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God's War by Kameron Hurley

God's War

by Kameron Hurley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bel Dame Apocrypha (1)

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5953716,490 (3.71)37
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    Perdido Street Station by China Miéville (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Two excellent examples of twisted, dark and brutal stories with unexpected sci-fi/fantasy elements and engrossing worlds.

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A slow start but quite compelling once it gets going. Hurley is one hell of a writer. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 9, 2017 |
God’s War
Author: Kameron Hurley
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Published In: San Francisco, CA
Date: 2011
Pgs: 286


Holy War, never ending, centuries long. A ravaged world contaminated to the point of being almost unlivable. Nyx is a former assassin. She walks the world between the warring sides. Her ugly past makes her the go-to person to collect the head of a alien pirate who got on the wrong side of the government. Her price, considering what this alien’s head represents, is going to be expensive, though not necessarily monetarily.
End of the World
Science fiction
Space opera

Why this book:
A post-apocalypse assassin who has to hunt down an alien geneticist who the government wants dead. I’m in.

Favorite Character:
Nyxnissa reminds me of Aeon Flux in an even more f’ed up world. She can’t make up her mind about Rhys. What happens to her sister tears away one of her few humanizing characteristics. She does care about her team though. Nyx is so damned gruff. I want to like her. She is cold blooded. And oh so damaged. I may be in love. Her character comes across as having a plot hole in it during the middle portion of the book, but it closes nicely.

Rhys grows on you after you get through his, long winded, introduction as he joins Nyx’s team and grows into his own. Rhys is my favorite character. He’s got depth, or rather apparent depth. Could be a front or a put-on to allow him to survive the world he lives in.

Least Favorite Character:
Rasheeda. She’s a scenery chewer.

Character I Most Identified With:

The Feel:
2 pages in, main character has sold her womb and is walking the desert on some penance driven bounty hunt. Grim, dark, horrible, and beautifully written.

I like the feel of the story, but the every single stroke leads to a trap and everyone knows what they are up to gets old, worst covert action team in the history of covert action teams.

Favorite Scene / Quote:
Whenever there is a burst going off and they instinctively look up at it and wonder if it's the one that is going to kill them. Real Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads stuff there.

When Nyx gets jumped on the road to the coast as she’s going to check on her sister.

The sequence where Nyx has been taken by the bel dames in Chenja, when her team comes after her.

Didn’t even think about how families must react when boys are born in this matriarchal world, where boys are cannon fodder for the draft. Looks like it hits the team hard, this team of hardasses who are in over their heads, talk tough, and, then, get a soft edge when a baby boy is born. Really sad when taken in context.

Early parts of the book, the pace is slow. Very much, read a couple pages and break to consider what happened and the background. Page 100+ the pace picks up as they receive their assignment from the queen and set out across the border.

Hmm Moments:
Flesh magicians, organic vehicles that run on roaches, aliens fighting a Holy War, and a matriarchy where men are to be used up and cast aside.

Are the Mhorians another sect of humanity or are they alien shapeshifters? Not clear. So, the shifters aren’t aliens. They’re another subset of humanity that emigrated from the moons of Umayma. The “aliens” seem human too. The shifters and the magicians weren’t shifters and magicians before coming to Umayma. Wonder if the genetics plot that is bubbling under the surface here is another subset of humanity about to be brought into their holy war.

Rhys and Nyx appear to be circling closer to one another across a cultural veil that may be unpierceable. Does Nyx have feelings for Rhys, or is he a ghost to her, a ghost of the friend she couldn’t get across the borderline the last time a mission took her inside Chenja.

There is a bit of a sinking feeling running underneath the character interactions after they get their note from the queen and before they cross into Chenja. Nyx trying to convince herself that she can get all of her team back across the Chenja-Nasheen border is filling the text with foreboding. She’ll be permanently lost if she loses them, whether she managed to return to the bel dame after his or not.

What I perceived as an out-of-character stretch in the book came into much better focus.

Really didn’t expect there to be unexplored depth in “that” meathead character. An unexpected villain turn.

WTF Moments:
The bugs are everything motif is both awesome and oogie inducing.

Crossing Nyx leads to one opponent’s penis being cut off. Wow. Just wow.

Gave me a “No, don’t go you damned fool” moment. Very nice.

Meh / PFFT Moments:
If certain religious folk were to read this book and put two and two together, I wonder if they’d issue a fatwa or two based on the bastardized alien religion that exists in these pages.

Hope there isn’t betrayal in the wind for Nyx’s team.

Could every single move they make, maybe, not lead to a trap of some kind. Again, the worst covert ops team in the history of covert ops. They must show up in a city and it get broadcasted across the net or whatever passed for the net in their bug-tech world. Or maybe they’ve got words written all over their burnous that give away who they are and why they are there, but they can’t see the words and everyone else can.

I cared what happens to the characters, but there was a long stretch of no hope. Seemed that they were being piled on in an unrealistic fashion, everything that can go wrong, went wrong. Was afraid that the story was headed down a rabbit hole that only a deus ex machina could save it from. Thankfully, I was mistaken, but it was a hard section to read through.

Why isn’t there a screenplay?
Could be awesome. Afraid that regardless of how well it was done thought, that it would fall on the sword of nerdrage and social justice warrioring, and a bit of John Carter and Jupiter Rising and it wouldn’t matter how well the movie is. That looks like Islam, there goes part of the audience. That looks like Mad Max, there goes part of the audience. That’s not how men and women act, there goes part of the audience. Etc, etc, etc. Maybe I’m just getting cynical...lol, getting.

Casting call / Dreamcasting:
I keep trying to come up with an actress who could communicate Nyx’s gruff, cold blooded, and damaged psyche on film and i’m not finding anyone. Maybe Zoe Saldana. The character, at base, is similar to her character in Columbiana. Saldana has said she doesn’t want to do sci-fi and fire guns anymore. Hopefully, the interview where she said that was in error.

Chiwetel Ejiofor would be awesome as Rhys. But he’s too old and recently played a mage in Dr Strange anyway. Though Marvel movie magic and the bug magic of Hurley’s world don’t have anything in common with one another. Who would be a young Chiwetel? Maybe Don Glover. I could see Don Glover as Rhys. Maybe Wilson Jackson Harper who plays Chidi Anagonye.

Jason Momoa as Khos, the shape shifting Mhorian.

Devin Aoki as Anneke, Nyx’s second.

Would love to see David Twohy direct it. There is a bit of a Pitch Black feel here.

Last Page Sound:
Victory wrapped in tragedy. Finishing this on the day I saw Rogue One was a double dose of sadness.

Well done, despite the sky is falling aspects of the challenges that rained on the “hero” team. Not sure that hero is the right appellation for them.

Author Assessment:
Loved the story.

The Afterword held some gold. The author said that she “wrote most of this book during the year she was dying.” And the final quote of the book,

“Finally, many thanks to my long suffering parents...who told me...that they would be happy to encourage their dorky kid’s writing career, as long as I knew I’d always be poor.

Over the years, I found out that poverty wasn’t such a catastrophe. The real tragedy woudl have been dying before I’d ever published a book.

There are some things worth coming back for.”

I would read more from Kameron Hurley.

Editorial Assessment:
Editor should have challenged the unrelenting darkness chapters of the book where it seemed that there was no hope and the main characters were being outplayed at every single turn. Their being professionals, themselves, seems like they should have had more small, at least, victories along the road to the climax, win or lose.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
really good book

Disposition of Book:
Irving Public Library
South Campus
Irving, TX

Dewey Decimal System:

Would recommend to:
genre fans
_________________________________________________ ( )
  texascheeseman | Jan 20, 2017 |
On a hardscrabble alien world populated with what humanity becomes in the far future, a long holy war rages. Both sides have drafted all their men for so many generations that the societies left behind have become nearly matriarchal, populated by females, boys, and the very old or damaged men who survived their war service. Their planet is nealry deadly for humanity, and over the years its colonists have made all sorts of adjustments. Now they scrape themselves regularly for cancers the way modern people go in for dental cleanings, and reattach body parts as a matter of course.

In this strange and brutal place we are introduced to Nyx, a woman who has lost her faith on the battlefield but can't let go of her own version of honor. On the very first page, Nyx sells her womb for cash, then loses it all gambling on a pretty boxer. The upside is, she gets to bed the boxer. The really badass part is that she bet on the boxer knowing she'd probably lose, and knowing that her bet would be a good in with a depressed losing boxer, who might then take her home. After sleeping with the boxer, Nyx creeps out of bed, kills the boxer's sleeping brother, and collects his head for its bounty. And then the plot starts. After falling out with her bounty hunting sisters, Nyx gets herself a new crew: a mediocre magician, a refugee shifter, an ex-convict, and a half-breed comm tech. None of them are particularly good or well-respected, but they're bound together by Nyx's unstoppable will. Times are hard, and although they're stacking bodies like firewood in the freezer, the bounty hunts never pay quite enough. Then they get a new hunt: to find an alien gene scientist who's lost somewhere in enemy territory. The stakes have never been higher, because whoever has the alien will probably win the war.

Although the plot is fast-paced, action-heavy and twisty, it's really secondary to seeing inside the characters' heads, most particularly Nyx and her bug-magician, Rhys. Nyx drinks whiskey like water, has sex with anyone she pleases, and gave up on god (or felt given up) years ago. Rhys is a refugee from the country she nearly died fighting, and is so pious he can hardly bear to pray in the presence of women. They're drawn to each other without knowing why or how, but refuse to acknowledge how much they need each other, not even to themselves. The unresolved tension between them didn't really work for me: neither of them respects or seems sexually attracted to the other, and they don't talk much, so we the reader are just told repeatedly that they feel things for each other, and that Rhys is known as her shadow. But as individual characters, they're each very well-drawn, complicated people.

The 'verse Hurley has created here is novel, populated by pitiless, practical people. It's not a pleasant read, really, but it's certainly an interesting one. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I am not sure I got it. Well, that is not quite accurate. I guess I like a little more science in my science fiction and that was seriously lacking. I wanted to know a little more of the history of the world and where we were in human development. of course leaving those elements out made for a shorter read with more action. ( )
  gaveedra | Jan 8, 2016 |
Egalley thanks to Night Shade Books

I don't quite know what to think of this book. The synopsis felt like it was right up my alley, but in reality God's War left me confused and emotionally detached.

I felt like this book simply wasn't for me, it needed a different type of reader. Bastard Books, for example, called this the best read of 2011. I on the other hand disliked extremely harsh, matter-of-fact toxic environment of Nyx's world.

First time we meet Nyx, she just sold her womb to the magicians. What? That took me aback straight away. Only sometime later we would have a clearer picture of what happened. Nyx's world can buy and sell organs, replace the damaged ones with the new ones with the help of bug magic and genetic manipulation.

The longer you read the book the more bizarre it gets. In a lot of ways itscasual violence reminded me of Domino. Nyx's world is also a matriarchal Islamic world, where men are permanently fighting the Holy War in the front between two slightly different branches of the same religion, and women rule everywhere else. So most of the characters in this book are women in more or less positions of power.

The only person with whom I somewhat connected was Rhys, a magician in Nyx's group of mercenaries. Everyone else to me was a prop. So, yeah, Nyx might be a cross between Domino and Clint Eastwood, and one incredibly tough girl, but I couldn't feel even slightly sympathetic to her plea of an old mercenary who just wanted to retire, and that was the root of all my problems.

I don't want to rate this book anyhow, because it was so alien to me but might be a fabulous read for someone else.

  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Overall the book is a compelling read, feeling like a future-flung, bio-magic version of the Gulf War; The God’s War has all the brutality and futility of a conflict with no winners, in which both external and internal landscapes are broken and bereft.
Are you frustrated with Mary Sue heroines? Well, here comes God's War to rock your face off.
added by karenb | editio9, Kelly Faircloth (Apr 1, 2011)
... the story is highly engaging once it starts, and Hurley smoothly handles tricky themes such as race, class, religion, and gender without sacrificing action.
added by karenb | editPublishers Weekly (Dec 20, 2010)

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kameron Hurleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Palumbo, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159780214X, Paperback)

Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn t make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on--

There's not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war--but at what price?

The world is about to find out.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:29 -0400)

"On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on-- There's not a chance in hell of ending it. Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war-- but at what price? The world is about to find out"--Back cover.… (more)

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