By Jacqueline Carey
Available now from Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)
I believe my reviews of NAAMAH'S KISS and SANTA OLIVIA that I am a fan of Jacqueline Carey's style. She veers into purple prose sometimes, but it fits the world she's built. NAAMAH'S KISS was the first time I really saw a pattern to her Terre d'Ange trilogies. The second book is where the main couple gets separated, although Moirin and Bao reunite faster than most - only to be separated again. But it does work, because Carey is fabulous at globe-trotting adventures and chasing your lover down is a great way to have a globe-trotting adventure.
I think my favorite culture in NAAMAH'S CURSE where the alternate-world Mongols (Tatars). Carey manages to describe why the various cultures clash without making one the "good" culture and one the "bad" culture. So it's fun to see the Tatars, who are bad guys to the Ch'in, and see them treated sympathetically. Vralia, the alternate world Russia and home of Christians, comes off the worse. But even it contains good people. (Okay, I lied. The Hashashins, transplanted to Tibet, come off the worst.)
But Vralia came to mind first because it provides the first and more interesting antagonists and allies. The double adventure varies the structure slightly, but results in one half being weaker than the other. I think I noticed the pattern because NAAMAH'S CURSE felt like stock adventures rather than a uniquely complex adventure.
It's good that Carey makes her backdrop so convincing, because it also makes the epic romance more convincing. Sometimes its hard to get a grip on Bao's character since Moirin and her narration are so self-centered, but it's hard to deny Moirin's attachment to him. Of course, her past lovers always come up.
I love how tight Carey manages to keep her trilogies while still making them span so much space. The plot sprawls but stays together due to a strong conservation of detail. Old characters (or connections to old characters) show up and everything ties together in the end. Raphael de Merliot is set up to return in the last book, which should be fun.
NAAMAH'S CURSE wasn't Carey's strongest, but it was still fun and fans of the series should enjoy it. While there is a discussion of what came before in Moirin's life, NAAMAH'S CURSE also draws heavily from the Imriel trilogy. Readers might want to start there to get everything possible from the Vralia passages.
Thanks to Hachette, I have three copies to give away. Just fill out the Google Doc form below. The contest will end in two weeks.