Naamah's Kiss Part II

Clementine being cute.
Clementine being cute.

The read along continues with Naamah’s Kiss, Book 1 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am your host. We’re covering Chapters 13-26, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) How does one go about finding their destiny? Do you think Moirin is doing a good job of finding her’s? How did you find your own destiny, or have you?

I think one has to step outside their comfort zone to find their destiny. I think it’s rare for it to simply plop into someone’s lap and even if it did so, that person would have to grab it by the horns and master it it. So, with that in mind, I think Moirin is doing the right thing right now – leaving home and searching for her father.

However, on the other hand she seems to think her destiny is tied to a man. She checks with her inner voice each time she’s attracted to a man – like with Theo the cab driver, and the sailor boy, and finally with Raphael. I have only vague memories of this book, but I don’t think her destiny is tied solely to a man, so I look forward to her coming to that realization and looking beyond to something bigger.

I thought I had found my destiny, but this past year I have had to reevaluate all that since I have been rather ill and have had to give up most of my activities. Hopefully, that will all be different within a year’s time. Heck, maybe I have 2 destinies and I already fulfilled Destiny #1 and now I need to find Destiny #2.

2) Moirin is pretty uncomfortable within stone walls and cities in general. Have you ever found yourself in a similar position, whether in the forest or at sea or in a large city?

Yes, definitely. I have always lived in small cities. I think the largest was probably Clinton, Illinois in the mid 1980s. After college, my man and I went to New York to visit his sister for a week and that was quite the difference. I tried to overcome my uncomfortableness by being polite and friendly and a little outgoing with people, but mostly people just looked at me strangely.

I think Moirin is doing a better job than I did. She knows she has to get used to it if she is to be successful in her travels, but she also realizes that she has to do it in steps.

3) We continue to meet or hear about descendants of characters we met in the first 6 books. Who has caught your attention the most?

Oh! Definitely Amarante, who has turned out to be Moirin’s great time 3 or 4 grandmother on her father’s side. I think that’s awesome that we have these ties back to the first 2 trilogies, but they aren’t so much that folks just jumping into this series will be annoyed or lost by it.

4) The Maghuin Dhonn. The Tsingani. Do you see parallels between the two or how they are treated?

So far, it looks like the Tsingani are more accepted now than they were a few generations back. So I feel that the Maghuin Dhonn are currently in the same social acceptance place that the Tsingani were back in the the time of Phedre and Joscelin. I hope the Maghuin Dhonn do become as accepted and as successful as the Tsingani.

With that said, there’s obviously still the social snobbiness in Terre D’Ange culture. For instance, the Tsingani do tend to live in a specific section of the City of Elua, a bit removed from the rest of the folks. And, obviously, Moirin is seeing first hand how people react to her Maghhuin Dhonn heritage.

5) First impressions of the denizens of the City of Elua? Of Raphael de Mereliot?

The City of Elua seems a bit harsher towards outsiders in this series, but it might just be we are seeing it now, whereas the first 2 trilogies were told through the eyes of a native to the City. I like that Moirin gave the opinionated ladies she shared the cab ride with a second chance. In some ways, they meant well even if they had superiority complexes.

Raphael seems to have all sorts of ulterior motives. First, there is his spat with his lover, Queen Jehane. That just has DANGER all over it. Then he has some mysterious business going on that we’ve only seen hinted at so far. He does seem really interested in Moirin’s small magics.

6) Morin continues her hunt for her D’Angeline heritage. What do you expect from Phanuel, her father?

I really have forgotten how that turns out. Since Phanuel is a priest of Naamah, I expect he will be accepting of Moirin, but I really am not sure how much responsibility he will feel towards Moirin. After all, he has probably had a few dozen couplings and he may very well have fathered several children. Hopefully, we shall see how that falls out n the next section.

Other Tidbts:

I like that Moirin continues to talk to trees, but I also appreciate that she can’t do the same thing with sea creatures. J. Carey has done a great job of putting limits on Moirin’s magical abilities and so far is sticking to them.

Moirin really has no impulse control when it comes to calling the twilight and spying on people. I don’t think she means any harm by it and she does have this very curious nature. Plus, this was totally acceptable where she came from and was a survival technique. However, I do worry that it could get her in trouble.

Raphael’s loss of his parents was definitely sad. I think it’s good he is finally talking to someone about it, even if he is a bit surprised and defensive at first in doing so.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S KISS in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

The Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

Heya Everyone! I was recently tagged by The Audiobookworm in this fun book tag. Feel free to comment on my book choices or to add your own for each category in the comments. I’m going to tag a few people at the end, but if you want to throw up a post with your answers, leave me your link in the comments so I can swing by.

1. “Tale As Old As Time” – A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading.

Theme – Underdog

BrownRedRisingThe Red Rising series by Pierce Brown was excellent. Can’t wait to see more from this author. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s a mash up of Roman mythology/military command structure with terraforming of Mars and beyond. Be proud of your scars. You’ve earned them!

BernheimerConfessionsOfDListSupervillainD-List Supervillain series by Jim Bernheimer – which is just a lot of damn fun! Mostly, the supervillains in this series are just anti-organization. The various super-characters are imaginative and there’s plenty of humor.

Trope – Artificial Intelligence

DircksTheWrongUnitI recently read a whole bunch of AI stuff. The Wrong Unit by Rob Dircks was a delight. It had that right mix of humor and serious bits. The AI units are programmed to learn to care for their humans, so the anthropomorphizing of the AI units is realistically built into the story.

PerreaultProgenyRay Jay Perreault has written several stories that feature AI and I have been enjoying making my way through his audiobooks. Progeny is one of my favorite AI stories, though his AIs run the gamut of cold, calculating evil to human-like societal beings.

Heldig and Chupa being anything but helpful.

Serengeti by JB Rockwell was super intense in several ways. The story starts off with a space battle and the AIs are the ships, though they all have human crews. This space battle takes perhaps as much as half the book. Then the second half is the story of this one ship trying to limp home. The humans have to go into stasis, so that just leaves the ship’s AI and her little AI minion bots. The struggle to reach their goal, to stay sane over the lengthy years, to keep functioning just enough to keep the human crew alive – just an excellent tale.

Setting – Ancient Times

There’s plenty of stuff that happened in ancient times. Most of it is interesting, gritty, and dramatic. Here’s a list of some of the stuff I’ve read so far and have really enjoyed.

SmithRiseOfZenobiaConn Iggulden’s Emperor series – This series focuses on Julius Caesar, starting with his boyhood years and going all the way through his life to the dramatic, bitter end.

The Rise of Zenobia by JD Smith – set during the Roman empire in the Syrian city of Palmyra. I learned from this book and that always is a plus.

John Maddox Roberts’s SPQR murder mystery series – Set in 1st century ancient Rome during the time of Crassus and Pompey. Who could resist murder mystery and ancient Rome? Not me!

Patrick Bowman’s retelling of The Odyssey for young adults – The Odyssey of the Slave series. In this series, the focus is on a young lad who is taken as a slave when the famous city of Troy falls.

Colossus by Colin Falconer – This is a tale of Alexander the Great. Technically, it’s an alternate history, but if you don’t know much abut Alexander and the arc of his life, you wouldn’t know it. I really enjoyed this tale – elephants!

The Sekhmet Bed by LM Ironside – set in ancient Egypt. Ahmose was raised up to Great Royal Wife status. Political intrigue plays a big role in this story.

RobertsClaimedByTheEnemyRise to Power by Uvi Poznansky – set in the land of Israel in the 1st or 2nd century BCE. This is the first book in a series about David and his rise to power told from a secular point of view.

Claimed by the Enemy by Shauna Roberts – despite the title and the cover art, this book is pretty darn good. Set in ancient Mesopotamia during the time of King Sargon, the book focuses on two young individuals who were placed in difficult positions.

2. Belle – A book you bought for it’s beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too

KayUnderHeavenGuy Gavriel Kay never fails to provide a beautiful story and his covers are always so well done. Recently, I read Children of Earth and Sky, and the cover is indeed just as beautiful as the tale inside. If you said I had to pick my favorite GGK novel, I would be hard-pressed to say which it was. His Sarantium duology is about the fall of an empire, so plenty of vast ideas going on there but with excellent pinpoint characters that do a great job of showing the human side. I also loved The Lions of Al-Rassan, which is based on Moorish Spain. There’s plenty of areas of conflict but also plenty of areas for commonality. I could go on and on, but you should just go pick up some GGK for yourself.

Slinky was chewing on my shoes so I gave her a book to look at.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear was one of my favorite reads of 2015. The cover did a great job of capturing the Wild West and Steampunk mix of the story. Karen was also a wonderful character, not being a stereotypical kick ass heroine that are so abundant lately. She does kick ass, she’s just also a real person who happens to be brave when backed into a corner.

3. Beast – A book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you.

AllendeZorroZorro by Isabel Allende was a pleasant surprise. In essence, it was an origin story for Zorro. I loved watching the black & white TV show was a kid so it was pretty cool to read this book and get Allende’s take on how Zorro came to be. There was a lot more depth to this character than I expected, which, in retrospect, was silly of me. Zorro lived during a time of Spanish colonialism in the New World – there were plenty of cultures and conflicts. Allende did a great job of pulling those elements into this tale.

ClinesTheFoldThe Fold by Peter Clines was one of the best SF Thriller novels I have read. It was fun. It was intense. It had SF themes that I could get into. The characters were also interesting, especially the lead guy who has a true eidetic memory. This was both a help and a hindrance to him.

King11226311-22-63 by Stephen King is the first King novel I have read. It won’t be the last. King did a really great job with the characters in this book. I know some folks have labeled him as a horror novelist, and nothing more. However, this book shows that he has a lot more going on. It’s obvious he put quite a bit of research in to the time and location (1963, Texas) of the bulk of the book. While I do expect that as I explore King’s works, this novel won’t be my favorite but it certainly delivered more than I expected.

4. Gaston – A book everyone loves that you don’t.

Luxor looking for another human who will do his will.

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel – I was on the fence about this one. I liked that it was a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel that wasn’t full of angst. However, I didn’t really care for the character Arthur Leander, who all the other characters are somehow connected with. He was boring and I wanted to know more about these other characters but the story kept coming back to him.

CoehloAlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo – it’s a young man’s adventure quest and it’s been done so many times before. All the ladies are in some subservient role, which is also a standard (unfortunately) in such adventure tales. Most of the men have a Personal Legend to find or to fullfill. Meanwhile, the 3 female characters lack any such ambition.

Grahame-SmithAbrahamLincolnVampireHunterAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith – The most exciting parts of this book were the dream sequences and even those were mean tricks. The reader enters each of the dream sequences as if they are the next part of the story and only at the end of the scene do you realize it’s a dream. I really liked Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and his Unholy Nights was pretty entertaining as well, so I was sad to say that I found this book to be a snoozer.

5. Lefou – A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counter part.

LynchTheLiesOfLockeLamoraJean Tannen from The Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch – This series is full of creative cursing, thievery, camaraderie, magic, death, romance, pirates, evil people getting their due, the good guys getting the crap beaten out of them, and more creative cursing.

PriestBloodshotHeldigAdrian from the Cheshire Red Reports by Cherie Priest – Adrian is still a bit of a mystery, since I have only read the first 2 books in this series (I hope there will be more in the series!). He’s ex-military on a search for his missing kid sister. He’s also a dragqueen, and his parents have disowned him because of this. He makes a great sidekick for Raylene, the vampire thief.

6. Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumier & Cogsworth – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable.

For over a year now, I have been going through this medical thing. I’ve basically been on bed rest for a year now and I was finally diagnosed in May with CTEPH – which is basically blood clots that have hardened in my pulmonary arteries, which has caused pulmonary hypertension to a moderately high degree, which will be fatal…. in perhaps 6-10 years, unless I have this big, kinda cool in a SF way, kinda scary in a mortality rate way, surgery. That’s scheduled for early February. So, these books have helped me cope with this lengthy process.

Good cat, good book, what else does one need?

Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford – this is a coloring book for adults and it’s the first one I ever bought. It’s remarkably detailed and it’s pretty amazing how coloring really takes me out of my current situation. Also, it’s something I  can do while listening to audiobooks.

CareyKushiel'sDartTerre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey – This series has been awesome and I have been part of a group read along with several wonderful ladies on the blogosphere. I’ve read Book 1, Kushiel’s Dart, so many times but it was quite something to share it with others in this in-depth discussion of the book. We started the read along back in May 2015, and now we’re on Book 7, Naamah’s Kiss. We’ll have to finish the last two books after my surgery – so that gives me something to look forward to. If you haven’t checked this series out, then I highly recommend it for alternate history and epic fantasy fans. I know sometimes it gets panned because there is plenty of sex in it, but the amount sex doesn’t outweigh all the awesomeness – the political intrigue, the sword fights, the desperate straights of the heroes, the saving of the realm! Honestly, the sex enhances the characters instead of just being padding to up the page count.

7. “Something There” – A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end.

JordanPathOfDaggersThe Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – It took me about 4 books to really get into this series, but I’m very glad I read it as it is a touchstone for epic fantasy fans. The first book really took a lot from Tolkien’s works and I was bit insulted the first and second time I read it. However, I was encouraged by a great group of book bloggers, who were part of this big 2+ years-long read along of the series, to keep going. Also, in an interview, Jordan spoke about how he wanted to model Book 1 on Tolkien’s works to give readers something familiar. Eventually, starting at Book 4, Jordan’s genius really starts to show through. I am very much hoping they do make this series in to a quality TV series or a quality series of movies.

8. “Be Our Guest” – A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner.

ButcherDeadBeatHarry Dresden & Bob the Skull from Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files – This is one of my favorite urban fantasy series. The first few can be read in any order, but I think the series is best read in order since the larger story arc starts really building on itself around Book 4 or 5, though there are small things even in Book 1 that are tied into again later in the series. Bob would be a hoot at any dinner party. He doesn’t get much socializing, so he lacks all those hindrances that make most dinner conversations so dull.

HearneShatteredAtticus & Oberon from Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles – this is yet another favorite urban fantasy series. Oberon would bring the appetite and the humor with his simple doggy demands. Atticus, being the 2000+ year old druid that he is, would be able to chat about several entertaining subjects.

Tagging Others

So now I would like to tag some other bookish folks, though please don’t feel obligated if this isn’t your cup of tea. Also, if I don’t tag you but you want to play along, please do! And leave me a comment with a link to your post so I can visit.

Lynn from Books and Travelling

Andrea from Little Red Reviewer

Julie from Oh, Julie!

Austine from Novel Knight

Book Wins from Novel Knight
Book Wins from Novel Knight

And I would like to smash into this long post a big thank you to Austine! I won a very fun book package from her recently. It was full of books and bookish things and fake tattoos and a red mask and nail art. And then she wrapped everything in gold paper! This box of goodies was such an upper, especially since I have been sick. I loved unwrapping everything and modeling the mask, tattoos, and nail art for my man. Thank you Austine!

Naamah's Kiss Part I

Clementine being cute.
Clementine being cute.

The read along continues with Naamah’s Kiss, Book 1 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog is your host. We’re covering Chapters 1-12, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Firstly, Carey has picked up the story a few generations down the line. How do you think this will affect the story, if at all?

This is a great question. The short answer is: I don’t know. Perhaps not. While this is a reread for me, it was years ago and I only have vague memories of this book. I will point out that Carey did a great job keeping the focus of her second trilogy on Imriel and not falling back on Phedre and Joscelin, which probably would have been easy to do. So I expect Moirin will remain front and center.

So far, it has been interesting to hear of Alais the Wise and of the horrible memory magic played on the City of Elua from Moirin and her generation.

2) We have a new female lead.  What are your first impressions of Moirin?

Moirin is something unexpected. That’s my impression. She has Naamah’s whisper in her dreams and Anael’s gift of making flowers bloom or ripen to seeds. Yet she can also make herself invisible and the great Mother Bear has recognized her as her own. So, there’s great potential in Moirin even if it’s not the potential her people expected.

Plus, I like that she is excited to learn, even if that is how to read or to wear proper clothing or ride a horse.

3) I enjoyed the return to Alba, and once again meeting the Maghuin Dhonn – what did you make of the coming of age ritual?

Magic mushrooms can alter your perception of reality and give you what you need.

But for the sake of this story, I am very glad that Moirin was so very stubborn and that the Great Bear eventually came and claimed Moirin as her own. I think that fierce look of belonging and pride will sustain her through some hard times.

Also, I like that she got to meet some other teens of the Maghuin Dhonn.

4) The story already has the inclusion of magic and also visions of Gods – any predictions on what these visions and magic might bring to the story?

Yeah… Let’s chat about this. In the first series, there’s perhaps what one might call magical realism – the sexual magic of the Night Court and Phedre’s red dot in her iris. Later in that series, we get some definite glimpses of deities and magic, but it’s light. In the second series, we see more magic, though often Imriel is on the receiving end of it and not the person casting the magic (tho there was that tiny bit where he put charms on Sidonie). Now we have Moirin who is raised with magic. To her, it is a natural part of being and I don’t think she could imagine her life with her little magics or not knowing there are true deities out there that interact with folk of this world. It’s a beautiful progression of the Terre D’Ange Cycle, don’t you think?

As far as predictions, well this trilogy has Naamah’s name in each book title, so I am guessing we will have plenty of sexy times in this trilogy.

Other Tidbts:

Moirin’s first experience with a book was precious! I think I would have been the same if I hadn’t experienced a book until I was 9 or 10.

The memory erase magic is a powerful and dire magic indeed!

Moirin is sort of named for the Morwen of old, the one who tricked Imriel time and again in a vain and desperate attempt to save her people. That is a dire portent for the beginning of the story!

Oh, Killian! Let’s all raise a beer, perhaps a Killian Red, to the youth! Mostly, I feel for Moirin because she was basically kicked out of Alban society with his death.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S KISS in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Naamah's Kiss Read Along – The Schedule

Clementine being cute.
Clementine being cute.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Naamah’s Kiss is Book 1 of the third trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. You don’t have to have read the first two trilogies to enjoy this third one, as it occurs a few generations after the second trilogy. Lynn over at Lynn’s Book Blog is acting as co-pilot for this read along as I deal with medical stuff. Thanks Lynn! Below is the schedule.

Here is the current schedule:

Dec. 5th Week 1 – Chapters 1-12, Hosted Lynn’s Book Blog
Dec. 12th Week 2 – Chapters 13-26, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Dec. 19th Week 3 – Chapters 27-36, Hosted by Books Without Any Pictures
Dec. 26th Week 4 – Chapters 37-48, Hosted by Tethyan Books
Jan. 2nd Week 5 – Chapters 49-60, Hosted by Dab of Darkness
Jan. 9th Week 6 – Chapters 61-74, Hosted by Tethyan Books
Jan 16th Week 7 – Chapters 75-End, Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog

And here is the current list of participators:
Alli at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

CareyNamaahsKissBook Blurb for Naamah’s Kiss:

Once there were great magicians born to the Maghuin Dhonn, the folk of the Brown Bear, the oldest tribe in Alba. But generations ago, the greatest of them all broke a sacred oath sworn in the name of all his people. Now only small gifts remain to them. Through her lineage, Moirin possesses such gifts—the ability to summon the twilight and conceal herself, and the skill to coax plants to grow.

Moirin has a secret, too. From childhood onward, she senses the presence of unfamiliar gods in her life—the bright lady and the man with a seedling cupped in his palm. Raised in the wilderness by her reclusive mother, Moirin learns only when she comes of age how illustrious, if mixed, her heritage is. The great-granddaughter of Alais the Wise, child of the Maghuin Donn and a cousin of the Cruarch of Alba, Moirin learns her father was a D’Angeline priest dedicated to serving Naamah, goddess of desire.

After Moirin undergoes the rites of adulthood, she finds divine acceptance… on the condition that she fulfill an unknown destiny that lies somewhere beyond the ocean. Or perhaps oceans. Beyond Terre d’Ange, where she finds her father, in the far reaches of distant Ch’in, Moirin’s skills will be a true gift when facing the vengeful plans of an ambitious mage, a noble warrior-princess desperate to save her father’s throne, and the spirit of a celestial dragon.

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S KISS in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part VII

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am your host as Lisa had some unexpected appliance failures that wreaked havoc with her household this past week. We’re covering Chapters 76-End, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) We talked last week a bit about the charm Imriel put on Sidonie so she could maintain her own will. Did it work as well as you expected? Less or more? Is there anything more they could have done with these charms?

I actually don’t recall what I was expecting the first time I read this book. However, I do really like that these charms weren’t a cure all. Carey kept it real in that this is Imriel’s sincere attempt at a bit of magic he doesn’t really understand versus a well-wrought magic done by a master magician.

Other than having Kratos watch her as much as he could, I don’t think the three of them could have done anything more.

2) Mavros as part of the Queen’s Guard! Was that a surprise to you? Were you surprised by any other characters in this weird, corrupted version of the City of Elua?

Mavros really was the one that shocked me the most. He’s been a stalwart friend, but I never pictured him in uniform! I wonder if he will keep the post, now that everything is back to normal? I can’t recall if that was mentioned at the end.

3) In a desperate moment, Imriel seems to be filled with the light of the 13, or at least Elua, until he’s knocked out. Do you think it was Elua answering his prayers sideways?

I want to believe that Elua and his Companions were making a true plea to the people of the City through Imri. Having Imri knocked unconscious and coming to in a position to see the the gem’s hiding place in the portrait was their backup plan.

4) We have a few desperate moments once the location of the gem is revealed to Imriel – his duel with Joscelin, his ride to the square, his scramble up the tree, his taking hold of Sidonie, and the breaking of the spell, the appearance of the demon. What did you like most about these moments? Anything you didn’t like?

I recall that the first time I read this book, I was truly worried that Kratos would die by Joscelin’s hand. That would have been a true sorrow! So that fight was definitely worrisome. I’m glad that Imri trusted the core of Joscelin and came up with his unexpected tackling.

When Imri put a blade to Sidonie, I knew he wouldn’t harm her, but I wasn’t sure she would trust him enough to do what was needed.

Demon! OK, so it’s freed and the spell broken and perhaps it was a grateful enough to give them a bow, but I have always wondered what the demon did next. Does it have a home with other demons that missed it? Or did it seek out Bodeshmun’s soul and torment him? Did it zip off to some other town and torment innocent souls?

5) Terre D’Ange is at peace. What reconciliations stood out to you?

In a way, I’m glad we had Imriel’s madness and his return to sanity to show us how regretful he was over the things he said and did while his wits were not solely his own. I can only imagine how a big city and most of the nation’s army felt. Yet we also have the folks, like Drustan, who were bespelled but then left, regaining their wits. So they can now they can help guide the rest to reconciliation.

That scene where Sidonie requests Imriel to fetch her mom to help out in getting people settled and Imriel goes to Ysandre, only to have Ysandre turn him down, and then he pushed back – that was awesome.

6) Finally, we have a wedding. Perfect ending to the trilogy? Need something more? Any final questions that you want answered?

Yes, the wedding was beautiful. It was also good to see the Bastard returned and the real Leander (who I think Sidonie wants to do a three-some with). It’s hard to say goodbye to these characters, so of course I can think of all sorts of things I would love to see – like just where Phedre and Joscelin hid the lost book of Raziel. That whole demon question I had above. Alais and her role in Alba. What will Barquiel do now, or perhaps even more exciting, a young Barquiel’s adventures.

Other Tidbts:

Too bad there wasn’t a trusted female servant for Sidonie that could have kept an eye on her in the bath. Which also begs the question of how she kept her back scar from being questioned, because I suspect she did have bath attendants….

I love that she turned the scar into a beautiful tattoo. I expect that breaks all sorts of taboos, just as Phedre no Montreve having a marque and being a Peer of the realm was worth commenting on back in her day.

Melisande has her official pardon… and now I wonder about what’s his face who accidentally killed his sister Persia. Will he get a pardon?

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part VI

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering Chapters 63-75, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. The Euskerri paid a brutal price for their sovereignty. What do you think about how this played out? Did anything stick out in your mind?

I think I need more info, really. The Euskerri obviously hold their sovereignty dear, but why? Were they being unjustly taxed? They have their own language and customs, but do they use Aragonian or D’Angeline coinage? Are their people conscripted into either army? In short, I am wondering if they want their own rulership because of their different language/culture alone or because they have been unjustly treated by either or both of their neighboring countries.

At any rate, they gave as good as they got. Definitely worthy fighters even if they don’t know much about planning, strategy, etc. Only time will tell if their sacrifice of so many young men was worth it.

2. How do you feel about the way things ended for Astegal? Was it just? If not, what would you have preferred to see happen?

It was just. Aragonia ordered the execution and Imriel and Sidonie, representing Terre D’Ange, carried it out. I guess he could have been tortured for info on the jewel, but that’s a messy business.

3. Do you have any theories on why Imriel’s charm is able to protect Sidonie?

I think Elua and Kushiel are lending their aid on this one. It was a desperate thought in the first place and Imriel isn’t trained to any sort of magic or spiritual rites, so he simply had to do his best.

4. What do you think about Alais’s change of heart regarding political power and her new plans for her future?

Totally makes sense. She has spent years away from the D’Angeline court, growing up, seeing how she can make a difference with all the knowledge and training she has been given. Plus, the last time we checked in with her on this issue, she was… 13? 14? So, it’s totally fine that she’s changed her mind on this as she’s grown up. I think she will make a fine leader.

5. The spell twists the personalities of people we knew, sometimes in disturbing ways. Do you see the seeds of who they are now in their true selves? Given their currently twisted view of reality, do you think anyone is acting against their own principles?

A friend of mine in college once said that alcohol tends to bring out the person’s real personality and after several years, I think I finally agree with him.

Here, I think this spell brings out the worst in people. Their core is still their, but now all their fears, suspicions, even hates are brought much closer to the surface and folks are much more likely to act upon those feeling than on any rational thoughts. Right now, nothing extreme has happened to anyone but Sidonie and Imriel. So, yes, I think everyone is still acting according to their principles but this spell has the fear talking, so folks are being a bit closed off, protecting those things they hold dear first, and suspicious of the rest….. kind of makes me think of certain political stuff going on lately here in the real world…..

Other Tidbts:

Imri has indeed written too many goodbye letters these past few years.

It was nice to see Kratos again.

It was cool that Sidonie came up with the plan, even if it was Imriel that had to take it to the Euskerri. Still, we know she’s a badass.

It was good to see Joscelin sparring with Imri again even in these messed up times.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part V

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog is our host. We’re covering Chapters 50-62, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) We had a number of dramatic chases and escapes this week – what really stood out most for you?

The flaming ship! Those sailors risked everything – their ship, their possessions (and for some, it was probably everything they owned), and their lives, but also their livelihoods (if badly injured, would they be able to work as sailors again?). Even though this is a reread for me, I am still amazed that these sailors and their captain were willing to risk so much for these royals. Perhaps Solon is a great and yet sometimes terrifying boss. I bet he will reward their loyalty handsomely and also I don’t doubt that he would have punished them horribly had they handed Sidnoie and Imriel over.

2) Imriel and Sidonie meet with Nicola L’Envers y Aragon who turns into an ally for the two of them arranging for them to gain audience and we once again see Sidonie’s diplomacy skills – how do you think she would compare to Ysandre as a ruler?

Sidonie has definitely learned well from Ysandre. Their situations are quite different but I see echos of Ysandre’s skill and poise in Sidonie, but Sidonie is definitely her own woman in these scenes. She has to be since her mom is still bespelled. I think Ysandre would be proud of her.

3) Imriel made a statement this week about once wanting to be a hero but now having changed his mind – and how heroism meant living in terror that you wouldn’t be able to protect those you loved – what do you make of his thinking?

Yes, our boy has grown up and continues to build his wisdom, doesn’t he? I think he’s right – being hero can mean you are constantly concerned or worried about being able to protect those you care about or those in your charge. Sometimes no matter how clever you are, no matter how physically fit you are, no matter how broad and excellent your skills, you won’t be able to protect everyone all the time. So, yes, you live in terror of that coming true and something catastrophic coming about on your watch. The hero part is still doing it anyway, pushing forward and giving it your best despite this knowledge.

4) Euskerri. The plan is to sway the Euskerri (by offering them sovereignty) to side with Aragonia. Do you think the Euskerri are wise to accept or not?

Oh, wow. What a mess there. The Euskerri have been lied to far too often, so I get why they need so many assurances and how it’s a very tentative yes on their part. Still, I was severely frustrated with them too. With both Imriel and Sidonie giving their word on the trueness of the offer, of course I would accept it. But the Euskerri make some solid arguments for needing more than the word of a few royals of country that is facing civil war and possibly invasion (again?) by Carthage. Still, I didn’t like that they were a bit underhanded in refusing Imriel and Sidonie passage to Terre D’Ange.

5) Finally, it seems like both Imriel and Sidonie will return to the battlefront – what do you think of the agreement reached? What do you predict going forward?

Ooops, so I answered part of this int he question above. Of course I don’t want Sidonie and Imriel to head back to Aragonia. They just escaped there! But I see that the Euskerri feel they need a few royal guests (hostages) to ensure the treaty is signed in full by Aragonia.

Other Tidbts:

I really like that Sidonie was uncomfortable with the days of sleeping on uncomfortable mats or on the cold forest floor as they made their way to the Euskerri village. I love that she didn’t complain.

I think it took a lot for Sidonie to ask Imriel to end her life rather than let Astegal have her again. I think it took even more for Imriel to agree to it.

Imriel takes note that the Aragonia council is made up of all men and perhaps finds it odd. Nicola seems to have to work in the background, not given a voice at the council.

I loved that Imriel could look back on his kidself and see that his disliking of Nicola was wrong, petty. I’m glad he finally has a chance to see Nicola as Phedre’s confidante.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part IV

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Emily at Emma Wolf is our host. We’re covering Chapters 36-49, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. After being freed, Kratos decides to stay in Leander/Imriel’s service. Did his loyalty or reasons surprise you? What about how he was able to aid Leander/Imriel?

Not really. he strikes me as a loyal fellow and also his reason of ‘you’re an interesting guy’ rang true. This is probably the most exciting thing he’s done in many years. Also, he can see that Leander/Imri is a person of morals. He kept his word in freeing the slaves, he’s not rude in action and word, and he doesn’t lightly bed folks for a momentary enjoyment.

I really liked how he suggested working with Esme the bath house attendant. It shows he’s been paying attention to the rude soldiers around him, that he doesn’t approve, and that (most of the time) he can’t do anything about it – but here is the chance for Esme to do something about it.

I honestly can’t recall if he dies or not so I was pleased he made it through this section.

2. Despite Justina’s training, her loyalty to Melisande, and her position ready to tip the balance, she is unwilling or unable to help Leander/Imriel. What do you think of this? What good is the Guild or Melisande and her spies if not for this?

I think Justina was being honest about her abilities. She points out that she was trained and put in position to influence politics and keep an open ear. She wasn’t trained in slight of hand, etc. I expect she’s not trained in the masseuse arts either, so she couldn’t simply do what Esme could. Plus Astegal has Esme for that and if Justina offered out of the blue to do so, and his ring happened to come loose, I think he would be suspicious. I expect we’ve all worn rings to sleep and if someone tugged on one of mine, I would most likely wake up.

So I don’t blame Justina for backing out of this one, but I do think she could have done more to either help Imri or Sidonie. She did see a little comfortable with her current position and I sensed she was hesitant to give up that position/power/influence/money (whatever combo).

Event the Guild and Melisande were not prepared for the magic wrought by Bodeshmun. Melisande and Solon knew, somewhat, ahead of time but I’m not sure they could have stopped it if they had tried. It’s all a bunch of ‘what-ifs’.

3. Any thoughts about the Longest Night?

I, like Leander/Imri, hoped for a beautiful pageant like the City of Elua holds yearly, but I could also see why Astegal and Bodeshmun wanted to avoid that. I did really like that the Imri side of Leander/Imri went in search of a patch of nature where he could do some Elua worshiping and he stumbled upon Sidonie doing the same thing. Even though he wasn’t allowed to join her, I did find that a very beautiful scene.

4. Any thoughts about the aftermath of the breaking of two of the spells? Were you amused by Imriel’s conversation with Sunjata? Were you surprised by Sidonie’s reaction once the spell on her is broken?

So much here! First, Imriel coming back to himself was both beautiful and a little traumatic at the same time. I’m sure it appeared very strange to Sidonie at the time. I’m listening to the audiobook and Simon Vance, the narrator, does a great job with the Leander voice, the Leander/Imri voice, and then Imri’s voice and keeping it all straight throughout these sections.

I did love Imri’s discussion with Sunjata and I think Sunjata is a good chap seen as he had the decency to blush over the entire thing. Still, I find myself comparing his actions in their romance to Astegal’s actions in bed with Sidonie. Now Sidonoie was be-spelled unknowingly and against her will, while Imri did it with purpose…. and yet is it totally right for Sunjata to have bedded Leander/Imri? Hmmm… Perhaps it’s simply how things had to be in the moment if Sunjata was to avoid tipping the balance on Solon’s disguise spell.

Sidonie is awesome. I love her reaction initially to the tattoo being found. Even be-spelled, she knows that’s not right. Once cut out, I love that her first reaction is to deeply want Astegal’s death, make love to Imri, and then discuss how to save the realm.

5. Last week, Allie said she hopes Bodeshmun’s power “all blows up in his face.” Thoughts on his death?

This was such a tense section! I knew Imri was capable of killing, and I believed him when he set his mind to killing some of he guards in cold blood. We’ve seen Joscelin do it and we’ve seen Imri in tough situations. So I knew he wouldn’t balk, but I expect those deaths will weigh heavily on him for some time.

But killing Bodeshmun will not be one of those deaths that weighs upon him.

I do wonder what the black flaky stuff was. Perhaps some desiccated deadly mushroom or such.

Other Tidbts:

I hope Sidonie’s visit with Roderick while she was be-spelled works to her favor later when she tries her best to explain to folks about the evil spell.

I was glad that the guards kept their secret of falling asleep on the job among themselves but I doubt they were fooled. Perhaps they thought it was a wicked, petulant joke of Sidonie’s, perhaps not.

I was a little surprised that Sunjata was scared to stick around in the city during the ring switch. He obviously didn’t want to be caught if things went south, but, honestly, I don’t think a jot down the coast (or wherever he went) would have mattered. If Esme had been caught, she would have been forced to tell, then Leander/Imri would be in custody and they would just round up his associates. Sunjata being a gem merchant’s representative would be high on that list. So unless Sunjata is excellent at disguises, he would have been in the thick of it anyways.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part III

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Emily at Emma Wolf is our host. We’re covering Chapters 23-35, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Imriel spends the night at Melisande’s before Solon is to do his spell. Melisande tells Imriel that she would like it if, after all this, he would find it in his heart to come visit her again. Do you think he will? What would that reunion be like?

Perhaps in the far future, if all turns out OK with Imriel and Sidonie, they might arrange some clandestine meeting when Imriel and Sidonie are making some royal progress in Alba or Aragonia or such. I can see Melisande arranging it anyway and just popping in on them. If the two of them ever reproduce, then Melisande might find it impossible to stay away forever despite their wishes. I think the initial reunion could be really awkward. But if Sidonie can find it in her heart to forgive, or at least find conclusion (recognizing that Melisande’s punishment for the Skaldi invasion is permanent exile), then I think they could all move forward and just be what they are – a messed up family that do care about each other.

2. Solon tells Imriel to “put Imriel away” and “make him small…like a tiny, tiny seed.” How much of Imriel remains inside “Leander” once the spell is complete?

We see flickers of him even from day one, like when he says goodbye to Melisande. Later, when the chamber maid makes it clear that she wouldn’t mind a dalliance, Leander/Imri holds back and Leander has to explain it away to himself. So obviously Imri is still in there and he does have an influence on the actions his body takes.

3. Sidonie and Leander/Imriel meet and court again. What do you think of this and the echoes of their past courtship? How much of Imriel does Sidonie actually remember, if anything?

I think the rose petals cause an echo of past memories to serve. Also it’s kind of sweet to see Leander/Imri bumbling along with the flirting. I think we can see flickers in Sidonie but to her Leander is a stranger, so she’s not going to reveal her concerns about her memory or pieces into quite fitting together yet. She has all the training in royal poise going on. It will be interesting to see these two learn to trust each other all over again.

4. What do you think of Leander/Imriel’s cover story of how he came to be in the service of Solon and sent to Carthage? What do you think of Carthage generally?

Leander, like any good spy, is sticking as close as he can to the story. However, he has to leave out or alter anything that might remind Sidonie of Terre D’Ange. I think he will find that harder to do than he expects. In general, I think the cover story is enough. After all, both Bodeshmun and Astegal (I’m assuming) have to realize that various spies will wiggle their in close to try to learn how they pulled off this big magic with Terre D’Ange.

Carthage in general seems to be an old and vibrant city. I like it even if I don’t agree with everything (like the life-long slavery). And while I like the look of palanquins I too find them ridiculous. Unless you’re having sex while your slaves carry you around the city. That’s what I would use a palanquin for. And mine would be steampunked up, with some sort of automatons carrying me and my harem around town. Maybe the automatons would be in the shape of armadillos, because I really like them but, alas, they carry the the leprosy virus. So no live armadillos for me.

5. We see Sunjata and Bodeshmun, this time through Leander’s eyes. Has your impression changed?

Since this is a reread for me, I was really looking forward to seeing Sunjata again. I love that Leander is in a on/off relationship with him. I felt that Sunjata was, in general, a gentle soul even from the beginning, even when he stuck Imri with the madness needle. So it’s nice to see that expanded upon here.

Bodeshmun is an arrogant man, just like folks have told Imri. I’m glad to see it as that could be a key to his undoing. Tho I do believe he’s very dangerous and has the power to remove Leander’s eyes.

6. Why did Leander/Imriel choose Kratos, Ghanim, and the brothers? Was it more Imriel or more Leander who did the choosing?

I think it was more Imriel doing the choosing here. He picked men that he knew would end up in hard labor and it would probably kill them. He chose well. I expect these men will serve him loyally.

Also, wasn’t it hard to watch Leander/Imri agonize over the Aragonian boy? Jacqueline Carey sure does know how to jerk the emotions out of me!

Other Tidbts:

I love that Leander/Imri brought Sidonie a chess set!

Seeing Imri through Leander’s eyes has been very interesting. I think this is what many D’Angelines think about Imriel to one degree or another.

Also Leander’s ideas about Imriel’s hunt for his mother to bring her to justice were interesting.

I think it’s interesting that Sunjata wanted to see Leander/Imri totally naked, thereby seeing Imri’s true body.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part II

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering Chapters 11-22, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Imriel visits a few of the Houses with Astegal. If you were to visit Carey’s Terre d’Ange, would there be a particular house you’d be interested to see?

Such a hard choice! I think we had a question similar to this one way back at the beginning of the series and now that we’ve come so far, experienced so much with these characters and the discussions, I bet my answer has changed. I’m waffling between Jasmine (for pleasure’s sake), Eglantine (to create is to live), and Balm (rest and be soothed). You know, I think I will make the rounds to all three like a good D’Angeline would.

2) The Carthaginians’ scheme was some of the most blatant magic that I think we’ve seen in the series. Given that there is a whole country of people who are not fooled, do you think they really expected to get away with it cleanly in the long-term? Do you think they have an alternative plan?

You’re right about the magic being upfront and in our faces with this story. After the more subtle, perhaps even bordering on magical realism, in past books, it’s a bit of a change, isn’t it?

It’s been some years since I last read this book, so I’ve forgotten the details. But based on Carey’s intricate plots, I would say that there is more to this plot that what we’ve seen so far, and what we’ve seen so far has the D’Angeline monarchy, a chunk of its priesthood, and its army enslaved. So, yeah, I bet there’s more coming.

3) Barquiel l’Envers goes from a petty antagonist to one of Imriel’s only allies. Does this change your opinion of him? Do you think this adventure will alter his perception of Imriel?

Quite frankly, I love this part. It’s very much like how Barquiel gave Phedre such the stink eye yet still rode out to save her from a skinning. I can say from experience that Barquiel’s role in this book made me look more kindly upon him during rereads later on.

4) We finally see Melisande again! What do you think of what she has become? Do you think she still deserves execution for her crimes?

It was good to see her interacting with someone she wouldn’t consider seducing (probably, hopefully!). It was a different side of her and also I think she has gained some wisdom over the years. It was both fascinating and chilling to see how honest she was about her amorality.

Yes, she does deserve to be punished for her crimes. Those people who died during the Skaldi invasion are still dead. There are still plenty of repercussions from that act of treason. However, this is not always a just world and I think Imriel’s compromise (banned from D’Angeline soil for life) is the best he could get. Sometimes making a final ruling, as such, lets people move on, whether they think it is fair or not.

5) What do you think will be Imriel’s key to change out of the form and mind of Leander? Do you think you would be willing to undergo such a transformation?

So I do recall the answers to the first question. And I recall how each happens –  and I think you will all enjoy those scenes as I did.

Would I be willing to undergo such a transformation? Well, for the love of my life, sure. No problem. Heck, even just for Halloween I might do it. It might be interesting to be a fairly attractive young man with a randy attitude for a day or week or so.

Other Tidbts:

Imriel’s little trick with the pillow was simple and perfect for getting info. Our young man has come pretty far since he was a kid. I don’t think he would have done that even at the beginning of this trilogy.

Madness for a whole month! And then when you get your wits back, you have perfect recollection of all the hurtful, crazy shit you said and did. That is one nasty piece of magic.

It was silly for Imri to bring the Bastard but I think he really needed a D’Angeline friend at the time.

The Wise Ape! Fascinating man. I would love to see some fanfic about his life.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).