Why do I always forget how much I love Jacqueline Carey between books? Because I totally love Jacqueline Carey.
Moirin is a young Maghuin Donn (pesudo-ancient Welsh?) sorceress raised by her mother in the wilderness, who has spent most of her life largely apart from ordinary people. She discovers that her father, whom she never knew, was a man from Terre d’Ange (psuedo-medieval France), and that some of her magical gifts seem to have come from him. Following a personal tragedy that makes it impossible for her to remain at her home, she decides to travel to Terre d’Ange and seek him out. This being a Jacqueline Carey book, melodramatic bisexual antics ensue.
In this book Carey continues doing well most of the things she generally does well – great dialog and prose, strong female characters in roles of political power, and good sex scenes. It doesn’t, however, work as well for me as any of the earlier entries in the Kushiel series (bearing in mind I haven’t read the third Imriel book yet).
The problem is that I was never really convinced that Moirin was in any danger. I think this is because of the relative weakness of the villains. There are three of them: one is largely off-screen and has extremely shallowly explored motivations; another is largely off-screen, and possesses motivations which can be described accurately as “Muahaha!”; and the third is on-screen, but is only a threat because Moirin herself actively continues seeking him/her out after she’s realized he/she is dangerous. And there are moments where this is compelling – but then we get to the book’s half-way point, and Moirin leaves the country and thus the problem. I guess we’ll come back to this later in the series? Moirin keeps saying stuff like “I sensed that my destiny was still entangled with Villain’s. This would not be the last I heard of him/her.” So I guess we will.
This book doesn’t really stand alone as well as Carey’s series books usually do. In general, she closes some sort of emotional arc in each book. In this one, the emotional arc is a complete cliffhanger. I was not expecting that! It was kind of annoying.
In general, though, it’s by Jacqueline Carey, and thus is superior epic fantasy/comedy of manners/porn that you should read.