I’m a little late for part four of the read-along of Jacqueline Carey’s Naamah’s Curse, but I’m still here! This week we covered chapters 48-64, and I provided the questions. Beware of spoilers in the questions and answers below!
1) Moirin makes some new friends on the way to Rasa. What do you think will come of her decision to entrust them with the jade medallion? Do you see this as a betrayal of trust or do you think the Emperor would understand?
I feel like this might be one of those decisions that comes back to bite her later. She’s given away most of her valuables as gifts, though, so I’m not sure she has any choice. I think I would trust the people she gave the medallion to, but I think these things have a way of changing hands unexpectedly. Hopefully, the Emperor would understand and not hold it against, and hopefully no one tries to use it to cause trouble in Ch’in.
2) On her way to the Lady of Rats, Moirin ends up in a dangerous caravan. What are your thoughts on what happened, both with the assault and the illness?
I found it interesting that Moirin compared herself unfavorably with Phedre in these chapters, when her magic makes her far more powerful in some ways. I was reminded in this section how often Phedre relied on her training in Naamah’s Arts to find a way to power in a difficult situation. When she was with the Skaldi leader, she faced a similar situation with no twilight to hide her. Both Moirin and Imriel lamented that they were not great heros/heroines like Phedre and Joscelin, but I think they both found plenty of adventure.
On the assault itself, wow is that guy gross. I find it disappointing and unsurprising that he is still a respected trader, and will likely do the same thing to the next pretty woman that comes along. Based on the reaction of his men, I get the feeling Moirin was not the first. At least she was able to learn some Bhodistani, and the association with him doesn’t seem to have soured the language for her.
I don’t know much about altitude sickness, but is that what Sanjiv was referring to as “mountain sickness”? It’s amazing that it cleared up after only three days of rest. If it was due to altitude, then maybe being in the valley helped. That might be the first time Moirin has reached near the limits of her physical endurance due to circumstances beyond her control.
3) Is seems that caste/class is going to be a major point in this story. Even if Amrita agrees that the caste system may not be just, do you think there's anything that she and Moirin can do about it? Do you see any path to happiness for Jagrati and/or do you think she deserves to be defeated?
I don’t think they’re going to abolish the caste system in a few weeks, but maybe Amrita will be the seed of a new way for the future. To be honest, I was concerned when I realized our villain was going to be an evil marginalized woman who attacks people through sexual desire. I think the story is trying to show that she has a valid complaint with society, though, and no one would ever have listened to her without drastic action. I don’t think she should get away with assassinating people, but I also have a feeling that we don’t have her whole story yet.
I also think that the novel is trying to address ideas of privilege and class, not only here but also earlier in the story. One of the reasons Bao got married was to raise his station, because he saw himself as below Moirin. Amrita even observed that Moirin does not really socialize outside her own caste, though I think that’s not really true. In any case, I think it will make Moirin more aware of hierarchy in the societies around her.
4) There is a lot of passion in Kushiel's Legacy, but the sex scene in this section doesn't involve much. Given all of the focus on "love as thou wilt", what do you think about Amrita's gift and it's acceptance by Naamah? What do you think about the idea of sex without desire, but for compassionate purposes?
It was a really unusual scene, and not really all that in line with what I would have expected Naamah to approve. It certainly helped Moirin, but it seems like the whole situation would be really awkward. It made me wonder if Amrita desired her husband, or if sex has always been to her a gift to give someone else.
5) Bao returns! I think we were all a little irritated with him for his Tatar adventures. Do his actions here change your opinion of him? Do you think he has escaped Jagrati's diamond for good?
I am glad that we didn’t have many chapters of Bao not believing Moirin was real, so for that I thank him. I tend to believe that Jagrati was telling the truth when she said she thought Moirin was dead. When Bao realized Moirin had not been sent to the Falconer and Spider Queen, that was a much more logical conclusion than to think the Khan had simply sent her somewhere else. He picked a very self-destructive way to mourn, though, and the addiction is probably something that will stay with him forever (as will the tattoos). As for Jagrati’s diamond, I’m not sure it has much power over Bao. It didn’t stop him from recognizing Moirin, and he doesn’t really seem enamored of Jagrati. It may be Moirin that needs to escape the diamond!
--I wonder why Sanjiv stays with such a horrible group of traders. It seems like his skills are valued, so he could find some nicer people to join.
--While Amrita’s kid is quite clever, perhaps it was not the best idea to let a child plan their strategy.
--Amrita was safe from the Falconer because she was pregnant, but it’s been a decade since then. Does the Falconer only pursue women who have never given birth?
--How did Amrita recognize Moirin’s caste right away? It sounded like she didn’t exactly look like royalty at the time.