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288 pages, Paperback
First published February 1, 2011
“Life was what you did with what was done to you.”
“The desert stayed flat and white all day. Rhys saw more evidence of recent fighting as they drove - spent bursts and abandoned artillery, black-scarred rents in the desert, pools of dead bugs. He saw a heap of burning corpses in the distance. He knew there were corpses because the giant scavengers were circling, despite the smoke: couple of sand cats, black swarms that must have been palm-sized carrion beetles, and some of the rarer flying scavenger beetles with hooked jaws, the kind that grew to over a meter long and had been known to devour children in their beds.”
“There had been dog carcasses in the alley behind her storefront this morning, fat rats squealing over tidbits, old women netting roaches for stews. The accumulated filth of rotting tissue, blood, sand, and the stench of human excrement had sent Rhys out onto the veldt for dawn prayer, and Nyx had grudgingly agreed to take the bakkie out to pick him up.”
“Bugs were popular trade with the magicians in Faleen. Professional creepers caught up to three kilos a day—striped chafers, locusts, tumblebugs, spider wasps, dragonflies, pselaphid beetles, fungus weevils—and headed to the magicians’ gym to trade them in for opium, new kidneys, good lungs, maybe a scraping or two to take off the cancers.”
“She had no magical ability, so the face he gazed into carried no illusions. She'd never tried to be anything but what she was, for him or anyone else. She was thirty-two years old, and looked ten years older. Born on the coast, raised in the interior, burned at the front, a woman who was alive only because behind her was a long line of dead men. And women.”
“Organic filters were a necessity in a country bombarded by all manner of biological, half-living, semi-organic weaponry. Destruction entered cities as often through contaminated individuals as it did through munitions.”
“You’ll never control a world you don’t understand. They’d been bleeding and dying for three thousand years on this planet, and nobody’d taken the time to understand it. They just wanted to control it.”
“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.”
“you’ll never control a world you don’t understand. they’d been bleeding and dying for three thousand years on this planet, and nobody’d taken the time to understand it. they just wanted to control it.”and as the concept of space travel implies… there are also aliens present amidst all this political turmoil, who follow a different version of the holy book, and who seem at times to play one country out against another. and they are particularly interested in the bug magicians and shapeshifters on the planet.
“you were missing a kidney,” yah tayyib said. “i replaced that as well.”everything about her seems inherently self-destructive, but she reflexively keeps up the walls around her true feelings and her crew does not pry. it’s not until far later in the story that you get a glimpse of what made her the way she is; an asshole who keeps walking even if her entire body’s been burnt to a crisp.
“i traded it for a ticket out of chenja. the other one wasn’t mine either.”
“i didn’t think it was,” he said.
“i put it in there six months ago.”
“ah,” nyx said.
“oh, god, this isn’t something soft, is it?”i thought it was compelling, especially as they both seem to instill a calmness and comfort in each other that they usually only find through other means (rhys through his faith; nyx through her fights).
“not everything that’s beautiful is weak.”
“no, it just makes you that way.”
he smiled. “we disagree, then.”
“we do,” she said.