Naamah’s Blessing Readalong, the second few weeks

Today I’m continuing my being-bad-at-readalongs tradition, and am playing catch-up for weeks 4, 5, and 6 of the Naamah’s Blessing readalong.

There will be spoilers for weeks 4, 5, and 6 in the below questions. If you’re spoiler-averse, you may wish to ignore this post.

Also participating in the readalong are:

Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Susan at Dab of Darkness

Now, on to the questions!

Week 4

1) Betrayal again! Did you expect it here in the heart of the jungle? How do you feel about this outcome versus what Durel has endured and has yet to face?
This was a really tough situation because there really isn’t any kind of justice system out in the woods, nor any way to keep the culprit contained and harmless. It wasn’t an easy outcome, but it made sense.
2) Raging rivers, deadly illness, efficient deadly natives, scary ants, big snakes: I know you don’t want to face any of them, but if you had to choose, which would you tackle?
I’d definitely take the raging rivers. Kayaking is a lot of fun, and I’ve been around water all my life, so I’d at least like to think that I’d have reasonable odds of survival.
3) Vilcabamba held a nasty surprise, didn’t it? An army of ants and Raphael controlling them! Were you surprised? How do you think Moirin will learn to deal with the ants? 
So, I would have been surprised by the ants if Jacqueline Carey hadn’t posted a spoiler on her Facebook page a day before I read that part. Whoops.
Really though, the ants aren’t the problem here, it’s Raphael. Focolor’s power has corrupted him more than he already was, and he might be beyond salvation.
4) Raphael intends to summon Fokolor and force him to relinquish his powers or serve him without question. What do you think Fokolor’s reaction will be? Will he be so easily enslaved or tricked? 
Focolor has never been the type to be easily enslaved by power-hungry mortals. It will definitely backfire. I’d just as soon imagine that Focolor would possess Raphael and use his body to topple kingdoms just for funsies. Actually, not that different from what Raphael is doing now, come to think of it… would anyone even notice if it the two were to be swapped?

Week 5

1) What are your thoughts on the whole situation with Bao and Cusi?  Was it right of Bao and Moirin to engage in blood sacrifice?  What do you think of Cusi’s willingness? 
It’s a really tough situation, and I think in general, one of the things that we’ve seen throughout this series is a respect for the traditions of the different people and cultures that Moirin encounters. So here, there really isn’t another way to summon the ancestors without a blood sacrifice, and it’s been made very very clear that Cusi will be going to a real and tangible afterlife. That doesn’t make it easy, but it’s one of those situations where Moirin has to weigh one person’s death against the death of thousands or more people who will be killed if Raphael has his way. Cusi is a very brave and noble person to be able to sacrifice herself for her gods and for the future of her people.
2) Was the secret of the ancestors what you thought it would be?  Was it worth Cusi’s sacrifice?
Well, it was quite a secret. And it took down Raphael once and for all. I’m not sure if it was worth Cusi’s sacrifice, but her sacrifice brought hope, and if it wasn’t for what happened there, I don’t know that Moirin could have stopped him.
3) Did Jehanne’s intervention, or Raphael’s reaction to it, surprise you? Do you think saving Moirin’s relationship with the Maghuin Dhon was worth eliminating their last resort to thwart Raphael?
Well, I think Jehanne wasn’t just doing it for Moirin, she was doing it for herself, and maybe even for the gods too. I was surprised she thought she had a chance to succeed more than anything else. It was always a long shot.
4) On Raphael’s attempted summoning, do you think his turn-around at the end is enough to bring him right enough with Elua to pass into the Terre d’Ange that lies beyond? Meaning, do you think he can be forgiven?
Well, there was no remorse, that’s for sure. Just fear of consequences. But I’m also not the kind of person who believes that people are purely good or purely evil, and I don’t think many people are past saving. A lot of different things led to Raphael being at the point where he was, and he had Focalor festering inside of him for a really long time. If one or two things had been different, maybe his story wouldn’t have ended the way that it did. I’d say let Kushiel get him sorted, and see if his soul is salvageable.

Week 6

1) What do you think of the aftermath of Cusi’s sacrifice and Raphael’s downfall? Were you surprised by how much Moirin could do with her small gift with plants?
As someone who has been battling house ants since April, an entire sea of fire ants sounds pretty terrifying and destructive. I’m glad that Moirin was able to help. It reminded me of when she took the memories from the dudes who knew about cannons. And I see it as healing for her, something to keep her from feeling guilty over the loss of life.
2) It was a long haul back to the Aragonian city and port. What do you think of Emperor Achuatli’s proposal to Moirin this time around? 
His proposal amused me. At the same time, it was another test for her and Bao’s relationship, and it seems like they’ve decided to settle into monogamy unless it’s a goddess-blessed emergency.
3) Some judgments and justice is meted out all around. What do you think about the various punishments? There’s Allain Guillard, who abandoned the search for Prince Thierry; Durel who could have lost the entire ship; Jehanne’s mother; Rogier, his wife, and his two sons; others?
Well.. the Barthelme’s worry me, especially the son. I see them being like Melisande in the first books, and being recurring antagonists should Jacqueline Carey decide to come back to the series. I hope that they are able to grow as people and be less power-hungry.
Durel’s punishment seemed fair but also a bit harsher than it could have been. The Barthelmes were really to blame, and he was just trying to save his family.
I’m glad Jehanne’s mother is out of the picture, and I hope that Desiree is able to recover from her influence without too much emotional scarring.
4) How did you feel about Thierry’s well-meaning ruse to have Moirin cloak her, Bao, and himself in twilight so he could observe how the court took the return of Rouse & crew? Needful? Cruel? Unnecessary?
I loved it. It was entirely necessary. Balthasar, as always, is the star of the show, and has masterful command of the situation. He knows just what to say to minimize the damage but also to manipulate the Barthelmes into revealing their true colors.
If Thierry wasn’t watching the court, he ran the risk of it being everyone’s word against everyone else’s, and not knowing who to trust. He’s a young monarch reclaiming his throne, and he needs to start of boldly. And the D’Angelines love a good bit of theater. His dramatic entrance will be written about in poems for years to come.
5) Finally, it’s home to Alba, Moirin’s family, and the Stone Door. What did you like most about this homecoming? How do you feel about the ending over all? 
The part about the bear laughing was pretty good. In general, I have mixed feelings about the ending though. I hope Moirin continues to have some adventures, and that settling down and having fat babies with Bao doesn’t force her to deny her nature. She’s never been the monogamous type, and this seems way too Phedre/Joscelin.
6) Finally, we have enjoyed the entire Terre D’Ange Cycle. Do you have a favorite book, character, or trilogy? Any final thoughts on this series? Would you like to see more adventures or do you think this is a complete series?
I have so many feelings. This whole nine book series was special for me. I read it at a time in my life where I was stressed out and trying to figure out my own future, and finding this series rekindled a love of reading that I’d almost let too much academia destroy. It brought me back to the can’t-put-it-down-just-one-more-chapter-oh-shit-it’s-3-am kind of reading where you become so immersed in a story that all of the rest of the world ceases to exist.
The first trilogy was by far my favorite. I loved Phedre, and she was unlike any heroine I’d read about before. I also wish I could rearrange time and see what would happen if you put her and Balthasar together. That would be adorable.
By the time we get to the third trilogy, I do feel like the series lost something. Maybe it was the time skip, or maybe it was that the whole ‘traveling the world where magic is more real and there’s some demon summoning shenanigans’ felt like too much of a departure from the original story that I’d fallen in love with. Mind you, it wasn’t a bad trilogy so much as it didn’t shine like the earlier books did. If I wasn’t comparing them, I would have enjoyed them a lot more.
No, what I’d really like to see, rather than more books in this world (that I would read anyway because this series is so special to me), I’d like to see Jacqueline Carey come up with some other worlds or concepts or characters that have that same pull on me as the initial Kushiel books did. And I just realized that I haven’t actually read any of her other books, so now I’m curious.

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

2 comments

  1. Interesting that you chose raging rivers. I haven’t been around water most of my life, and while I love it, I tend to be overly cautious around it.

    Good point on Cusi’s choice – she’s going to a definite after life. That does make a difference in deciding to participate in human sacrifice.

    I initially didn’t really care for Thierry’s ruse there when they return to court, but after reading your answer I think I will have to reconsider that. You’re right – the D’Angelines do love their drama and shows in that they like to put them on but they also like to watch it unfold as well.

    Thank you once again for participating in this read along. This entire series is special to me as well.

    I’ve read several of Carey’s other works and they’re all different. Her duology The Sundering is probably the closest to the D’Angeline Cycle in that it is high epic fantasy. I like her Santa Olivia book quite a bit (I haven’t read the second in that series yet). I recently read her first book in her urban fantasy series and that was fun and fast paced. Her latest novel, Miranda and Caliban, was slower but had a lot of character development.

    1. Your descriptions of the other books make me very curious. The D’Angeline books were so distinctive, and I may have to try some of the others just to see what they’re like. 😀