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God's War

by Kameron Hurley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bel Dame Apocrypha (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8695019,430 (3.7)50
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.… (more)
  1. 00
    Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan (bookwormelf)
    bookwormelf: Nyx and Takeshi are quite similar protagonists. Dark sci-fi, crapsack world, specially trained government assassins gone freelance
  2. 00
    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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» See also 50 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Bug. MAGIC. That's what I like. On the harsh, inhospitable planet of Umayma, two nations are locked in constant, pointless holy war. All the people of this planet are Muslims, apparently, and Kameron Hurley delivers some biting criticisms of them. The people in this book are by far the foulest, cruellest, most brutal people ever imagined. I love it! Interestingly enough, though, I don't think she ever uses the word "Muslim." She always says something like, "people of the book," the "book" being the "Kitab," being short for "Kitabullah," meaning "The Book of God," another name for the Quran. Maybe she doesn't want to go the route of Salman Rushdie. Nobody kill her, please. Her books are awesome. There are beheadings, war atrocities, mutilations, and murders, all penned in horrifically gory detail. What makes things even more interesting is the constant presence of bug-based technology. On this planet, they use genetically engineered insects for all manner of things. Weapons (of course), communication devices, surgical tools...anybody want a roach-powered truck? Yeah, me neither. Further, the men and women responsible for all these marvels are the "magicians," who can control these insects to do their bidding by exuding pheremones or something like that. There are also "shifters," who can transform into a single animal form, like a dog, or a bird.

Now, there is a pretty strong theme of what some might call "subversive feminism," but I found it not so. The country in which most of the action takes place, Nasheen, is a matriarchal society ruled by a queen wherein males are usually little more than dust for mill, all sent off to die hideous, pointless deaths in the war. One character describes it as "a genocide of a entire gender." Somebody might imagine the "evil feminist" stereotype creating such a scenario with glee, but Kameron Hurley takes a more serious, logical approach. She fully acknowledges that a society dominated by women can be vastly WORSE than our own more male-dominated society. I have to agree.

As for the plot, it concerns a mercenary and bounty hunter Nyxnissa so Dasheen and her happy band of murderers and psychopaths. Nyxnissa is pretty abrasive character. She's a foul-mouthed, immoral, bloodthirsty drug addict and psychopath, but she's also an ardent patriot of Nasheen, and always has that country's interests in mind. Also, Kameron Hurley does a great job of counterbalancing all that Muslim-bashing she does. Nyx, as vile as she is, is an atheist. With all the horrors she's witnessed and/or committed, she finds the idea of an all-powerful loving God laughable. Frankly, so do I. There aren't a lot of female characters I like, but Nyx is definitely among them. Conversely, the most morally upright and civilized character on her team is also the most devout Muslim. Nyx and her team are tasked with tracking down the first off-worlder to visit Umayma in millenia, who happens to be an accomplished genetic engineer. This off-worlder has gone missing, and the Queen fears she will use her sophisticated off-world technology to produce and sell superior weaponry to the highest bidder, which could end the war with the genocide of the Nasheenian people. There's a bit more political intrigue than I'd like, and frankly some of it goes a bit over my head. So theres this one character who might be a traitor, cause she's working with these other guys who might be traitors, and this other character knows more than their letting on...who cares! I'm in it for the gory action, the biting social commentary, and the spellbinding worldbuilding of bugs and magicians. ( )
  perrywatson | Jan 6, 2022 |
Going to hop off and not continue the trilogy. I didn't dislike God's War, but the Library doesn't have books 2 or 3 and I didn't enjoy the story enough to purchase the next few books outright.

Hurley is a very good author, the world building here is very impressive; it's not often I read a fantasy/science fiction book and get immersed in a world I've never considered before. The concept of insects powering everything, from industry and engines to magic and surveillance is fascinating, and Hurley doesn't skimp on the details or cheat here. No shortcuts, it's good old fashioned creativity and I flew through the book because of it.

I think it's more a personal preference - I don't like the desert, and bugs creep me out, so I didn't necessarily "enjoy" the book in this regard. Nyx and her crew are really interesting, but I was just sort of ho-hum throughout. If I was to be given books 2 or 3, I'd read them for sure. ( )
  hskey | Oct 9, 2021 |
Really solid. Deserves a longer review when I'm not on mobile. ( )
  jamestomasino | Sep 11, 2021 |
Unlike anything I've read before, God's War paints a vivid yet destroyed image of a spectacularly morbid world. Nyx is the heroine such a world has birthed. She's tough, she's scarred, she's morally corrupt, and she's a survivor.

Would recommend for darker Kate Daniels fans. ( )
  sraazad | Jul 1, 2021 |
First of the stories featuring the irrepressible Nyx. Set in quite an odd world on the fringes of occupied space, her nation has been at war for the last millennia, for nothing is quite so savage as internecine religious division, heathens can be quelled at any time, but those who worship the same faith but wrongly are heretics and most be converted. Not that Nyx cares, any compassion she had was for her brothers and comrades at the front, and subsequently her sisters in the assassin's guild she worked for after her return. In the opening pages we learn she failed one and betrayed the other, sent to prison she endured her sentence and formed her own team of bounty hunters.

Nyx has been eking out a living just about keeping them all together, if only because the team does better than she'd do on her and she doesn't ask more questions of them that. She's slightly gratified when one of her contacts passes her a personal invitation from the Queen, to apply for slightly less usual contract. A visiting 'alien' (human who's not adapted to their strange world) has gone missing. This alien had been investigating a possible end to the war, and it's vital that they don't re-appear in the neighbouring country ending it in the other direction.

TBC

Include thoughts on gender and religion.l ( )
  reading_fox | Mar 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (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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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.

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