Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Books O'the Decade: God's War and Infidel

The nations of Nasheen and Chenja have been at war for so long that nobody remembers exactly when it started, or exactly why.  For several hundred years, Nasheenians and Chenjans have been sending their young men to die at the front.   Sometimes the young men turn tail and run, and when they do, they're often carrying dangerous infections back to a population that hasn't been vaccinated against the latest in germ warfare.  Which is where the bel dames come in.  These ladies are highly-trained, government-sponsored assassins that hunt down the deserters and kill them before they can kill anyone else.  And sometimes they kill other people, too, for reasons known only to them.  

Nyx used to be a bel dame, until a little side work with genetic engineering got her thrown in jail.  Now she's a run-of-the-mill bounty hunter, settling old scores and solving other people's problems by severing heads.  When the Queen Herself calls on Nyx to collect a head, Nyx's hopes of getting her bel dame license back become more than a pipe dream.

Of course there are complications.  There are other interested parties--including other bel dames and Nyx's former boss, who lost a rather important body part to Nyx after a certain "misunderstanding."  There's the Chenjan magician Rhys, who just joined Nyx's team, and for whom she has feelings she doesn't understand.  And then there's the matter of the bounty, herself--a scientist from another world whose knowledge may hold the key to ending the war.

Or the human race.

Six years after the events in God's War, Infidel opens with a schism in the bel dame counsel.  Nyx is recruited--this time by some of the bel dames--to find the leader of the opposing faction and end the split before civil war breaks out in Nasheen.  The search takes Nyx into the neighboring country of Tirhan, where Rhys has retired, married and had two children.  And I can't say another word about this one without tripping over a spoiler or two, but let's just say it involves a new superweapon, some boxing, and one woman's ability to turn into a tree.  And no, I'm not gonna explain that.

Now, y'all know I'm endlessly curious about Muslims, have some Muslim friends,would probably convert if they would have me and make up for it by hanging out at a great Muslim restaurant instead (and leaving very nice tips).  Well, these books are an absolute treat, because Nyx's world is populated entirely by Muslims, descendants of the First Families that came down from the moons three thousand years ago.  Ever wonder what Islam--or any religion, for that matter--will look like in the far future?  This is a peek.  It's bound to get your brain turning, and even if you only know a little bit about Islam, you'll feel the pieces fall into place as you read.  But that's hardly the only reason to buy this series.  It's the best kind of sci-fi; the kind that doesn't waste a lot of layers explaining How Stuff Works and just gets to the frick'n story, already.  And what stories they are.

Ms. Hurley's third and final novel in the series, Rapture, will be published in November.  You'll want to read both God's War and Infidel before then. Yes, you will.  Trust me. Oh, and if you wanna follow Ms. Hurley around on Twitter, she's @KameronHurley.

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