Naamah’s Kiss Readalong, Weeks 4 & 5

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to week 5 of the Naamah’s Kiss readalong! I was traveling for the holidays last week and got a bit behind schedule, so this week I’m answering two sets of questions at once, covering chapters 37-60.

Readalong Participants
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace (me) at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan at Dab of Darkness

In general, I’m liking this book a lot more than I did the first time around. I was unnecessarily hard on this book because I loved Phedre and Imriel’s stories so much, and Naamah’s Kiss was something that felt different. There are some things that still bother me (for example, I found Bao’s accent to be particularly problematic), but this time I’m able to look past it and just enjoy the story for what it is.

The Circle of Shalomon still moves forward, despite the spirits’ tricks and the drain on Moirin.  Do you think there is any deeper intent behind the gift Moirin receives, and the kindness of the spirits to her?  Do you have any thoughts on how the gift might be involved with her destiny?

The spirits seem to like Moirin, but I think it’s because she’s the only person in the Circle who isn’t trying to use them for her own ends. She’s deeply uncomfortable with the entire process, as she should be, and the spirits realize that. I suspect that the gift won’t be used until the second or third book, and that there may be strings attached that we don’t know of yet.

Moirin’s gift puts her in a difficult position, where wanting to help people could eventually kill her. Do you think you would be able to refuse the healing and/or the summoning if you were in Moirin’s place?

I’m one of those people who has a hard time saying no to things, even when I exhaust myself in the process. And I’m also one of those people who will try to go to work when I’m too sick to even stand up. I can only imagine how hard it would be to be in Moirin’s place.

Phanuel returns!  Do you have any new thoughts about him on his second visit?  Later, when he is ill, do you think he would have agreed for Moirin to take such a risk (including her bargain to Raphael) to heal him?

I love him in general. I don’t think he’d approve of Moirin’s choice, but I think he would understand why she did what she did. Good thing she didn’t ask his permission first! 😀

Were you surprised when Jehanne is finally the one to rescue Moirin from being bled dry?  Do you trust her motivations?  On the other side, what do you think about how Raphael and Thierry handled her being rescued from them?

I was so glad that Jehanne was able to step in. The first time I read this book, I didn’t care for Jehanne. This time, I enjoy her so much more. She’s a very nuanced and well-rounded character. She has her fair share of flaws, such as her temper and her games with Raphael, but there’s something very genuine about the relationship that she has with Moirin, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Raphael was a petulant child and he would have destroyed her without even realizing it. And I do rather like Thierry, and was glad to see their relationship shift from lovers to something more fraternal.

Do you think Moirin is a good Queen’s Companion?  What do you think of her influence on Jehanne, and has your perspective of Jehanne and the complicated love polygon changed?

As I mentioned in a previous answer, I do like Jehanne a lot better now. When I first read the book, I thought she was immature and petty. But Moirin really does bring out the best in so many people, and the two of them were truly good for each other. I also really like seeing the open relationship between Jehanne and Daniel, because it’s clear that the two of them do love and respect each other, and are able to negotiate boundaries that fulfill both of their needs.

We see another Longest Night!  Did anything notable stick out to you this time?  What did you think of the court festivities with respect to the Night Court?

I always enjoy the Longest Night scenes. And the sex scene in the twilight seemed so ethereal and special for Moirin and Jehanne. I hope it’s a memory that both of them cherish. Actually, I get that feeling about a lot of the sex scenes in this book–they’re very meaningful, and there’s a sense of wonder to them.

Moirin and the Circle do one final summoning. What did you think of Folkolor’s choices in who to spare or not? King Daniel also has to make some choices in who to punish or not – do you think he was fair? Is he correct in that he should have given his people something greater to strive for?

I’m surprised Folkolor didn’t kill more of them, to be quite honest. And I don’t think we’re done with him just yet.

King Daniel blames himself to an extent, but it really isn’t in any way his fault. The Circle did what it did because they were bored and craved power. This would have happened whether or not there were things going on on a national level that they could strive for. It isn’t Daniel’s job to give aristocrats less destructive extracurricular activities. But I think that Daniel feels guilty that he missed the signs of what was happening until it was too late. His punishments did seem fair considering they weren’t doing anything illegal, just dangerous and stupid. But do you really have to put “Don’t summon demons!” into the legal code? It seems like common sense to me.

Master Lo is summoned home to Ch’in to do what he can for the Emperor’s daughter Snow Tiger. What do you think of her ailment? What role, if any, do you expect Moirin to play in healing her?

Actually, the cause of her ailment is one of the few things I do remember from the first time I read this book, so I’m going to keep quiet here. I’m curious to meet Snow Tiger though. I love the imagery of her sitting in her prison with her blindfold trying to keep the beast within at bay–it reminds me of something out of a fairy tale. And considering Jacqueline Carey’s knack for writing strong female characters, I’m hoping that the princess will play a strong role in rescuing herself.

We learn more about Bao’s past. Do you like him any more or any less now? We also hear some amazing things about Master Lo. Do you think any of them are true?

Well, I hated Bao for most of the book so far, because he felt like a caricature, especially in his speech. But now we’re starting to see him for who he is, and not just how Moirin initially perceived him, and we get to see her realization that she totally underestimated him. I’m liking him a lot more than I did, but I still wish his accent had been handled differently. I’m also worried that Bao is going to be like Cillian, and that he’s going to get too attached to Moirin and want to settle down, while she’s not the settling down type (nor really one for monogamy). Maybe he’ll surprise me and be more like Daniel.

During the lengthy voyage, Moirin has language lessons, learns a bit about the Ch’in religions, and enjoys Bao’s attentions. What stood out for you?

She totally underestimated the women again, and then realized that she was being superficial. But I think what stood out to me the most on the ship is gender roles. Women are leaders among the Maghuin Dhonn, and D’Angeline society is very egalitarian. And now she’s moving into a culture where gender is more defined.

They finally make land right into the middle of a civil war. What do you think about Black Sleeve? What do you think his relationship to Master Lo is?

This is Jacqueline Carey we’re talking about, so I’m gonna go with former lovers! It would explain why Black Sleeve is so careful not to hurt Lo.

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.

4 comments

  1. What do you dislike about Bao’s accent? You explain a bit more in the second set of questions, but I’m still not sure. I mean, not everyone is good at learning languages, nor cares to learn them well and I thought it was pretty realistic that Bao (who has several chips on his shoulders to begin with even in Ch’in) would find it a nuisance to learn D’Angeline well.

    Now I wonder if there are strings attached to that demon gift as well.

    Yes, I agree. Jehanne is more nuanced and well-rounded than I first gave her credit for. I too am liking her quite a bit more on this second read through.

    “But do you really have to put “Don’t summon demons!” into the legal code? It seems like common sense to me.” – this made me laugh out loud. So true!

    Even tho this is a reread for me, I have totally forgotten the connection between Black Sleeve and Lo Feng. I love your idea of former lovers!

  2. I agree with your thoughts on King Daniel. It’s not his fault they’re doing this, and they may well have done the same thing even if he had given them a sanctioned adventure to be ambitious about.

    It will be interesting to see how Moirin handles Ch’in, because she’s only been in pretty sexually permissive cultures so far. That seems fine on the boat, but I’m wondering if the Ch’in court will be different.

    I was also happy when the book dropped the stereotypical bad-English dialect for Bao.

    1. Tbh, I think the stereotypical bad-English with Bao was what ruined the book for me the first time around. Considering that I expect him to turn up in the next two books in the trilogy, I’m glad we’re veering away from it.

  3. I think you’re right about Bao maybe becoming attached to Moirin – although I think you’ve hit on another similarity between Phedre and Joscelin right there – Joscelin was always more the one who wanted a relationship wasn’t he!
    Lynn 😀