By Jacqueline Carey
Published June 2010, Hachette Book Group
Hardback, 567 pages
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.Carey is my favorite author, and she does not disappoint with this latest book in the Kushiel Legacy series. This is the second book in the third trilogy, and the main character Moirin Mac Fanche of the Maghuin Dhonn continues to pursue her unique destiny as she grows into her own strengths and learns more of the world that she traverses. While Carey's original main character, Phedre, will always be the one I measure all others by throughout this world, the differences that Moirin provides are not uncomfortable and show the other side of the coin, with a gentler and softer approach to the D'Angeline belief, "Love as thou wilt." I especially like when Moirin reflects on the legend of Phedre and how different she is from the great heroine, such as her acknowledging her lack of linguistic skills or her refusal to go after the Spider Queen alone.
Moirin spends the majority of the book tracking down Bao, who possesses the other half of her diadh-anam, but even in this seemingly selfish path, her destiny still sneaks in to use her in ways that will further a message of love over hatred and abuse of power and control, taking advantage of her unique abilities as a child of the Maghuin Dhonn as well as a child of a D'Angeline priest. I have to say the number of "gods" that Moirin claims to be using her can get rather numerous and confusing, especially when she gets to Bhodistan and is taken from temple to temple to temple by the Rani. I find Moirin's perspective of the different religious beliefs that she encounters quite enlightening, as she completely lacks in any skepticism and believes whole-heartedly that they are all true. While in real life such beliefs can be considered laughably naive, Carey makes such scenarios both believable and beautiful in ways that make me appreciate her writing all the more.
Carey could make each of these books twice as long and I would still read each one with delight. The characters are unique, intriguing, memorable, even if I intensely dislike them. The settings are like shadows of places I already know in this world, but with just enough difference to make me want to travel to each one and never leave. The plot is at times suspenseful, exciting, tantalizing, and even heart-breaking, but always completely captivating.
While I could dissect this book, taking apart sub-plots and impaling different characters, I loved this book so much I see no real need for it. Suffice it to say that if you have not read Jacqueline Carey before, do it. You won't regret it.
The Cover: The woman on the cover that represents Moirin is stunning in both natural beauty and dress. Her clothing must be in reference to where Moirin ends her travels in this book, the country of Bhodistan.
First Line: "As the city of Shuntian dwindled in the distance behind me, a mixture of dread and exhilaration filled me."
I feel the same exhilaration that Moirin feels in this opening line, thrilled that I finally got my hands on the next book in the series!
Favorite Quote: "I wouldered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love.
It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss.
Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy."
Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Support Your Local Library, Speculative Fiction Challenge