by Kameron Hurley
Review by Colleen Cahill
Night Shade Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781597802246
Date: 04 October 2011 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The old saying to not judge a book by its cover also applies to the brief descriptions on the back of the book. Or at least, don't assume all that is mentioned is all there is to a work. In Kameron Hurley's second book of the Bel Dame Apocrypha series, Infidel,, the description is correct about this being a story of a female assassin in hard times. What the blurb does not give you is the richness of this work, as it brings us a planet with many wars going on, some even fought with troops and an alien landscape shaped by insects.
As the book opens, we enter a world that is full of poverty, war, riches and religion. Nyx is a former member of the bel dames, women assassins who supposedly work for the Queen of Nasheen, but don't mind taking on jobs for money. She has fallen far and now works with a "cocky boy shifter and a reformed venom addict". Nyx mostly survives as muscle for hire.
During a seemly routine job as body guard to the daughter of an ambassador, there is an attack and it is soon evident that Nyx is actually the target. The fact that the bel dames who tried to kill her were rogue operators makes this all the more chilling; what attention has Nyx drawn and how can she protect against it?
The situation is not helped when Nyx becomes mysteriously sick; this seems to be a new disease without any known cure. Her team urges her to seek help, but Nyx does not trust magicians, not just because of any lack of skills, but someone could use them to get at her.
Shifters? Magicians? No, this is not a fantasy, although Eshe can actually change his shape into a raven: this is technology beyond our own. Magicians are our scientists and doctors, and their main tool is insects and their by products. Umayma was terraformed by magicians through the use of insects, but "they lost control of most of their concoctions". While society depends on bugs, they also fear those that have gone bad. This makes for a very interesting environment and culture.
It is a world of deep plots and hidden agendas, ones that have caught Nyx and her team in a vortex of intrigue and danger. After being used as a tool to attack the Queen of Nasheen, Nyx knows she has to stop the bel dames, who are attempting to take over the Kingdom and eventually all of Umayma.
Infidel is a book of action and conspiracies, not only of the bel dames, but also of Nyx and various compatriots, some who join her fight very reluctantly. Not only are the characters complex and fascinating, but the world itself is captivating, with a technology so different from our own. Hurley has made this gritty place both familiar and very alien, completely capturing my attention from the very first chapter.
You need not read God's War, the first book in the series, to understand this one, but if you are like me, it will be on your list to find. Highly recommended for those who enjoy fast action, complex plots and compelling characters.