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Jacqueline Carey: Naamah's Trilogy

My brain is frazzled by economics. I have spent seven or so hours today studying, plus some five hours yesterday, and more in the last preceding weeks. INSTEAD LET'S TALK ABOUT BOOKS.

I am experiencing intense withdrawal from the Naamah trilogy.

Finished reading the Naamah Trilogy (Naamah's Kiss, Naamah's Curse, Naamah's Blessing: Jacqueline Carey) a few days ago and in the grips of fevered want for more. That is, I don't want a sequel, per se, or a prequel (though how she should be able to put Moirin, the protagonist, into a prequel, would be a definite problem: Kiss begins in Moirin's childhood; the Kushiel series, as I understand, take place about a century prior anyway). I don't actually want fic either, because I don't really want to explore anything else in the universe. I suppose what I'm after is instead a fresh re-reading of the entire series, like it were new - to be able to wallow in the story again. I've already re-read them all an embarrassing number of times.

Anyway right now the thing that really is making me sad is the part where (during her forced confession in Curse to Rostov) she thinks of Cillian and remembers it as a "profoundly innocently time" and it kind of breaks my heart. While the whole of the first book was basically spoilt for me (and probably why I didn't really pay attention to the Raphael-Moirin interactions; I knew what happened vaguely), the part with Cillian's relatives making life hard for Moirin was no easier. In a lot of ways these three books are Moirin's character development as she takes in the world - she kind of has to change, or else she'd be dead several times over - and lose that innocence. Cillian is the beginning.

Also, even though he was kind of a scumbag near the end, I can't help but hope that Jehanne and Raphael (and Daniel and Moirin!) will somehow make up. Well, mostly Raphael and Jehanne, because my god, if there was another traumatic death for Raphael to live through, that would be hers. He didn't speak to her - wasn't allowed, I think - until in desperation Daniel finally summoned him - in time to see Jehanne hemorrhage to death after giving birth to another man's daughter... Well! I am sure Eleanor's death from whatever it was (unspecified uncurable disease) wasn't helpful either to Raphael's mental health.

Very much fascinated with House Shahrizai (translated I think would be Charisé? Something like that; Shemhazai would be Chemaisé perhaps). No, well, while Kushiel's scions are very interesting (I do like the word scion, ooh) I suppose the actual interest stems from Balthasar. A pity we don't get to know him better! Apart from the brief mentions of him in Kiss, he doesn't come back into the picture til Blessing. I guess you could call the trope pampered nobility with heart of gold? Nah, it doesn't have the "prostitute with heart of gold" or "thief with heart of gold" ring to it. Anyway. House Shahrizai backs the entire venture to Terra Nova. Balthasar says himself that "money is not a problem; House Shahrizai is swimming in it". And it's kind of fun to see how it all plays out when Raphael sets them to working fields in Terra Nova. It's probably also Thierry's crash course in learning how to be a king, keeping his people together and learning where to trust others (namely, Moirin).

Sometimes the French is a bit weird. Thierry, really? But I mean, Terre d'Ange calls him "dauphin" (and his sister, "dauphine") and it's clearly French but the [θ] doesn't exist in French! (actually, now that I start thinking about it, French ended up deaffricating the [tʃ] sounds (that's why chair [tʃ] vs chaise [ʃ] [English borrowed before deaffrication]) So maybe Shemhazai - well, anyway, the timeline is confused. I mean, Spain's discovered South America, or, more precisely, Central America. Yet they have no gunpowder and still talk about the invasion by Rome (not in living memory but still "recently"); the Chinese's use of it is absolutely new to Moirin, and everyone else uses either sticks (like quarterstaves) or bows. The development of artillery is horrifying (most prominent use was Napoleon, I believe? Though it must have existed prior to him).

Bao's story is probably in the first and second book (though his return to living in the first book requires a payment in the last). I kept having this horrible feeling that his skills would flag and disastrous events ensue - he keeps jumping into danger, I kept worrying - but then again his death was in the first book. Not much can top that. Admittedly, since he doesn't really have a choice in the matter of him dying and being resurrected, it's Curse that focuses on him and his attempt to come to terms about it all.

MOIRIN <33333

(How did I not make the druid connection earlier?!)

I particularly liked Bao's rueful quote: "You fall in love the way other people fall out of a boat". Given her sexual activity, it seems rather apt; it even gets lampshaded when he tries to list all of her lovers to date and misses one. (That would be the random carriage driver.)

I wonder what happened to duc de Rogier/Phanuel after all. I mean, Phanuel is his companion. (For a long time, too; childhood, I think?) And the blame seems to fall more heavily on his wife and first-son. As Moirin says to Rostov, it's not just the sex; it's loyalty, first and foremost. Still, Phanuel seems to see very clearly - not that the duc's ambition is concealed well (he wears a circlet as they return from Terra Nova!) - despite his ability to love one and all, and he does speak with undeniable support for Moirin against the duc.

It is very much a book of the perspectives of an outsider looking in, and I don't think that's inherently bad, only that we've such a glut of them when it comes to non-Western books. It's also alternate universe. Because of that outsider perspective that Moirin has - she meets absolutely no one from even Alba on her travels, much less her own small folk - one of the major recurring themes is simply the discrepancy between what appears to be and what is. It's complicated says Bao. And it is! Characters who initially appear one way often are seen in a different light as other information comes up - whether for better or worse. Usually for the better. Though I can't vouch for the accuracy of all the cultures portrayed (though being alt history it's always modified), there isn't really one particular country that has all its people vilified. Well, Vralia (Russia), perhaps, though I'm pretty sure that it's also portrayed in one of the Kushiel series and likely has more nuance there. Moirin's assessment of the people she encounters is separate from the author's thoughts on the people, who tend to both violate and fall within Moirin's expectations.

If you like alternate history/alternate universe historical-fantasy, this is your book! Though if you're a prude I would recommend the skill of flipping pages quickly. There's lots of travelling and plenty of adventure and fighting, and some politicking on the side. AHHHH who am I kidding? I'd love it if everyone could read it and we could all talk and make meta and discuss and even make fic and have art. Go on, read it!

Crosspost: http://silverflight8.dreamwidth.org/106312.html.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 17th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
Let me knoooow when you read it *anticipates*
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 17th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC)
I'm waiting for the Kushiel series to arrive...I've been on hold for awhile now. What is annoying is that there's a sci-fi collection but no one can check things out so there's books there! But you can't take them home!

(I was so happy when I found Naamah's Curse in the ebook section. :D)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 17th, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC)
I have not really read enough of Kushiel to say for sure. Chronologically, Naamah follows after the two Kushiel trilogies. But I didn't really have trouble understanding (I'm sure I'll understand Terre d'Ange's politics better when I finish the Kushiel books!) Um, and based on my reading of the first 150 pages of Kushiel's Dart, it is really way kinkier than Naamah. Moirin sleeps with a lot of people, but it's significantly more vanilla >.>
Apr. 17th, 2012 10:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I forgot to answer the other part of the question - it's a special collection (there's a children's picture books collection, and a sci-fi one, and probably more I'm not aware of) but those collection books are in-library only, sadly.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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