Naamah's Kiss - Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel's Legacy 7)

I’m sure we’ve all had the same experience with sequels whether they appear in books, TV shows or movies. They are (almost) never as good as the first part of the series (or initial trilogy). I have had, on several occasions the urge to shriek “Get out of your comfort zone!” when reading a particular series (naming no names) but thankfully this doesn’t apply to Naamah’s Kiss.

Following on from her two previous “Kushiel's Legacy” trilogies [1], Carey sets Naamah’s Kiss in the same world but changes things up by giving us a new protagonist who is only vaguely related to any of the main characters in the previous books. The novel takes place about 150 years later than the other trilogies which allows the first-time reader to dive into the Legacy world without needing too much background information.
Our protagonist is seventeen-year-old Moirin – born of the union of a priest of Naamah (the goddess of desire) and the bear-people of the wilderness, her dual nature threatens to tear her apart – especially when Naamah’s gift (lots of desire!) begins to manifest. Sent by the bear goddess whom her people worship on a quest to find her father (and some answers), Moirin travels to Terre D’Ange and beyond to the land of Ch’in where her special talents are needed to rid a princess of a demon.

In the previous trilogies (as you can tell from their titles) the focus is on the worshippers of Kushiel, the god of pleasure through pain. Naamah’s Kiss however leans towards desire which is a nice change. Although Carey’s writing contains quite a bit of erotica it’s not disgustingly explicit, and as such the sex scenes add to the story rather than detracting from it.

For those who have read the other Kushiel's Legacy trilogies I would say that this one is up to the calibre of the Phedre novels, but does start off a little bit slower. Whilst in Phedre’s case we are thrown right into the world of intrigue (and sex), Moirin’s story takes longer to unfold. This doesn’t detract from the quality of the writing, but be aware that there is a bit of a contrast between the laid-back beginning and the headlong rush that ends the novel.

If you haven’t read the Legacy trilogies, I recommend that you at least read the Phedre books as they give the reader a good grounding in how Terre D’Ange society differs from Moirin’s world. If you have (and enjoyed them), then Naamah’s Kiss is definitely worth reading.

Trilogy 1: Phedre’s tale consists of Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen and Kushiel’s Avatar.
Trilogy 2: Imriel’s story is told in Kushiel’s Scion, Kushiel’s Justice and Kushiel’s Mercy.

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