Monday, June 5, 2017

Read-Along: Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey, Week 1

This is the first post for a read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Curse, book 8 in the Kushiel’s Legacy series and the second book of Moirin’s trilogy!  Every Monday, a group of bloggers will be posting answers to discussion questions and discussing the week’s reading in comments.  If you’d like to be added to the email list to receive the discussion questions,  just drop an email to any of us participants!  The schedule will be as follows:

Week 1: Chapters 1-15, post Monday June 5 Hosted by Allie (Me!)
Week 2:  Chapters 16-32, post Monday June 12 Hosted by Lynn (Lynn’s Books)
Week 3: Chapters 33-47, post Monday June 19 Hosted by Susan (Dab of Darkness)
Week 4: Chapters 48-64, post Monday June 26 Hosted by Allie (Me again!)
Week 5: Chapters 65-END, Post Monday July 3 Hosted by Lynn (Lynn’s Books)

As you may have noticed, I’ve supplied this week’s questions, which I will now answer below. Beware, definite spoilers of the first fifteen chapters of Naamah’s Curse, as well as potential spoilers for previous novels in the series, lurk below.

1) A lot of this section involves recapping the adventures of Naamah's Kiss. What do you think about the way this was incorporated into the story?

At first, I felt like it was a little heavy on reminders of what had come before.  As we moved through the section, though, I appreciated how recaps were worked into Moirin’s conversations with Bao’s family and, later, Batu’s tribe.  I think it would have been extremely useful if I’d had a few years break between books.

2) Moirin heads off alone toward the Tatar steppe in winter.  Do you think this was the best course of action, or should she have traveled with some sort of escort or guide?

Moirin and Bao talked as though the options were a) completely alone or b) with an Imperial entourage.  I think there must be some middle ground in there somewhere.  Why couldn’t she have hired a local guide or traveled with a trade group of some sort?  I agree that Bao might have been put off by a honor guard, but as it is she very nearly died of the cold.  She’s very lucky that just about everyone she meets likes her.

3) What stuck out to you the most about the Tatar tribe Moirin stays with and their way of life?

They were so kind to strangers, it was a little hard to compare with what we knew of Bao’s parentage.  Their milk-fat-tea sounded kind of gross, but I bet it is useful in hard winters.  I’d also like to see a picture of their portable homes and their shaggy ponies.   

4) Bao & Moirin reunite in kind of a difficult situation--he's been married.  Do you think they're searching for a solution in the right way?  What do you think of how Bao has handled things so far?
So far, I’m really side-eyeing how Bao is handling the situation.  No matter whether or not he felt pressured, he did get married. I’m not sure I buy that it was unavoidable.  He was extremely inconsiderate of his wife to whisk Moirin to bed in such a public way.  He was also unfair to Moirin, because she had no idea she was helping him violate a promise to someone else.  His behavior is also a slap right in his father-in-law’s face, assuming the guy cares about propriety and honoring one’s word (I am suspecting he does).

As for their plan to resolve the situation, I am suspecting it may backfire.  Out of all the ways to back out of an arranged marriage, I think “humiliate your warriors and then demand you make good on a technicality” is probably not the best option.  On the other hand, I’m not sure what they could do at this point.  Bao’s already disrespected Moirin, his wife, and his father-in-law, so anything else Bao tries is just going to be more salt in the wound.

5) Bao & Moirin might have been in love before, but now they're forced together by divine magic.  How do you think you would react to finding yourself trapped as they are? Would you initially react more like Moirin or Bao?  

Emotionally, I agree with Bao’s prior assessment of the situation.  I would hate feeling that I don’t have any choice in matters of the heart, like I was being mind-controlled by some external force.  At the same time, I don’t think I would want to force myself away from my appointed soulmate.  I like being happy, and if that was the only path to love, I would probably take it.

I hope they find some way to preserve Bao’s life and restore Moirin’s diadh-anam.  I feel like their relationship will be more meaningful if they both choose it, un-coerced.

Other Thoughts:

--It was nice of Moirin to give her treasures away as gifts to those who helped her, and even to Bao’s not-quite-father.  Every time she did, though, I worried a little that she might need money later to survive.

--I liked the moment when Moirin refused to make a display of her magic to satisfy someone’s curiosity.  It seems that she has learned from her previous adventures.


  1. I agree with you about Moirin's options for traveling into the Tartar lands. We've seen other traders and even religion spreaders showing up for these Tartar games.

    I don't know how the Tartars view married male promiscuity. Perhaps it wouldn't be a big deal with the men if Moirin was just a fling, or even if Bao and Moirin decided that Moirin would be Bao's 2nd wife. Regardless of how the Tartar men view such things, obviously Edina is hurt.

    Yes, Moirin might be a little too generous for her own gift. On the other hand, she grew up with few material possessions that she couldn't make herself, so I suspect she doesn't fear being without goods that she can barter or sell.

    1. That is a good point, and I am pretty curious about Tatar relationship norms. From Batu's home, it looked like they mostly had traditional monogamy between one man and woman, but we didn't really get to see much of the broader society.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more. I was also side eyeing Bao. Reading your comments one thing that did occur to me was whether Bao was angry with Moirin and so maybe some of the actions were not as well considered because of that. Still - what a numpty.
    Lynn :D

    1. I guess maybe he was angry because she didn't wait for him to sort out his feelings? But still, getting married is not the sort of thing one does while sorting out one's feelings for another woman (actually, I guess Imriel did that too, but at least he seems to have had better reasons).

    2. Angry or not, he didn't just upset Moirin, he also took advantage of his new wife's goodwill. He was a complete jerk to her and she deserves better.