Audiobook: Narrated by Jane Collingwood, who did a great job. Book started out ok but became progressively slow and dull. It's a light read, but didn'...more Audiobook: Narrated by Jane Collingwood, who did a great job. Book started out ok but became progressively slow and dull. It's a light read, but didn't keep my attention as I kept drifting off and had to rewind to listen to chapters again.(less)
Audiobook: 3.5 Stars A well narrated story that was both disturbing and intriguing in equal measure. My first Martina Cole book, which will definitely...more Audiobook: 3.5 Stars A well narrated story that was both disturbing and intriguing in equal measure. My first Martina Cole book, which will definitely not be my last. (less)
Audiobook: Such a fun book with great characters. Really enjoyed this, and Jane Collingwood narrated brilliantly as usual. Definitely recommend if you...moreAudiobook: Such a fun book with great characters. Really enjoyed this, and Jane Collingwood narrated brilliantly as usual. Definitely recommend if you want a fun, light, entertaining read/listen.(less)
Beginning the Bel Dame Apocrypha series is God’s War by Kameron Hurley, a new dystopian fantasy series set amidst a never-ending war.
The book begins with heroine, Nyx, having just sold her womb on the black market to earn enough money to get to her assassination target. She is a bel dame, an assassin who kills those who are contaminated and a risk to entire villages and towns. To make sure her targets are dead and the bodies no longer contagious, Nyx has to cut off the heads of her victims, making her deadly and amoral in the process. Added to this is the ongoing war between the districts of Nasheen and Chenja, which has resulted too many casualties for both sides and shows little sign of ending.
At the novel’s beginning, Nyx’s mission goes wrong and earns her a one-way trip to prison, being released a few years later. Dismissed from the bel dame sisterhood, she has formed her own team of bounty hunters and earns her living bringing in targets dead or alive. When she receives an unexpected message from the Nasheenian queen, Nyx is given a target that could potentially end the war, competing against several other bounty hunters. This mission could regain her status as a bel dame, which she is desperate to return to for the prestige of the sisterhood.
Nyx is self-centred in her desire to carry out the assassination, having little care for the crew she has put together and worked with for the last few years. She has a shape-shifter, Khos, with whom she rarely sees eye-to-eye; a ruthless mercenary; a comms technician with too much family loyalty; and Rhys, a Chenjan magician of mediocre ability. As a Chenjan, Rhys is subject to racial abuse wherever they go and prays several times a day. He is the polar opposite of Nyx’s godless behaviour, often keeping her grounded on their mission and providing a firm moral compass.
As the search for their target leads them across the border into more dangerous territory, the action in this book descends into increasing bouts of violence, often quite graphic. Any injury suffered by Nyx or the team can be repaired by the magicians (loss of limbs and organs can be replaced, etc.), with the only irreparable action seemingly being the removal of ones head. I thought that some of these action scenes made the plot more exciting and fast-paced, but at the same time the book became more like a sequence of action scenes with little plot linking them together.
When it came to the protagonist, I found it very difficult to empathise with Nyx, as she was entirely amoral and sexually ambiguous throughout. She would sleep with both men and women to get what she wanted, which most often was her next target. Although she does seem to care for Rhys, I felt that she had little empathy for the rest of her team, and thought that she owned them rather than worked with them. I understood that she was a hard nut and had been bred to be that way, but at the same time she didn’t really soften during the course of the book, and instead didn’t seem to progress as a character.
Instead, it was Rhys who stole the limelight, with several chapters being from his perspective. He was more caring about the welfare of the team than anyone else, as well as dealing with his personal issues and keeping his own secrets. We know little about why he left Chenja, but I highly respected the way he dealt with the racist taunts that followed him, and his devotion to his god and his morals. He made it clear from the outset that he would not resort to killing for Nyx, and instead tries to subtly guide her to the right path, regardless of whether or not she listens to him.
In terms of the plot, I thought that the bounty hunt took a bit of a backseat at times, as there was always another battle looming on the horizon. It also wasn’t made clear why the target was so important to stopping the war, as I felt like we were only given vague reasons or half-truths. These weren’t big enough questions to have me reaching for the next book, as I found that this story didn’t really pull me in at all. It was a difficult read, especially as the opening chapters are very confusing in terms of world building. The reader is thrown straight into this warring environment with little explanation of who or what Nasheen and Chenja are, left to puzzle out the meaning for yourself to some extent.
I would have liked better foundations for this story to be built on, as it seemed to dive too much into the action scenes and not enough into the explanations. There wasn’t an even balance to keep the plot moving, so I struggled very much to associate with the characters or to care about certain demises. The ending is left open for a sequel, but I think it also ends suitably enough that you won’t be desperate for the second instalment. I think that there was a great concept here that got a little lost amidst the fighting, but I think a little more description would make book two worth a read. Verdict
I found this book very confusing to begin with, as it throws you straight into the world with little build-up. As a result, I found it difficult to connect with the characters or to understand where they were coming from, but this became easier as the plot moved on. The book seemed to move from fight to fight, so I would hope for a little more character development in the second instalment. Rating: 3 Stars
God’s War by Kameron Hurley (Bel Dame Apocrypha #1) Dystopian, Fantasy Del Rey UK (2 May 2013) Ebook: 432 pages
A fun, entertaining listen. Jane Collingwood narrates beautifully as usual. One negative is that I think the story went on for too long, but overall i...moreA fun, entertaining listen. Jane Collingwood narrates beautifully as usual. One negative is that I think the story went on for too long, but overall it was an enjoyable listen.(less)
A nice introduction to Carole Matthews as I haven't read/listened to anything by her before. I thought the narrator was really good and I did enjoy th...moreA nice introduction to Carole Matthews as I haven't read/listened to anything by her before. I thought the narrator was really good and I did enjoy the story, I just didn't love it. I would recommend it though, it's a nice easy listen, with fun characters and an interesting storyline.