Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Namaah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey

First, a bit of business, I found this link to a lovely story on a local school librarian who is making a difference, and the article makes a good case for the importance of librarians in schools, at a time when librarians are being phased out of schools and our King County Library System.

Also, a bit from Kevin Bacon, who appears to be a smart guy (who knew?) as reported in the wonderful Shelf Awareness:

Noting actor Kevin Bacon's philosophy of reading--"You can sit around
and complain that Hollywood doesn't make any good movies. But you can
generate your own material. So I read books."--Word & Film
recommended a checklist of Bacon's movies "to find great reading

Now, about Namaah's Curse, the latest novel from the incredible imagination of Jacqueline Carey. I've read all of Carey's "Kushiel's" series, which were like some richly-scented chocolate dessert--they're impossible to resist and once you start reading them, no amount of will power can get you to stop. Also like chocolate, they're decadent and not to everyone's taste--they have lots of sexuality in them, and there's pain-as-pleasure attached to some of it, yet it's never gratuitous or slimy. Carey writes her sex scenes with true reverence and love...you can feel the sincere passion, the glorying in the beauty of the human form, the sensuality and erotic joy of sexuality and orgasm pouring forth from each chapter. Yet Carey doesn't overindulge in sex scenes to the detriment of her stories. Her plots never lag, there's no lame dialogue or cliche'd euphemisms to make you cringe and wish she'd get back to the subject at hand. And her characters SHINE, brightly and beautifully, fully created and seeming to breathe right off the page. First and foremost, Carey is a resplendent storyteller of the Sheherazad school, the kind of author whose prose draws you in, engrosses you and doesn't let you go until the last word is spent.
I was so enthralled by the Kushiel's books that I was sad to see them end. However, Carey decided to start a new series with Moirin, a descendant of some of the characters from the Kushiels books, and place her 100 years later in time. Moirin has some of the powers of the Bear clan but is also a child of Namaah, so she's a sexual adept as well, though not a courtesan, as was Phaedra, the protagonist from the first series. We were introduced to Moirin in Namaah's Kiss, where she met up with a Chinese sage and his assistant Bao, and fell in love with Bao, reviving him with her spirit in the last part of the book. Namaah's Curse takes place in China and Mongolia, where Moirin must go to find Bao, her soul mate, and her adventures along the way take several interesting twists and turns. One of those turns is meeting fanatical Christians, and, as Moirin's people of Terre D'Ange view sex as a sacrament, you can imagine how ugly things get when a Christian cult leader tries to torture confessions out of Moirin, and force her to submit to patriarchal Christian dogma. Fortunately, she's rescued by a half D'Angeline boy, whom she gifts with his first sexual experience, helping him to gain Namaah's blessing. I daresay no one describes oral sex with as much heat as Carey, and if there is any through-line or theme to her books, it is that nothing is as healthy, healing and good for body and soul as a long roll in the hay with someone you love. But Carey also manages to add in chunks of history, in this case Asian history that fascinating and add to the stew of the story, making it more robust.
At any rate, I enjoyed this second book in the Namaah's series, and look forward to the third. I'd give it a solid A, and recommend Namaah's Curse to fantasy-loving adults with open minds and hearts who find Asian culture and history fascinating.

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