Naamah’s Curse (Naamah Trilogy #2) by Jacqueline Carey read-along final week

Today is the final week of our readalong for Naamah’s Curse, No.2 in Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah Trilogy.  The details and schedule are here and below is a little about the book.

Naam2
Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin.

Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch’in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother’s people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she’s never known. But the lovers’ happiness is short lived, for Bao is entangled in a complication that soon leads to their betrayal.

The questions and answers are below (hosted this week by me) – be warned that spoilers may be lurking.

 

What did you make of the mission to retrieve the black diamond and what do you actually make of the black diamond and whether it could be used for good?

This part of the story made me smile to be honest because the way everyone spoke of the black diamond put me in mind of Lord of the Rings and the way everyone spoke of the ‘one ring’ – you cannot wield it!  Apparently it doesn’t seem as though the diamond could be put to use – it feels like it manipulates the person who holds it and exaggerates there emotions to a heightened degree.  I thought the mission to retrieve the diamond went remarkably well in fact much smoother than I anticipated – I think I expected much more trouble somehow but it seemed like Jagrati and her falconer had a much smaller contingent surrounding them than I had imagined.  I must admit that when Jagrati poisoned herself I half wondered if she’d taken a potion that mimics death and was going to wake up and escape!  I obviously have too active an imagination because it was much more straightforward.

The Spider Queen and Amrita – what were your final thoughts on both of them – did you have sympathy for Jagrati?  Do you think Amrita can affect change in the caste system?

I couldn’t help feel a little bit sad for Jagrati in some respects and I couldn’t help but wonder if the black diamond had had a detrimental effect on her.  That being said – she behaved very badly and let herself be twisted by anger and hate.  Amrita on the other hand is like the opposite, she’s very calm and gentle seeming.  She has had the privilege of course of being born into a very favourable caste so hasn’t suffered in quite the same way and I suppose you could question the fact that she never saw the unreasonable treatment of the untouchables until Moirin pointed it out.  I think Amrita can start to instigate changes, I think there will be plenty of resistance, a little of which we already read about, but eventually things could change.

Moirin and Bao – they’ve made peace with each other.  Did you finally forgive Bao?  Do you think they’ve reached an understanding that will work for them?

I think I finally did forgive Bao – he explained himself well I thought and he did go through a lot in the first place simply trying to find Moirin.  I liked that he actually set out to rescue her and I thought they were very honest with each other which is a great start.  They also seem to have come to a better place in terms of sharing the diadh-anam which was good to see.

Finally – any predictions for where the journey will take us next? Can you see a purpose in Moirin’s diadh-anam??

Other than suspecting we will eventually come full circle with Moirin returning to deal with Raphael de Mereliot I’m not sure at this point where the rest of the journey will take us – but, yes, I think Moirin will have to return to see if Raphael does still have a demon possessing him.  On reflection this story is almost like a coming of age story for Moirin – like her entire journey has really been about finding herself, of course she’s helped others along the way and I found it interesting that the journey and the events involved seemed to revolve very strongly around religion and the ways in which it can be distorted or corrupted.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Participants:
Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan at Dab of Darkness
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Naamah’s Curse (Naamah Trilogy #2) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week 4

Today is the fourth week of our readalong for Naamah’s Curse, No.2 in Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah Trilogy.  The details and schedule are here and below is a little about the book.

Naam2
Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin.

Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch’in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother’s people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she’s never known. But the lovers’ happiness is short lived, for Bao is entangled in a complication that soon leads to their betrayal.

The questions and answers are below (hosted this week by Alli at Tethyan Books) – be warned that spoilers may be lurking.

1) Moirin makes some new friends on the way to Rasa. What do you think will come of her decision to entrust them with the jade medallion? Do you see this as a betrayal of trust or do you think the Emperor would understand?

I don’t see it as a betrayal of trust, Moirin has to use the medallion in the way that it can best help her and I think she made a good choice.  Of course it could come back to harm her in some way but I think personally that she chose well.  Plus, the medallion was intended to help her and being a lone woman on the road it was likely that somebody could have taken it from her using force long before.  I think she made a good decision and I would like to think the Emperor would understand, after all, he was trying to help her by giving her the medallion.  The only issue I have with it is that it would be very easy for somebody else to misuse the medallion but, hopefully it will now be in good hands.

2) On her way to the Lady of Rats, Moirin ends up in a dangerous caravan. What are your thoughts on what happened, both with the assault and the illness? 

I wasn’t surprised about the assault, it felt like it was going to happen and in fact Moirin had a bad feeling about it herself.  I thought Moirin handled herself well although she did seem to have let her guard down.  As it was though, I thought things went a lot better than they could have, she had to manage things almost by herself but I had a horrible feeling that much worse was going to happen and I was a bit scared for her.  The illness came as a surprise, altitude sickness hadn’t really occurred to me.

3) It seems that caste/class is going to be a major point in this story. Even if Amrita agrees that the caste system may not be just, do you think there’s anything that she and Moirin can do about it? Do you see any path to happiness for Jagrati and/or do you think she deserves to be defeated?

I think to change the caste system will be a lot harder than it sounds and will probably take years and years to achieve – deep rooted beliefs and years and years of custom would have to change and it certainly would not be easily brought about.  I’m not really sure what to make of Jagrati yet although I don’t like her at this point I don’t feel like I know enough of what is really going on.

4) There is a lot of passion in Kushiel’s Legacy, but the sex scene in this section doesn’t involve much. Given all of the focus on “love as thou wilt”, what do you think about Amrita’s gift and it’s acceptance by Naamah? What do you think about the idea of sex without desire, but for compassionate purposes?

I think that scene felt a little flat to be honest.  Amrita seemed almost amused by the idea and it was a nice gesture from her to help Moirin but I didn’t really feel like it was necessary as part of the story.  It felt a little bit forced and lacked passion.

5) Bao returns! I think we were all a little irritated with him for his Tatar adventures. Do his actions here change your opinion of him? Do you think he has escaped Jagrati’s diamond for good?

I don’t think he’s out of the trees just yet – he’s got his opium addiction to deal with and he will be weakened, Jagrati was obviously exercising a lot of control over him and I don’t think that’s quite dealt with just yet – look how easily she controlled Moirin and Amrita’s guard after all.  Not to mention Carey has already lulled us once into thinking Moirin and Bao had an easy escape in front of them and look what happened.  No, I think there must be something more yet.

Participants:
Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan at Dab of Darkness

Naamah’s Curse (Naamah Trilogy #2) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week 3

Today is the third week of our readalong for Naamah’s Curse, No.2 in Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah Trilogy.  The details and schedule are here and below is a little about the book.

Naam2
Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin.

Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch’in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother’s people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she’s never known. But the lovers’ happiness is short lived, for Bao is entangled in a complication that soon leads to their betrayal.

The questions and answers are below (hosted this week by Susan at Dab of Darkness) – be warned that spoilers may be lurking.

1) What stood out to you for Moirin’s baptising ceremony? Have you ever been through such a religious ceremony and did it go as you expected? 
I was a little bit surprised at how quickly the ceremony seemed to go after all the build up to it – but, in fairness, I never expected it to go well, I thought that Rostov would have some cunning plan up his sleeve that wasn’t part of the ceremony and indeed he did.  What really surprises me is the speed at which he turned and condemned Moirin to death.
2) Now Moirin and Alexsie (spelling?) are free. Alexsie has much to learn not just about Moirin but also about the larger world. What moment do you think challenged his ingrained beliefs the most? What do you think he will do ultimately with his life? 
Well, Alexsie was very naive about so many things wasn’t he.  I think there were plenty of moments that challenged his beliefs but partly I think that’s because his religion has been twisted by Rostov into something that it shouldn’t have been where the most natural feelings have been turned into something vile and sinful.  I would like to think that without such a repellant influence in his life he would go on to teach his religious beliefs in a way that is much more accepting of others way of life.  I also think he will find another love – Moirin and Alexsie just weren’t right – they had a brief and lovely interlude but it was never going to be anything more – I think Moirin had probably one too many strange ways that he couldn’t get his head around but I liked that he said sorry to her for the abduction and his part in it.
3) There comes a moment when Moirin realizes that she did come to love Alexsie, in a way, and that’s the same moment she knows she will not see him again. Naamah’s curse indeed! Have you had such a moment yourself? Do you think this curse also applies now to Moirin’s love of the departed Jehane? 
Fortunately I haven’t experienced such a moment to be honest.  It was a sad moment for both of them but like I said above I don’t think their relationship was ever going to amount to anything more – Moirin knew that herself.  Deep down they never would have been truly happy together –  I suppose Alexsie found himself first love and Moirin got to have some fun after a long period of abstinence.  I feel that the loss of Jehane has affected Moirin much more than Alexsie parting ways, but that’s not really a surprise as she will never get to see Jehane again after all – this Curse really is a bit nasty isn’t it!
4) Falcons and spiders and rats, oh my! What stood out the most for you in Moirin meeting up again with Erdina, Bao’s wife? And what do you expect Moirin will find as she heads towards the Falconer with his Spider Queen? 
I was surprised by how much trust Moirin put in Erdina – it could have been a trick after all – but at the same time I was pleased that she did decide to trust her.  I was also a bit surprised at Erdina – she’s certainly changed in terms of accepting that Bao loves Moirin – to be honest that whole chapter of their meeting and the way Erdina and Moirin behaved just served to shine Bao in a really bad light all over again for me.  Even Moirin trying to justify to herself his actions – she admitted herself that she couldn’t understand what he’d done and really he behaved very badly to both of them – it makes you wonder why they’re both so keen to help him now!  Well, I understand why Moirin has to help him but I’m surprised that Erdina doesn’t feel more anger.
This next step of the story – it all sounds very dark and foreboding doesn’t it with spider queen’s and Falcon kings.  I actually really don’t know what to expect but I’m thinking it will be a bit sinister.
That’s it for this week – feel free to join with the readalong, all welcome, or please add your comments.
Participants:
Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan at Dab of Darkness

Naamah’s Curse (Naamah Trilogy #2) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week 2

Today is the start of a readalong for Naamah’s Curse, No.2 in Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah Trilogy.  The details and schedule are here and below is a little about the book.

Naam2Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin.

Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch’in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother’s people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she’s never known. But the lovers’ happiness is short lived, for Bao is entangled in a complication that soon leads to their betrayal.

The questions and answers are below (hosted this week by me) – be warned that spoilers may be lurking.

1. Moirin takes part in the archery contest – what were your feelings of her and Bao’s plans up to this point and what did you think of the eventual outcome?
To be honest this part of the story felt a little bit obvious in that it seemed clear that Moirin was going to win the contest and in that respect that things would not go as planned – otherwise it would have been a very short book.  It felt for me that Moirin and Bao really didn’t think this one through if they really thought they’d just win the competition and be allowed to walk away.  To me that never really felt like a real possibility.  Although, the alternative didn’t occur to me to be honest.
2. I’m very puzzled about the direction the story has taken with this whole abduction theme – what do you make of this part of the story and in particular Pyotr Rostov?
I really can’t make out where the story here is going to be honest.  It all seems about bashing Phedre’s religious beliefs in order to make Pyotr Rostov a name.  It feels a bit odd to me – almost a little lacking in focus or point.  I don’t mean to be overly critical but I do look forward to seeking where the story goes next.  Pyotr Rostov – well, he’s absolutely a hideous character isn’t he.  Awful to Moirin – abducting somebody so that you can make a name for yourself doesn’t really go a long way in promoting your religion in my opinion!  And he’s such a hypocrite – he’s clearly lusting after Moirin at the same time as berating her for such behaviour.
3. I can’t help making comparisons as I read between Moirin and Phedre and the storyline here – are there any particular things that have drawn your eye or given you pause for thought.
The two of them are so unalike for me but there are similarities in the storyline I felt.  Two things stood out for me as I was reading.  I couldn’t help but think that Carey seems to be going to a lot of trouble to demonstrate how unalike Phedre and Moirin are – in a small way it feels like she’s trying to answer any such criticisms that might arise in readers but for me it makes me think that Carey is herself thinking of Phedre as she writes.  I suppose it’s really difficult after writing such a well loved duo.  The other thing that stood out for me here was the way that this book relies much more on Moirin’s magical abilities.  In a way it feels like sometimes the challenges that present themselves to Moirin are too easily overcome by her ability for example to summon twilight – although I like that Carey has found a way to contain Moirin’s abilities and make her use other methods.
4. Any predictions about the next stage of the story?
Well, the two things that spring to mind are that Moirin is eventually going to be helped by Alexsei and I also can’t help thinking something will happen when the Duke is due to visit and Moirin is to be baptised.
That’s it for this week – feel free to join with the readalong, all welcome, or please add your comments.
Participants:
Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

Naamah’s Curse (Naamah Trilogy #2) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week 1

Today is the start of a readalong for Naamah’s Curse, No.2 in Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah Trilogy.  The details and schedule are here and below is a little about the book.

Naam2Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin.

Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch’in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother’s people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she’s never known. But the lovers’ happiness is short lived, for Bao is entangled in a complication that soon leads to their betrayal.

The questions and answers are below (hosted this week by Alli at Tethyan Books) – be warned that spoilers may be lurking.

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?
I love the way Carey incorporates the previous story into the start of this tale.  She doesn’t info dump but finds different ways to bring you a recap and this is great for more reason than one – firstly, it’s a great refresher (which quite often I do welcome), secondly, new readers can read this easily and get on with the story immediately (although I would always recommend reading the first) and thirdly Carey has such a great story telling voice that I can’t help but be hypnotised..
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?
I think she made the right choice – perhaps it wouldn’t be for everyone and certainly Moirin got lonely every now and again along the way, but she’s a very capable character, she can hunt a little, she can hide using her twilight cloaking abilities, she’s a quick thinker.  I like that Moirin can stand on her own two feet but aside from that I think it would have made the situation a lot worse if she turned up on Bao’s doorstep with an escort.  It could have been mistaken for an act of aggression or just arrogance but more than that I like that Moirin didn’t take the safest or easiest route.  She made her decision and stood by it.
3) What stuck out to you the most about the Tatar tribe Moirin stays with and their way of life?
I really enjoyed this part of the story and could have spent more time there.  In fact it really did put me in mind a little of Phedre and Joscelin’s experiences in Kushiel’s Dart.  I just liked that here we have a family who defied what Moirin herself was expecting of the Tatar’s – although there is the grandmother’s backstory that we need to find out more of – and also this family are so loving and caring, they have few possessions, live a simple life, and spend many months in hardship but for me they’re a poster for ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ – they haven’t got any wealth to speak of but they’re the furthest thing from unhappy.
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?
Not gonna lie – I don’t think Bao has acted very well so far.  He got married – why?  I’m really puzzled with him and his motives at this point.  Part of him is saying he doesn’t know how to handle the bond and yet that doesn’t seem to be the main reason for his running away to find his father.  I literally don’t understand at this point in the book what’s going on so I’m keen to read more.  I wonder if he might have told Moirin he was married before he swept her off her feet to make love in somebody else’s home!  I guess that would have taken away from the drama of the situation though – or who knows maybe added some more.  I read on with interest.
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?  
I don’t suppose I would be happy, much like Bao, he didn’t ask for help, he didn’t have any choice in receiving help, but, in fairness to Moirin she didn’t plan it either – would she have given her help if she’d really understood the implications.  But, as it is – no I wouldn’t have ran as far away as possible and got hooked up immediately.  Even now – Bao – just why!  Plus, he knew that Moirin was looking for him, he even admitted his annoyance at the fact – so did none of it give him pause for thought.  No, I would not have responded like Bao, even if I did want a little alone time.
That’s it for this week – feel free to join with the readalong, all welcome, or please add your comments.
Participants:
Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness
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