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God's War: Bel Dame Apocrypha Paperback – 16 Jan 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (16 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091952786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091952785
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Big Sci-Fi fan who reads broadly in the genre, and I bounced off this one very hard. Intend to try again at some point but I must say that my first impressions left me cold and a little befuddled.
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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
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. It can range from subtle alternative versions of our own Earth, to Space Sagas set around the orbit of a distant planet. Where sci fi gets its bad reputation from is when complex ideas are not explained clearly enough for the reader. ‘God’s War: Bel Dame Apocrypha’ by Kameron Hurley is one such book; a novel crammed with some great ideas, but also moments of strange confusion.

Nyx is a former Bel Dame, turned bounty hunter. Whilst once she followed orders to hunt and kill deserters from the long running holy war, she now does it for profit. When an alien arrives on the planet that could alter the fate of the war, she is amongst many people hired to find her. Can Nyx and her team find the bounty before their rivals can – and in a world so devoid of hope, is it not better to allow the enemy the chance to end the war, than continue fighting for no reason?

Using the word enjoy is perhaps a little too strong when discussing ‘God’s War’. There are certainly elements that I found very interesting as well as some action sequences that were well written. The book is set on a planet called Umayma where two sides have been fighting a holy war for decades. The majority of men are dead, so society is dominated by strong women. Women just like Nyx. The book does not concentrate on the Holy War, but uses it as an interesting backdrop. When Hurley hints at the history of Umayma you get glimpses of a very interesting and rich culture.

However, the book is not about this. It is instead about Nyx and her personal journey. As a character she is not that easy to get along with.
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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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