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God's War: Bel Dame Apocrypha by [Hurley, Kameron]
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God's War: Bel Dame Apocrypha Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Length: 305 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2013 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 159780214X
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (2 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C1DG58K
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118,684 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Paperback
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. This one took a while to get into, it's quite violent in a not-so-graphic way, although some of the torture scenes had me squirming (more because of my imagination, not because of the writing) but they always stopped before it became too much.

Nyx is a great heroine, mainly because she isn't a heroine, she's selfish, doesn't think ahead and is only alive because she is determined enough not to die. The world is at war, it was colonised thousands of years ago by alien races, two of which are fighting each other. This desert world seems uncompromising and suspiciously like the Middle East, both races believe they have God on their side (don't they always) but they actually follow the same religion, one more seriously than the other. There's hints of how the two races differ in their attitude to women, one covers them up and no eye contact, the other is a bit more free as all their men are on the front line.

After I'd started to understand the world and why insects seem to replace medicine, internal combustion and chemicals, I really started to enjoy this book. I didn't want it to end and I'm pleased to see Amazon have it's title as 'Bel Dame Apocrypha 1' meaning there's going to be more. It's a good stand alone book too, but I find once you've accepted the world and it's laws, then books 2 onwards are much easier to read.
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Format: Paperback
(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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