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God's War

(Bel Dame Apocrypha #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  4,732 ratings  ·  787 reviews
Nyx is a bel dame, a bounty hunter paid to collect the heads of deserters – by almost any means necessary.

‘Almost’ proved to be the problem.

Cast out and imprisoned for breaking one rule too many, Nyx and her crew of mercenaries are all about the money. But when a dubious government deal with an alien emissary goes awry, her name is at the top of the list for a covert recov
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by Night Shade Books
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  4,732 ratings  ·  787 reviews

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Start your review of God's War (Bel Dame Apocrypha, #1)
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Best Served Cold, tough heroines
Review and links (if you want explanation on the references and the like) at

I grew up in the 80s, when fantasy fiction largely meant the Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy world or the ‘parallel worlds’ fantasy, the same fantasy setting juxtaposed with the real world. It wasn’t until much later that I understood most of the fantasy settings I read were based on a highly sanitized Western medieval framework (Do I hear George Costanza in the background saying,
This book doesn’t take it easy on the reader. It’s dark and complex, bleak and viscerally brutal, and very unpleasant — and so very good.
“Life was what you did with what was done to you.”

It’s a story set in a brutal and f*cked up place (I mean, if you ever thought that the world of A Game of Thrones was cold and cruel, I got news for you — that was a generic hard-ish fantasy world that this one would eat for a snack).
“The desert stayed flat and white all day. Rhys saw more evidence of re
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Buddy read with my lovely MacHalo’s

Just no...

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ladywritten, 2011, specfic
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
Feb 12, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of bugs, and by that i mean gritty noir fantasy dieselpunkish thrillers
Recommended to jade by: the list is endless! Stephen, Phil, carol, Nataliya... am i missing someone?
“the world could burn around her, the cities turn to dust, the cries of a hundred thousand fill the air, and she would get up after the fire died and walk barefoot and burned over the charred soil in search of clean water, a weapon, a purpose. she would rebuild.”

a grimdark fantasy with sci-fi elements and lots of sand and blood, god’s war has the uncanny ability to make you feel like you’re in a mad max dystopia with bugs instead of flaming-guitar rigs.

yes, you heard that right. bugs
I am excited with feminism in SF or Fantasy stories, because I can expect a really different way of life/thinking, not just fictitious world with people who has same way/thinking as ours.

Reading this novel gave me that. It gave more exciting to me with Middle-East like world building with its well-known social politic conflicts. Oh, I love the setting.

And the main protagonist is one bad ass person. She even seems extremely bad ass due to our standard of way of thinking (e.g. she coldly sold her
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I went through several transformations as I read this novel, or four if you include a priori expectations after judging a book by its cover; for some weird reason, I thought this title would be more UF than a gritty SF title that masquerades as a fantasy.

It's not really as confusing as I make it out to be. No gods are involved in the telling of the tale, just a bunch of people who believe in Allah and Jehova in a far future world that seems awfully like the Gaza Strip, only filled with Magicians
Meagan ✊🏼 Blacklivesmatter ✊🏼Blacktranslivesmatter
So good! I have got to stop judging books by their ratings, otherwise I would have never picked this up! I can't wait to continue this series. I have book 2 and the book of short stories on hold at the library! 😜😜 This had everything I loved in a book! Unique world building, cool magic system, bleak tone, unlikable anti-heroes (except well I really liked them all!), complicated and complex characters and relationships. I loved it! ...more
Holly (The GrimDragon)
“Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert.”

The opening line in a book is the author’s first impression. As a writer, I’ve definitely found the first and last line a beast to get right. Other times, those beginning sentences are my favorite! It all depends. As a reader, I will often get a vibe whether I’m going to love a book or not before I even open the cover and read those first lines. But damn.. it can set the mood, for sure. With God’s War, I was hooke
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 17, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
re-read. upping to five stars. i stand by the rest of my original review. highly original gritty fantasy.
"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."

What an opening!

In God's War, Ms. Hurley cre
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Good:
The setting is excellent - a planet torn by religious war, sometime after the collapse of a galactic civilisation. 'Bugpunk' biotechnology, post-Islamic feminism, holy assassins, boxing wizards - this book is full of sweet ideas done well. And what an awesome protagonist.

The Bad:
The plot drifts in places, far too much like real life.

'Friends' character the protagonist is most like:
Nyxnissa is a product of her nightmarish environment. She is scarred, vulnerable and brutally hard. Like a
Nov 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: babble-added
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
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-reads
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 is the first book in a sci-fantasy series about bounty hunters, magical bugs and an unending holy war, Bel Dame Apocrypha.

For a book about bug-powered magic, it was surprisingly tame on the bug side of things. Yes, this is my first complaint because I had hoped for more, far more detail. If you've followed me for a while, you may know that The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley is one of my favorite books of all time because a) it's an all-lesbian space opera with a villain romance and
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-read
Wow, what a great book. This is a very layered story. On the the surface it is page-turning action and lots of violence but there are also the important relationship stories running underneath. Overlaying that loom questions of racial and cultural hegemony. It is a lot to pack into a relatively short book, but I think it was done very well.

There are two more books in this series, and I definitely plan to read them. Although this book stands well on its own, there are lots of questions left unans
Dec 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing

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 ab
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was the first one I picked up as part of the 2015 Booktubeathon and I have to say it's well worth reading. This is a debut book by Kameron Hurley and whilst I haven't ever read anything by Hurley before now I had heard a lot about the originality and uniqueness of her ideas and concepts. Having now read her debut (which is the first in a series and one that I want to continue with) I can certainly say that Hurley does have a great way of coming up with original ideas that I had never s ...more
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
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
Very appealing read for those who are tired reading SFF with male leads or much worse, so-called badass female leads who really aren't. The females are (mostly on) the top of the food chain here and I love it. So many gender roles being deconstructed and flipped around. And the bugs, oh the bugs. If this is biopunk, consider me a fan. Great fully-fleshed out characters checked, intriguing and unique worldbuilding checked, badass assassins checked (Middle East in Space!), excellent action scenes ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I feel that the book is a bit rough around the edges and I'm not in love with the heavy-handed portrayal of a recognisable modern religion, but I liked it enough to continue with the series. Characters are strong, bug tech is fascinating, but there are so many disparate elements to this book. I'm interested to see how the further ones progress as Hurley writes more. ...more
Ranting Dragon
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: james, caitrin, favorites

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
Oleksandr Zholud
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a future fantasy / bugpunk (author’s definition) novel was a Nebula and Locus Award nominee, which I read as a part of Monthly reads in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels. Actually, this book was nominated to quite a few awards (the largest number of nominations I’ve seen), but won only British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer (2012) and The Kitschies for Golden Tentacle (Debut) (2011).

The story starts with a bang:

Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the d
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Dark, disturbing, brutal, fascinating. This was a fantastic book, in my opinion.

Check Bitten by Books for a full review.

Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it
A good, but flawed first novel, God’s War has enough innovative and imaginative touches throughout it to make the author someone I’ll read more of. Gritty and noirish, the book takes place in the far future on the harsh, colonized world of Umayma. The world is largely a desert planet and the two main countries, Chenja and Nasheen, have been embroiled in a Holy War for several centuries. The main character of the novel, Nyx, is violent, hard drinking, and not above being on the wrong side of the ...more
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Kameron Hurley is the author of The Light Brigade, The Stars are Legion and the essay collection The Geek Feminist Revolution, as well as the award-winning God’s War Trilogy and The Worldbreaker Saga. Hurley has won the Hugo Award, Locus Award, Kitschy Award, and Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. She was also a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Nebula Award, and the Gemmell Morn ...more

Other books in the series

Bel Dame Apocrypha (3 books)
  • Infidel (Bel Dame Apocrypha, #2)
  • Rapture (Bel Dame Apocrypha #3)

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“Life was what you did with what was done to you.” 26 likes
“The world could burn around her, the cities turn to dust, the cries of a hundred thousand fill the air, and she would get up after the fire died and walk barefoot and burned over the charred soil in search of clean water, a weapon, a purpose. She would rebuild.” 14 likes
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