Monday, March 8, 2010

kisses for jacqueline carey’s newest novel

Like the previous review, I was ecstatic to receive a review copy of Jacqueline Carey’s latest book on my desk; so excited I almost faked an illness so I could go home and start reading it straight away.
Naamah’s Kiss is the first in a new series set in Carey’s unique ‘alternate history’ world of Alba, Terre d’Ange and now Ch’in. The previous series have been populated mainly with characters from Terre d’Ange, but this one features a young girl of mixed heritage from the less civilised land of Alba.
Carey’s books are renowned for their potent sexuality, with her Kushiel’s Legacy series conjuring up images of bondage and other alternate forms of physical love.
While this is titillating and surely led to her immediate popularity – particularly the first three books Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen and Kushiel’s Avatar – the emotional depth of her characters and the detailed imagery of her world have stood Carey in good stead; cementing her place in the fantasy world’s pantheon.
In particular, the books featuring the D’Angeline prince, Imriel de la Courcel, are deeply moving on a number of levels as the boy grows into a man haunted by his mother’s treachery and his desire for the one person he should avoid. These books also look at the impact of honour on love and of love on honour.
Again, Carey’s works are among a handful of books that I read over and over again, much like those from Robin Hobb. So, the new series has been much anticipated.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Naamah’s Kiss is exquisite; the new character of Moirin is as feisty as the original, iconic Phede no Delaunay and brings with her the added interest of inherited magic. Moirin is sent on a mission of sorts, she doesn’t know where she’s going or why, but she realises that she needs to follow the ‘divine spark’ that she carries; graced to her by her goddess.
Adventures in love, loyalty, magic and acceptance lead Moirin from the safety of her reclusive mother’s side, to the far side of the world; Ch’in.
It is clear that Carey’s world is an alternate to our own, laid over our historical Renaissance period – Terre d’Ange is France, Alba is England, Ch’in is China. But this newly realised version is finer, more glittering and less prosaic.
In Carey’s world, gods and angels walked the land, dragons perch on mountain tops and religions are accepting, encompassing and tolerant – after all, the state religion of Terre d’Ange has a precinct dedicated to love in all its forms; and a companion of their god, Naamah, was the first prostitute in recorded history... and she’s worshiped for it!
It is this clever layering of fantasy over reality that makes Carey’s books such delightful reads – they are not truly alien and therefore more easily understood but those who aren’t used to the fantasy genre. More than that, though, is the fact that they are beautifully written.
Carey’s works are not difficult to read – it’s not all highly structured prose and strands of intellectual thought – but they do flow wonderfully, as good fiction should, and bring the reader into her world as easily as looking in a mirror.
As always, I recommend readers start at the beginning with Carey’s early works, but with Naamah’s Kiss you can feel comfortable in reading it as a stand-alone novel – with the joy of more to come.

Naamah’s Kiss by Jacqueline Carey is published by Gollancz and is available from good book stores and online.


Post a Comment