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Naamah's Curse (Kushiel's Legacy Series #8)

Naamah's Curse (Kushiel's Legacy Series #8)

4.5 138
by Jacqueline Carey

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Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel's Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin.


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,<


Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel's Legacy series, delivers book two in her new lushly imagined trilogy featuring daughter of Alba, Moirin.


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sequel to 2009’s Naamah’s Kiss, Moirin, the devoted servant of a sex goddess, journeys across half of a fantasy version of Asia in search of her soulmate, Bao. In Tatar territory, she finds Bao... and his wife. His father-in-law, the Great Khan, is willing to go to great extremes to keep Bao and Moirin apart. Captured by the fanatic Patriarch of Riva, Moirin escapes to find that Bao has vanished again, this time headed toward the distant lair of the Spider Queen and her army of assassins. The romantic tale is marred by Moirin’s narcissistic awareness that she is destined for a glorious fate that lesser mortals like Bao’s jealous wife may only envy. Carey’s storytelling ability is top-notch, however, and readers will applaud her willingness to resolve major plot threads in the middle book of a trilogy. (June)
From the Publisher
"Carey's storytelling ability is top-notch...and [listeners] will applaud her willingness to resolve major plot threads in the middle book of a trilogy." ---Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Kushiel's Legacy Series , #8
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 4.24(h) x 1.14(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Naamah's Curse

By Carey, Jacqueline

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2010 Carey, Jacqueline
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446198059


As the city of Shuntian dwindled in the distance behind me, a mixture of dread and exhilaration filled me.

I was all alone in the vast empire of Ch’in.

It was by choice, my choice. If I had wished it, the Emperor’s daughter would have spoken a word in her father’s ear, and his Celestial Majesty would have provided me with a mighty escort. Indeed, the princess had begged me to let her do so, and I suspected there would be times that I wished I had consented. I was a young woman, a foreigner, travelling alone in a country halfway around the world from my home.


It was a bittersweet word. I no longer knew what it meant to me. Once, home had been a snug cave in the Alban wilderness where I was Moirin, daughter of Fainche, child of the Maghuin Dhonn.

That was still true; in a sense it would always be true. The folk of the Maghuin Dhonn carry our diadh-anams inside us, the divine spark of the Great Bear Herself that gives us life and guides us. It is the part of our soul that connects us to Her. To lose it would be like dying, worse than dying.

I knew, because I had lost half of mine.

Not lost, exactly. In fairness, I had given it away, although I hadn’t known what I was doing at the time.

My mind shied away from the memory. The noble chestnut gelding I rode flattened his ears and tossed his head, sensing my unease. I stroked his neck, soothing him with my thoughts. “Peace, brave heart,” I murmured.

He settled. On the lead-line, the pack-horse plodded patiently behind us.

They were gifts from Emperor Zhu, both of them. I carried a good many gifts. My rich silk robes were embroidered with bronze and amber chrysanthemums. Jade bangles rattled on my wrists and around my neck, hung on a silk chord, was a jade medallion carved with the Emperor’s chop on one side and the Imperial dragon on the other. It would grant me safe passage anywhere in the empire of Ch’in.

Your jade-eyed witch soothes the dragon.


The chestnut sidled and pranced beneath me. I soothed him once more, and forced myself to cycle through the Five Styles of Breathing.

The Breath of Earth’s Pulse, drawn into the pit of the belly and the depths of the groin, inhaled and exhaled through the mouth.

The Breath of Ocean’s Rolling Waves, drawn in through the nostrils to the middle belly, out through the mouth.

The Breath of Trees Growing, circulating energy to the limbs, trading nourishment with the world.

The Breath of Embers Glowing, in and out through parted lips, quickening the heart and warming the blood.

The Breath of Wind’s Sigh, pulled and expelled through the nostrils into the space between my eyes, making my head light.

I breathed the entire cycle as I rode, and while the discipline calmed and centered me, with every breath I drew, a memory assailed me. Stone and sea! There were so many of them.

Master Lo Feng.

He had taught me the Five Styles, taught me all that I knew of the Ch’in manner of meditation and harmony he called the Way. It had served me well in the conflict I was leaving behind me. It had let me find the strength and courage to serve as a companion to Princess Snow Tiger and the dragon whose indomitable celestial spirit was housed within her mortal flesh. Were it not for Master Lo’s teaching, I would never have been able to help free the princess and the dragon from the curse that bound them together in the midst of a bloody civil war.

Nor could I have endured the aftermath, in which I put my small gift of magic in the service of Emperor Zhu, breathing in and swallowing the memories of hundreds upon hundreds of men who had conceived, built, and wielded the terrible weapons known as the Divine Thunder. I carried the ghosts of those memories within me yet, tasting of brass and sulfur, blood and smoke and horror.

I returned to the Breath of Wind’s Sigh, willing it to carry away the lingering acrid tang.

My diadh-anam burned steadily within my breast, calling to its separated half somewhere to the northwest. Since there was no escaping the memory, I let myself think about Bao, the stubborn Ch’in peasant-boy who had walked away with half my soul inside him.

Bao hadn’t liked me much at first, nor had I cared for him. He was Master Lo’s apprentice, guide, and companion—his magpie, Master Lo called him. I remembered my first sight of him, a lean-muscled young man with dark eyes glinting with disdain under a shock of unkempt black hair, carrying a steaming pot of bone-marrow soup over his shoulder on a bamboo staff.

That had been in Terre d’Ange, the land of my father’s birth, the land toward which I first set out in pursuit of my destiny. A quest laid upon me by the Maghuin Dhonn Herself.

In my youth and folly, I thought I had found it straightaway in the form of Raphael de Mereliot, the healer with the charmed touch—Raphael, who was able to merge his gift with mine, to channel my magic to heal others. Raphael, the Queen’s favorite courtier and lover.

We had wrought miracles together.

And it had nearly killed me.

If it hadn’t been for the Queen herself, it very well might have killed me. Jehanne de la Courcel. There, at least, was a memory that made me smile. Gods, I’d gotten myself involved in an almighty tangle when I came between Jehanne and Raphael. And yet in the end, it was Jehanne who had rescued me from Raphael’s ambition, and Jehanne whom I had come to love. My father was a priest of Naamah, the D’Angeline goddess of desire, and his line was ancient in her service. Naamah’s gifts ran strongly in my blood. I had found pleasure and pride in serving as Jehanne’s companion.

It had hurt to leave her. It had been too soon. When my infernal destiny summoned me to accompany Master Lo Feng, Jehanne was carrying the King’s child, and she was frightened. I wished I could have stayed until the child was born.

I couldn’t regret leaving, though. Not after the purpose I had served in Ch’in. I had seen the dragon, once restored, launch himself in glory from White Jade Mountain, his undulating silver coils gleaming against the blue sky. I had ridden in his claw; I’d seen him summon the rain and drown the terrible weapons of the Divine Thunder, ending the war. I’d seen my impossibly valiant princess Snow Tiger restored to honor.

And yet…


My diadh-anam flared as my thoughts circled back to him. When had I even begun to harbor a fondness for him? I couldn’t say. Somewhere in the long hours we spent together in Terre d’Ange while Master Lo Feng taught us the Five Styles. Mayhap it was the first time I’d won an almost-smile from him.

It was on the long journey on the greatship to Ch’in that matters had changed between us. Thrust into constant companionship, Bao and I had become friends, then lovers. I’d caught a glimpse of the complicated knot of pride, stubbornness, and romantic yearning that lay behind his insouciant exterior. And Bao…

I don’t know what Bao felt for me, not really. Out of bed, we were always a little bit guarded with one another, neither of us certain how much our relationship owed to convenience, proximity, and Master Lo’s unsubtle encouragement.

If things had fallen out otherwise, it might have been different.

But once we reached Shuntian, the imprisoned dragon’s jealousy had come between us, forcing us to be circumspect in our behavior. Later, we had said to one another; later. Over and over, in stolen moments throughout our long quest, we said this to one another. When this is all over, if we live through it, we will talk. Later.

A lump rose to my throat, forcing me to swallow hard.

My hands trembled on the reins.

There had been no later, because Bao had died. It was a moment etched in my memory. The captured sorcerer Black Sleeve turning in a graceful, unrepentant arc, the deadly sleeve of his robe flaring wide. A spray of poisoned darts.

The dragon’s helpless roar.

Bao whirling, his broken staff in two pieces in his hands, intercepting the barrage.

Bao, dying.

One dart, a single dart, had gotten past him, had pierced his throat beneath the chiseled angle of his jaw. It had been enough.

I breathed the Breath of Ocean’s Rolling Waves, the most calming of all the Five Styles. I let the memories wash over me.

I should have known; of course, I should have known. Master Lo had as good as told me. Today, I realize I have lived too long, he said. Emperor Zhu had known what he meant. For the first and only time, Master Lo had asked me to share my gift with him, his dark eyes grave and anguished. Are you willing to give a part of yourself that my magpie might live?

I remembered my frantic reply.


I should have known, but I didn’t. When Master Lo Feng placed his hands on Bao’s unmoving chest, I laid my hands over his and poured my energy into him, until I felt myself begin to fade and go away, until I saw the stone doorway that represents the portal into the afterlife for the folk of the Maghuin Dhonn. For a moment, I thought I would pass through it, and the thought was not unwelcome.

Then my diadh-anam blazed and doubled…

… waking inside Bao.

Bao came to life with a startled shout, thrust out of the realms of death. Master Lo passed from it peacefully, his chin sinking to his chest, his eyes closing forever.

What would I have done if I had known, if I had grasped what should have been obvious? I cannot say. And in truth, it does not matter.

What was done, is done.

On that day, my stubborn peasant-boy went away from me. He told me he did not blame me for our mentor’s death. He told me that if he had been given the opportunity to choose, he would have chosen to spend his life with me.

But he died without being given that chance, and what Master Lo did in restoring his life, dividing the divine spark of my diadh-anam between us, bound us together in a way that only a second death could undo.

And Bao needed to find a way to choose this, to make it his own. To reconcile the hard choices and uncertainties that had yoked my destiny to his, to believe that I had chosen him out of genuine desire and love, that it wasn’t merely Master Lo’s art at work.

So I let him go.

And I waited for him to come back to me. All the while I travelled Ch’in and served as the Emperor’s swallower-of-memories, I waited for Bao. The Imperial entourage returned in triumph to Shuntian, where I waited for Bao. In the gardens of the Celestial City, I listened to poetry with the princess and waited for Bao.

He didn’t come.

Instead, I sensed him moving farther away from me, carrying the twinned flame of my diadh-anam inside him. Moving away from me, toward the outskirts of the empire, toward the Great Wall that kept the Tatar horde at bay.

It was the princess—Snow Tiger, my brave, lovely princess—who reminded me that I, too, had a choice. She had given me the greatest gift of all, the fragile gift of trust. In the beginning, I had been nothing but an unwelcome burden to her; her necessary inconvenience, she had called me. Much had changed between us by the end, and I carried private, tender memories of her that warmed my heart.

But nothing, nothing could replace what I had lost. And yes, I had a choice. So I had set out to find my stubborn peasant-boy.

If Bao would not come to me, I would go to him.

At least, I hoped so.


Excerpted from Naamah's Curse by Carey, Jacqueline Copyright © 2010 by Carey, Jacqueline. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Carey's storytelling ability is top-notch...and [listeners] will applaud her willingness to resolve major plot threads in the middle book of a trilogy." —-Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Carey is the author of the New York Times bestselling Kushiel's Legacy series, the Sundering epic fantasy duology, the postmodern fables Santa Olivia and Saints Astray, and the Agent of Hel contemporary fantasy series. She lives in Michigan.

Anne Flosnik is an accomplished, multi-award-winning British actress, with lead credits for stage, television, commercials, industrials, voice-overs, and audiobooks. She has garnered three AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and four Audie Award nominations.

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Naamah's Curse 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 138 reviews.
PhoenixFalls More than 1 year ago
I am very sad to say this is my least favorite novel of Terre d'Ange so far. This is partly because of the theme Carey is exploring in this novel, but mostly because it simply does not measure up to the rest of the series. Don't get me wrong -- I love this world with a deep and abiding passion, and I will buy the novels in hardcover the day they come out as long as Carey writes them. But this, the third trilogy set in the world of Terre d'Ange, is simply less powerful than the two trilogies that came before. It is less focused. The books are less focused than either Phedre's or Imriel's -- while the first six books in this series had definite beginnings, middles, and ends, both Naamah's Kiss and Naamah's Curse have minor endings that are clearly just pauses in the action rather than true endings to a book-long story arc; and Moirin herself is less focused -- she is seeking her destiny, but the only guideline she has is that she will cross many seas, so she just kind of wafts through the world waiting for her diadh-anam to flare up and let her know that this is a place she's supposed to be for a while. That passivity stands in stark contrast to Carey's best heroine, Phedre no Delaunay, who always had a sense of purpose and urgency to whatever she set her mind to. And the fact that I kept comparing the two protagonists to each other is symptomatic of the flaw in this book as well. They are both female first-person narrators in the same world, and Carey's skill is not so great that she gave them very distinctly different voices, so some comparison is natural. But in this book I have become convinced that Carey is deliberately comparing them to each other in her own mind, because so much of the action of this book echoes the action of Kushiel's Avatar, the third book featuring Phedre. Both books range into non-European lands; both books feature the protagonist's soul being made a battleground of the gods; the protagonist is tortured in both books as a part of that battle. (There are other parallels, but they would constitute spoilers for this book.) And at each point where there is this echo of the earlier heroine, Carey makes Moirin make the opposite choice. Obviously, she did this to ensure that Moirin is NOT just a Phedre clone; but being the anti-Phedre is no better than being Phedre-lite. She even gave Moirin an anti-Joscelin in Bao, and reversed the way their relationship worked -- in Kushiel's Justice Phedre drove Joscelin away, while here in Naamah's Curse Bao drives Moirin away through his actions and the difficulties they cause. But the anti-Phedre trend continues even to the thematic level, and this is the point that I have to give the caveat: the theme Carey chooses to explore is well-executed, so I cannot say that the book is bad as a result of it; it simply is not to my taste, and so I disliked the book a bit as a result. In all the Phedre books there was an underlying theme of the gods' battles being worked out through their human followers; Naamah's Curse is all about the ways humans can twist their gods to their own ends. This made the book ugly to me. The battles between the gods had a certain purity to them, a sense of larger-than-life figures and motivations beyond our ken; the battles here are purely human ones despite all the talk of gods, and there is nothing pure about that. It is the darkest of the novels of Terre d'Ange to date, despite the fact that darker things happen in ALL of the other novels.
sam_ann More than 1 year ago
I just don't know how the author that conceived the brilliant plots and characters of the Phedre and Imriel trilogies could write such a flat, disconnected, unbelievable book. Despite the first Moirin book not living up to my expectations, I still enjoyed it. There wasn't sparking chemistry between characters or shockingly perfect plot developments, as there were in the Kushiel series, but it was a good story nonetheless. I had a hard time even finishing this second Naamah book however. The section in Vralia was at least somewhat compelling, if not exactly engrossing, but the second half in Bhodistan was hard to get through. The reason for going to Bhodistan in the first place was unconvincing and seemed like a cheap excuse for the author to flaunt her research about India. The trip there is riddled with uninteresting minor characters that pop into the story just long enough to provide a Deus ex Machina-esque solution to some contrived problem and then disappear. Moirin suddenly becomes extremely world-wise and skilled at travel/barter/languages for no reason I could discern. I spent most of the ending of the book wanting desperately for the overly saintly and wise Rani Amrita to be assassinated so I wouldn't have to read about her anymore. The Untouchables morality tie-in was predictable before it even started, then it was handled in a very hamfisted way, which was at great odds with the realistic handling of slavery and patriarchy in earlier books. And also unlike every other book Carey has written, the battle scenes lacked any emotional impact whatsoever, and the divine/magical elements of the book are so repetitive and overdone as to completely murder any sense of mystery and wonder. This is particularly sad, since a subtle touch of divinity and epic battles were my favorite aspects of the Kushiel books. All in all, I'm a very disappointed fangirl.
mistybraintree More than 1 year ago
I totally agree with PhoenixFalls! I have loved all of the previous books in this series and I do love the way Jacqueline Carey writes BUT I did NOT love this book. I, too, was constantly comparing Moirin to Phedre and found Moirin wanting. I don't know if the comparison was intended by the author or not. For me, this book just did not work. I found it hard to like Moirin and her "Stupid Boy". There are a lot of comparisons between Moirin's earlier adventures and her current ones...and, once again, the current ones were lacking. There just is not the nobility in these characters that I've come to expect from Ms. Carey. I'm glad I got it from the library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothing beats the kushiel series but this is close
nightowl More than 1 year ago
Whereas I liked the previous book in this series, Naamah's Kiss, I had a hard time connecting with or even really liking the heroine Moirin. In Naamah's Curse, she finally sheds herself of most of her weaker, "victim to my fate and my desires" persona and grows herself a backbone. She still has to follow her destiny to its end, but she does it with a good deal more dignity. In the end, Moirin is no Phedre, and Bao is definitely no Joscelin, but they are likable enough characters in their own right and definitely interesting enough that I would like to see how their story ends.
ChibiPyroDuo More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book and for the most part the plot. I agree that Moirin does not seem to grieve things, like the death of a loved one. I enjoyed the different journeys that this character takes but I feel like it should all be in seperate books and I wish Carey would expand on the different places Moirin visits. Other then that very moving amazing book. I love all of Carey's books and will continue to buy and read them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So, in reading other reviews I see that I may be really lucky in that I found this book on the bargain table and was interested in the title more than anything. I don't have any history to compare it to, It was my first time reading anything by Carey, and I was so blown away by the powerful storytelling and compelling settings that I daresay it could be one of my favorote books ever. I could tell I was missing some information, but not enough that I couldn't follow it and enjoy it. I read the whole book in two seatings and it would have probably been a single one if I hadn't started to read it in the evening. Within 5 minutes of finishing it, I had ordered the other two "Naamah" books and Kushiel's Dart and cannot wait to dive back into Carey's world. I found Moirin to be relateable, though possibly passive, but it seemed to fit her. Bao seemed to grow up a bit by the end of the book, but in the beginning he felt a bit like a petulant child. I was uncomfortable with Bao seeming to turn away from her at every opportunity, (I mean, the choices he made aren't ones you make when you are taking a break to figure things out and promissing to return to talk!) it gave a feeling of pointlessness to Moirin's ordeal - but I was aware that I came in to the middle of their story, so I reserve true judgement until I read the other two. I enjoyed the few moments they really shared together, without the other complications. Again, I simply cannot wait until I can break into another of Carey's books, She may be my new favorite author.
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Banethiel More than 1 year ago
A delight to read.
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Loved it....I cannot wait to see what happens next.
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