Hurley (The Stars Are Legion, 2017, etc.) collects five grim new adventures of Nyxnissa so Dasheem, disgraced ex–government assassin and current bloody-minded bounty hunter with an existing but deeply buried moral sense.
All stories take place before the main action of God’s War (2011), the first book of the Bel Dame trilogy, set on a barely terraformed and metal-poor planet half laid waste from biological warfare, with a technology based on genetically engineered bugs. The stories are somewhat repetitive: Nyx is hired to do some ethically shady job that isn’t what it first appears, and a bloody mess results. At least Nyx and her team usually get paid, albeit not enough to crawl out of their desperate lifestyle. There’s enough explanation provided that readers who haven’t read the series should be able to get along. But those who have read the books, which are a powerful exercise in character development over time, will be aware of the fate of Nyx and each member of her team: com tech Taite, sniper Anneke, shape-shifter Khos, and the mediocre magician Rhys, the unacknowledged love of Nyx’s life. Knowing what the future holds for these people adds a certain weight of sadness to these stories. (Hurley even makes a grim, heavy-handed joke about the tragedy that will befall one character, but only a reader of her novel Infidel would even know the joke was being made.) Four of the five tales were previously published on Hurley’s Patreon, and there’s a definite sense that they were written simply as Nyx fan-pleasers. While two of the stories explain how Anneke and Khos join the team, the collection as a whole doesn’t really advance the general storyline of the series or add much to our understanding of these characters.
For established fans, a bittersweet reunion with old friends; for new readers, a reasonable enticement toward the superior novels of the series.