Nicholas 's Reviews > God's War

God's War by Kameron Hurley
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Nov 28, 2011

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bookshelves: sci-fi

I really liked this book. I liked it so much I don't really trust my review of it, because I'm well aware that I'm blind to the book's flaws.

I'm especially fond of the character Nyx. She is balanced in a place that I find absolutely fascinating. She's not a complete femme fatale a la Linda Fiorentino's Wendy Kroy in The Last Seduction, but she isn't female hero in the mold of Buffy Summers or Sookie Stackhouse who balances her strength with her vulnerability. Nyx operates only from a position of strength and refuses to acknowledge her own weakness and vulnerabilities. What makes this particular character so fascinating is that she still *has* weaknesses and vulnerabilities and the flaws in her approach are apparent. Nyx is aware of her limitations, but is just too stubborn to give up. She is who she is

This innate stubbornness and unwillingness to accept her limitations is key to who she is. It has its best expression in her relationship with Rhys. Rhys is another character worth his weight in gold. He's a coward and plays the kind of role usually relegated to the pretty girl in a boy's adventure story. He's pretty and smart, but a little delicate and not quite strong enough to get by on his own, so he needs someone like Nyx to look out for him. I really liked reading how Hurley wrote him. In this classic reversal of gender roles, she writes the "princess" character better than all those boys writing their rescue fantasies.

The plot was also good, and I enjoyed the film noire type twists and turns at the end, but what really sold me on this book and the Bel Dame Apocrypha in general was the characters of Nyx and Rhys and how they move around each other in the world.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Karen This is so interesting--I didn't read Rhys as a coward or a princess character. I saw him operating in a larger system that's unfair and impossible--a system that would have sent him off to die for no reason, that made him an outcast and a servant, that gave him no opportunity for meaningful employment. I do think it's interesting that women are physically dominant in these books--it's so hard to pull that reversal off and Hurley does it well with the bel dames. But I didn't see Rhys as particularly helpless, except for the fact that he's surrounded by terrifying murderers, and he isn't one of those himself.

I read him as thoughtful, refined, and out of his own culture. He's complex--he comes from a culture where women are passive and so that, to him, is what seems right--but he still won me over.

Nicholas I can see that. He's certainly fleshed out more and more interestingly than a typical princess who exists in a story only to be rescued. I liked how he personified the life of an immigrant, sort of like a doctor or research scientist who is forced to drive a cab or work the counter of a liquor store in the new world. But yes, you are absolutely right that he's skilled. He can box and shoot but is self-limited in how he applies these talents.

What I really, really liked were the scenes where he took comfort in the knowledge that Nyx would come for him and rescue him and the scenes where she was aware of and distressed by the knowledge that she would come for him and rescue him even when this urge conflicts with the other rules that she lives by. Neither of them is comfortable with this, but neither can deny it. In this sense, he seems like a princess to me, in his delicate physicality, in his refined upbringing that didn't prepare him for the rough and tumble world he finds himself in, and I suppose, in the way he's a shit magician. In a world full of rough action-hero types, he's distinguished by his beauty, his relative lack of practical use, and his propensity for being rescued. I love the character and even identify with parts of him, but he doesn't really pull his weight on Nyx's crew.

(In a minor spoiler from Infidel, the item she steals from his is especially touching.)

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