Author: Kameron Hurley
Genre: post-apocalyptic, weird
Length: 376 pages
Publisher: Night Shade Books (2011)
MY RATING: 5.0 stars
NOTE: There are some spoilers for God’s War (which might go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway). My review of the first book in the trilogy is found here.
Six years after the events of God’s War, former government assassin Nyxnissa so Dasheem is working as a mercenary in Mushtallah, the capital of Nasheen. She’s assembled a new team consisting of Eshe, a “half-breed” boy (her adopted son) and Suha, a Chenjan mercenary and recovered drug addict. At the end of God’s War, her team left for Tirhan, a neighboring country that is heavily invested in dealing weapons to both sides of the war between Chenja and Nasheen. After six years, they’ve all moved on with their lives. Rhys has become a translator for the Tirhani government and started a family. Inaya works for the Ras Tiegan embassy and is raising two children with Khos.
The novel runs at a slower burn than God’s War. The chapters alternate between Nyx figuring out who is trying to kill her in Nasheen and the lives of her former associates. Khos and Inaya are having a rocky marriage, while Rhys and his bride seem far too happy.
Because Nyx is bound to cross their path eventually. Investigating just who is trying to kill her, and why she is feeling ill lately, points her to Tirhan. Saying much more about the plot would ruin a lot of what Hurley so carefully puts into place, and into execution in the last third of the novel.
Where God’s War is a high-octane chase punctuated by moments of humor and reflection, Infidel is a slower paced story. Its elements all come together with more clarity and unity. At times I wanted the pace to pick up (hey there’s a lot of anticipation and suspense here), but when it did about 2/3 into the book, Hurley mashed down on the gas and never let up until it was over. There are plenty of surprises and weird elements along the way that are set up with superior foreshadowing and hit hard once the hammer falls.
More so than the first, the second book in the Bel Dame Apocrypha series is about consequences and what one is willing to sacrifice to meet bigger goals. For the first time, Nyx has a child to worry about, and a boy at that–boys go to war as teenagers and return home at 40 if they survive (and most do not). Her former associates Rhys, Inaya, and Khos all understand that Nyx is a disruptive force, and they have more to lose by helping her in her quest. Ultimately, she is willing to give up everything to help Nasheen, despite getting kicked out of the bel dames over a dozen years ago.
To sum it up, I recommend Infidel for a riveting story, sophisticated worldbuilding, and compelling characters. If you enjoyed God’s War, the sequel will give you more of what made that book work so well with several levels of added depth and breadth. Five stars, hands down.
Now on to Rapture. I have to see how this trilogy ends.