Monday, December 5, 2016

Read-Along: Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Welcome to yet another Jacqueline Carey read-along, organized by Susan of Dab of Darkness and Lynn of Lynn’s Book Blog! We’re starting up the final trilogy of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, and will be reading Naamah’s Kiss for the next few months.  If you’re interested in joining, you can post on our goodreads group!  For further information, here’s the blurb for Naamah’s Kiss:

“Once there were great magicians born to the Maghuin Dhonn, the folk of the Brown Bear, the oldest tribe in Alba. But generations ago, the greatest of them all broke a sacred oath sworn in the name of all his people. Now only small gifts remain to them. Through her lineage, Moirin possesses such gifts—the ability to summon the twilight and conceal herself, and the skill to coax plants to grow.

Moirin has a secret, too. From childhood onward, she senses the presence of unfamiliar gods in her life—the bright lady and the man with a seedling cupped in his palm. Raised in the wilderness by her reclusive mother, Moirin learns only when she comes of age how illustrious, if mixed, her heritage is. The great-granddaughter of Alais the Wise, child of the Maghuin Donn and a cousin of the Cruarch of Alba, Moirin learns her father was a D’Angeline priest dedicated to serving Naamah, goddess of desire.

After Moirin undergoes the rites of adulthood, she finds divine acceptance… on the condition that she fulfill an unknown destiny that lies somewhere beyond the ocean. Or perhaps oceans. Beyond Terre d’Ange, where she finds her father, in the far reaches of distant Ch’in, Moirin’s skills will be a true gift when facing the vengeful plans of an ambitious mage, a noble warrior-princess desperate to save her father’s throne, and the spirit of a celestial dragon.”

The schedule will be as follows:

Dec. 5th Week 1 – Chapters 1-12, Hosted Lynn’s Book Blog
Dec. 12th Week 2 – Chapters 13-26, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Dec. 19th Week 3 – Chapters 27-36, Hosted by Books Without Any Pictures
Dec. 26th Week 4 – Chapters 37-48, Hosted by Tethyan Books
Jan. 2nd Week 5 – Chapters 49-60, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Jan. 9th Week 6 – Chapters 61-74, Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Jan 16th Week 7 – Chapters 75-End, Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog

As indicated, this week we are discussing chapters 1-12, and questions are provided by Lynn’s Book Blog! Naamah’s Kiss starts several generations after the previous six books, and I am still trying to cope with the fact that there will be no Phedre and Joscelin.  They were really excellent characters, and I’m going to miss reading about them. Anyhow, on to the discussion:

Firstly, Carey has picked up the story a few generations down the line.  How do you think this will affect the story, if at all?

Well, there’s no Phedre and Joscelin.  I’m trying to approach this as a completely unrelated story in the same universe (which it is), but this still makes me sad.  Maybe one of them can appear to Moirin as vision from Cassiel or Kushiel?  I’m reaching here, but I really want them to be in this book.

In other areas, it looks like we have progressed to early 1500s, so there should be some changes to their society.  The New World has been discovered, and the blurb seems to say that intercontinental travel is now possible.  However, the world also seems more magical than before, since our main character is a magician. The series seemed to be moving further into overt, repeatable magic as we continued, so perhaps this should not be a surprise.

We have a new female lead.  What are your first impressions of Moirin?

She seems like a nice young woman, a person who has a good heart. In some ways, I don’t think her mother was entirely fair in her upbringing.  She taught her magic and woodlore, but completely neglected a lot of other areas.  As a result, she often seems to not really understand what’s happening around her. Given that her mother never talked to her about sex or social mores surrounding romantic relationships, never made any effort to teach her social skills, and resists giving her advice, it is not surprising that her first relationship was such a disaster.

I enjoyed the return to Alba, and once again meeting the Maghuin Dhonn - what did you make of the coming of age ritual?

This is more the style of magic I like in these books!  Did she go to a different world, or was it the effect of the mushroom tea?  However, since Moirin has magical powers, I’m guessing it was indeed another world.  I liked that I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  She could very well have been forced to leave Alba because the Maghuin Dhonn rejected her.  I’m glad that wasn’t the case, though, because she would have been devastated.   

The story already has the inclusion of magic and also visions of Gods - any predictions on what these visions and magic might bring to the story?

This seems to be shaping up to have even more magic than the end of Imriel’s trilogy, so I expect we will see other gods and other types of sorcery.  From the blurb, I expect Chinese dragons will be involved, or at least their spirits.  I really have no idea where this story is going to go right now, so I hesitate to make any more guesses!

Other Stuff:

--It was sad to see Clunderry again.  I’m glad Alais gave the estate a more hopeful legacy.  I almost expected Moirin to find Imriel’s little Elua corner.  Or did she, and I didn’t notice it?

--It seems like main characters really can’t just break up in these books.  Their partner has to die tragically.  I expect Moirin will be hesitant to fall in love again, after everything that happened with Cillian.

--I wonder if Moirin will lose her Alban magic when she leaves Alba.  She already has d’Angeline magic despite not being in Terre d’Ange, so I’m not sure how place-dependent her magic is.  


  1. 'I’m reaching here, but I really want them to be in this book' - I feel the same. Carey's Phedre and Joscelin pairing are a hard act to follow and in a way she was a victim of her own success in that we all keep wanting more of them! It makes sense that she probably wants to jump forward and start afresh!
    As to Moirin - yeah, I kind of wondered what sort of a childhood she'd had. I'm not trying to be overly critical about it but she certainly didn't seem to have friends or others her own age to interact with. It will be interesting to see how she interacts with others throughout the novel.
    I also wondered about the mushroom tea - and whether it was causing hallucinations. Seriously though, like you, I did wonder if she wouldn't experience a visitation at all and it made me feel concern for her.
    Such a sad little love story. I felt sorry for her and the way she was treated. It would certainly make me a little more hesitant in the future.
    Lynn :D

    1. Yeah, they are a hard act to follow for sure, they're pretty much my favorite fictional couple! I can understand Carey wanting to move to a new story, though.

      On Moirin, that will be interesting to see. She hardly knows even Maghuin Dhonn society, so I'm looking forward to her reaction to other cultures.

  2. When I first read this series, I was also sad that there was no Phedre & Joscelin.

    That's a good point about the magic being more overt even though we had jumped ahead a few generations. So is it more overt because that author is enjoying writing magic or is it more overt because are main character is from a mystical/magical folk? Might be a Schrodinger's cat situation.

    Good point about Moirin's mom not providing a good balance in education. I think she has some fears/reasons but I can't recall if we get to know more of them than we already have.

    Interesting thought about Alban magic. We shall see if it will carry over. Imriel was able to do Alban magic on Sidonie, and Moirin is half Alban and born there, so I hope she gets to keep her magic.

    1. On the magic, I guess we'll see when we move to other lands with Moirin, if it's just her or if it's all the cultures that have such strong magic. Now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if Moirin will go to Sidonie & Imriel's magic academy!

      I hope we get to learn more about Moirin's mother's reasoning.