Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey
Jacqueline Carey‘s sends us on yet another fantastic journey with her latest book in the stunning Kushiel’s Legacy series. The beautiful descriptions, relatable characters, and her use of religion and mythology in magical ways will enchant all fantasy lovers.
Follow Moirin mac Fainche of the Maghuin Dhonn as she travels from the heart of Ch’in territory to the cursed heights of Kurugiri in search of her errant peasant boy, Bao. She’ll confront an angry Tatar princess, a zealous Vralian priest, and the twisted Spider Queen.
Carey has a wonderful way with words. She turns a dull-looking page into a breath-taking landscapes. Take Moirin’s journey across the Abode of the Gods as an example: “Beneath the ever-present shadow of mountain peaks, we scaled heights where little grew save tough juniper shrubs…we descended into forested valley where cedar, blue pine, and larch grew with hardy exuberance…We traversed narrow paths clinging to the side of a mountain gorge above fierce rushing rivers.” Her descriptions are colorful, and bring the scenes to life.
But it’s her characters that make the story feel real. Moirin, though guided by the Maghuin Dhonn, Naamah, and Anael, is easy to relate to. She doubts herself, she gives her heart away easily, and she’s a stubborn, impulsive heroine. And her peasant boy Bao never fails to remind of her this. Bao struggles to create a place for himself in a world that has only shown him cruelty. Amrita, the Rani of Bhaktipur, has a kind heart. She shows compassion for even the lowliest servant, and is willing to take a path towards change.
And it’s not just the heroes that make this book great. It’s the villains that give it depth and tension. Jagrati the Spider Queen, once an untouchable, seeks to make herself the most terrible, and the most desirable, woman the world has ever known. Keeper of the stolen Kamadeva’s diamond, Jagrati wields its power with selfish intent. And the Vralian Patriarch, Pyotr Rostov, seeks to create a new faith for his fellow Yeshuites. And not one based on compassion and love, but on fear and hate.
Carey’s mythical take on various religions form the backbone of her new world. Naamah’s Curse deals with Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, along with the pagan religions of a few nomadic tribes. As Moirin realizes during her time spent in Vralia, “These scriptures, they were written by moral men. And mayhap some of them were moved by divine grace, but others were petty, jealous fellows moved by the ordinary concerns of everyday life, like being cuckolded by a straying wife.” Or Moirin’s more general thoughts on faith: “Faith cannot be proved, else it wouldn’t be faith. It can only be experienced.”
Moirin travels from the frozen Tatar steppe to the sultry valley of Bhaktipur in Naamah’s Curse. Readers can only hope her next book will feature an equally enchanting journey.
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