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God's War: Bel Dame Apocrypha (Bel Dame Apocrypha 1) [Paperback]

Kameron Hurley
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 May 2013 Bel Dame Apocrypha 1

Nyx is a bel dame, a bounty hunter paid to collect the heads of deserters - by almost any means necessary.

'Almost' proved to be the problem.

Cast out and imprisoned for breaking one rule too many, Nyx and her crew of mercenaries are all about the money. But when a dubious government deal with an alien emissary goes awry, her name is at the top of the list for a covert recovery.

While the centuries-long war rages on only one thing is certain: the world's best chance for peace rests in the hands of its most ruthless killers. . .

Set in a futuristic world dominated by war, religion and an insectile technology which borders on magic, Kameron Hurley's debut is set to be the highlight of the year.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (2 May 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0091952778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091952778
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 675,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kameron Hurley currently hacks out a living as a marketing and advertising writer in Ohio. She's lived in Fairbanks, Alaska; Durban, South Africa; and Chicago, but grew up in and around Washington State. Her personal and professional exploits have taken her all around the world. She spent much of her roaring 20's traveling, pretending to learn how to box, and trying not to die spectacularly. Along the way, she justified her nomadic lifestyle by picking up degrees in history from the University of Alaska and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Today she lives a comparatively boring life sustained by Coke Zero, Chipotle, low-carb cooking, and lots of words. She continues to work hard at not dying. Follow the fun at www.kameronhurley.com

Product Description


"A fast-paced thriller full of brutal action and vivid characters ... we'll be surprised if you find a ballsier and more fun SF novel this year." (SFX)

"God's War is so good" (Alison Flood The Guardian)

"Kameron Hurley's a brave, unflinching, truly original writer with a unique vision - her fiction burns right through your brain and your heart." (Jeff VanderMeer)

"Hurley's world-building is phenomenal... [she] smoothly handles tricky themes such as race, class, religion, and gender without sacrificing action." (Publishers Weekly)

"An aggressively dark, highly original SF-fantasy novel with tight, cutting prose and some of the most inventive world-building I've seen in a while." (Stefan Raets Fantasy Literature.com)

Book Description

An action packed, far future thriller from an exciting new voice in Science Fiction.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Noir in Space 5 Nov 2012
There is some fabulous world-building in this book. Hurley is a master of the art of saying just enough. I was never left confused or bewildered about what was happening, and yet I felt like I was exploring Umayma and learning new things through-out the whole story. The magic/tech system, in which certain people have a hereditary gift for controlling insects or shape-shifting, was inventive and well-used.
At its best this novel reminded me of Le Guin's 'The Dispossessed'. Hurley's planet, Umayma, has several societies with radically different social structures, ranging from a matriarchal society in which men are little more than cannon fodder, to traditional patriarchal societies where women must submit to their husbands, with others are varying stages in between. Hurley compares and contrasts the different social structures pitilessly; each of her characters have been damaged in some way by the restrictions of the society that created them. And yet, this social science speculation is never heavy-handed, it always takes a back seat to the main storyline of the bounty-hunter and her team chasing down their next mark.
The book lost two stars from me because of the heavy noir influence. I'm not a big fan of noir and the heroine Nyxnissa is every bit as much of a self-serving emo as every other noir hero out there (I'm really not a big fan of noir, did I mention?). Although there were elements of humour in the novel, it wasn't enough to alleviate the constant 'grimdark' feel of the novel. I wish that I could have liked the characters more, but, in keeping with the genre, non of them were particularly sympathetic. The ongoing religious dispute between Nyx and Rhys particularly irked me; it wasn't a subtle conversation by any means.
On the whole though, I enjoyed this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
(Review cross-posted from my blog, The Lightning Tree: [...])

"Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert."

From the very first words of God's War, Kameron Hurley plunges us into the raw desert world of Umayma and throws us in with her sharp-witted, dirty-mouthed protagonist, Nyxnissa so Dasheem (a.k.a Nyx). What follows is a gritty, adrenaline-filled ride that isn't scared to careen outside the box. Science fiction mingles with fantasy as well as a heavy dose of weird - a combination that will appeal to fans of all or any of those genres, and especially to readers looking for something different, dark, and daring.

One of the things that stands out most about the novel is its departure from the Western-inspired settings and cultures that SFF seems to gravitate towards. With God's War, Hurley tears us off this well-travelled course, depositing us instead on the war-torn planet of Umayma thousands of years from now. This is a world first and primarily colonised by Muslims (though Hurley never mentions the religion by name - or, at least, not by its present name). In the ensuing years, various nations have formed on the planet, notably Chenja and Nasheen, whose different forms of religious practice have propagated a centuries-long war. Still ongoing, it is this horrifying conflict - fought with deadly chemical weaponry and organic technology - that serves as the backdrop and incitement to the novel's action. Conflicting loyalties, religious disagreements, and societal differences are crucial to the characters' motivations, relationships, and decisions.

The result is a complex, well realised - if extremely grim - creation. God's War is certainly not for the faint of heart.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Violent, confusing, intelligent, compelling. 1 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The world of Umayma is divided between two warring superpowers, Nasheen and Chenja, and a whole host of neutral nations surrounding them. The nations are divided by religion, each preaching a different version of their holy book split along gender lines. Nyx is a native of Nasheen, a bel dame assassin sent out to do dirty undercover missions too dangerous to entrust to standard law enforcement. When Nyx gets in over her head, she ends up in prison and is eventually released as a free agent, a mercenary for hire. When the Queen of Nasheen gives her a special mission that can set her and her team up for life, Nyx jumps at it...only to find herself trapped behind Chenjan lines unsure of who is the enemy and whom she can trust.

God's War is the opening volume - volley may be a better term - of The Bel Dame Apocrypha. This is an SF take on the New Weird, set on a planet well over 3,000 years in the future where the natives practice different forms of Islam that have evolved from the various present-day versions of the religion, but along very different lines. Nasheen is a matriarchy where women have the power and do everything from ruling to fighting (either on the front or in boxing rings). Chenja is a more conservative and repressive nation where women are kept firmly in the home and not allowed much in the way of freedom.

The New Weird elements creep in the form of technology. For reasons not really explained in this opening volume, the colonists on Umayma does not use traditional power sources. Instead everything from lights to weapons to computer consoles are powered by bugs of varying size and capability. Special types of people, 'magicians', can manipulate these bugs for offensive and defensive purposes, sometimes to devastating effect.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best worldbuilding I've ever read
This series of novels takes place on the planet Umayma, a far-future colony world settled by peoples of varying ethnic and religious heritage. Read more
Published 1 month ago by illegiblescribble
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start to a series, can't wait to read more
I read this because it was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke award and because I like Sci Fi but don't read enough of it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by The Bookish Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
How did he dream this up. Such an old, cynical and brutal story. I could stop reading but couldn't get it out of my head. Excellent.
Published 2 months ago by P G Barlow
4.0 out of 5 stars Great imaginative writing . Stylish fast paced fiction.
Really enjoyed this and devoured book two immediately afterwards. Great writing. Great ideas. Very credible and evocative. Better characterisation than I expected. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Old Nick
3.0 out of 5 stars God Gave Depressing Sci Fi To You
People who do not like the genre love to lump all Science Fiction into the same pile – massive space ships and stuff. That is just not the case. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sam Tyler
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read
Del Rey is a publisher that’s never been afraid to bring something not only a little different but something outside of a lot of readers comfort zones to the fore and whilst the UK... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog
5.0 out of 5 stars Merciless and compelling Science Fiction
Umayma is a planet like none other – it’s a desert world, fuelled by insects and grubs, scorched by a cancer-burning sun and divided into two by a dirty war of chemical and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction that never settles
A never-ending war rages on a far-off world. While battles rage at the front, hardened mercenaries and bloodthirsty assassins stalk the outskirts, doing the conflict's really dirty... Read more
Published 15 months ago by J. Shurin
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent page turner
Excellent world building by the author and certainly a dark, gritty read with hardly any good guys. The main protagonist Nyx chops peoples heads off for a living and she's either... Read more
Published 17 months ago by paul nelson
2.0 out of 5 stars Impressive worldbuilding but ultimately not my cup of tea
Nyxnissa is a bel dame, a member of the elite fighting women that mete out death to those who have broken the culture's most important laws. Or she used to be. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Jane E. Nicholson
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