The smog in Mushtallah tasted of tar and ashes; it tasted like the war.
–Kameron Hurley - Infidel - c.2011,2014
Six years after the events in God’s War and Nyx is still making a living by taking notes, or killing. She has a new team, no magician this time round, and she’s doing okay. Not great, never great, but she’s getting by. She has enough to pay the bills most of the time and a couple of emergency caches if things go sour. But she is still an ex-Bel Dame. The loss of that title still rankles her, maybe more than she realises. She remembers her life having honour and purpose back then.
But those rogue sisters of her that caused so much trouble before are back at it again. A faction among the Bel Dames seem to be ready to launch a coup, to take out the queen and seize power.
So where does that leave Nyx?
On my first read of God’s War I loved its worldbuilding and the fact that it was so different from so much fantasy/science fiction, on my reread I loved the characters just as much as I hadn’t the first time I picked up the book. Reading Infidel was like my reread. I loved the worldbuilding, I loved the way the different societies had their different ideas and practices, their social taboos and customs, I loved the desert and the bugs and the magicians. And I loved the characters.
In a way Nyx reminds me a certain amount of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye character. Not that Toby is as quick to kill, not in the least, but she starts out sure she isn’t a hero and through the books begins to realise that she is that hero. Now, don’t get me wrong, the books are miles apart in tone and character and a whole heap of stuff. And Nyx is no hero. But I think she may be on the path. She’ll never be a Hollywood white-hat, she’s got far too much red in her ledger, but at least now she is questioning things a little.
Of course her world is a brutal one. It’s one where cancers are common, you simply get them scraped off, if of course you can afford that. It is a world that has been at war for so long that the whole fabric of society has altered. In Nasheen all the men go to the front, most never return, so the women dominate society. Most of the men of Chenja also go to the front, but not the wealthy land-owning first born sons, so there are men at the home front. Men who rule and marry multiple women so that they can all have wives. To the Chenjans the Nasheenian women are brutal, barbaric, and lacking in virtue. Mainly because they behave like men.
And the story just barrels along. Never too fast to make you scratch your head and wonder whats going on, despite all the alien-ness of the whole world. But it is action packed.
If you liked God’s War I’d say that you will enjoy this one too. I loved it, and am looking forward to starting book 3 Rapture in a few weeks.
Worlds Without End entry ; Intellectus Speculativus looks at in relation to Queering the Genre ; dreaming about casting the movie on My Book, The Movie