Monday, July 12, 2010

Naamah's Curse - Jacqueline Carey - Review

The Love Continues
I adore this series. Carey delivers quality epic adventure, book after book. To be honest, I don't have much new to say that I haven't said before about her writing --

-- but I can confirm that there's absolutely no fading to the power and lyricism of Carey's storytelling.

There are still lands untraveled in Carey's universe, and Naamah's Curse takes us with Moirin through the steppes of western China, Russia -- perhaps Mongolia would be a more correct analog (what can I say, I'm geography-challenged)-- and what I guess to be the Khyber Pass and Pakistan.

Once Upon A Time
Most of Carey's stories can be described as a quest, but that applies even more so to Curse than it did to Kiss. Moirin must find Bao, the stubborn boy and lover who bears half of her diadh-anam which is a sort of spirit-energy; a link to mother-bear deity of Moirin's people. Something I particularly loved about this story is how it inverts the classic fairy tale rescue motif: our intrepid princess must pass a number of harsh tests of strength, skill, and faith before she rescues the prince, who is imprisoned in a [surprisingly] passive state by an evil witch. You could easily imagine flying monkeys on the attack.

You know it's just too easy when she finds him within 100 pages. They are separated again through magic and ambition-- isn't it always the way?

A new theme emerges with Naamah's Curse, as she undergoes imprisonment and an Inquisition-esque forcible conversion. Along the way she questions her inquisitor's interpretation of his God's will, and finally has this to say:

"And yes, there are moments of glory and wonder in your tales. Yes, your Yeshua sounds like a decent fellow for a god, filled with love and kindness toward mankind. But there are also great, long boring bits about the genealogy of the Habiru, which holds little interest for me and there are tales that make no sense at all, and other parts that are simply harsh and cruel."

He looked aghast. "Only because you do not understand them yet!"

"Do you think so?" I shook my head. "No, I think I am beginning to understand. These scriptures, they were written by mortal men. And mayhap some of them were moved by divine grace, but others were petty, jealous fellows, moved by the ordinary concerns of everyday life, like being cuckolded by a straying wife."

Though Carey's world is particularly at odds with a Puritanical religion that considers sensuous pleasures a sin, this sort of questioning is repeated in other circumstances, as applied to other gods and scriptures, in attempts to make it an even-handed statement about divine will, and the fallacies of mortal interpretation. I suspect most readers who are already fans will not have major issues here, but it isn't much of a stretch to think that some readers who aren't expecting it might be offended.

Overall I give this story a huge win; I am loving this trilogy.

Reading order:
Naamah's Kiss (out now in paperback)
Naamah's Curse
Naamah's Blessing (due next year)

Bonus: I've been making it a habit to attend Carey's signings when she comes to Seattle, which are just a delight. I really enjoy the way she interacts with her readers, from the casual fan to the most obsessive fanatic dedicated (yes, I spotted more than one thorny rose tattoo in the audience). She usually reads an excerpt from the next, unreleased book and this year's was no exception. I don't think I'm overstepping to share with you that Moirin's next journey will intersect with..... {drumroll please} ....... the Aztec. Chocolate! Parrots! Human sacrifice! Cool, eh?

Someone actually videotaped and posted the Seattle event. My voice is in there somewhere and you totally can't hear what I asked. But maybe you can guess from my choice of excerpt.

Around the Blogosphere:
(I'm running really late to this party; the book has been out for a month now, so there are lots of reviews to choose from)

In Bed With Books
The Book Smugglers
The Discriminating Fangirl
Gripping Books
Inside of a Dog (which incidentally, has to be the VERY BEST name I have come across for a book blog in recent memory!) Awesome.

As always, if you have a review of this book, please feel free to leave a link in comments or email me and I will edit it in.

One Last Thing....
I was supposed to do a giveaway for this book, but I'm so late posting the review I'm not sure the offer from the publisher still stands. I'm checking... so you check too. Back here, that is. I'll put up a fresh post if there's a giveaway.

1 comment:

Liviania said...

Thanks for linking to my review! I really enjoyed reading your take on the novel. (I'm so excited for Blessing.)


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