Book 20: Naamah’s Kiss, Jacqueline Carey
I have a real hard time with Jacqueline Carey’s books. And it’s not because they’re bad. It’s because they’re the exact opposite of that. I have to be careful because usually once I read one, I have to follow that up by devouring every last other one of them in quick and addicted succession. And these are not short books, folks—we’re talking about six to eight hundred pages a pop. It’s a complete immersion experience, which is one of the things I love most about them. It very nearly causes me physical pain to finish one of these books, they’re so intricate and detailed, and I get so wrapped up in what’s going on. At the same time, I tend to barrel through them, devouring every bit faster than I would even want to, simply because I have such a hard time putting them down.
Carey is the author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, two trilogies following first Phedre, chosen of Kushiel, and then Imriel, a prince who happens of be of Kushiel’s bloodline. I don’t want to give away much/any of the plot of those two series, because if you check them out and think you’ll like them, you really should read them with fresh eyes. But suffice it to say there are pirates and gods, courtesans and princesses and foreign lands and political intrigue galore. Oh, and lots of sex. Believe it or not, however, the sex isn’t really the point. It often serves to advance the plot, but doesn’t ever really feel superfluous. Weird sometimes, for sure, but not excessive. At least, not to me. It always felt like a fantasy story that happens to have lots of sex in it, not a sex story that happens to have fantasy in it.
This new trilogy starts a hundred years after the final book in Imriel’s trilogy. This is bittersweet and fabulous; bittersweet because the characters from the original books are beloved at this point, but fabulous because, though I think now that I could read about Phedre and Imri forever, I love that Carey is leaving that story alone to play out only as glimpses of history in this new series.
Anyway. This trilogy focuses on Moirin, who is from Alba. She’s half Maghuin Dhonn and half D’Angeline, growing up wild and free with her mother in the wilderness of her homeland. From a young age, however, she feels the presence of two of the gods of her father’s people in her life. (Just roll with it, ok? The gods are not only alive and well all over the place in this world, but also take a keen interest in the lives of their chosen humans. Oh, and the majority of the world is pagan as well.) She also discovers that she has some little magic; she can call the twilight like her people can, and she can also coax plants to grow, a gift from her father’s side/gods.
Events transpire to send Moirin across the sea to find her father. But, this being Terre D’Ange she ends up in, she’s quickly entangled in scandal and royal shenanigans. It’s the way of things in Carey’s world: we often find so-called ordinary folks mixed up in huge doings and goings on, anchoring and helping out the so-called great ones. I like that her heroes and heroines are often mostly ordinary folk of perhaps surpassing courage and love for their homelands. It makes them more relatable, even if I don’t know that I could handle half of what they do.
So here we start a new trilogy (at least, that’s what I’m assuming it’ll be, if previous series are serving as a basis). We’ve got bear-witches and gods, alchemists and philosophers, folks from the Far East, dragons, more princesses, a Queen who was a courtesan, and of course lots of sex. I finished this book in probably just over twenty four hours, when put altogether. Once I started, I had a really hard time putting it down, despite the pressing matters I was supposed to be taking care of, like cooking for a party. And sleeping.
If you’ve read the first two sets of books and you enjoyed them, go ahead and pick this one up post haste. It’s well worth it. If you’ve not read those and think you might dig, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book. You will be far more familiar with the history of Terre D’Ange and Alba if you read the Kushiel’s Legacy books before these, and I think it will help avoid some confusion. Not that it’s totally and completely necessary, but you’ll have a more complete mental picture of the world with those books under your belt. Just try to come up for air once or twice.
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Tags: book 20, books, cannonball read, jacqueline carey, naamah's kiss, reading