Welcome to week five of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Kiss, the first book in Moirin’s Trilogy and the seventh in the Kushiel’s Legacy series! If you’re interested in joining this or future read-alongs, please check out our goodreads group. Questions this week are provided by Susan of Dab of Darkness, and they cover chapters 49-60. Beware of spoilers below!
1) Moirin and the Circle do one final summoning. What did you think of Focalor’s choices in who to spare or not? King Daniel also has to make some choices in who to punish or not - do you think he was fair? Is he correct in that he should have given his people something greater to strive for?
I guess Focalor could see into their hearts, so he could most accurately judge their purity of purpose. I feel like they must have all known this summoning was likely to harm or kill Moirin, though, so I don’t see their motivations as particularly noble. I feel like he should have killed Raphael. Raphael was a healer who forced Moirin into a potentially deadly promise as a condition for aiding someone. That’s a fair bit worse than Claire, in my opinion.
In the human punishments, I think King Daniel was too lenient. It is true that the summoning did not break any law. However, I think that Raphael should have been punished for essentially assaulting a member of House Courcel, by forcing her into a situation where he knew that she would be harmed. I’m not sure if the rest of the group knew that he used her father’s life to coerce her into serving them. If they didn’t, then they didn’t know Moirin was not there of her free will, and therefore they at least don’t carry that particular guilt.
I disagree with King Daniel’s idea that he is partially to blame for their actions. Plenty of people lived in Terre d’Ange with the same lack of striving, and somehow they managed not to nearly kill Alban people in the pursuit of summoning demons. In a narrative sense, I suspect this is the seed for his planning eventual d’Angeline journeys to Terra Nova. It will be neat if Moirin ends up going there, too.
2) Master Lo is summoned home to Ch'in to do what he can for the Emperor's daughter Snow Tiger. What do you think of her ailment? What role, if any, do you expect Moirin to play in healing her?
Maybe it involves some hidden thing that needs to be revealed? The ailment sounds a lot like what Focalor was planning to do to Raphael, except that I got the impression that Raphael’s soul would be pretty much stamped out. It sounds like Snow Tiger’s soul is still in there, though it gets overrun at times. I’m not sure what Moirin could do for Snow Tiger right now, since she isn’t a healer of humans.
3) We learn more about Bao's past. Do you like him any more or any less now? We also hear some amazing things about Master Lo. Do you think any of them are true?
He seems to have led a really difficult life, and not all of his decisions were good ones. I respected that he chose to reject the use of sexual abuse, and that this was the trigger that cause him to rethink his life. I guess I like him about the same. As for Master Lo, I’m curious as to why he has been able to live so long. I expect most of the stories are true, given how much magic we’ve seen in the book so far!
4) During the lengthy voyage, Moirin has language lessons, learns a bit about the Ch'in religions, and enjoys Bao's attentions. What stood out for you?
I had been a little frustrated that Moirin seemed to lack Phedre and Imriel’s curiosity and skill in languages, so it was a relief to see her finally study Ch’in. I was also happy to see that she was eventually able to make friends with some of the women on board.
5) They finally make land right into the middle of a civil war. What do you think about Black Sleeve? What do you think his relationship to Master Lo is?
I don’t really have a guess as to their relationship, though they clearly seem to have some kind of connection. I don’t feel like I know enough about the people involved to say much about the political situation. I hope they allowed at least the women from the ship to surrender.
--Bao’s broken d’Angeline was a little distracting, but I was glad to see it was purposeful on his part (based on how he learned languages quickly). I’m glad that phrasing is abandoned now that they are both speaking Ch’in.
--Blossom is a very impressive horse. After the muscular atrophy from such a long sea voyage, she was able to make a strenuous journey for Moirin. I hope we haven’t seen the last of her.
--I hope for her sake that Moirin doesn’t get quite as disastrously entangled in Ch’in politics as she did in Terre d’Ange.