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.
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.