In order to snatch her beloved Bao back from death, Moirin performed a miraculous healing with the assistance of Master Lo Feng. The task took the life of Lo Feng as well as half of Moirini's diadh-anam, her very soul. Upon awakening Bao, confused and hurt, determined that he needed some space. Much time has passed and Moirin knows that she can wait no longer. Now she will embark on a journey that will lead her into Tatar, up into Vralia by force, and then south to Kurugiri, where she, Naamah's servant, must face the deadly Spider Queen, who's main weapon is desire.
Naamah's Curse is the second in Carey's third trilogy to take place in this universe. What's unique about this book is that it's the only book in the series (that I can recall) that doesn't have a single chapter that takes place in T'erre D'ange. This time Moirin's journey takes her around the far east. One of my favorite aspects of this series is it's world building. Deeply inspired by real life history, culture, religion and geography, Naamah's Curse takes us into the Tatar Territory (inspired by Mongolia), Vralia (inspired by Russia), and Tufan (inspired by Nepal) among other countries. I love the fact that the map in front of every book greatly resembles our own map of the world, giving me a chance to connect my knowledge of real world facts with the fantasy created in this book.
Although the story here is not as consistently enjoyable as Naamah's Kiss, the first book in the series, it's filled with enough high adventure to keep me entertained. Like previous books, there's enough story in here to fit into three books. Under a lesser writer, this would appear overstuffed, but Carey does wonderfully. One story line covers Moirin's journey to find Bao in the Tatar Territory. The next covers her imprisonment in Vrallia. The third covers her encounter with The Spider Queen. My favorite of the three sections is without a doubt, her imprisonment under the fanatical and charismatic Yeshuite priest who sees Moirin as a wicked witch who must be converted or stoned to death. Within these chapters is a tension that makes the book absolutely impossible to put down, as it's difficult to see how Moirin will ever escape. This section also has a fascinating study of the current (at least in Moirin's time) state of the Yeshuite faith (inspired by the history of Christianity) and the two opposing forced that are driving the church apart, one fired by peace and acceptance, the other by bigotry.
Naamah's Curse is a worthy second novel in the Naamah trilogy. The passionate Moirin remains a likable narrator. Although her romantic relationship with Bao is not quite as enthralling as the oil and water relationship between Phedre and Joscelin, or the Romeo and Juliet like love between Imriel and Sidonie, there is a playfulness between the two that I enjoy. I also appreciated the unique way that this book examined the idea of having a “soul mate” and how sometimes being forced into love (even a passionate one) can be difficult. I eagerly look forward to the third installment, Naamah's Blessing, which should be released in 2011.
Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 567 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble
Challenge: This book is not part of any challenges
Similar Books: There's nothing quite like the Kushiel/Naamah books. The closest I can find for the mixture of high adventure and high romance in a fantasy world would be Anne Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy.
Other books I've read by this author: Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, Kusheil's Avatar, Kushiel's Scion, Kushiel's Justice, Kushiel's Mercy, Naamah's Kiss (my review), Banewreaker, Santa Olivia (my review)
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