Naamah’s Blessing Readalong, the first few weeks

Remember during the last readalong when I said that I was really bad at readalongs? Yeah… about that…

We’re continuing the Kushiel’s Legacy readalong with the final book of the third trilogy, Naamah’s Blessing. Since I am somewhat behind, this post will contain questions and answers from the first THREE weeks.

Week 1

1) Wow! We’re back at Marsilikos and then into Terre D’Ange right away without any lengthy travel scenes. How was this change of pace for you after the lengthy travel journal we’ve had so far in this series?

It was refreshing. I’m glad that Moirin and Bao had an uneventful trip. And I think another treacherous voyage might have been a bit tedious–we’ve been there and done that. And given that Moirin seems to do a lot of traveling, this may not be the only voyage in the book.

2) What do you think of King Daniel’s management of the realm while he’s in mourning? The relationship he has with his daughter Desiree?

He needs a hug and a shrink, not necessarily in that order. I feel bad for his loss, but he shouldn’t be abdicating his responsibility to his child and to his kingdom. Desiree deserves better.

Speaking of Desiree, I’m glad that Carey recognizes that kids can sometimes intuitively know or understand things beyond what we like to give them credit for. It doesn’t take a fully grown brain to understand that Daniel wants nothing to do with her, or that he’s depressed. It feels so realistic for Desire to notice and be confused by it.

3) Moirin has taken up the role as Desiree’s protector. What do you think of the political quagmire she’s gotten herself into? Will her tumblers and poet be able to sway the general public in her favor?

She’s good at causing scandal, that’s for sure. I think she’ll easily be able to charm the public. It’s the conniving nobility that I’m worried about.

4) Moirin’s father has a lover, Balthazar, who is also in the king’s favor. How big of a problem for Moirin and Bao do you think he will be?

He’s gonna be a pretty big problem. And I feel bad for Moirin’s father here, because he’s going to get caught in the middle of it.

Week 2

1) What do you think of the assistance the Sharhizai have provided to Moirin and Bao so far? Do you think there’s merit to their claim that the Sharhizai should govern the Shemizai district?

I enjoy the Sharizai. Seeing them in this context is kind of like… you know how some parents have stereotypes about people who have tattoos and ride motorcycles, then when they get to know them are startled to realize that they’re really a bunch of big softies? That’s the Sharizai. Also Balthasar is my favorite character in this trilogy so far. He intrigues me.

2) Did you enjoy the Oath Swearing Ceremony where Moirin pledged to be Desiree’s protector? What did you like best about it?

While I liked the ceremony, I think the thing that shined the most for me was actually seeing Moirin and Desiree on the Longest Night. They got to share a moment there remembering Jehanne, and I’m glad that Moirin has been able to show her glimpses into what her mother was like on a personal level, not just that she was beautiful or mercurial.

3) Finally, there’s news from Terra Nova. From chocolate to spices to riches to a vexing pox that Raphael may be able to cure to the loss of crown prince! Do you think Prince Thierry is really dead? If not, what kind of trouble might he be in? What else about Terra Nova intrigues you at this point?

I don’t think Thierry’s dead, but maybe he’s enslaved by demons or something. I don’t think we’re done with the whole demon summoning subplot yet. Or maybe the demon inside of Raphael is being interpreted as a god? Who knows?

Right now all we’ve heard about Terra Nova for the most part are terrifying stereotypes. I’m hoping that when Moirin arrives, she finds a more nuanced culture and is able to immerse herself in a new society.

4) Let’s discuss King Daniel. He spent some time with his daughter but then planned to abdicate to Thierry when he returned. Upon the sad news, King Daniel is no longer with us. Is there anything more that could have been done, either by Daniel or for him?

Aside from a really good therapist…? Are therapists a thing in Terra de Ange?

5) Rogier is angling for more political power. What do you think of him using his grieve to obtain his goal? Will Moirin and Bao be able to head off to Terra Nova without provoking Rogier further?

I don’t trust him, but I don’t think he’s evil. He’s kind of a Cersei Lannister (dangerous, but watching out for family more than anything else), and his kid is Joffrey. I’m really really hoping that Desiree (Sansa) is okay around him and doesn’t let him walk all over her or pressure her into doing something she doesn’t want to do.

Week 3

1) Were you surprised by Durel’s betrayal? Do you the captain and Balthasar handled it well?

While I suspected that Rogier would try to sabotage the mission, I didn’t think it would be this obvious. It says a lot about Rogier that he would be willing to make a man throw away his own life to save his family. I was fuming with rage at him.

That said, Balthasar emerges yet again as my favorite character in the book. He was in total control of the situation, and was able to get to the bottom of why Durel was so frightened, and he used the minimal amount of force necessary to do so. His ability to empathise with Durel was ultimately what led him to get answers that the captain could not. And it was nice to see someone other than Moirin who is blessed by the gods–a lot of the time in fantasy, you get this general feeling that the protagonist is someone super special and unique, and that gods/powers/etc. are inaccessible to everyone else.

2) Now that we’ve had some time to get acquainted with Terra Nova, what do you think of it? What do you make of the Nahuatl, and of the overall political tensions in Terra Nova? Do you think there’s any hope for reconciliation between the Aragonians, D’Angelines, other tribes, and Nahuatl?

The Aragonians are objectively awful, and I don’t blame the Achculati for being wary of them. The foreigners arrived and immediately jumped into conquest, and judged the Achculati before getting any chance to understand who they are or what is at the root of their beliefs. And yes, the whole human sacrifice thing is disturbing, but so is enslaving and conquering people just because you can.

I hope that Moirin and her gods are able to bring some measure of understanding between the different cultures, but that might be too much to hope for.

3) What are your impressions of Achculati and the bargain he offered? How do you think Moirin’s choice will impact her going forward?

He put Moirin in a very tough situation. Being chosen by the gods isn’t a comfortable thing, but she acted gracefully, and I hope that spending time getting intimately acquainted with Achculati will give him a deeper understanding that the foreigners aren’t all about conquest.

This was a bigger test for Bao than it was for Moirin though. He knew when he married her that she was poly, and that she was a child of Naamah. But it’s one thing to know something in your head, and another to be confronted with the reality of it. I think things will be a little bit awkward between them for a while, but I hope they are both able to get through it while remaining true to themselves.

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2 comments

  1. I am also a little worried about the focus on human sacrifice and whether the Nahuatl and other tribes would be represented fairly. I’m kind of holding off judgement on that until we see what’s up with Thierry.

    I don’t know about Bao, really. I get the impression that he’s just as poly as Moirin, but he has been physically loyal to her since they’ve been together again (despite some flirting with Balthasar). If the young wife had been aware with what was going on and okay with it, I think he would have slept with her.