Monday, December 12, 2016

Read-Along: Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey Part 2

Welcome to the second week of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Kiss.  This is first book of Moirin’s Trilogy, and the seventh (out of nine) of the overall Kushiel’s Legacy series.  Beware spoilers of Phedre’s and Imriel’s trilogies below, as well as through chapter 25 of Naamah’s Kiss.  This week’s discussion questions are provided by Susan of Dab of Darkness, and cover chapters 13-26.  We get back to Terre d’Ange this week, and see Moirin’s introduction to the familiar city!

1) How does one go about finding their destiny? Do you think Moirin is doing a good job of finding her's? How did you find your own destiny, or have you?

I was finishing Ken Liu’s The Wall of Storms today, and one of the characters made a comment about this--that maybe destiny was really just a series of random occurrences that we build a story about after the fact. I think there is a lot of truth in this. When I was a teenager, I used to joke that I believed in free will rather than predestination, because if I was wrong then I didn’t have a choice about what to believe.  Even now, I can’t say I believe any differently.  I am not seeking my destiny, but simply trying to live my life as best I can.  If I really have a destiny, then surely I will meet with it whether I search for it or not!  

That being said, I think there is a bit more of actual supernatural destiny in this series. On that point, I feel that Moirin is doing pretty well.  Looking for her father was a natural starting point, and we’ll see where she goes from there.  It seems like she’s about to meet someone from China, and I’m wondering if she’ll end up in the New World at some point in this trilogy.

2) Moirin is pretty uncomfortable within stone walls and cities in general. Have you ever found yourself in a similar position, whether in the forest or at sea or in a large city?

Actually, yes, so I can’t criticize her on this.  I really hate being surrounded by people, and being in a big city frays my nerves until I get horribly grumpy.  When I’m in a tight crowd, it just feels like they’re all breathing up the air and I have to get away so that I can breathe.  As for cities, I think I just don’t like being isolated from living things.  I prefer my cities to have lots of greenery, or to just actually be rural villages instead.  I think generally people tend to either strongly prefer small villages or big cities, and I’m a village person.

3) We continue to meet or hear about descendants of characters we met in the first 6 books. Who has caught your attention the most?

I was eager to hear what came of Sidonie and Imriel’s magic academy, so I was glad to see more details about that.  It was interesting that they chose to make their academy focus on studying magic rather than practicing it, but I can’t say I blame them for their decision on that point.  Also, I was delighted to hear of Ti-Phillipe’s legacy.  Given his personality, I bet a lot of the sailor boys who claim it really are his descendants.  

4) The Maghuin Dhonn. The Tsingani. Do you see parallels between the two or how they are treated?

Now that you mention it, I suppose so.  They both are minority cultures with magical powers that are treated poorly by the dominant culture. It will be interesting to see if the Tsingani play a role in Moirin’s story.

5) First impressions of the denizens of the City of Elua? Of Raphael de Mereliot?
Moirin is in way over her head right away, and she isn’t even fully aware of it.  Right now everyone seems to be bending over backwards to give her anything she wants and make her life happier.  I suspect (and hope) this will not continue indefinitely.

Raphael seems nice enough, and seems to be honest about his intentions with Moirin.  However, Moirin would be out of her depth socially at Imriel’s old goat-herding sanctuary, let alone court, and I get the impression she’s going to be hurt very badly.  

6) Morin continues her hunt for her D'Angeline heritage. What do you expect from Phanuel, her father?

I suspect she’ll find him a much more kindred spirit than anyone at court in the City of Elua.  He sounds pretty laid-back and well-meaning so far.  I don’t expect he’ll be able to offer her much in the way of help, though, unless she wants to enter Naamah’s service.  Given Moirin’s personality, that seems like it would be a good idea.

Other Things:

--I don’t blame Raphael for getting angry with Moirin.  That was really brutal of her to pry into his darkest and most painful memories so soon after meeting, even if she didn’t mean to.

--I hope we get to see more of the queen soon.  All we know so far is that she “has a temper” and is a servant of Naamah.

--On that note, it is hilarious that they think Phedre never stepped “above her station”.  She was an unwanted child of a prostitute who ended up with a title, estate, and the ear of the queen.  She also raised a member of the royal family (who eventually became a king) as her son. She is really not a good example of a servant of Naamah “knowing her place”.


  1. I like your way of looking at destiny, as an after the fact storyline that we see.

    I wonder if all of the talk about stepping outside of one's station was more of an attempt by Florette and Lydia to make peace with their own stations in society...

    1. That may be the case for Florette & Lydia. They probably do feel trapped by their roles in society.

  2. Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings is on my TBR pile. I think I will be diving into that shortly.

    I'm a village person as well. I like having services in a nearby city, and it's totally fine with me if I have to drive there once a month or so to see to things like groceries or medical appointments.

    I vaguely recall a comment about D'Angelines being involved in undoing magic more than creating it or practicing it.

    I agree with you about Moirin and her prying. She doesn't have ill intent but she also isn't good about respecting boundaries.

    1. I loved Grace of Kings, but it took me a while to really get into it!

      That's pretty much what I want, as well. Somewhere nearby where I can get city conveniences, but not right at my doorstep.