Readers will be fascinated by the setting of this slow-starting but compelling far-future debut. On a planet settled by Muslims and ravaged by constant war and pollution, Nyx, a former government-sponsored assassin or "bel dame," gets by as a bounty hunter. Her assistant is the foreign magician Rhys, who can control the ubiquitous insects that drive the planet's technology. When the government asks them to hunt down an off-worlder who possesses technology that could end the war, they find themselves facing off against foreign agents and their fellow bel dames. Hurley's world-building is phenomenal, with casual references to insectile technology and the world's history that provide atmosphere without info dumps. Far too many pages are spent introducing the characters, but the story is highly engaging once it starts, and Hurley smoothly handles tricky themes such as race, class, religion, and gender without sacrificing action. (Feb.)
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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.