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.
©2013 Kameron Hurley (P)2013 Random House Audiobooks
Many SF books try to explore the boundaries of societal norms. God's War jumps all over those boundaries and kicks them to pieces. It's almost certainly not what you're expecting. Though it has some of the flaws you'd expect of a first novel, you can't fault its creativity, It's full of interesting characters who are damaged and strong and flawed and weak, often all at the same time and in different ways. The dynamics in Nyx's little group are never less than engaging, and even the smallest exchange reveals subtle hints about the characters, while the action is unflinchingly merciless and often brutal.
The narrator has an unusual voice which took me some getting used to. The main fault of the performance is the very erratic pronunciation of some of the names. Even the main character's name goes through some odd mutations. It's a little distracting, especially when Anneke keeps getting called 'Anarchy'.
An engaging story set on a barely habitable world made unbearable by war, with an intriguing organic technology that's literally indistinguishable from magic. Not a book for the squeamish or people with insect phobias though, as much of the tech is bug-based.
Umayama, a hostile planet with two suns was originally settled by colonists with an Islam type of faith. Three thousand years later religion has a huge impact on this world and for centuries two of it's nations have been consumed by a religious war; a war that forces so many young men to the front that one of the nations has become a matriarchy.
Nyx is a former bel dame, a government assassin who hunts and kills deserters for the matriarchal nation of Nasheen, now turned mercenary. When aliens arrive on Umayama, claiming to be able to end the war, Nyx and her troupe of mercenaries become involved in a dangerous conspiracy.
Nyx is the anti-heroine, deeply damaged, viscous, violent, uncompromising, seemingly only interested in hard cash. Yet she is an intriguing character and there is more to her than meets the eye, which we see glimpses of in her relationship with fellow mercenary Rhys. Rhys is pretty, somewhat delicate and a bit of a coward, yet he is a captivating character and his POV chapters where the most engaging. The rest of Nyxs' band of mercenaries are equally interesting but not as fleshed out, however I have an inkling this may be remedied in further installments.
The world building though is what takes center-stage; vivid and wonderful, Umayama is all sunlight and stifling heat, inhabited by a host of strange and dangerous insects, some so large they kill and eat children and the twin suns so harsh most of it's residents have skin cancer. Tech on this world is mostly organic and relies almost entirely on the use of the insects by so-called "magicians", people who can manipulate and control the insects through some sort of pheromone emission. Vehicles have organic, living hoses and are powered by red beetles. Organic filters surround entire cities and act as doors, but are tailored to let only certain organic matter through. The war is largely fought with organic bursts, bio-warfare that unleashes plagues, disease, and other contagions on anyone not inoculated or caught outside the filters. Nyx’s world is violent and harsh, and anything organic is profitable, including, and sometimes especially, genetic material, body parts and organs.
God's war is not an easy listen, one has to pay very close attention. The reader is dumped into the middle of a mostly unexplained world that only slowly reveals itself and the story feels slow and confusing to start. It takes a while till one finally gets a handle on what is going on but suddenly everything clicks into place and the pace ramps up so much one can't stop listening . Although God' War can be read as a stand-alone, Umayama and it's inhabitants are so fascinating, I am sure there is much more to be revealed in the subsequent novels. What a pity the following two installments are not available on Audible UK.
Absolutely but real life got in the way. Even so, some parts of the story made me late for work!
I haven't read a five star book for a while and, hopefully, this book signals a change in this trend. This is a fast-paced, well plotted book with a heroine that the description 'kick-ass' just doesn't do justice! All the characters are well drawn and the world is well, breathtakingly, dreadful. And I mean that in a good way. The little touches of South African lingo were brilliant and I am so looking forward to reading the next episode. Long may Nyx rule! (or not, as the case may be.) This is no sword and sorcery fantasy novel - it is brutal, grim and terrifying. Wow - it is so exciting to read, though. Some disturbing relationships and not many smiles but somehow Nyx gets into your heart.
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