Bel Dame Apocrypha #1
Originally read August 2011 – Reread August 2014
Okay, this book seriously rewards a reread. I can’t believe it has only been 3 years since I read it because I remembered so little of the plot. The opening I had no problem with recalling, but everything after that was a bit hazy. I remembered enough that I had no problem keeping track of the different individuals and what was going on, but not enough that I knew what was going to happen next. And this time around I really loved it a whole heap more.
Originally I found the book interesting, but I didn’t like anyone. Damn but my reading of it must have been way to surface-level, because although I still didn’t really like any of the characters, well, maybe Rhys, but this time around I could seriously empathise with them.
Nyx is such a damaged person. But how could she be anything but damaged. Her whole society is damaged, that is what war does. And when you’re part of a culture that has been at war for hundreds of years, well, your society and everyone in it is going to be pretty much fucked up. Nyx is fucked up. She is dealing with not only the war, but what she did in the war. Or what she thinks she did, or didn’t do. She is dealing with the fact that violence and death are an integral part of everyday encounters. She’s a bounty hunter. She gets paid for handing in heads. That does not leave a person unscathed.
And the supporting cast, well, again I’m going to have to disagree with myself from 2011, because they are so much more than hints and flashes. Sure, most of them aren’t as developed as Nyx, but they certainly have their own characters and reasons for doing what they do.
If you haven’t read it yet, I would highly recommend it.
Original review below
War is hell. Especially on a planet torn up between warring religious countries. Nyx has done her time at the front, been a hero and had her body rebuilt. Then she joined the bel dame, government mercenary/bounty hunters to you and me. A sister-hood of the elite to them. But she has been doing black work for extra money and now her sisters are after her.
I really wanted to enjoy this book. It has so much going for it. First off, it is not your usual sci-fi war story. It isn’t set at the front, for one thing. War is the back-drop and makes everything all the more dangerous, but there are no battles here. Gun-fights and boxing matches, sure, even a bit of torture. But no all out battles. There is bug powered magic though. With wasps set to attack and bugs powering vehicles. That is pretty damn cool I’ll be the first to admit.
And it is set in a Muslim-esque future. Makes for a nice change from the usual.
Unfortunately it is a little bit too dark and gritty for me. I like to like at least one of the characters. Nyx has a lot going for her in terms of being an interesting woman, but she sure isn’t likeable. And the rest, well, many are supporting characters so we only get flashes and hints, I think I may have liked some of them if we’d had more time with them, but as it is, we didn’t.
It is a very interesting book though. All about how war messes you up, messes society up. Especially a religious war.
I also enjoyed the gender politics. Nasheen is dominated by women. Ruled by a queen and, almost as much, by its bel dames. The boys get drafted and sent off to the front. Few return. Their enemies, the Chenjen are male dominated. Although they likewise send their men off to fight, unless you are head of household that is.
Race, sexuality, religion; its all here, and so well done and believable.
But I need me some nice characters! And I didn’t get them, so I can’t love this book. I can like it, and find it interesting, and I can even recommend that you read it! But I can’t love it :) I will be totally reading the sequel, Infinity though.
Other reviews: The mad hatter ; Fantasy book critic ; Frida fantastic ; Little red reviewer
I read this back when it first came out, I had to go back and reread my review to remember eveyrthing i was thinking about. Nice characters? nope, not here. I remember liking Rhys the best, and Nyx striking me as interesting, but not someone I'd want to have a conversation with. But I guess she's just a product of her society? I did really like the insect tech and all the weird bug chemicals and stuff. I'm happy to hear the sequel is on it's way!
redhead´s last blog post ..The Hobbit’s Holiday comes to an end.
Interesting she certainly is :) And yeah, I probably liked Rhys the best, but even still, his ideas about women were so "woah, hang on there now" that I don't think I'd want to be his friend :)
But the world and the characters were fantastic, and I will be reading the sequel when it makes an appearance.
Thanks for linking to my blog. Correction, the sequel is Infidel, not Infinity. Your point about the characters being too dark is the comment I've been hearing most often from people who didn't enjoy the book as much. I might be too scared of Nyx to sit down and have a drink with her, but I'd read on about her adventures. She's just so interesting and has a brutality that I haven't seen in any other female SF/F character. It's like Ellen Ripley + will cut your balls badass.
My main nitpick with the book is with some of the pacing + events in the final third (action scenes got confusing at parts), and some characters remained in the dark even though they become more important (e.g. Nyx's old mentor).
Good to hear that you're reading the sequel too! It's definitely one of the releases I'm most looking forward to this year.
Frida Fantastic´s last blog post ..Polly! by Stephen Goldin (2008)
Urgh, yes Infidel. Don't know how I managed that typo :)