Bel Dame Apocrypha

More spite week! Today I’m talking about a particularly awesome trilogy by Kameron Hurley called either the God’s War Trilogy or the Bel Dame Apocrypha.

To quote the description of the first book from Amazon.com:

Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn’t make any difference…

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there’s one thing everybody agrees on–

There’s not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx’s ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war–but at what price?

The world is about to find out.

And to quote the author:

It really is true that when you have nothing to lose, it’s easier to give yourself permission to do anything. So that’s what I did. Bug magic? Sure. Bisexual heroine? Why not? Matriarchy? Of course! Non-white protagonists? YES! Old-school biblical violence? You betcha! Also… aliens and spaceships and sword fights and organ dealers and boxing, oh my! BECAUSE I’M DYING AND LIFE IS SHIT, PEOPLE, SO WHO THE HELL CARES?

That level of “fuck it, I’m going to write whatever the fuck I want” just does it for me. It’s also pretty fucking awesome that the books are about mostly women, and mostly non-white people at that, who aren’t Christian and who live on another planet in a not remotely North American or Western European climate.

Holy fuck, it’s like it’s possible to write a worthwhile story about a person who isn’t a man! It’s even possible to write a war story that isn’t about men! And about bounty hunters who aren’t men! And magicians who aren’t men!

Kameron also writes essays like as We Have Always Fought, which should make it entirely clear why I think she’s awesome. To quote a small snippet of her essay:

When I sat down with one of my senior professors in Durban, South Africa to talk about my Master’s thesis, he asked me why I wanted to write about women resistance fighters.

“Because women made up twenty percent of the ANC’s militant wing!” I gushed. “Twenty percent! When I found that out I couldn’t believe it. And you know – women have never been part of fighting forces –”

He interrupted me. “Women have always fought,” he said.

“What?” I said.

“Women have always fought,” he said. “Shaka Zulu had an all-female force of fighters. Women have been part of every resistance movement. Women dressed as men and went to war, went to sea, and participated actively in combat for as long as there have been people.”

Show me someone who says that’s not awesome and important and I’ll show you a lying, woman hating, sack of shit. We have always fought, we have always been worthwhile, we have always been a part of history. Fuck yeah to Kameron Hurley for pointing that out.

4 thoughts on “Bel Dame Apocrypha

  1. I just picked up “God’s War” from the library, along with a few other books that I’m excited about. I’m also going to reread Jo Walton’s “Tooth and Claw” because it’s amazing. I highly recommend her as a writer. Her trilogy that starts with “Farthing” is far more serious than “Tooth and Claw” but was absolutely mindblowing to me.

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