Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey

Narrator: Anne Flosnik

Publisher:  Tantor Audio (2009)

Length:  26 hours 57 minutes

Series: Book 1 Naamah Trilogy

Author’s Page

Note: This is the first book in the third trilogy set in the Kushiel’s Legacy series. However, this last trilogy is set a few generations later and stands on it’s own so don’t be afraid to start here if this book intrigues you.

The Bear Witches of Alba are all but extinct but for those few that remain, they do possess small magics and the Great Bear does look out for her own. Moirin grows up in a cave in the depths of a forest and from these humble beginnings she will be tasked by her divine Bear to fulfill a destiny that lies over seas. First she travels to Terre D’Ange to find her D’Angeline relatives, including her father. A D’Angeline lord and healer is intrigued by her small gifts and she’s soon wrapped up in a semi-secret demon summoning circle. She also meets a Chi’in Master and his student/body guard Bao. Perhaps her destiny lies even further than she could imagine.

I read this for the second time as part of a group read and there were weekly discussions which hold plenty of detail on what I think of the book. Once again, I was wrapped up in Carey’s world building. I fell in love with the D’Angelines when I read Kushiel’s Dart so many years ago. I recall my first time reading this book and how it didn’t wow me as much as the first 6 books. However, knowing this round that this is Moirin’s tale, I gave it a better chance. Indeed, I did like this book quite a bit more the second time through. I think with the first read through, I was constantly looking for reflections of the characters I had come to know and love from the first 2 trilogies. Now with the second reading I was focused on Moirin.

I loved Moirin’s small magics. She’s inherited a few from her D’Angeline side as well as her Alban side. Each individual one is rather small, but as we see Moirin grow from a child to a young lady to a woman, she learns to use her powers to great effect. Carey does a most excellent job of showing the reader this growth as the story unfolds.

Moirin is of the Maghuin Dhonn, the Bear Witch people, which we learned a little about in earlier books in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the Maghuin Dhonn directly through Moirin. While much of Maghuin Dhonn live in near isolation, they are still a connected people and will come together in larger groups for certain occasions, such as Moirin’s coming of age ceremony. Moirin has to work hard to be acknowledged by the Bear Witch herself, but that acknowledgement comes at a steep price, one that I think we won’t fully understand until the end of this trilogy.

As usual with this series, there are several lovely sex scenes. Carey doesn’t skimp but she also doesn’t toss in throwaway love scenes. These interactions always reveal something more about the characters involved. I found this especially true in the later part of the book where there is a princess and a dragon. I won’t say anything further as I don’t want to be spoilery. Just know that it’s worthy.

I do have one quibble for this book. At the end, there is some drama and death and I did feel there was some deus ex machina involved. It involves the ultimate bad guy and why he wasn’t properly trussed up. Even with this one small criticism, I did enjoy how the ending leaves our heroes in a complicated place, setting us up for the next adventure.

The Narration: Anne Flosnik is a joy to listen to. She does such an excellent job with the multitude of accents needed for this book. She’s also great with a voice for Moirin that ages as she comes of age throughout the story. Her male voices are quite believable.

What I Liked: The cover art; great narration; Moirin in her own right; the quest to find one’s heritage; the desire to fulfill the Great Bear’s wishes; Bao as the main love interest; the dragon; from humble beginnings to world traveler!

What I Disliked: There was a bit of deus ex machina at the end.

What Others Think:

Eyrie

Book Smugglers

Dear Author

Fantasy Book Critic

A. V. Club

Fantasy Cafe

Strange Horizons

The Bibliosanctum

Books Without Any Pictures

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).

Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

Where I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Simon Vance

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2009)

Length: 25 hours 33 minutes

Series: Book 5 Kushiel’s Legacy

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 5 in Kushiel’s Legacy (also referred to as the Terre D’Ange Cycle) it is Book 2 in the second trilogy and focuses on Imriel de la Courcel, who we met in Book 3, Kushiel’s Avatar. Kushiel’s Justice can work as a stand alone, though there are plenty of characters and situations referred to from the previous book.

Imriel de la Courcel, a Prince of the Blood and adopted son to Phedre no Delaunay de Montreve, has returned to Terre D’Ange from his time in Caerdicca Unitas where he was attending university. He grew up quite a bit in the previous book and those around him think he may be ready for more responsibility. Unexpectedly, passion erupts between him and the heir to the Terre D’Ange throne, Sidonie de la Courcel. Not wanting to embroil the nation in the politics of their potential union, Imriel acquiesces to marrying a royal of the Alban family, Dorolei. Things go awry. Terribly, terribly awry and Imriel is propelled on a quest that takes him far afield of either nation.

Out of the first six books, I often found this book to be the slowest paced. It’s still a worthy read, yet I found it to have the fewest action scenes and long periods of travel and/or contemplation. However, this time around I read it with an on-line group and new little gems were revealed to me. It’s a time of change for Imriel and also of challenges that will define what kind of man he becomes going forward. It took him quite a bit of time and agonizing to figure out who he wanted and yet, now he has to make the hard choice of serving his country or alienating half the kingdom. Elua’s precept, love as thou wilt, was set aside.

Setting the gushy feelings aside for the moment, this installment to the series allows the reader to explore more of Alba and the Maghuin Dhon (the Bear Witches). Alais, Sidonie’s younger sister, travels with her father, the Cruarch of Alba, and Imriel, exploring the countryside as they make their slow progress to Dorolei’s home. The Alban nobles are not quick to adopt Imriel. They test him in several ways, including a cattle raid. But before long, tragedy strikes. My heart went out to Imri! I think he went a little insane with it for a short time, as to be expected.

From here, Imriel has a quest to undertake in order to fulfill an oath. But it’s more than that. There’s honor and duty in the quest for sure, but there’s also the need for vengeance. Something important was taken from Imriel, and from others, and he can’t let that abide. His quest takes him further east than he has ever traveled, into lands that barely exist on D’Angeline maps. Throughout this lengthy travel, Imriel meets many characters and several have views on vengeance versus justice. Indeed, this becomes one of the main themes of the second half of the book.

The sex scenes are just as compelling as the action scenes, and are more numerous. Carey doesn’t waste the reader’s time with flippant or empty romance scenes. While detailed, the sex scenes are beautifully written and always provide extra insight into the characters. After all, how we treat someone in private in intimate moments can be very revealing of our natures.

This series continues to render a rich and vibrant world filled with many cultures. Carey does an amazing job of fleshing out characters, even minor ones, giving them their own motives. I never feel like words are wasted when reading Carey. I love that I don’t always agree with a character’s choices, but I almost always see where they are coming from. Carey also includes different religions, food, and daily practices. The landscape and weather shape the backbone of the story. Indeed, I feel immersed when reading this series. The journey was worth the reread.

The Narration: Simon Vance’s skills are on great display with this book. His abilities with accents are surely put to the test with this tale! French, Gaelic, and Russian are just a few of the accents needed for the large cast of characters. There are also several moments of deep and complex emotions and Vance does a great job of showing these in his character voices.

What I Liked: The diversity captured in this book; Imriel has to make some hard choices;  the discussions of vengeance versus justice; exploring new lands; Imriel’s quest; Elua’s precept; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: I think the US market is ready for Imriel to be on the covers of this trilogy.

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Review

Eyrie

The Obsessive Bookseller

The Bookbag

Fantasy Book Critic

Fantasy Findings

Alexei Cyren

Kushiel's Justice Part IX

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I’m your host. We’re covering Chapters 66-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) In this section, Imriel had plenty of farewells and also reunions. Which ones did you find the most interesting or touching?

I loved seeing Alaise again. She’s always had a soft spot for Imriel and had hoped to call him ‘brother’ one day. Now that it looks like he and Sidonie will be together, she may very well get her wish.

Of course seeing Drustan was intense. He seems to be taking it well, though he’s in a tough spot with Ysandre. I think he did a decent job of explaining why Ysandre is dead set against Imriel and Sidonie being together, though I still don’t agree with her. Now that Imriel has that insight, he may stand a chance at winning her over.

Then seeing Eamonn again and having to say goodbye to him too. Sigh…. Eamonn is his best friend but can’t help him win over Ysandre.

2) Maslin decides to stay in Vralia as an ambassador. What do you think of his decision? When Imriel, Phedre, and Joscelin depart, Phedre says something privately to Maslin that causes him to collapse to his knees and weep. What do you think she said?

I think Maslin will do OK, provided he doesn’t besmirch the reputation of any prominent ladies. He doesn’t strike me as a braggart though, so I think he will be able to remain discreet in his beddings. Also, I think he has this prideful streak that will stand him good in negotiations with the Vralians.

I think Phedre may have told him how brave his father was at the end, how he allowed her to walk out of camp in order to get the message to the besieged fortress, how he fought bravely at the end, and how he faced death in peace. I think that is what would bring Maslin to his knees in tears.

3) Imriel & crew make it to Skaldia where they dine with Aldemar and meet some interesting merchants. Do you think the Unseen Guild had a hand in any of Imriel’s recent adventures?

This is a tricky one. The Unseen Guild has long arms, as we have seen before. But I think in Vralia they might only have a finger or two. Perhaps they eased the way for Maslin in his quest to find Imriel. Perhaps they eased Phedre & Joscelin’s paths as well. Looking back, I can’t see where they directly affected Imriel’s quest to find Berlik.

4) Finally, Imriel is reunited with Dorolei’s kin. There’s a solemn burial of Berlik’s skull which is followed by a boisterous party. If someone was burying a skull at your feet, which would you prefer – serious ceremony or rowdy affair?

I’m all for the rowdy affair. I figure if people need a moment or three for serious contemplation, then it can be a quiet affair at the time and place of the griever’s choosing. While I plan to go with cremation when my expiration date is here, if someone wishes to bury a skull in my honor, they are most welcome to.

I did really like the wild harp music at the solemn affair and how Imri made it clear that all of Alba grieves, including the Maghuin Donn.

5) Sidonie and Imriel are finally together openly. Some still do not approve. What challenges do you foresee for them?

I think some still don’t know that Imriel and Sidonie were in love before his wedding to Dorolei, so that may be a source of bad feelings. Also, I think some Albans may feel a bit miffed that Imriel is choosing a D’Angeline over another Alban lass. So, definitely some bridges to build there. Sidonie’s visit to Alba will hopefully assist in that.

Then there is Ysandre. Sigh. We all know she can hold fast to a decision once she has made it. I’m not confident that even Phedre will be able to soften her on this one.

I also fear that D’Angeline society will be divided on the matter. We know from past events that there are some that support Imriel because of his pure D’Angeline blood, but there are also those who oppose him because of his parentage.

Other Tidbts:

Once again, we have just a touch of the divine or supernatural. When Imriel was witnessing the forced conversion ceremony, he briefly knelt, touched the floor, and imagined the soil beneath as he requested Elua’s blessing. Then he felt this mantle of assurance fall upon him. I thought that was a great scene.

Imriel makes comparisons between men and women, this time on how they handle war. He notices that the Skaldian women are a touch more friendly than the Skaldian men and he considers that it must be because the women are not fool enough to seek glory in battle.  *snort* Ah, Imri…. we need to get you a week long trip with women from a warrior culture and then see what you think.

When Imriel lays eyes upon the Cruarch’s ship and he know he’s surrounded by those that care about him, and who he cares about in turn, and that the danger is finally over, that is when tears spring to his eyes. I liked his insight into how people can stand steadfast for quite some time in the face of adversity, but once in a safe place, they can devolve to tears.

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 SCION in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com). We’re plotting on the schedule for Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy, Kushiel’s Justice, and it looks like we will start early June. A final schedule will go up in a week or two.

Kushiel's Justice Part VII

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! 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 47-56, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Imriel seems to be having a lot of adventures by himself for the past few chapters.  What do you make of his adventures and his character as the story progresses?

Imriel has definitely stepped out of the shadow of his parents, even if he is still bumping into people who have been influenced by them (like Ximon). He’s really having to figure shit out for himself. The further east he goes, the less influence his name, or the rulers of Alba and Terre D’Ange have. Imri is a quick study and is figuring this out quickly but it’s still one dangerous situation after another.

2. What do you make of Urist’s misfortune? Do you think he will play a further role in the story?

That was a bad break for him but it could have been worse. I figure at some point Imri has to head back west and he will either have a captive, or Berlik’s head, or choose to turn back without either for some reason. In any case, I think Imri will feel compelled to return to Dorolei’s grave and pay his respects one more time, so I expect he will pick up Urist on the way back home.

3. Berlik seems to be receiving a lot of help on his travels, he seems very sad and repentant – what do you make now of Imriel’s mission?  Will he succeed or is he changing?  And is this mission worth the price?

I think that it helps that Berlik is repentant and that others have found him to be a good man. I don’t think  Imri doubts any of that. Yet Berlik did a very horrible thing, one that can’t be undone. Imri knows about horrible things and he also knows what a human can live through and also live with, since he has managed both. But Dorolei and the unborn child are dead.  If Imri doesn’t capture him or kill him, will the Alban nobles leave the Maghuin Dhon in peace? I think Berlik knows he has to pay the price or his people will. Some already have.

4.  Joscelin seems to have become known as an ‘angel’ and Imriel as an ‘avenging angel’ – any thoughts?

I think it’s a pretty idea. Who doesn’t like the idea of an angel assisting them or avenging them? Of course, Joscelin and Imriel know the truth in both cases and Joscelin knows the price of such acts. Imri will probably find out the costs.

And then we have the mystical side of things for these books. Imriel is a scion of Kushiel and a worshiper of Elua and Namaah. Berlik and his people have made all three cross and so there just might be this little piece of divine influence going on, pushing Imriel forward.

5. The war that is looming – how do you see this affecting what is yet to come for Imriel?

If nothing else, it may make it harder for Imri to complete his mission and return westward – if these two factions start raiding each other’s territory, etc., then the local people will probably be less trusting and won’t offer Imri a place to sleep and food.

6. What did you think of Imriel’s thoughts about the Gods and the fact that we sometimes change them by twisting the truth a little as time progresses?

Deep questions this week. I’m an atheist but I love stories where humans are affected by deities, such as this series. For me personally, since I believe that gods are a man-made thing that help them cope with life, I do feel they change over time according to culture and needs. Within that, I have seen how individual people gravitate towards one aspect of their chosen deity over the bigger picture. For that person, that is what that god is.

Other Tidbts:

Imri’s meeting various people that think Berlik is a decent guy and I like that he doesn’t tell all of them what he did.  If they ask, he tells but he doesn’t force this nasty truth upon them.

I liked that the sailors found something useful for Urist to do while they worked on repairing the ship – he got to put bows together. I think that most of them would want the same treatment if they were in the same position.

Imri contemplating the domestic capabilities of Sidonie – cooking, cleaning, hunting, etc. That was very amusing!

Imriel and the young Turk having to share a cell and even blankets – I think that whole experience was a growth spurt for Imri. He hadn’t the opportunity to deal with any Turks since Darsanga so I think this allowed him to put some of that fear away.

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 JUSTICE in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Justice Part VI

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! 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 38-46, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. At some point before she died, Dorelei made Urist promise to bring Imriel back to the City of Elua and Sidonie for fear that, if he didn’t go, he would be driven to bitterness. What do you think of this promise? Do you agree with Dorelei that Imriel would turn bitter?

I agree with Dorolei. She was very kind and wise to extract such a promise from Urist. Imriel had come to love Dorolei and, Dorolei knowing that a fair percentage of women die in childbirth, probably spent some time thinking about what her death would do to Imriel. And, yes, without a child to dote upon, without a lover pulling him out of his self-absorption, then I think he could become quite bitter. Hence, the need to send him back to his love in Terre D’Ange.

2. Imriel questions whether there was no way to escape the fate of his son foreseen by the Maghuin Dhonn. What do you think?

I think Imriel would have tried had the Maghuin Dhonn been honest about their visions. He’s listened to other people who had visions and heeded their warnings when he could make heads or tails out of them. So even though Dorolei’s people fear them, I think Imriel would have risen above that and given full weight to their warnings.

Of course, at this point that’s rather moot, sad to say. I am sure the ‘what ifs’ will torment Imriel from time to time for the rest of his life.

3. Urist explains the politics underlying the matter to the other Cruithne by noting that Imriel was good enough for Dorelei and Alba, good enough to father Alban heirs, but not good enough for Terre d’Ange. What do you think of his observation?

I think his words ring true. While Sidonie didn’t feel that way, she was in no position a year ago to formally say otherwise. I have to wonder what Drustan will think about this as he, while aware of Terre D’Ange history, has gotten to see Imriel away from the D’Angeline court.

Depending on how things fall out, this could rub rather raw with the Alban court – feeling like they received casts off or nobility leavings from the D’Angelines. I expect that Imriel will try to soften that as much as possible, but the underlying truth and past actions of the D’Angeline court will still be there.

4. We see new places and new peoples. Imriel wonders about the tanner and his wife and their story and how he will never know it. Of all the minor characters we’ve met so far, are there any you wish you knew more about?

I don’t know if we can call him a minor character, but I’m always fascinated by Barquiel L’Envers. He’s so very intense and he’s been in 5 books so far, even if it’s just as a thorn in someone’s side. He was ready to spill blood, I think, this time around, if Sidonie had shown the slightest distress towards Imriel. It’s a good thing she stood her ground or our story might have been much shorter.

I wonder what makes him tick and what makes his few friends and followers so loyal (besides his excellent horsemanship).

5. What do you think of what’s become of the Yeshuites? Of Micah ben Ximon? Do you think the written word is more open to multiple interpretation than the spoken one, as Urist hints?

So it looks like we have a warrior class of Yeshuites which we haven’t really seen before. And it looks like they are/have carved out a homeland in some far northern area. I wonder what that cost – is it just a hardship to claim the land and work it? Or did they have to displace other people and take the land by force?

No matter how things are recorded, there will always be interpretations. Still, with the written word I can make some assumption even if it is tiny, that the words were recorded with care. Think about the resources that go into writing down something – parchment or vellum? ink?  a quill? And then if a book is published in some form, that is more expensive and time consuming so I want to assume that even more care is taken in weeding out typos and such.  I still trust the written word more than the spoken word.

Other Tidbts:

I think Sidonie really shines in this section. First, she kisses Imriel in front of the D’Angeline court. Then she joins him at the Sharhizai  hunting lodge where she faces down first Amaury Trent and then Barquiel. These are not things Imriel could do for Sidonie.

Mavros is really a jewel of a friend, isn’t he? And to think I once held him under such suspicion!

Dorolei and the babe are dead, but I feel like it’s not over for Imriel. He thinks of her often and still mourns her. I’m glad the author doesn’t simply ‘lay the character to rest’ sortaspeak because Dorolei had a large influence over Imri and I think he’s a better man for it.

That was an interesting side note about Maslin of Lombelon – How he was also facing down Barquiel and Sidonie’s comments later about his sense of honor.

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 SCION in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Justice Part V

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am your host. We’re covering Chapters 30-37, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) What did you think about Imriel’s men leaving him behind on the cattle raid?

I think Imriel read the situation correctly. The head of his guard needs a leader he can respect and this was the test to see if Imriel is that man. Imri is probably right in his assessment that if he called his men out on it, he would lose their respect. However, I’m still a bit disappointed that they did so. Like there wasn’t a better way to see if Imriel was worthy? Maybe not.

Still, if I were Imri, I would keep my eye on my men in the next cattle raid or two  and make sure I get out with them instead of playing the rear guard and distraction by accident.

2) Alais has done some harmless flirting in this section. What do you make of her request to postpone the wedding to Talorcan a year? Do you think one year will make a difference to either one of them?

Alais didn’t really get to fully grow up back in in the D’Angeline court. She was ignored by many and being the younger sister, was treated like a kid much of the time. Even Imri, being a good cousin and all, often treated her as a little sister even when she wanted to be seen as a young lady. So, I think postponing the wedding a year would be good for Alais in that she gets to mature a bit more and have a little harmless flirting under her belt. I seriously doubt that Talorcan is a virgin himself.

When I initially read this book, I didn’t think a year would really make that much of a difference for Talorcan and Alais, but then we get to the end of this section and things have changed. So, yeah, a year could shed a very different light on things for the two of them. Alais has more ambition than perhaps even she imagined and we’re not sure yet where that will lead her.

3) In this section, we experienced two Alban holidays – the Day of the Dead and the Day of Misrule. What stood out to you the most? If you could only celebrate one, which would you pick?

Oddly, I find this question a little hard. I’m drawn to both holidays. I like the seriousness of the Day of the Dead. I also thought it was interesting that Imri saw his father, a man who has had a nearly non-existent role in his life. This holiday can be a celebration of dead, but not forgotten, relatives or it can be spent in quiet contemplation.

Meanwhile, the Day of Misrule sounds like a day of total silliness – which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that I’m not always in the mood for a solid day of silliness so I think this day would be harder for me to maintain good cheer throughout. Unless i could get the King of the Day to order me to go read a book in  a cozy nook for a chunk of it. 🙂

4) Throughout this section, there is plenty of talk about denying one’s own nature – Imriel’s talks with Morwen, the chat with the priestess, and even Dorolei and Alais noticing changes in Imriel when his bindings are redone. Getting philosophical, is denying part of your nature good or is it nearly always a bad idea?

There’s exerting self-control, which is a form of denying your nature, and then there’s the extremes to which Imri has had to go to in order to avoid giving Morwen what she says she wants.

So, in general on a day to day basis, I think self-control and a bit of self-denial is a good thing. In certain areas, like the urge to stick your used gum under tables and to commit larceny, self-denial is almost always a good thing. However, we all need those spaces in our life where we can let most of our guards down and not deny who we are and what we want. Unfortunately for Imri, he doesn’t really have that space.

5) Could Imriel have done anything differently to prevent the tragedy of loosing his wife and unborn child? If you were in his shoes, would you have asked for mercy for the Maghuin Donn?

Really, I think Imri and Dorolei did the best with the info they had. If the Maghuin Donn had been more forthcoming about their fears, then maybe something could have been worked out. Still, that would have been difficult (persuading Imriel to father a child with the Maghuin Donn) but we have see odder things happen in this series. So, really the ball was in the Bear Witches’ court.

I don’t know if I would have asked for clemency for the Maghuin Donn so swiftly. Imriel comes out of his injuries, hurt on all levels, and he had the presence of mind to ask for mercy for them the first chance he got. I’m not too sure I could or would have been that swift in the matter. But Imri is right. At this point we can’t assume that an entire people, no matter how small their numbers, knew what Morwen and Berlik had planned.

Other Tidbts:

Morwen’s attempt on Imri in the woods after the cattle raid made me very angry. He clearly said no and she totally ignored that.

I loved Imriel’s internal comments about how the Alban household looked at him as if he would be romancing up every one interested and teaching them all new bedchamber tricks within a fortnight. So, like his Sharhizai cousins of so many summers ago, he behaved himself at all times and gave no one a reason to comment.

I was hoping that Imri would get to become a bee keeper. Alas, it looks like that isn’t to be.

It’s sad that Berlik and Morwen could only see two ways to counteract the foreseen ambition and cruelty of Imriel’s son – balance it with a daughter (and sorceress) or kill the son while he was still in the womb. Like they couldn’t come up with a third option in the roughly 20 years that separated now from the future tragedy of wiping out the Maghuin Donn? I think the Bear Witches have gotten a bit short sighted and stuck in their ways.

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 SCION in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Justice Part IV

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! 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 23-29, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Given the developments since last time, what do you think the Maghuin Donn are after with Imriel?  Could it be related to Dorelei’s and Alais’s dream? Were Imriel and Dorelei right to refuse their blessing?

When I first read this book, I really wasn’t sure. Morwen states plainly that she wants to birth Imriel’s child, but we don’t know why. It could be a play for political recognition and just an all around improvement for the Maghuin Dhon. However, there’s this element of magic and threatening magic at that.

Knowing what I know now, I often wonder how things would have turned out had Imriel and Dorolei accepted the Maghuin Dhon blessing on their wedding day. I honestly don’t know if it would have changed things in the long run.

2) Imriel and Dorelei’s relationship is very honest now.  Do you think their plan is a wise one or not?  What do you think of the Alban custom of limited-term marriage?

I think it is a good, honest go of it. I think that if either had insisted on a life-long promise, it could sour their relationship.

I love the Alban custom of a limited-term marriage. Really, I wish such a thing was widely recognized now in a formal manner. Folks should give it a solid go before making a longer committment, hashing out who washes the dishes and who takes care of the pets and who is willing to deal with car maintenance and grocery shopping.

3) What did you think of the Alban nuptials, with respect to the ones in Terre d’Ange?  Did anything in particular stick out as memorable?

I loved all the toasting to the ladies the night before and how some were a bit ribald and some were poetic and others were just plain awkward. I bet the ladies were having more fun, talking about the naughty things that Phedre knows and what the other ladies have learned over the years through trial and error.

I also liked the more relaxed atmosphere. Some of that was Imriel himself being more relaxed and of course Dorolei is having more fun, being surrounded by her kinsfolk. But I also feel that some it was the lack of pomp and ceremony required by the D’Angeline court.

4) We get to see Hyacinthe again!  What are your thoughts on his plan to not pass on his knowledge?  Do you think Phedre and Joscelin are completely on board with it, and do you think this ‘secret task’ will affect Imriel’s story?

I think it’s a good idea, for now at least. After all, they are hiding the Book of Raziel instead of destroying it. Much damage was done because one entity was bitter and angry.  While Hyacinthe would do a good job picking a successor, shit happens. That person could die or survive horrible events that turn them bitter. Just all sorts of things can happen to a single person. Perhaps there should be a committee? Ha! That would scare the nearby governments.

This is Imriel’s tale. As in Book 1 where Imriel often thought of Phedre and Joscelin while he was in Caerdicca Unitas, he was still without their aid. So they will be off doing their secret task while Imri continues his adventures on Alba and his new marriage.

5) Imriel’s going to start off as a Prince of Alba with a neighborly cattle raid.  What do you think about this tradition?  Is the violence and risk worth the respect and goodwill Imriel will likely get for it?

I’m not into cattle raiding myself, but I see how it proves a certain skill level and gumption factor. There’s the skill of sneaking up on the cattle and whoever guard them, if anyone. The skill of whisking the cattle off (and free ranging cattle are not near as docile as feed lot cattle, so believe me this is tougher than it looks.). My husband and I once went to a nearby area for a hike and this brindle bull was quite keen on protecting his herd. We were not welcome. We had to put tree after tree after tree between him and us so that we could safely reach our truck.

Then there is the fact that speaking to a person in the language they understand makes sense. Imri has learned the local tongue, now he must learn the local customs and employ them with skill.

Other Tidbts:

In the previous book, Imri’s inner monologue made the comment that the courage of women is different than the courage of men. We chatted about that. Well, in this book, Imri makes a similar observation – the strength of women is different from the strength of men. What do you think? Once again, I feel that Imri hasn’t known enough women from warrior cultures to have a very complex view on this matter.

It was great to see Alais having so much fun. She seems to have really come alive in Alba.

Ooo! What do you all think of Berlik and his bit of magic when Imri threatens him to a duel? Do you think those bear paws were real or a glamour?

Imri took his sweet time getting to Mavros’s letter and hence Sidonie’s letter. I think those bindings are really starting to mess with him, and they mess with those closest to him (the ladies and their true dreaming). Elua frowns upon this.

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 SCION in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Justice Part III

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Justice is Book 2 of the second  trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. The read along continues! 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 15-22, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) I thought it was curious that Phedre and Joscelin joined the party to Alba – any theories?  Are they about to become involved in something do you think?

I expect they just had ansy feet and wanted a small adventure and walk down memory lane. Plus they are seeing their one and only child off to his new home. He’s essentially gone from his parents house to his wife’s house with a brief stop over at the palace and now this little adventure to Eamonn’s home.

2) I’m pleased and also curious about the mention of Hyacinthe in these chapters. What sort of role do you see him playing in the rest of this story, if any?

Again, I think this is just a walk down memory lane, but in this case for not only Phedre and Joscelin, but also Imriel who met Hyacinthe briefly many years back. His powers are vast, so there’s always a chance he will come in to play, even if it is just sending someone post haste in a boat somewhere.

3) I’m puzzled with Phedre in these chapters and her sort of inner calm.  She seems to take everything in her stride.  Any thoughts on this?

It’s a really reflective time for Phedre. When she first went off to Alba, it was to secure aid against the Skaldi and she won that aid via her bedroom abilities and a touch of well-intentioned manipulation. Things are quite different now on this trip. So I can see why she’s caught up in an inner calm. Adventures aren’t won by freaking out.

4) And we have a name: ‘Morwen’. What does this bring to mind if anything?  Any more thoughts on the stories around the ‘Old Ones’ and the new characters that we have met?

Morwen makes me think of the sorceress in some of the King Arthur tales, but that’s probably just me.

I’m glad that Lady Grainne doesn’t flinch at the Old Ones and actually maintains relationships with them. That’s far better than shunning and fearing them, which seems to be what the rest of the island does.

With that said, the Old Ones do seem a bit high handed, don’t they? They seem to think that seniority (we’re the Land’s First Children and all) gives them the right to dismiss everyone else. There’s pride in your heritage and then there’s being foolhardy about it and the Old Ones are walking the edge.

5) What do you make of Imriel and Dorelei’s relationship and how it’s developing?  Do you see a future for them – one with perhaps a child in it?  And if so, would this change Imriel’s plans about only spending a year in Alba and then returning to Sidonie?

Dorolei is showing the most patience and wisdom in this relationship. I think Imri could make a pretty little life with her if he gave it a chance. If there is a child, I think Imriel would have a hard time not falling in love with it. However, he wouldn’t be the first to go back and forth between Alba and Terre D’Ange (just like the Cruarch does).

6) This curse – what do you make of it?  The protections that are now placed on Imriel – how do you see this affecting his relationship with Dorelei?

Imri feels a bit foolish having his seed used against him in a such a way, but no one warned him either. I guess they will need to start including that in the basic cautions as tourism increases.

“While on the free roads, please refrain from jerking off as your bodily fluids may be used for entrapment magic.”

The protective bindings are keeping Imri from feeling his deep passion for Sidonie which I think is freeing up a corner of his heart for Dorolei. This is an unexpected bonus. He seems happier and so does Dorolei.

7) The Tiberians  and the Maghuin Dhon – we learn a little more about them and their history.  What did you make of it and the Tiberians?

Bear baiting, whether to take out a hazardous bear or for sport, is nasty business. In this story, it definitely was for sport which makes it even nastier.

I tried to find that nebulous story of Romans and a man-bear that I mentioned last week but had no luck. I did find a wikipedia article that told me the name ‘Arthur’ means bear and I thought that was cool.

Anyway, the Tiberians in this story are long dead and we’re not really sure how time has warped the tale, though it does seem to be pretty grim. One ugly deed begets another and generations later people are still paying for it.

8) Finally, the Lady Grainne has given her terms to Lord Ferghus – what do you predict the outcome to be?

Well, Imri and party (except Eamonn and Brigitta) will be moving on. Imri and Dorolei have their own house to go set up and eventually Phedre and Joscelin will go back home to Terre D’Ange. So, while I believe Grainne has good intentions in putting her foot down, she’s also no idiot. Given a little time, Imri will be off her land and out of her hair and then it will be a moot point for her.

Other Tidbts:

Little goat getting in the corn – it would possibly get bloat and possibly die, tho there are several ways to burp a goat.

I’m glad to see Imri taking a Bigger Picture look at things even tho he’s embarrassed by the entrapment. He’s a prince in 2 lands now and can’t be a hot head.

OK. Let me just say that playing with cold, muddy ejaculation can’t be any fun at all. Morwen – you need a new brand of magic dear. And go wash your hands!

It’s great to have Eamonn and even Brigitta back in the story. I’m glad she’s mellowing and I think getting to meet Joscelin and Phedre has helped with that.

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 SCION in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Dart – Part IX

Heldig and a very good book
Heldig and a very good book

Hello everyone! Welcome to the read along of Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel’s Dart. You can find the schedule HERE. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join in. We also have a Goodreads group for SF/F read alongs. Folks are always welcome to join us.

This week, Emma at EmmaMaree.com is your host this week. Leave a link to your post in the comments so we can all visit you. Folks are also most welcome to answer any and all questions in the comments and join in the conversation.

Sorry for posting late. I was out of state over the weekend and returned really late last night.

Chapters 74-83 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

1) Hyacinthe being trapped on the isle is a particularly cruel punishment for the people-loving Prince of Travellers. If you had his choice – a cutthroat life back in Night’s Doorstep, surrounded by friends and adventures, or a lonely but safe and privileged life on the island – which would you choose, and why?

I would go with the island life. After all, there are other people. I wouldn’t treat them as slavish servants, as the current Master of the Straights does. Think of all the book reading time I would have! And I bet I could learn to do some ocean archaeology with my new powers. And, if the D’Angelines win their war and Drustan & Ysandre wed, then the curse will be lifted and the waters clear. That means Hyacinthe, or myself if I was stuck out there, could have visitors, right? I would ask them to bring goats as they would provide companionship, milk, and meat.

2) Phedre remarks that the island people are truly human, and very different from d’Angelines with god blood in the veins. Through the story, the lines between myth and reality have become steadily blurrier: the gods are gone but they’ve left a kind of magic behind, and faces can rise up from the ocean. Is Phedre’s conceit just a form of Terra d’Ange vanity, or do you think there’s really something inhuman about the d’Angelines?

This line stays somewhat blurry for most of the series. I  believe there is gods’ blood in the veins of the D’Angelines. Some of Phedre’s deeds, especially later in the series, really testifies to that.

Yet, again, here we see that she prizes D’Angeline beauty and finds the people of the isles to be more crudely made. Later in the series, we see how events cause her to see this cultural, in-born conceit and what she does about it.

3) Phedre doesn’t share any of the details of her last night with Hyacinthe. After her no-holds-barred descriptions of previous lovers, this scene really stands out as unique. How do you feel about Phedre’s goodbye, and Hyacinthe leaving the spotlight? How do you think Hyacinthe will keep himself occupied in his new life — will he create a network on the island like he did on Night’s Doorstep, spying on the affairs of the world?

This is one of the things I really like about Carey’s  writing. She doesn’t toss in sex scenes just for the sake of sex and Phedre & Hyacinthe on the Island is a prime example. I think it was very sweet for these two friends who might have become more to have a tender goodbye.

While I have always liked Hyacinthe, I never really felt the book was about him. Quite frankly, I have always been OK with him leaving the spotlight. For this book, his character arc feels complete to me. He gave Phedre a safety net with his undemanding friendship, used his gifts to save Terre D’Ange, felt heartbreak of his own, and knew before Phedre did that he would be spending the rest of his foreseeable life on an island. It’s harsh, but it serves a deep purpose for the plot.

And, yes, I totally expect him to learn to use the big water bowl to spy on things back home.

4) When Phedre’s addressed as “Delauney’s Whore” by Ghislain de Somerville, everyone around Phedre draws a blade to defend her honour. Was it an over-reaction, or a fitting sign of Phedre’s new rank in society? How much has Phedre’s self-confidence evolved through the story: back to when she was an orphaned she often called herself a “whore’s get”, and later she called herself Delauney’s whore quite comfortably. This time, she’s as quick to correct Ghislain as her companions are.

I think it is awesome to see how Phedre’s station in life changes as she takes on more and more responsibilities and tasks. The D’Angelines as a whole don’t seem to judge a person by their past so much as what they are doing right now. De Somerville hasn’t seen Phedre in action until now and anything he heard about her deeds he could have easily chalked up to rumors or exaggerations.

I love how Phedre herself is finally comfortable with thinking of herself as something more than a whore or even a whore’s unwanted get. This is probably because she is no longer whoring ( to put it crudely) but rather has larger goals in mind. She isn’t simply trading her services to earn a marque or for a  night’s lustful pleasure. She is trying to safe a country, perhaps even two.

5) We’ve nearing the end of the story, and it’s been a heart-breaking ride this week, so let’s step back and look at the wider world of Terra d’Ange. If you were part of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, which house which you end up in? Have you changed enough from your childhood self that it would it be different from the House that raised you? (A quick list of the houses, their motto and values can be found here.)

This is an awesome question! I think Dahlia House (Upright and Unbending; dignity) might have been my childhood house. I was pretty demanding on myself even as a kid, always wanting to take on things my way. Some refer to me as a once very bossy kid. Now I would choose Orchis (Joy in Laughter; humor) as I seem to find humor in most things, even if it is a little twisted. My husband use to be alarmed at how much I laugh in bed, but quite frankly, a great orgasm is a breathtakingly awesome thing that makes me laugh in pure joy. Ever since I explained this to him, he strives to make me laugh all the more often! 😉

6) Moving even further beyond the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, where this all began, and into the wide world: if you could belong anywhere in this world, where would you be? Sunning yourself in exotic Persian-inspired Khebbel-im-Akkad, fighting in rainy Alba, or harsh Skaldia, sleeping in front of crackling fires on a pile of warm furs? Would you be roaming in the Long Roads with the Tsingano, a scion of the Night’s Court, a player in the theatre or a pub landlord on Night’s Doorstep? Where would you like to be most, out of everywhere, and where would you absolutely *hate* to be stuck in?

Another awesome question. We don’t really venture into Khebbel-im-Akkad in this series, though I am always intrigued by it. I think I would most like to be at Perrinwolde, where Phedre learned how to ride. It’s out in the country, but still close enough to visit the big city and get more books. Later in the series, there is one other place I might want to call home but I will save that for future discussions.

I think I would hate being on the Long Road with the Tsingani. I need roots. We moved all the time as a kid and I really hated it and I feel it left a void in my life. I don’t have a home town nor childhood friends as we never lived anywhere longer than 4 years. So, I need a place to call home. I wouldn’t mind a few weeks travel with the Tsingani, but I would not like to travel all the time.

Other Tidbits

I like how Phedre’s Boys teach the warriors of Alba and Eire the new marching tune!

I like Phedre’s take on makeup – a little goes a long way.

Rousse has a pair of big brass balls! He called the Master of the Straights on his harsh BS more than once in this section.

Graine’s condolences over loosing Hyacinthe to the island were quite simple and nice. Sometimes when I struggle to think of what to say over someone’s loss, this scene springs to mind and I find words easier to come by

My question for everyone: Who would like to do a readalong of Book 2?

Participating Bloggers:

Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness