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Book Review & Giveaway: Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey

Title: Naamah’s Curse

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 2010
Hardcover: 576 Pages

Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch’in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother’s people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she’s never known. But the lovers’ happiness is short lived, for Bao is entangled in a complication that soon leads to their betrayal.

Stand alone or series: Book 2 in the Naamah Trilogy, following Naamah’s Kiss

How did I get this book: ARC from the publisher

Why did I read this book: Jacqueline Carey is one of my favorite authors of all time. Her Kushiel’s Legacy books rank among my favorite books of all time. And, considering how much I loved Naamah’s Kiss, of COURSE I was salivating at the chance to read and review Naamah’s Curse. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

WARNING: This review contains necessary spoilers for book 1 in the Naamah trilogy, Naamah’s Kiss. If you have not read Naamah’s Kiss and do not wish to be spoiled, LOOK AWAY. (Giveaway details are at the end of the post)


Beginning a few short months after the events of Naamah’s Kiss, Naamah’s Curse opens on a determined Moirin mac Fainche. To bring the fallen warrior-magpie back from the dead, using Moirin’s healing gift as a child of the Maghuin Donn, Master Lo Feng gave up his life in exchange for Bao’s. And now Bao carries half of Moirin’s diadh-anam, the divine spark of her soul that every Maghuin Donn holds within, Bao’s fate inextricably tied to Moirin’s forever more. Confused and conflicted, Bao fights his his soul’s connection to Moirin’s – not because he does not love Moirin, but because he was deprived of the choice to live or die, and he needs to know that the connection that both he and Moirin feel for each other is more than just the burning of the diadh-anam they share. Understanding Bao’s need for space and time, Moirin let her stubborn peasant warrior leave her behind…but after months and the increasingly insistent call of her diadh-anam, she decides that she’s done waiting around and sets out to find her other half, whether he’s ready for her or not. Moirin’s journey takes her across Ch’in and beyond its great wall, to the Tatar tribes and even further, always using her diadh-anam to guide her. After a long, cold winter, Moirin finally finds Bao, and their reunion is sweet, if ever so brief. In his search for his place in the Tatar world, Bao has found himself under the wing of the Great Khan – married off to the Khan’s youngest daughter. And the Great Khan will not give up his only son without a fight.

Through treachery and magic, the Great Khan secretly has Moirin taken away by Vralians – puritan-esque followers of Yeshua Ben Yosef, the One True God, and she is imprisoned in shackles that cut her off from her ability to use her Maghuin Donn magic, and from sensing Bao’s soul-spark – and vice versa. Separated once again, Moirin goes through the most painful, trying ordeal she has ever faced in her young life. From the drab gray of the Vralian cities to the mountains of Bhaktipur and Bhodistan, Moirin s placed on the path of her destiny, as a child of the Maghuin Donn and Naamah’s chosen.

As with all of Jacqueline Carey’s work, Naamah’s Curse is exquisite. Beautifully written and with plotting and worldbuilding on an epic scale, Naamah’s Curse is another winning addition to Carey’s prestigious body of fantasy work. In this second novel, Moirin’s travels take her beyond Alba and Terre D’Ange, beyond the realms of this alternate western Europe to the North East, with Vralia (the equivalent of Russia) and into Asia Major – Ch’in, the Tatar Territories, and the southern region of Bhaktipur & Bhodistan (modeled after China, Mongolia and India, respectively). Anyone that has read one of the prior books in either the Naamah or Kushiel series is familiar with Ms. Carey’s fantasy worldbuilding – taking our own very familiar world and history, but retelling and reinventing these locales with different gods, religions, politics, and societies. In this newest book, the already familiar story of Elua and his companions and Yeshua Ben Yusef are examined from a different perspective (that of the stringent Vralians – very different from the more libertine D’Angelines). In addition, new gods and pantheons are examined with the inclusion of the Tatars and Bhaktipur people (on a side note, I found it very interesting that while Ms. Carey changes the names for her D’Angeline/Judeo-hristian gods and faiths, she keeps the same names for the Bhodistan – that is Hindu – gods,i.e. Kali, Ganesha, Hanuman, etc). And, as expected, these new territories and cultures of people are varied and enthralling. One of the things I love the most about these books is the sweeping epic quality of them – I love how Moirin – like Phedre and Imriel before her – has a destiny that takes her far beyond her wildest imaginings…and even more impressive than that, I love that Moirin fears, resists, and is uncertain about her fate. As the saying goes, the gods use their chosen hard, and such is the case with Moirin here in Naamah’s Curse.

This second novel gives a more detailed look at Moirin and Bao as they grow as characters. Neither are what you’d call flawless – Bao certainly complicates matters with his hubris, and Moirin is all too aware of her own self-important destiny. And yet…both are characters that grow through their own subtle vanity, and have their hearts in the right place. Bao realizes and pays the consequences of his marriage (on that note, I loved that his poor, slighted wife is humanized and given a part in the story beyond the jealous lover role), while Moirin begins to see that her embrace of Naamah’s arts are not so freely embraced elsewhere. I also liked that though Moirin follows her grand destiny, she feels the strain of expectations and fears failure (read: Mary Sue, she ain’t). Although there is a sense of safety and predictability in that Moirin will always find a way out of whatever tough situation in which she is ensnared, there are high stakes and consequences for everything – and I like seeing that, especially in a middle book in a series. There are resolutions to plot threads, but other tantalizing bits left for the next book – Rafael de Mereliot, for example, comes to mind.

On a thematic level, all throughout Naamah’s Curse, there is this intriguing examination of what it means to be “god chosen” – being one of Naamah’s own, blessed with the gift of desire can also seem like a (titled) curse, and Moirin’s faith is tested harshly. And these are just the broad strokes of themes in the book – there’s also a question of caste systems, of warring faiths, of fanaticism, of coexisting gods and beliefs. Suffice to say, Naamah’s Curse is more than just a book filled with adventures, quests, and magic – it is also a thought-provoking look at the way worlds and cultures intersect.

As a fan of Jacqueline Carey’s, I found myself immersed in this beauitufl, intelligent novel. As a fan of fantasy literature, I devoured this marvel of world building and epic adventure. As a fan of literature and great stories in their entirety, I was swept away once again to a world that not only enchants, but confronts readers to think and comprehend. I loved Naamah’s Curse from beginning to end, and I cannot wait for the final installment to this winsome trilogy.

Notable Quotes/Parts: Head on over to Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist for the exclusive excerpt from Naamah’s Curse.

Verdict: Another stunning addition to the works of Jacqueline Carey, I loved Naamah’s Curse. Absolutely recommended, and as of right now, one of my favorite reads of 2010.

Rating: 8 – Excellent, again, leaning towards a 9

Reading Next: The Line by Teri Hall

Giveaway Details:

We are giving away THREE copies of Naamah’s Curse! The contest is open to addresses in the US and Canada only, and will run until Saturday, June 19 at 11:59 PM (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here, letting us know which Jacqueline Carey book is your favorite (and if you haven’t read Jacqueline Carey yet, let us know which of her books you’d most like to start with!). Good luck!

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  • Patricia
    June 14, 2010 at 12:18 am

    My most favorite of Jacqueline Carey’s books was Kushiel’s Mercy. Choosing a favorite is actually quite hard as all of her books are amazing! 😆

  • Kimberly B.
    June 14, 2010 at 2:28 am

    It’s so hard to pick one favorite Jacqueline Carey book! I’m going to say Kushiel’s Dart, because it was first and a couple of my favorite characters are only in that one (vague to avoid spoilers). But I also want to give a shout out to Santa Olivia, which is a very different kind of book, but still terrific!
    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  • Sue Brandes
    June 14, 2010 at 4:30 am

    That cover is beautiful. I have not read her books so I would probably pick the first one to start with. Sounds like very good stories. Thanks for the post.

  • Jackie
    June 14, 2010 at 5:23 am

    oooo Kushiel’s Dart is still my favorite 😮 Carey works magic with language.

  • Kia
    June 14, 2010 at 6:27 am

    It is impossible to pick a favorite, I love absolutely all of them. xD I would have to say, thus far, Kushiel’s Justice is my favorite in the Imri trilogy, and Kushiel’s Dart is still my favorite in Phedre’s trilogy.

    A little strapped for cash lately, would really, -really- love to get my hands on this! ;.;

  • Tina
    June 14, 2010 at 8:03 am

    I haven’t read any Jaqueline Carey books yet, so I’ll have to check and see if we have any at my local library. I’m most interested in her Emerald Magic: Great Tales of Irish Fantasy anthology because I love traditional Irish legends.

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    skibunny9197 (at) aol (dot) com

  • CrystalGB
    June 14, 2010 at 8:07 am

    I haven’t read any of Jacqueline’s books. They sounds good. I would want to start with Kushiel’s Dart.

  • csaket
    June 14, 2010 at 8:30 am

    New author for me. I am interested in reading this series so Namah’s Kiss would be the starting point.

  • Jacqueline C.
    June 14, 2010 at 8:33 am

    I actually have Naamah’s Kiss in my TBR pile so I’d like that one to be my first Jacqueline Carey. Great review!

  • Zee
    June 14, 2010 at 8:58 am

    oh, I love, love, love Jacqueline Carey. Please enter me in the giveaway. I think Kushiel’s Dart is my favorite – or at least Phedre and Joscelin’s trilogy (love them, sigh) – it’s hard to pick just one, though. Great giveaway; I just skimmed the review since I haven’t read Namah’s Kiss yet.

  • Sara M
    June 14, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I have read anything by Jacqueline Carey yet, but I think I’d start with Santa Olivia.

  • Teresa W.
    June 14, 2010 at 9:13 am

    This would be a new author for me, would like to read the first in the series!

  • Dawn
    June 14, 2010 at 9:17 am

    It’s sounds strange, but I think I’d have to say the very first, KUSHIEL’S DART, is my favorite. I was simply blown away by how much rich, nuanced backstory there was creating an incredibly vibrant world, history and cross-culture for the main character to simply step into and bring us along for the heady, decadent & hedonistic ride. This was the book that trusted reader-friends would admit to reading and passing onto to one another like naughty notes in the classroom. For that reason alone, I loved these books & would adore to get my hands on this latest volume!

  • Allison
    June 14, 2010 at 9:17 am

    My favorite Carey book thus far is Kushiel’s Avatar. It was in many ways the least enjoyable, but it affected me the most emotionally.

    Thanks for the giveaway! 😀

  • ~ames~
    June 14, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Great! I’m glad you liked this one. I haven’t started this series yet, but Jacqueline Carey is one of my favorite authors of all time too. Favorite book would have to be Kushiel’s Scion. Love Imriel.

  • Amanda Isabel
    June 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I cannot wait to sink my teeth into “Santa Olivia” – I love a good dystopian – genetically – modified – machogirl story! 😀


  • Maria
    June 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

    I think Kushiel’s Dart is still my favourite, though some of the Imriel books come close second.

  • Michelle
    June 14, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I love Kushiel’s Dart, especially the ending! Santa Olivia is also great.

  • Rosie
    June 14, 2010 at 10:43 am

    So far I’ve only read Kushiel’s Dart, which I enjoyed, but I haven’t gone back to any of Carey’s other books. I do want to go back to them at some point though.

  • adrienne
    June 14, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I’m going to join the majority and state Krushiel’s Dart is my favorite. Upon reading the first book, you are transformed into this world that is described in exquisite detail. I love how she has created these stories about love and religion and never once do I ever feel preached to or uncomfortable about their Gods. And the author is never, ever afraid to kick her characters in the gut and make them go through hell; you gotta love that! 😆 One of my favorite series, count me in for the give away! 😛

  • Anna Treece
    June 14, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Hmmm..I think my favorite would be Kushiel’s dart. I loved getting to know the characters, the world, etc. I was drawn in to the point of looking for an RP to play in on these themes!


    — Anna

  • Marie
    June 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for the great review!

    I still love ‘Kushiel’s Dart’ the best, although ‘Kushiel’s Avatar’ runs a close second.

  • Katie
    June 14, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I’ve never read any of Carey’s books so I would have to start at the beginning with Kushiel’s Dart.


  • Lindsay Elizabeth
    June 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I love Kushiel’s Avatar.

  • Chelsea B.
    June 14, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve never read any of her books, but this is a series I’d definitely like to try!

  • danielle
    June 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Naamah’s Kiss…which I won from here…shall e keep the cycle going? 😉

  • Emily
    June 14, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Ooh, that’s tough call. I loved Kushiel’s Mercy, but when I read Santa Olivia I was blown away by the completely different writing style and how she did it so well. Can I cheat and say they’re both my favorites? 😀

  • Beverly H.
    June 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I have not read Jacqueline Carey’s novels yet, so I would definitely want to read Naamah’s Kiss first and be ready for this one!

  • Jo
    June 14, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I feel like I’m going to have to go back and re-read “Kiss” before I pick this one up (just to refresh myself). I think my favorite book was the first one, Kushiel’s Dart, because it introduced me to this wonderful author and the world she created. 🙂

  • Tiah
    June 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Well right now my favorite is the first one, Kushiel’s Dart. That is the only one I have read yet. I have the others just waiting on my shelf. *sigh* I need more hours in the day.

  • Sandra
    June 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I still love the first three, perhaps because there is nothing like when you are first exposed to an author. I also loved Santa Olivia, because it was so different.

  • JJ
    June 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I’m one of the few who say KUSHIEL’S AVATAR is my favourite. Why? Because Carey isn’t afraid to utterly break Phèdre before fixing her through the power of luuuuuuurve (so easily could be cheesy and saccharine, but I didn’t find it to be so). It’s seriously one of the most satisfying reads and it’s my top comfort reread.

  • cories
    June 14, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    My favorite is “Santa Olivia”. I hope she writes a sequel soon.

  • Pamelia
    June 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    My favorite is Kushiel’s Avatar. It might be harsh and violent, but I love the way it shows true love standing up to the worst the world can offer.

  • Elizabeth
    June 14, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I love SANTA OLIVIA !!

  • Bethie
    June 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Please count me in. Kushiel’s Dart is my fav. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Kristen
    June 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    So far my favorite is Kushiel’s Dart out of the two I have read (that one and Santa Olivia). They were both good, but Kushiel’s Dart had the type of complexity and language I love to read.

  • TXDee
    June 14, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Your review convinced me that this is one that I will be looking for; I already have Naamah’s Kiss on my To Find list.

  • Doreen R
    June 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I have not read any of Jacqueline Careys’ books but I would love to start with her Naamah’s Curse novel.
    Thanks for the review and giveaway. 😯 😆

  • enyl
    June 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    I’d like to start with Naamah’s Curse.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    June 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    I have never read any of Carey’s books but this books sounds pretty interesting. I am interested in reading the whole series and then would also like to know about some of her other books. Please enter me in contest. Thank you. Tore923@aol.com

  • Audra Holtwick
    June 14, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I have not read any of Jacqueline’s nooks yet, I would like to start with Naamah’s Kiss,

  • Jennifer
    June 14, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    I have read none of her books so far, but I would Love to start with Naamah’s Kiss!

  • Ellaanabeth
    June 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    After such a fantastic review, I think I now want to start with Naamah’s Kiss. Naamah’s Curse sounds really good too! I’m definitely looking this book up the next time I’m in a bookstore!

  • Ali
    June 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    I haven’t tried a book by Jacqueline Carey… but the cover I liked and the book I’d like to read is: Naamah’s Kiss. I enjoyed the first chapeter and just love the red in the cover 🙂

  • Melanie
    June 14, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I haven’t read anything by Jacqueline Carey yet, but this one sounds really good. So since this is number two out of three, I’d start with number one, Naamah’s Kiss.


  • LAMusing
    June 15, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I have not read any of her books, but I’d like to! I’d probably start with Naamah’s Kiss

  • Shannon
    June 15, 2010 at 6:08 am

    My favortite right now is Godslayer- if only because that’s the one I’m reading at the moment!

  • Carol Wong
    June 15, 2010 at 8:33 am

    I haven’t read any of them but would love to start with this one. I love books set in a different and place and cover is great.

  • Stephanie Martiin
    June 15, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Great Review. I haven’t read Jacqueline Carey’s books yet. Shes on my list to buy but the only only one I have so far is Bane Walker. I like reading series books when I have at least 2 books in a row by the author. I would like to start reading her “Kushiel’s Legacy Series” but for some reason I have been unable to buy all 3 at my used book store, at the same time, so I end up putting them off until the next visit. Also,I won’t even try to buy them unless I can begin with the first book and they are always not in the store. I hear lots of great things about her books though. Have a great day, Stephanie

  • Rachel
    June 15, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Phedre is by far my favorite protagonist, but choosing among the three books where she is principal is nearly impossible. I would like to see each trilogy eventually published in one volume.

    If I MUST choose, I would select Kushiel’s Avatar, with Kushiel’s Dart as a very close second.

  • Marjorie
    June 15, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I have never read a book by her before, but
    I would like to start with this one.

  • Terri
    June 15, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Great review and I love the Kushiel series especially the ones dealing with Pheidre and Joscelin.

    I also enjoyed reading “Santa Olivia”!

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  • Michelle m
    June 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I have only read her first “Kushiel’s Dart” but now feel like I should make up for lost time to get sufficiently caught up… Thanks for the great review!

  • Laura
    June 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    This is in my favorite book series list. My favorite is Kushiel’s Dart because it introduced me to the whole world but Kushiel’s Avatar runs a close second for being so intense.

  • Carol M
    June 15, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I’ve never read any of Jacqueline Carey’s books. I would like to start with Naamah’s Kiss.

  • Julie SWaney
    June 15, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I haven’t read any of her books so I would have to start with Kushiel’s Dart.

    jellybelly82158 at gmail dot com

  • Chris B
    June 16, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Kushiel’s Dart is my favorite – it got me hooked on the series.

  • Charlotte
    June 16, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I am still in the middle of the Kushiel series, but I fell in love with the first book. It is one of the most interesting, well thought out books I’ve ever read.

  • Adriana P.
    June 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I would like to read Naamah’s Kiss. I have not read any of Jacqueline Carey’s books but they sound promising!

  • raven
    June 16, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I love Jacqueline carey’s books. My favorite would have to be the first Kushiel’s Dart. From Phedre introduction i was hooked. With each new book I fall deeper in love with this world Ms. Carey has created. 😛 😆

  • alana
    June 16, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I liked both Naamah’s Kiss and Santa Olivia. I don’t think I can even pick between them since both reading experiences were so different. Some how I read that last book of the Kushiel’s Legacy Series first and that kind of ruined it for me. (It’s not that I didn’t like it, but that I feel rather meh about it.)

  • Steve Capell
    June 17, 2010 at 4:14 am

    I haven’t read any of this author’s books, but your review sounds like a book that I would take pleasure in reading.

    Thanks you so much for hosting this giveaway.


  • Mika
    June 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Kushiel’s Dart was my first introduction into the world of fantasy fiction. As a reader I continue to be astounded by Carey’s work. Of her trilogys I love Kushiel’s Chosen the most with Namaah’s Kiss playing a very close second. Thank you for this review can’t wait to read it!

  • Leah
    June 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Oh, I love Jacqueline Carey! She is my favorite author so I am hard pressed to pick a favorite novel but Kushiel’s Dart is special to me because it was the start of a wonderful reading experience.

  • Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey « Janicu’s Book Blog
    June 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    […] Curse (Strong A) is an excellent follow-up to the brilliant Naamah’s Kiss“ The Book Smugglers – 8 Excellent, again, leaning towards a 9 (one of her favorite reads of 2010) Fantasy […]

  • Carolyn H
    June 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I love Kushiel’s Dart as it was great. Thank you for the contest.

  • Anonymous
    June 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Being new to Jacqueline Carey books and not having yet read any, Naama’s Curse looks quite intriquing, so i would like to start with this one.

    Thank you for offering this giveaway.

    terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

  • Dasha
    June 18, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    I have to say that my favorite Jacqueline Carey book is Kushiel’s Avatar 🙂 I’m excited about getting Naamah’s Curse though…

  • Jenna Wood
    June 19, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Kushiel’s Dart, I ahve read it 7 times! I love Phedre!
    six_one_nine_girlie86 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  • shipa
    June 19, 2010 at 7:31 am

    I loved the Kushiel books. Jacqueline Carey is a fantastic world builder.

  • Review of Naamah’s Curse | Fantasy Cafe
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  • Anonymous
    November 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    OMG I love Her books! I have read every one but the latest and its the only series I have EVER read twice it was that good. I cant wait to read the new one!

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