God's War by Kameron Hurley

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God's War by Kameron Hurley

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Nyx is a bounty hunter on the planet Umayma. Her latest bounty has her up against more than just the usual rivals, this particular alien could alter the direction of a prolonged Holy War that has dominated the planet for decades.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 432 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Del Rey
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780091952785

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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. I do not mind strong female characters, they are actually a preference of mine, but there is a significant difference between being strong and not being very nice. Nyx is not meant to be nice, that is the point of the book, but it does make following her adventures a little hard going at times. Hurley tries to paint the inner her, but I still was not enamoured with the outer.

There are other characters in the book, the magician Rhys being the most prevalent, but it is Nyx at the heart. Surrounding her further are some very interesting ideas; a world in which people are sunburnt so often that they have to be ‘scraped’ for cancer, sand cats, gene warfare. All interesting ideas, but painted very obliquely. Hurley does not tackle these elements head on, but drops in references to them throughout the novel to paint a richer tapestry. The problem I had was that these elements actually sounded slightly more interesting than what was going on.

By no means is ‘God’s War’ a bad book, just one that frustrates you by dangling ideas just out of reach. There are moments of heavy violence in the book that are very impactful and it is nice to see a novelist willing to sacrifice characters if it aids the narrative, you never feel that anyone in the book is safe. This is the type of book that would appeal to the fans of more traditional science fiction, but who also like a little grim violence in their works. Is this a large demographic, I am not sure, but I for one enjoyed many aspects of the book, just not all.

If this book appeals then try The Ascendant Stars by Michael Cobley and Capacity by Tony Ballantyne.

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Buy God's War by Kameron Hurley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy God's War by Kameron Hurley at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy God's War by Kameron Hurley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy God's War by Kameron Hurley at Amazon.com.


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