like it, please tell them about it. Word of mouth is the number one way that podcasts grow.

Tessa 58:58
And until next time, keep on science-ing.

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