Naamah’s Curse Readalong, Weeks 1 & 2

Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series is one of my all-time favorite reads. Some of my blog friends have been doing a readalong of the series, and we’re finally on Naamah’s Curse, the second book of the third trilogy, which features a Celtic protagonist who travels far from home in search of her destiny.

As usual, life is busy and I’ve been running behind schedule, so I’m combining the first two weeks’ questions into one post.

Chapters 1-15

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 really like it when books that are later in a series do a brief recap of previous books. Even though I usually intend to read books in a series one after another, there are usually months (at least) in between when I read book one and book two. Sometimes I’ll pick up a book two in a series and have to re-read blog posts or Goodreads reviews to remember what was even going on in the first book because it’s been so long and I’ve read so many other books in between. So yeah. The gesture of including the plot of the first book was much appreciated.
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?
Bad idea. Bad idea. Bad idea.
She’s lucky she didn’t freeze to death.
3) What stuck out to you the most about the Tatar tribe Moirin stays with and their way of life?
All we had heard about the Tatars before Moirin ended up in their camp was that Bao’s birth father was a Tatar who raped his mother–not a good first impression. Being able to spend some time with the Tatars makes you realize that they aren’t just flat stereotypical bad guys–they’re complex people with a different culture and a different way of life, and the action of one person is just that.
Grandmother Yue is my favorite character in the book so far. She went the extra mile to make sure Moirin felt at home and became part of the family.
3) 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?
I am so angry at Bao right now.
I don’t think Bao should have married when he knew he was in love with Moirin. I hated that he wasn’t truthful with her or with his wife. I don’t think Bao is acting like a very good person right now. Marriage is a commitment, and Bao isn’t taking it seriously. Now he’s screwing over a perfectly lovely person because he didn’t have a whit of foresight.
4) 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 know how I’d react, but hopefully not like Bao. I’d like to think that I’d be considerate of others’ feelings instead of being a selfish little prick (still mad at him for getting married. You don’t accidentally get married, you make a conscious choice. He could have said “I can’t marry your daughter cause I’m in love with someone else” BUT HE DIDN’T.)
I’d probably rage a bit, cry a bit, then move onto calm acceptance.

Chapters 16-32

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?
She should have called the twilight and ran away with Bao. I didn’t see her participating in the archery contest ending well–Moirin is too different, and Aram would have done anything to prevent harm to his daughter’s marriage. However, I didn’t see the thing with the Vralians coming at all.
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?
It’s a clash of worldviews over sexuality, with the D’Angelines emphasizing consent and the Vralians emphasizing “purity.” And there’s no way for Moirin to convert and be true to who she is.
Rostov is scary and sadistic, and I hope Moirin gets out of this one fast.
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.
While Moirin and Phedre found themselves in similar situations, I think they handle them very differently. It’s been years since I read books 2-3-4-5-6, but my recollection is that Phedre used her masochism to soften and eventually influence Rostov-type figures. Moirin can’t do that, and is going to have to rely on the goodwill of the people who surround him as she plots her escape.
4. Any predictions about the next stage of the story?
My prediction is that the escape plan won’t go as intended, but that in the process, Moirin will help Alexei learn to be true to himself.

4 thoughts on “Naamah’s Curse Readalong, Weeks 1 & 2

  1. I am so angry at Bao, too. I keep thinking there must be more to the story (of why he got married), but I can’t think of anything that would justify his actions. He seems like a total jerk right now.

    Also, yep, I agree with you that they should have just run away. I couldn’t see any situation that would end with Aram saying, “Well, you won fair and square, so you can abandon my daughter for a foreign lover now.”

  2. I also like the way the previous book was recapped – it’s just really useful and means you don’t have to go checking out reviews and goodreads.
    I completely agree – Bao has acted so badly and I’m really annoyed with him, it’s just so inconsiderate and I don’t know why Moirin felt the need to apologise, she didn’t do anything wrong after all – but I like that she felt the need to do so.
    I like your prediction for the next stage of the story.
    Lynn 😀

  3. I’m also glad we got to learn more about the Tartars since before the little we knew was just concerning Bao’s father’s violent deeds.

    Bao is being an ass, marrying another when he knows that there’s this unresolved bond between him and Moirin. I was surprised that status meant so much to him, and partly to impress or perhaps be equal to Moirin, and yet the cost of that status is marriage to someone other than Moirin. Yeah, he’s not thought this through.

    A clash between purity and consent – I like how you put that.

    It is a thought to think of how Phedre would handle Rostov… at least until Joscelin arrived and handled him.

    1. Ha, I think if Rostov would have encountered Phedre he’d have gotten so much more than he’d bargained for. And she’d come out of it being all “well that was a nice little vacation” and he would be so confused. It’s kind of a hilarious mental image.

      I was also surprised that status meant so much to Bao. I wonder if it’s another cultural gap between them–Bao is used to more rigid societies, whereas Moirin was raised to see everyone as an equal.

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