As I’m hope most everyone is aware, A Dribble of Ink syndicates two of my reviews a month, usually with a new release on the first Tuesday and then an older title from my so-called back list. With Kameron Hurley final novel in her Bel Dame Apocrypha being released, I thought it would be appropriate to rerun my God’s War and Infidel reviews at A Dribble of Ink, before publishing a review of Hurley’s concluding volume, Rapture.
I had a problem though, I didn’t really think my review of God’s War was any good. It was one of my earlier reviews as a blogger, and I thought it deserved better. So I rewrote it — never an easy thing to do. I think it came out pretty well.
Beginning with Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl three years ago, Night Shade Books has made a concerted effort to produce meaningful debut novels. 2011 was a bold year in that regard. God’s War by Kameron Hurley, subsequently nominated for a Nebula Award, was the mother ship of that movement. It’s the kind of novel that plants a flag, making a statement about the deficiencies of genre fiction and challenging societal perceptions as a matter of course.
Nyxnissa is a bounty hunter. She’s rather good at her job, mostly because she manages to chop off the heads of anyone dumb enough to get in her way. She’s got an unlucky team around her, headlined by the not so talented magician, Rhys, whose good looks and steady hands make up for his deficiencies. Once a government sponsored bel dame (assassin), Nyx has been down her luck for a while when she’s called before the Nasheen Queen to hunt down an alien who might have access to genetic technology that could end the never ending war between Chenja and Nasheen. Of course, her team isn’t the only one looking. Conflict ensues.
What makes God’s War such an accomplishment has little to do with plot. It is, in fact, somewhat of a failure as a narrative. The novel is littered with disjointed blanks that demand filling and the first fifty pages are more of a novella than the opening to a novel. Other details, like why Nyx’s team is so loyal to her and the relationships between Nyx and the various arms of the government, lack an equal amount of lucidity. What rescues the novel is Hurley’s unremitting authentic voice, the sheer audacity of her ideas, and brilliantly conceived and executed characters.
For shits and giggles, here’s a link to the original review: http://www.staffersbookreview.com/2011/09/gods-war-kameron-hurley.html