Monday, May 23, 2011
Written by Kameron Hurley
review by Dan Tres OMi
When I first stumbled upon Kameron Hurley's “God's War,” I ignored it several times. I automatically assumed it was just another version of Christian fantasy/fiction that seems to sneak up on me with sleek covers. After seeing it more than once, I read the synopsis and dug it immediately. Hurley's takes the reader on a ride he or she never wants to get off of.
Hurley takes us to the world of Umayma which is inhabited by several warring factions of the “People of the Book.” Currently, Umayma finds Nasheen and Chenja caught in a 300 year old conflict. The war has bled so many males that Nasheen is run by women. Any boy who is eligible to fight and refuses or deserts, are hunted down by the bel dames. Nyxnissa or Nyx is one of those bel dames. Nyx, like many of her peers, chooses to live freely breaking every rule possible. Eventually, she loses her position as a bel dame and becomes a lowly bounty hunter.
Somehow Nyx makes it with a rag tag group of misfits. Her most notable partner is Rhys, a Chenja who escaped the draft by crossing the border into Nasheen and becoming a magician or someone who is able to manipulate insects to do one's bidding from killing to healing to communications. Nyx and her crew are about to hit rock bottom until they get a job that would set them up for life. The job comes directly from the Queen of Nasheen herself. Nyx knows immediately that she is bitten off more than she can chew but who cares, Nyx has been in worst places before.
I immediately fell in love with Nyx. Even with her back against the wall, she pushes on. Some might say she's dark but just doesn't care as long as she has some whiskey and a semi decent plan. Usually, Nyx comes out on top. And if she doesn't, what else can be done to her? It's that recklessness that makes Nyx a very attractive protagonist.
This is how Hurley approaches her universe. As the story progresses, the reader learns more about the conflict between Nasheen and Chenja as well as the origin of the planet. It is quite hopeless and the reader will wonder how people can do this sort of thing. Unfortunately, this is how things look in Somalia or Afghanistan. Yet people there push on. One can help but to admire stories such as this and respect these folks for their resilience.
Hurley does a great job at character development. Even the minor characters are given life. The story is rich and full of subplots. You really can't tell who is on Nyx's side until the very end. Deals upon deals are made. Early, the political intrigue is vague but Hurley pulls it off in the end. I enjoyed how Hurley introduces the technology on Umayma. While it is set in the future, Hurley is able to describe a planet that is pretty much a backwater. Nyx and her crew pretty much wing it when it comes to technology. Although Rhys is vital to her crew, he is a half way decent magician who is extremely unreliable. The fighting is realistic. There is not one person fighting off 100 people in any of the scenes.
If you are looking for a new writer who is pushing the envelope, Hurley is just that person. If you are looking for a sci fi book that kicks butt, then “God's War” is what you are looking for. Unfortunately for me, the book ended, so I had to get off the ride but I eagerly await the next installment.