Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Rapture: Book Three of the Bel Dame Apocrypha

Rapture: Book Three of the Bel Dame Apocrypha
Rapture: Book Three of the Bel Dame Apocrypha by Kameron Hurley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark fiction/Science Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of dark fiction, especially of the science-fantasy type, intricate world-building
Trigger Warnings: murder, violence, torture, attempted genocide

My Thoughts: In this book, the world of Umayma really opens up, and we find out a lot more about the countries mentioned in the previous books, as well as many countries and peoples that are new to both us and to the characters in the book, such as Kiranmey, by the Wall at the northern end of the desert. In an earlier review I said it looked like the planet generally followed a form of Islam, but that was a generalization based upon a few statements like, “We all follow the same God.”

As I learn more about the different peoples, however, it looks like Nasheen, Chenja and Tirhan have a form of Islam, while Mhoria might be a form of Judaism, and Ras Tieg sounds like it is Catholicism. Drucians show up in this book, and I'm suspecting they aren't human, or at least not the same type of human as the rest of the world, but there is no information about their religious beliefs other than that they worship multiple gods, and the desert nomads, Kharians (I think; it's hard to keep track of all of them) have some mysterious and pagan sort of belief where it is hinted they worship wind and sand. The Mhorians segregate the genders to the point that M/M relationships are not only acknowledged, but preferred, and the Nasheenians tend to prefer F/F relationships and have a lot of disdain for men. Tirhan allows up to 4 wives per man, and the desert nomads and Drucians allow multiple husbands (or at least two). It's amazing to see this sort of variety; I'm not aware of any modern society that allows multiple husbands on Earth, although I believe some of the African tribes once did something like this.

To make it even more interesting, people on this world have evolved a form of magic dealing with insects and others have developed a form of shape-shifting; mostly into a single other creature, but in some extremely rare cases they are not limited at all and can shape-shift into anything, while other people have mutated in different ways. Basically, reading this series and figuring out the different peoples is like a particularly fascinating anthropology project. And you really do need to read the whole series before you even begin to have a feeling for the world outside of Chenja and Neeshan; that information is provided in dribs and drabs throughout the series, but more is given in this third book than in the first two combined. I would love to learn more about this world and its peoples; I wonder if the author could be enticed to write a sort of atlas of Umayma? That would be really cool, and I would definitely buy it. If nothing else, I do hope the series continues, because I'm sure there is a great deal yet to learn about this world. Maybe some prequels, or move on to other characters, unless Nyx is somehow re-made, because she's becoming pretty old for these types of things. Of course (speaking of age), apparently First Families can lives for centuries; one character mentions an “older” man and then later recognizes him as her great-grandfather's brother! Some of the details that come out regarding the First Families and how the world was settled are fascinating tidbits; again, I would love to know more.

At any rate, it's a pity that the problems that Night Shade is experiencing is putting the future of this series in jeopardy, because it is a really good one. I do hope the author will find a way to continue it, I really do. There is so much more to learn about this world, these people, and how it all fits together. Nyx may be retired, but there are other characters, and other stories to be told. I have seen the quality of these books improve with each story, and it is just now, in the third book, that the whole series is really coming into its own. Highly recommended for fans of dark fiction, well-crafted science-fantasy stories, and intricate world-building.

Series Information: Rapture is the third book in the Bel Dame Apocrypha (also sometimes called the God's War series). There is no word on whether the series will continue or whether this is the end of it.
Book 1: God's War, review linked here where formatting allowed
Book 2: Infidel, review linked here where formatting allowed

Disclosure: I received an e-galley from Night Shade Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: After years in exile, Nyxnissa so Dasheem is back in action in service to the bel dames, a sisterhood of elite government assassins tasked with eliminating deserters and traitors. The end of a centuries-long holy war between her country, Nasheen, and neighboring Chenja has flooded the streets of Nasheen with unemployed—and unemployable—soldiers whose frustrations have brought the nation to the brink of civil war.

Not everyone likes this tenuous and unpredictable "peace," however, and somebody has kidnapped a key politician whose death could trigger a bloody government takeover. With aliens in the sky and revolution on the ground, Nyx assembles a team of mad magicians, torturers,and mutant shape-shifters for an epic journey across a flesh-eating desert in search of a man she's not actually supposed to kill.

Trouble is, killing is the only thing Nyx is good at. And she already left this man to die...

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