Infidel by Kameron Hurley
Published : Night Shade Books, 2011
Series : Book 2 of the Bel Dame Apocrypha
The Book :
Nyx used to be a bel dame, a government-funded assassin with a talent for cutting off heads for cash. Now she's babysitting diplomats to make ends meet and longing for the days when killing was a lot more honorable.
When Nyx's former bel dame "sisters" lead a coup against the government that threatens to plunge the country into civil war, Nyx is tasked with bringing them in. The hunt takes Nyx and her inglorious team of mercenaries to one of the richest, most peaceful, and most contaminated places on the planet - a country wholly unprepared to host a battle waged by the world's deadliest assassins.
In a rotten nation of sweet-tongued politicians, giant bugs, and renegade shape shifters, Nyx will forge unlikely allies and rekindle old acquaintances. And the bodies she leaves scattered across the continent this time... may include her own. Because no matter where you go or how far you run in this world, one thing is certain: the bloody bel dames will find you.” ~WWEnd.com
This is the second novel in the Bel Dame Apocrypha, and it has taken me a ridiculously long time to get to writing my review of it. My only remaining long-overdue review is for Daniel Abraham's The Dragon's Path, and hopefully I'll be able to keep from ever getting this far behind again. At least, now that this review is complete, I can finally plan on reading the third novel of the trilogy, Rapture! While Infidel does have a complete plot in itself, I would strongly advise starting with the first book of the series.
One of the things I loved in God's War was the creativity of the alien world, with its diseases, bug-based technology, and the distinct religions and cultures that have developed in the differing colonial settlements. Infidel, which begins after the events of the first novel, expands upon the world that has already been established. Though the plot this time involves unrest within the Nasheenian government, most of the new information was about countries that had only a minor role in the first book. For instance, a good portion of the story takes place in the wealthy, peaceful, arms-dealing country of Tirhan, which has been profiting from the endless war between Chenja and Nasheen. I enjoyed learning more about this dangerous world, and I feel like there could be many more stories to tell in it.
The world of this series continues to be bug-filled and violent, with a fair amount of murder, some torture, and a lot of profanity. Nyx and her companions live in a very brutal world, and as not particularly high-class mercenaries, they are accustomed to casual violence. Nyx has established a new team, since her previous one abandoned her (for very legitimate reasons), and they have once again taken on a job that leaves Nyx in over her head. There are a couple of cracks in the plot for me, such as one instance where all the characters seem to briefly forget a couple of key pieces of information. The intrigue this time also seemed a bit too convoluted in some parts, but the plot moved forward quickly enough that it was enough to let the pieces fall into place.
As in the first book, the character interactions were far more fascinating to me than the political plot. I still love Nyx as a protagonist, though she seems even more of a nihilist this time around. Even so, I still felt like she was desperately searching for a way to give her life a sense of meaning. For instance, her team is composed of a former drug addict and a boy who would be shipped to the front to die in a few years. One could argue that she was only able to hire the bottom of the barrel, but it seemed like she also genuinely wanted to help them (even if she believed the effort would be ultimately meaningless). I think that she also sought meaning through Rhys and through the bel dames. Her feelings towards Rhys were more blatant this time around, and their (non)-relationship still inverts gender stereotypes. Another major character this time around is Inaya, an extremely conservative woman from the previous novel. It turns out she has plenty of secrets, and she seems to be a kind of foil to Nyx's character.
My Rating: 4/5
Infidel continues the story that began in God's War, following the assassin and mercenary Nyx as she tries to complete an even more deadly task than before. For me, the highlights of the novel are the creative alien world, the complex and deeply flawed protagonist, Nyx, and the complicated relationships between the characters. The political plot was interesting, but it had a few weak points for me. Infidel is a good sequel to God's War, and I'm looking forward to continuing the story in Rapture.