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God's War (Bel Dame Apocrypha, #1)
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God's War (Bel Dame Apocrypha #1)

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  2,151 ratings  ·  420 reviews
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 fo
ebook, 311 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Night Shade Books (first published January 26th 2010)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
Best Feminist Science Fiction/Fantasy
86th out of 310 books — 240 voters
1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyDune by Frank HerbertEnder's Game by Orson Scott Card
Best Social Science Fiction
159th out of 283 books — 213 voters

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Community Reviews

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I picked this up after reading the first few sentences online:

"Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert.

Drunk, but no longer bleeding, she pushed into a smoky cantina just after dark and ordered a pinch of morphine and a whiskey chaser. She bet all of her money on a boxer named Jaks, and lost it two rounds later when Jaks hit the floor like an antique harem girl."

That is a kick-ass entry to a story, if you ask me. Hang on, this is a long review.

This is...s
Orson Scott Card talks a lot in his How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy about exposition, and about how science fiction and fantasy readers react to it with different expectations than non-genre readers. Roughly summarized, his point is that if you open a story with, "She mounted her graazchak," an experienced genre reader will think, "Huh. Okay, there's a creature called a graazchak and it can be ridden. I'll keep that in mind, and keep an eye out for more information about what it looks l ...more
Zachary Jernigan
OBJECTIVE RATING (my best stab at looking at the book's merits, regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it all that much): 5

PERSONAL RATING (how much the book "worked" for me personally): 4.5

I like it when an author doesn't attempt to seduce you. I like it even more when the author is a woman. Joanna Russ was an early influence on me, and so I think my preference here is not hard to understand. It takes some measure of courage to remain unbowed by the expectations of critics and readers (and toda
Night Shade Books (the publisher) has my number when it comes to whatever it is that catches my eye with cover pictures. And then NSB hits my other sensory checkpoints when I pick up a book - the books are a good size and heft for cradling in the hands or lap, the cover material is a non-glossy and yet satiny-smooth finish that doesn't preserve unsightly greasy fingerprints, and the pages and print are sturdy and don't smear. I was actually hooked by the 2nd in the series for this and another on ...more
Bounty hunter and occasional gene pirate takes a job that puts her squarely in the middle of the centuries-long internecine religious war.

Interesting as hell, but also frustrating and unsatisfying. It would be too obvious to call this gritty, so I'll go the extra mile and explain that I kept asking questions of the world building like okay, seriously, you've been massacring your populations for a hundred years at the front, and yet both societies are still built around sending bodies out to figh
Jun 07, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Richard Morgan--Nyx is like a lesbian Islamic version of Takahashi Kovacs
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 mode ...more
3.5 stars

Some reviews are harder to write than others. Take God’s War, the first novel by Kameron Hurley, an author whose blog I’ve been reading with interest. The book had a long journey getting published (which you can read about on said blog) and has now, finally, reached the shelves thanks to the awesome folks at Night Shade Books. I was excited to get my hands on this book, because it’s in a sub-genre (or maybe more accurately, the cross-section of a few sub-genres) I love, has a number o
Jul 24, 2012 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Ceridwen's review cinched it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Any world where you want a healthy population of roaches in your kitchen and bathroom is potentially interesting in the hands of a good writer. Fortunately, Kameron Hurley is pretty good, and Umayma is one of the more interesting future histories to appear in the last few years – insect-based technology, an Islam-influenced culture, a centuries-old religious war, an organization of murderous female assassins, boxing, magicians and shapeshifters.

Such a world, however, would be a sterile read no m
I'm conflicted about rating this book. One one side, the writing is fluid and the worldbuilding is spectacular: the middle-eastern/Islamic cultures are well rounded and believable, and there is no dumbing down for the Western reader (if you don't know what a dhoti or a burnous is, get ready to google a lot in the first few chapters; also, a bel dame is not a French pretty woman); and the planet itself is a carefully crafted scenario, with its mostly desertic setting, the harsh suns, and the incr ...more
On a planet colonized by Muslims using insect-based technology in the far-flung future ravaged a multi-sect religious war, in the midst of which a scrappy band of pansexual assassins try to scrap out a living (selling the occasional organ to pay bills). Ho-hum. Nothing we all haven't read a thousand times before, right?

Well, maybe not. Fantastic concept, well-written, heckuva world built by Hurley here.

But here's the problem -- I couldn't force myself to care about any of these characters, part

God's War by Kameron Hurley was a top read of mine last year, and my favorite novel from a debut author with a tough competition. Been meaning to write something about it for some time now, but was struggling with what I wanted to say given that it's been a year since I read it. Details are currently a bit fuzzy. Just found out that the novel has been nominated for a Nebula for Best Novel in 2011, so seems like a good time as any to say a few things about

I saluteNight Shade Books. Starting with Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl two years ago, they've been been pumping out quality debuts. This year alone Night Shade released an incredible portfolio of new authors that have been consistently well received (you can visit a nice chunk of them at God's War from Kameron Hurley is very much in this tradition albeit in a novel that ignores genre tradition with impunity.

God's War is a sec
Ranting Dragon

Kameron Hurley’s stellar debut novel follows the bloody life of Nyxnissa, commonly called Nyx, a bel dame (government-funded bounty hunter) trying to survive in a world consumed by a holy war that’s been raging for centuries. When she’s relieved of her duties for doing black work of her own to earn extra cash for herself, she has to adapt and find a new way of living.

To survive, Nyx has created a team of independent bounty-hunters that are willing to take
5 stars.

I devoured this book. I loved every word of it. Nyx is simply one bad ass woman that I want to read more about. I guess the biggest compliment I can give this book is that it reminded me of a Catherine Kiernan novel, one of my very favorite authors...

This is an Urban Fantasy that is filled with tons of bugs, amazing magic, more bugs, and did I mention the bugs. What a fresh and cool world and concept.

This is an action packed and no holds thriller that will appeal to fans of the dark fant
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I never expected to like this book. Never, ever.

I stay far away from war-themed books. Even desert war in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Oh wait, post-apocalyptic? No, war negates it.

Then this was nominated for a Nebula, and I only had three nominees for best novel left to read. Then I realized at some point last year, I downloaded it on my Nook app, probably free or some sale. So I didn't even need to find it; I owned it. No more excuses.

I was impressed. It was something different! It takes thi
Frida Fantastic (book blogger)
God’s War takes place on a brutal desert planet with a centuries-long holy war fought between Muslim colonists. It makes Herbert’s Arrakis seem like a nice place to retire. It’s a world filled with a black-market organ trade, underground boxing rings, and writhing insects that enable magicians to put bodies back together.

As most of the boys die for the war, it’s dames like Nyx that run the town. She and her team of bounty hunters are on the hunt for an alien with knowledge that could end the hol
Lawrence Schoen
I started reading God's War out of a sense of obligation to read the titles on this year's Nebula Award ballot, even though I'm hard pressed to even imagine a better offering than China Mieville's Embassytown.

And I'm glad I did. Hurley's novel is a great ride of compelling characters, entertaining worldbuilding, intriguing sociology, and pace-pounding plot threads. Religious elements familiar but different, believable extrapolations/evolutions of today drive much of the book, but the book is no

Full review originally at Fantasy Book Critic

ANALYSIS: I was interested in Kameron Hurley’s book since I had heard about it late in 2009, I had originally included it in my 2010 anticipated list, however due to certain publishing dilemmas this book was given the pink slip by its original publisher and then was picked by Night Shade books. This delayed the book’s publication by nearly a year and so when I contacted Ms. Hurley for a review copy, she gladly obliged & I dove in wondering how i
Feb 20, 2012 Regina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Regina by: Lady Danielle "The Book Huntress" Hill
This is not a full review as I read this books months ago, it is sort of a remembering. I just learned it is a nominee for the 2011 Nebula Awards, so I thought the book deserved some write up. This book and the world written about in this book is unlike anything else I have ever read. The world building was fantastic and so unique. Magic and technology run on bugs. Control of bugs gives individuals more power. The society is devoid of men because they are at war; fighting has been going on for c ...more
Deborah Biancotti
I was almost undone by the intense, expository world building at the beginning of this book. I googled 'burnous', which was about my only concession to the learning curve I was probably supposed to take. Then two chapters in, I put the book down & didn't think about it again for a month.

But at some point I was trapped in bed with a cold & this was the nearest book to hand. So I picked it up & in my delirious, flu-driven state, I slid right over the info-dumping with barely a 'wha...?
Derek Schneider
An intense fantasy world!

Kameron Hurley has created a brutal and unforgiving location for the setting of this story. The holy war between two nations has raged on for so long few remember what started it, the twin suns of the planets solar system create a dangerous atmosphere that creates cancer quickly to those with too much exposure to it, and the wildlife that roam the outskirts of the cities can be savage to those unprepared to fend against it.

In the opening chapters, all of this information
Interesting book. I first heard about it when I saw it was nominated for a Nebula this year, and it looked intriguing enough that I decided to check it out. The world-building is good, but it takes a long, long time to get going. Once I hit the halfway point or so, things gradually fell into place and I finished it quickly, but it was definitely hard going early on. The world of the book had a quasi-Mieville feel to me (which, coincidentally, could have been because I was reading Railsea simulta ...more
A high bar in fantasy/ science fiction has been set with Morgan’s Kovacs series, Mieville’s and Vandermeer’s weird fantasy, Alaistair Reynold’s Revelation Space series, Ian Mcdonald’s emergent economy novels, and Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl. In this context I must mention my joy at reading Hurley’s debut. Disgusting, disorienting, morally very troubling and inventive and filled with strong characters she is doing for noir infused science fiction what Abercrombie is doing for high fantasy, dra ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
Dark, disturbing, brutal, fascinating. This was a fantastic book, in my opinion.

Check Bitten by Books for a full review.

Really impressive sci-fi story that creates some interesting characters and immerses them in a unique setting. On a planet just barely terraformed, two nations are engaged in an interminable holy war. The world's limited technology is based on insects, As is a form of magic in which some are able to manipulate pheromones in the air to control insects — which can be used either for weapons or healing. Among the differences in the warring and neutral nations, one difference is the role of women in ...more
Paul Weimer
“Bugs, Blood and Brutal Women. All the best things in life.”
So was signed my copy of God’s War, by debut novelist Kameron Hurley. I entered an online contest to win a copy of the novel, now out, and was delighted that the author had taken the time to personalize it in this way. It was a good omen to start the book off.
God’s War is set during a perpetual war on Umayma, a distant planet in an indistinctly far future where two polities, each dominated by a rival descendant sect of Islam (never ment
Beth Cato
This book first came to my attention as a Nebula nominee earlier this year and then was recently selected as a book club read. I found God's War to be completely different from my usual reads: aggressively dark, defying all genre conventions, and fascinating at every turn.

This is science fiction in that it takes place off Earth, but on a world that was colonized 3,000 years before by Muslims. At this point, faiths have diverged amongst different nations, with some more conservative than others a
Paul Nelson
Excellent world building by the author and certainly a dark, gritty read with hardly any good guys. The main protagonist Nyx chops peoples heads off for a living and she's either captured, getting tortured or killing someone in a befitting manor.
Nyx is not a particularly endearing character but you have to take a keen interest in what she and her crew get up to. Although a fairly short book compared to most these days I zipped through it as it is a riveting read.
The magic / tech in the novel is
This is a very ambitious debut novel: in one book, Hurley introduces us to Umayma, a world which was colonized 3000 years ago by Muslims and has apparently been at war pretty much continuously ever since. There are several named countries in the book, two of which are the primary antagonists while the others are allied or playing both sides of the fence. They also have their own religious strife going on. Adding to the mix are offworlders (who, it turns out, are also fighting a holy war with riv ...more
Brandon Wu
This novel boasts one of the most inventive settings I've ever had the pleasure of reading - a far-future world in which the countries we encounter are founded on vaguely Islamic principles, interpreted in very different ways, and whose technology appears to be based on pheromonal control of insects (some have semi-jokingly called this "bug-punk"). In addition to weaving a fascinating world, Hurley also has an unconventional approach to all sorts of interesting themes, not least of which is her ...more
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Other Books in the Series

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“Life was what you did with what was done to you.” 10 likes
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