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Review: Naamah’s Kiss, Jacqueline Carey

Though born as a child of the Maghuin Dhonn, Moirin has always seen two different gods, the bright lady and the man with a seedling in his hand.  As she grew up with her mother in a cave, she had no idea that she was also half D’Angeline and destined for greater things than a life in the wilderness.  When Moirin gains adulthood and undergoes the rite to discover whether she is truly one of the Maghuin Dhonn, she realizes that she has a mission and that her diadh-anam is leading her to Terre d’Ange and further, into a world she scarcely imagined and a life as far as possible from her cave in the wilderness.

I have loved every book that Jacqueline Carey has written.  No exceptions.  I even enjoyed The Sundering duology, which most people don’t really like.  Naamah’s Kiss is not an exception to this rule because I loved it too.  I’m actually left wondering just how this woman writes amazing book after amazing book, but I’m not complaining at all.

As usual, I love Carey’s writing style.  Many people have referred to it as purple prose, but I think it suits the book beautifully.  It succeeds completely in grounding me in her world and reminds me instantly where I am because it’s certainly distinctive.  I do agree that her writing has improved over the course of the past few years and has become even more beautiful.  Here’s how this book opens, narrated by Moirin:

I was born to the Maghuin Dhonn.

We are the folk of the Brown Bear and the oldest magic in Alba runs in our veins.  Once, there were great magicians among us – men and women capable of seeing all the skeins of the future unwind in the great stone circles, capable of taking on the shape of the Maghuin Dhonn Herself.

No more.

It changed long before I was born, when a prince of Terre d’Ange wed a princess of the Cullach Gorrym, the folk of the Black Boar.  The greatest magicians among us saw the seeds of our destruction in that union.  They acted to avert it; and in the end, they succeeded.

– p. 1

I also really appreciated that Moirin is not Phedre from the first six books.  They have similar characteristics in that they are both to an extent selfless and devoted to loving others, but they feel like very different women.  I was a little worried about how well Carey would pull that off, given that many authors settle into one voice and all characters start to feel the same after a while, especially those of the same gender.  It’s not so here.  The budding love story, while similar in theme given both start off with hatred but protection from the men, also feels different and new, perhaps because this man is no polished warrior like Joscelin.  It also doesn’t feel quite as epic, but this is only the first book.

For fans of the series, it’s also interesting to see how the stories in the Kushiel’s Legacy series have trickled down to influence Carey’s world a few generations on.  Many of the primary characters here are related in some way to those who populated the first series, excepting the Ch’in, which provides an extra perk to fans of the first series while not leaving behind new readers since all the legends are explained.  The book wraps up most of its central storyline, but is completely open for a sequel and I expect there will be one.

I don’t think Naamah’s Kiss is necessarily up to the standards of the Kushiel’s Legacy series yet, but I loved it anyway.  Jacqueline Carey is one of my favorite authors and I’ll be recommending all of her work, including this one.

*Worth mentioning, all of these books are quite explicit and include all manner of pairings.

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14 comments to Review: Naamah’s Kiss, Jacqueline Carey

  • Wow…I really love the premise of this book. I have never read anything by Jacqueline Carey, I might have to give it a try.

  • I had n idea what purple prose was and was going to ask you until I got to the bottom of the review and read that the language is very explicit. I am assuming that that is purple prose?

  • I had a copy of this and left it at the restaurant where Nicole and I ate in NYC.

    But I still have Santa Olivia. Do you love that one as well?

    • Meghan

      I have Santa Olivia, but I haven’t read it yet. I probably will soon, though, I’ll let you know what I think!

  • I’m really looking forward to this. It sounds wonderful.

  • Kenore, I’m listening to Santa Olivia on audio and it’s different, but she retains her voice wonderfully. To be honest I’m about half way thru and it has a young adult book feel to it although it is not YA. It flows well and is weaving a great story.

    Meghan, I’m a big fan of Carey’s books as well. I really enjoyed Naamah’s Kiss. I read somewhere that this is the first of a trilogy. One thing I giggled about was the bridge fight scene. It read like a scene from Kung Fu Panda, if you saw that cartoon. Most of the descriptions of Ch’in were breathtakingly written.

    It was easy to settle down and get to know these new characters in the world Carey created. I have been recommending it to SO many people. Good review!

  • I have heard so many good things about Carey and her Kushiel’s Legacy series but have yet to read any. And I really do need to do that, there’s no other way around now.

  • I haven’t read any of Carey’s work, but you’ve made me very curious about it.

  • I haven’t read this author, but I liked the opening lines and your enthusiasm for her writing is a great endorsement.

  • I’ve never even head of this author before. I’m interested though, and I think the cover is a real draw. Thanks for sharing!

  • I tried to get into the Kushiel series, and found that it just wasn’t for me. I am open to trying it again though, since so many seem to love it. Can you give me any encouragement on that front?

  • I started the first book, read it almost to completion, and then I just stopped… I have no idea why because it wasn’t that bad of a book. I really must try again…

  • Shay

    Can’t wait for June 2010 when J Carey releases Book 8 of this wonderful collection! I’ve been a great fan of Pheadre and Imriel, and Moirin looks to be as awesome as the past two heroes.