I don’t read much non-fiction, although not for lack of noble intentions. I’ve got a bookshelf packed with philosophy, essays, art theory, literary thI don’t read much non-fiction, although not for lack of noble intentions. I’ve got a bookshelf packed with philosophy, essays, art theory, literary theory, history, etc. But most of the non-fiction I’m interested in is fairly academic and demanding, so it takes quite a lot of determination for me to actually read any of it. But I’m inspired to try harder when I come across wonderful books like Ruby Blondell’s Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation.
Combining literary analysis, classical studies, feminism and philosophy, Helen of Troy beautifully bridges the gap between academia and general interest. It’s a scholarly work but you don’t need to be a scholar to appreciate it (although you might be inspired to become one afterwards). Going in, my only knowledge of Helen’s story came from pop culture and a few light books on Greek mythology I read when I was a child. I have never read The Iliad. I didn’t know Helen appears post-war in The Odyssey living comfortably with Menelaus. I’d never even heard of any of the lyric poetry or Athenian tragedy that later re-addressed or revised her story. No doubt I could have gotten much more from this book if I was familiar with these texts, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it anyway, and in my ignorance I was able to learn a hell of a lot too.
Nyx had been better dressed, better armed, and better supported, once: running with her bel dame sisters instead of a cocky boy shifter and a reformedNyx had been better dressed, better armed, and better supported, once: running with her bel dame sisters instead of a cocky boy shifter and a reformed venom addict. Now, instead of collecting blood debt, she was babysitting diplomats and cutting up petty debtors when the First Familes paid her in hard currency. It felt more honest. But a lot less honorable.
This is how we find Nyx at the opening of Infidel, the second book in the Bel Dame Apocrypha series. The Nyx we met at the beginning of God’s War is now just a memory of when she “used to be young, and fiery, and strong. She used to be able to cut off a head in forty-five seconds with a dull blade. She used to be able to drive a bakkie like a demon”. Now, at 38, she is old, tired, and ashamed of the way her life has lost dignity and meaning, although she’s still very much the emotionally dysfunctional hard-ass from book one. Nyx is offered a chance to reclaim the prestige of being a government assassin when a rogue bel dame tries to kill her. A member of the bel dame council asks her to hunt down such rogues and in return, Nyx can have her bel dame status reinstated. The catch is that the rogues are going after the Queen, starting a civil war to bring down the monarchy and give the bel dames power over the country. This will weaken Nasheen, making it vulnerable to Chenja in their ongoing centuries-old war, and Nyx is nothing if not a patriot. Still, it’s a lot for her to handle, especially when she finds that she’s been infected with a strange, debilitating virus that does far worse than simply threaten to kill her.
Meanwhile, Rhys, Khos, and Inaya are living in the prosperous, genteel city of Tirhan, after abandoning Nyx at the end of God’s War. They’ve settled into quiet domestic lives: Khos and Inaya are married, Rhys has a beautiful if scatterbrained wife, and each family has two young children. But both Rhys and Inaya are involved in government work related to the plot that Nyx is caught up in, and you know it’s only a matter of time before she arrives in Tirhan to disrupt if not ruin their lives. Not that Nyx needs much of an excuse; it’s been six years and she still misses Rhys badly, even thought she would never admit it.
Their strange relationship was one of my favourite things about God’s War, after the excellent writing and worldbuilding, all of which made up for a somewhat lacklustre story. In Infidel, Rhys and Nyx are far apart for much of the novel and the writing is good but less arresting. Hurley continues with her excellent worldbuilding, but although Umayma is still an unusual planet, it’s now familiar and less exciting. On the bright side the story is stronger, better paced and more focused. It’s a good book, but less notable that its predecessor.
I read this novel for an 'I'll Read Yours if You Read Mine' challenge. I was challenged to read it because I don't like chick lit. Well, I still don'tI read this novel for an 'I'll Read Yours if You Read Mine' challenge. I was challenged to read it because I don't like chick lit. Well, I still don't. This book tries to be feminist, but it's just a lot of New Age blather that simply ignores men.