Title: Naamah’s Blessing
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Series: Moiren’s Trilogy (Naamah) #3
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Overview: Returning to Terre d’Ange, Moirin finds the royal family broken. Wracked by unrelenting grief at the loss of his wife, Queen Jehanne, King Daniel is unable to rule. Prince Thierry, leading an expedition to explore the deadly jungles of Terra Nova, is halfway across the world. And three year old Desirée is a vision of her mother: tempestuous, intelligent, and fiery, but desperately lonely, and a vulnerable pawn in a game of shifting political allegiances.
As tensions mount, King Daniel asks that Moirin become Desirée’s oath-sworn protector. Navigating the intricate political landscape of the Court proves a difficult challenge, and when dire news arrives from overseas, the spirit of Queen Jehanne visits Moirin in a dream and bids her undertake an impossible quest. -Goodreads
I think I’ve gotten the question “is this trilogy worth reading?” more times since starting it than I can count. People obviously know how much I loved Phedre’s and Imriel’s trilogies (and in most cases they share that love), and are wondering how this final series compares. I’ve been waiting until finishing the trilogy before giving a final assessment, and here it is:
Its not quite as good, but it’s still worth reading.
In some ways it’s like apples to oranges. Phedre’s and Imriel’s stories were a lot more narrowly focused, where the court dynamics and political intrigue played a huge role in lending complexity to the series. It focused on the beauty of Terre d’Ange and its surrounding lands in a manner that made the places almost ethereal. Comparatively, Moiren’s tale focused on a much broader scope. As fun as it was to explore the world, this structure kept the story kind of superficial because we didn’t get to spend enough time in any of the places to really dig in to the nuances of politics. Not that Moiren’s character profile was set up to handle nuance, anyway. Part of what made the first two trilogies such page turners for me was how politically savvy the characters were. They always had their fingers on the pulse of Terre D’Ange, which allowed a narrative driven by the small details. This trilogy is significantly more straight-forward because Moiren (a cave-raised bear witch) doesn’t have the background or the training to really engage in all the politics. Her ignorance of societal dynamics was both refreshing in it’s innocence yet frustrating because it kept the plot from gaining any sort of depth.
Moiren is a lovely character, and if I take anything away from this series, it’s her beautifully kind outlook on the world and her determination to do what feels right despite brutal consequences to herself. Her love is given without expectation, and reading about a character so poignantly selfless was a treat. Even though I wasn’t as in love with this trilogy’s love story, I definitely always felt the depth of Moiren’s love for other characters and mourned the losses fiercely. So, even though a few elements fall short of expectation, Moiren is why you read this series.
Moiren is Naamah’s child, and bid to do her will, which essentially means that she’s compelled to use sex as a healing mechanism whenever required. Where Phedre’s encounters never felt inappropriate to her character or the story, for whatever reason many of Moiren’s encounters felt a little cheap and forced (almost to the eye-rolling point at times, if I’m totally honest). Maybe that’s because the encounters were more of a “duty” where’s Phedre’s came off as a mutually agreed “pleasure,” I’m not sure, but by this final book I was physically cringing every time the story headed in that direction. It is what it is.
Overall, even though the story lacked the plot depth, political intrigue, and oddly compelling sexual encounters (elements that made the first two trilogies so special), it offers instead a beautifully poignant main character and the chance to explore many wonders of the world through Carey’ slens. It might not satisfy the same craving, but it is still definitely a journey worth experiencing.
Recommendations: venture into this trilogy only after reading Phedre’s (Kushiel’s Dart) and Imriel’s (Kushiel’s Scion) trilogies, as this is a future generation continuation. Because I love Carey’s writing and stories so much, I’d definitely recommended it if you haven’t gotten around to continuing yet, but with a few disclaimers to moderate your expectations.
Other books you might like: