Monday, August 28, 2017

Read-Along: Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey, END

This is the final post for the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Blessing, and therefore also the final post in this epically long read-along of the nine-book Kushiel’s Legacy series.  I’ve had a lot of fun reading and discussing this series with Susan, Lynn, and Grace, and I hope this is not the last read-along we share!  This week’s questions cover chapters 72 through the end, and include a final wrap-up question for the series.  Beware of spoilers from the entire series from here on out!

1) What do you think of the aftermath of Cusi's sacrifice and Raphael's downfall? Were you surprised by how much Moirin could do with her small gift with plants?

That seems like a very high price for so little.  Basically all they got was no power boost to Raphael (because she didn’t die to honor him), and a handful of animated corpses beating him to death.  I guess Raphael also lost the religious support of the people when the ancestors attacked him, which is important because otherwise the d’Angelines would have been executed.  Still, I think Cusi’s sacrifice was too high a price.

I didn’t think about what the newly freed ants would do, but it makes sense.  They were hungry, and it’s not like they were sentient or malicious.  It was good to see Moirin shine in the aftermath, giving power to life instead of death.  I also liked that it wasn’t an instant fix.  She had to wear herself out in the fields every day, just like everyone else, to achieve the miracle they needed to survive.  

2) It was a long haul back to the Aragonian city and port. What do you think of Emperor Achuatli's proposal to Moirin this time around?

It’s terribly mean to test people like that, but I do believe him when he said he wouldn’t have thought less of her if she had chosen differently.  I think he really just wanted to know what sort of people the d’Angelines were.  I feel a little weird about the fact that the d’Angelines ultimately lied about being there to undercut Aragonian trade agreements.  The Aragonians are not really treating the natives with respect, though, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

I think this is the first time I really got the sense that Bao was not polyamorous, though.  While he was understanding of Moirin fooling around in the past, he seemed very disapproving this time around.  Maybe he saw both of their earlier dalliances as a part of ‘sowing wild oats’, which he hoped they would both put behind them eventually?

3) Some judgments and justice is meted out all around. What do you think about the various punishments? There's Allain Guillard, who abandoned the search for Prince Thierry; Durel who could have lost the entire ship; Jehanne's mother; Rogier, his wife, and his two sons; others?

I agree with the pardoning of Allain.  It was a volunteer mission, and his courage gave out.  He did ensure the survival of the severely injured, and someone would have had to do that anyway.  Durel, I also appreciate the clemency, since he acted under duress.  He did nearly kill them all, though, so it makes sense that he had to serve some time.  I am glad they kept their promise with regards to taking care of his family.  I feel like Jehanne’s mother should be tried for child abuse, but unfortunately I don’t know if that is a crime in Terre d’Ange.  I appreciate what was done to Rogier’s family, and hopefully he will learn from the situation in the future.  He may still end up close to the throne, if Aristide and Desiree end up falling in love one day.

4) How did you feel about Thierry's well-meaning ruse to have Moiirin cloak her, Bao, and himself in twilight so he could observe how the court took the return of Rouse & crew? Needful? Cruel? Unnecessary?

Dramatic, but kind of cruel.  I guess it made sense to do, politically, and at least they never actually said Thierry and the others were dead.  They only strongly implied it.  The full weight of grief would hopefully not have hit before they revealed that they were all alive.  I would have been much more disapproving if they’d kept it up for longer than they did.  

5) Finally, it's home to Alba, Moirin's family, and the Stone Door. What did you like most about this homecoming? How do you feel about the ending over all?

Why was the Maghuin Dhon toying with them, leaving them there to despair that she wasn’t coming? Anyway, I’m glad she did grace them!  I was hoping she would do something, like heal both halves of their diadh-anam so they they both had a complete Maghuin Dhon spark.  Then they could have ended the story with the explicit message that they would spend their lives together through choice, not the demands of fate.  

I am also surprised that Moirin didn’t see her new role coming!  I had figured she would replace Nemed, since we saw that she had the memory-eating gift.  No one else has that, after all.  I also had wondered if she would regain the shapeshifting skill in the end, to signify that the Maghuin Dhon forgave the folk the sins of their ancestors.  Maybe that would have been a little too much magic, though :). Her new fancy cave sounded lovely, and it was good to see that Bao could be happy in Alba and Terre d’Ange.  Overall, I liked the ending, and I imagine that she and Bao eventually had a nice bundle of fat, happy babies.

6) Finally, we have enjoyed the entire Terre D'Ange Cycle. Do you have a favorite book, character, or trilogy? Any final thoughts on this series? Would you like to see more adventures or do you think this is a complete series?

This may be obvious with the way that I’ve discussed the books, but I still think Kushiel’s Dart was my favorite novel, Phedre’s was my favorite trilogy, and Phedre and Joscelin were my favorite couple.  Phedre was just so unusual as a heroine, and her relationship with Joscelin spoke to me in a way that rarely happens for me with fiction.  I also loved this world, though, so I enjoyed seeing other Imriel’s and Moirin’s  adventures as well.  I think each of the trilogies came to a good stopping point, so I don’t see much room for new novels.  On the other hand, I would love to read some short fiction taking place during uncovered bits of Phedre’s life!  I bet there would be plenty of smaller adventures to tell!


  1. Good point on the ants/growing plants not being an instant fix. I think it really hammered home the point that even though some of the D'Angelines had magical powers, they are not gods and shouldn't be treated as such.

    1. Yeah, it seemed like some of them (Aragonians, Raphael) tried to claim divinity, and I'm glad Moirin did not. The cultures here seemed to be familiar with the concept of being a god's chosen children & having special abilities because of it, in any case.

  2. I also liked that Moirin couldn't do some mystical mojo and just have all the fields suddenly full of plants and nearly ripe produce.

    I think the Aragonians were the first to break that we-are-the-only-traders thing when they withheld info from Thierry that could have prevented a good chunk of his suffering and saved those lives lost in t he process. So I'm OK with the D'Angelines now having a foothold on trade in Terra Nova.

    I hadn't really considered who would replace Nemed until they made that clear. I should have seen that coming.

    Thank you once again for being part of this read along. This series holds a special place in my heart and it was great to share it you and the rest of our participators.

    1. Well, that's true, about the Aragonians. None of this would've happened if they had been forthcoming with information. I guess it was just weird to me that they were like, "You know that thing you accused us of and we said we were not going to do? We did it!"

      Thanks for organizing the read-along of all nine books! It has been a fun journey :).