Despite the ending of Naamah’s Kiss, which I didn’t care for I wanted to read this book. (It really annoys me when gunpowder weapons are held to be the Greatest Evil Every Invented. A lot.) As alternate history settings go, Carey’s world is detailed and very interesting, and I really like the main character Moirin.
In Naamah’s Curse, Moirin is in hot pursuit of both her Destiny and her lover Bao, who has run off for the steppes of the Tatars. (He wanted to go off alone due to the rather traumatic events of the last book, where he died and was brought back to life, and their teacher died.) Moirin of course doesn’t want to wait for him, and heads out after him. (Alone. This prompts many of the characters into scolding her because going off alone is stupid. The Reader would be inclined to agree.)
She tracks him to the village where he was born and finds that he had moved on after being rejected by his father (who isn’t his biological father due to a Tatar assaulting his mother). After arguing with Bao’s father (who had sold him into slavery as a child) and talking to Bao’s mother, she continues on to the steppes where it is very cold due to it being WINTER. Fortunately, a Tatar tribe who are surprisingly non-ogre like, despite the various things she’s heard about them, takes her in. She learns from the tribe that Bao had passed by and apparently sought out and was adopted (or acknowledged by) a Tatar general as his son.
She travels with the tribe, who are going to a “gathering of tribes” which is where all major decisions are made, and where Bao is also likely to be. When they meet, he is happy to see her, but also kind of annoyed. After a lover’s quarrel and make-up sex a new bombshell is dropped on the happy couple. Bao apparently was railroaded into a marriage he didn’t want, but went along with anyway. After various kinds of drama this leads to Moirin being sold to Vralians, who in this alternate universe are the equivalent of Russia, and Bao being sent off in the opposite direction. (It’s just one thing after another with these two.)
There are some interesting plot arcs here, which depend more on the ability to talk and negotiate than on action and combat. It’s a very “talky” fantasy, but also very entertaining. Some of the plot points were problematic, such as Moirin magically instigating social reforms, and certain aspects of her escape from captivity, but on a whole I enjoyed reading the book, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys Carey’s writing and worldbuilding.