I waited for this book for what seemed like years (it was about 3 months) and read it the whole way through in bed last night. And then I was cross with myself because the next book will probably be quite a while in coming. I just love Carey’s books. Kushiel’s Dart caught me and captivated me and her writing has only gotten better since then. Naamah’s Curse is the second in Carey’s latest trilogy (maybe a quad? We can hope), which is set a few generations after Sidonie and Imriel’s reign in Terra d’Ange and features a new main character, Moirin. You can read my review of the first book, Naamah’s Kiss here.
Naamah’s Curse explores some new lands and re-visits others. In the beginning, Moirin is still on the trail of Bao, who holds the other half of her soul. After a long, treacherous journey across the Tatar inhabited steppes in winter, Moirin finally catches up with her lost love. But the reunion is not what she’s longed for – Bao is married to the daughter of the leader of the Tartars, the Khan, who captures Moirin and sells her to followers of Jeshua ben Josef. Seeing Moirin torn from Bao, cut off from her magic and force to convert to a harsh religion in a foreign land is gut wrenching. Even when she escapes, the taint of the cruel priest follows her back across the tartar lands and all the way down to the Himalayas. Once again in search of Bao, who is in great danger, Moirin finds her fate has become even more tangled with those she meets along the way. She must defeat the Falconer and his wife, the Spider Queen in order to free Bao and a harem of unwilling consorts, but at what cost to herself? Will her divine gifts be taken from her now, after she fought so long to not surrender them to the Yeshuite god? And will Bao and her ever be free to go home, together?
While Naamah’s Curse still has the greatly detailed and intimate sex scenes that are one of Carey’s trademarks (I suggest a cold shower midway through reading, just to keep you on track), it also examines some of the great issues that have plagued mankind since the beginning. What is belief? Is it a choice? Can faith be thrust upon someone? Can someone change so completely they are unrecognisable? And then, could they change back? While Moirin stays true to her Maghuin Dhonn and loyal to the Bright Lady, Naamah, Carey doesn’t hesitate to delve into Christian dogma and demonstrate that there are good and true and beautiful parts to that religion. What is abhorred, in the book and in real life, is the zealous methods of conversion and the harsh condemnation of those who change differently. This rang very true for me – everyone should be able to believe what they wish to believe, without being forced or threatened or harassed. Each religion has it’s beauty and it’s darkness – the beauty from the divine and the darkness from the fallibility of man who deciphers the divine message. I’ll stick with my ‘An it hurt none, do as you will’ as a creed and I’ll thank you not to even bother printing your religious views and arguments on my blog, but I did want to note that the book gives a fair accounting of a variety of religions, neither condemning nor encouraging one over the other.
Enough religion, lets talk about sex. Carey’s writing is at its best at two points. When she’s asking – through Moirin’s voice – questions about the way people treat each other and why and when she’s making people naked and beautiful. Moirin is definitely not a monogamous character. I can’t actually bring to mind any of Carey’s main characters who are, with the exception of Jocelyn. While some will hum and ha about this, instead it is a thing to be celebrated. A natural act of love, written in beautiful (and never vulgar) prose, is something to be celebrated and cherished and more writers should practise the art of writing believable and gorgeous sex scenes into their fantasy. Hell, into their every day novels! I think this is why Carey’s writing sings to me so – while it’s never boring and there is high fantasy and epic adventure on every second page, what really gets me is the beautiful attitude towards sex and love and worship that Carey gives all her main characters*, often combining all three into a single act. More people should take on this attitude.
I actually think that this series demonstrates Carey’s fulfillment as an author. She really has excelled herself by taking religion, sexuality and travel and weaving it all together into a fantastic high-fantasy adventure which people will enjoy whether or not they stop to think about the bigger issues behind fighting demons and finding your soulmate. Buy the book. Or borrow it from a library/read it on-line and save trees. And while you’re at it, buy me a kindle so I can save trees too. Now I’m off to whinge about the fact that I finished Naamah’s Curse the day I got it and now have to find something else to read this week. Any recommendations? Especially with juicy, well-written sex scenes. Let me know in the comments what you guys have read lately! xx
*Even ones who have been badly treated, like Imriel, are still able to see the divine in the act of sex.