Figuring out when to end a series has got to be challenging for a popular author. As a fan, it’s a conundrum too, because when you’re in love with a world, whether it’s historical, paranormal, or almost-real fiction, it’s hard to give it up, even when you know it’s time.
And yet a good author knows when to leave them wanting more, because really, there are only so many times that any given character can Save The World.
Jacqueline Carey is one of those authors for me – I want her Terre d’Ange world to keep going, and going and going because it is such an incredible place. (Actually, if I could figure out a way to go live there--err, without involving psychiatric institutionalization-- I would.) The two Kushiel trilogies are as absorbing and immersive as anything I’ve ever read and while I was a little disappointed to learn last year that enough time elapses between the end of Kushiel’s Mercy and this book that none of the characters from the first two books would be appearing, I’ve still been waiting with great anticipation for Naamah’s Kiss. (Carey actually read the first chapter last year at a signing for Kushiel's Mercy– how’s THAT for a tease??)
I’m very pleased to report that Naamah's Kiss delivers everything a Terre d’Ange fan could want. Carey returns to a feminine viewpoint, telling the story of Moirin, a descendant of the “bear witches,” the clan who betrayed Imriel in the second trilogy. Several generations have passed, and the larger magic abilities of Moirin’s people have faded, similar to legends you might read about the Fae.
One of the aspects I like the most about all of Carey’s books, including Santa Olivia, is the way the point of view character always sees themselves as more or less ordinary, and tells us their extraordinary story with such a sense of humbleness that you don’t always realize immediately that you as a reader are getting a front-row look at this world’s history unfolding from inside the eyes of someone who is going to turn out to be a pivotal figure within the world. At one time, Moirin’s internal narrative tells us that “whatever else happened, we had just ridden into legend.”* And damn if that doesn’t feel like the dead truth when you’re reading it.
Carey absolutely does it again with this new incarnation of her world. A few familiar threads will ground the Kushiel fans quickly, but if you’re interested in trying out a new author and don’t want to read the whole backlist, this would be a fine place to start. It couldn’t have been easy for Carey to find new ground to break after the wide-ranging journeys of Phedre and Imriel, but she manages it. Moirin travels to Carey’s analog of China, exploring half-familiar legends involving curses, princesses, and dragons who inhabit the exotic mountain ranges of the East, and learning that earth-magic has many faces, but springs from the same source. (Well, maybe that's obvious, but at any rate, I liked how Carey manages to make it feel exotic and different but with a familiar heart everywhere her characters go.)
Something I always appreciate about the Terre d’Ange books is the way sexuality is treated: from sacred to ordinary, it’s a part of life--and a part of the story-- that is just as accepted any other part of life. And just to prove that I do retain [some] of the stuff I’ve learned along the way since starting this blog, let me comment that if you find a heteronormative framework restrictive and unsatisfying, you won’t have a problem with Terre d’Ange. As with the previous trilogies, the “love as thou wilt” theology of Terre d’Ange is an underlying force in Moirin’s destiny; her partners and lovers all have a role in leading her along her journey and the book falls into natural phases along with her different affairs.
All up, I give Naamah’s Kiss a whole-hearted recommendation for any fan of good fiction. If high fantasy hasn’t been your cup of tea thus far, Carey just might be your gateway book. If you love historical fiction, heroic legend, or just plain good storytelling, Carey does not disappoint. Romance purists will not find a story centered around a couple's relationship, but there are lots of romantic elements. If you’re already a fan of Ms. Carey, rest assured that Naamah's Kiss delivers. For now, I think I like it even a little better than the Imriel trilogy – perhaps it’s something about the female protagonist that works a little better for me.
And….. it’s a Hachette book. And you know what that means.
I have 5 copies to give away. June 24th is the release date, so I will announce all 5 winners on that day (though if you want it sooner, it looks like Amazon is already shipping them). Check back between now and then and you may get more chances to enter.
For now, comment below to start your chances, and post a link on your blog, Facebook, etc. for a second entry. Please specify if you live outside of North America – if I get international submissions I will set aside those participants for one of the 5 drawings.
*Note: the quote is from an uncorrected review copy; it may not appear in the published edition as I've shown it here.