Imriel de la Courcel's blood parents are history's most reviled traitors, but his adoptive parents, the Comtesse Phèdre and the warrior-priest Joscelin, are Terre d'Ange's greatest champions.
Stolen, tortured, and enslaved as a young boy, Imriel is now a Prince of the Blood, third in line for the throne in a land that revels in art, beauty, and desire. It is a court steeped in deeply laid conspiracies ... and there are many who would see the young prince dead. Some despise him out of hatred for his birth mother Melisande, who nearly destroyed the realm in her quest for power. Others because they fear he has inherited his mother's irresistible allure - and her dangerous gifts. And as he comes of age, plagued by dark yearnings, Imriel shares their fears.
At the royal court, where gossip is the chosen poison and assailants wield slander instead of swords, the young prince fights character assassins while struggling with his own innermost conflicts. But when Imriel departs to study at the famed University of Tiberium, the perils he faces turn infinitely more deadly. Searching for wisdom, he finds instead a web of manipulation, where innocent words hide sinister meanings, and your lover of last night may become your hired killer before dawn. Now a simple act of friendship will leave Imriel trapped in a besieged city where the infamous Melisande is worshiped as a goddess; where a dead man leads an army; and where the prince must face his greatest test: to find his true self.
Jacqueline Carey (born 1964 in Highland Park, Illinois) is an author and novelist, primarily of fantasy fiction.
She attended Lake Forest College, receiving B.A.'s in psychology and English literature. During college, she spent 6 months working in a bookstore as part of a work exchange program. While there, she decided to write professionally. After returning she started her writing career while working at the art center of a local college. After ten years, she discovered success with the publication of her first book in 2001.
Currently, Carey lives in western Michigan and is a member of the oldest Mardi Gras krewe in the state.
Jacqueline Carey is a very interesting author. She lulls you into thinking that she is writing just another fantasy-adventure, but starting with her lyrical way of weaving a story to the sensuality implicit in all of her relationships, be they friendly or not, out of the tales of political intrigue, flirtation, showmanship, and familial clansmanship, seeds are planted for myriad of conflicts that might or might not come to play, setting us up for a journey that will never have us bored. Then just as you are thinking, ooo, our favorite characters are safe, she comes up with something that puts them and the reader through the wringer... I have no idea what category her books should go in, but I know that they deliver!
"... “There would be love, and while it was mine, I could cling to it. I could rejoice -- in life, in the existence of love. In the existence of people like Phedre and Joscelin. Although the standards they set were impossibly high, still, I could rejoice that such courage and compassion existed in the world. I could hope and aspire.”..."
"Kushiel's Scion" is the first book in Imriel nó Montrève de la Courcel's arc, the son of Melisande, the greatest traitor in Terre d'Ange's history, is the third in line for the Throne, and the adopted son of Joscelin and Phedre, but it is a continuation of the Phedre trilogy, thus the forth book in the overall Kushiel Series. I was so thrilled to have Imriel as the new main POV and narrator! He is young, fresh, and has so much to learn... Having started this book while he is only thirteen years old, we get to spend the most uncomfortable and cringe inducing time of any teenager's life with him, being privy to all of his insecurities, his struggles with the experiences in his past, his battle with figuring out who he is and whom should he look up to and model himself after. Just as in all the books up to now, there is a lot of sexuality and the perceptions of it, as well as its central role in the Terre d'Ange's society, but the author always manages to handle it in a very tasteful way, a lot like in a classical painting, more for its beauty or ugliness, as an art form and way of interacting, rather than something vulgar or crude. Having a young man in the trows of puberty and growing pains thrown in a culture like that, you would understand why there is a lot of sex on his mind. The way he deals with it, as well as the way he tries to build his character, are fascinating and so relatable, it is painfully beautiful. Having Phedre, Joscelin, and his relations on his mother's and father's sides, it is a miracle he is able to go through it all without going insane:):):)
"... “I lie awake in my bed, clinging to the brightness I have known, fighting back the tide of darkness, the memories of blood and branding and horror, and the legacy of cruelty that runs in my own veins, shaping my own secret vow and wielding it like a brand against the darkness, whispering it to myself, over and over.
I will try to be good.”..."
This is in the core of the book - Imriel knows that the blood that runs in his veins through his mother's side comes with dark desires, imperious pride, a marked desire to be in control, and the baggage of a family strong and loyal to its own, but very dismissive and downright despicable to all others. However, being raised by his adoptive parents, who have surrounded him with love and kindness, tried to instill honor and humility in him, treating all the way they want to be treated, Imriel wants so much to be like them, to be good! However, his natural desires scare him and he does not yet have the tools to know how to control the one and do the other. This is the conflict that is a constant in the book from the beginning to end, but he does undergo a lot of personal growth, as well as a better understanding of the world around him. It is a good thing too, because it does seem like around every corner there is someone waiting to do him harm, use him, or plain kill him... The confused young man has to have a lot of the life lessons jammed into his scull the hard way, since after all, he is just a hormonal teenager, be it a rich and pretty one:) He does have some good friends around to help him on the way and I have to give a special attention to Eamonn, whom he follows to college in the city of Tiberius, where they study Natural Phylosiphy, and from there the two of them go to the wedding of another friend in the city of Luca, where everything goes wrong!!! Eamonn is all a young man should be and I love the feeling he brings into the story - like a ray of sunshine! Lucius, Brigitta, Gilo, Anna and Claudia Fulvia all play part in his learning in their own way.
"... “It is passing strange, what a fluid thing is one's own identity.”..."
I am obviously hooked to this story and this world, so I have gotten to the point of missing objectivity and going with my subjective opinions, but I am not blind to the fact that there is a slower cadence to the flow of this story compared to the last book. However, this is more like a set-up and introduction book for our new arc, so I would recommend patience. It pays off even in the end of this volume:) I would recommend it to all those who loved the Phedre Trilogy and to all others with a more lyrical soul, who can endure battles, political intrigues, and plenty of sexual activity. Trust me though, it is not just "one of those books"!!!
"... “True friendship must be akin to romance, I think; only without all the anguish and anxiety.”..."
Now I wish you Happy Reading and may you always find what you Need in the pages of a good book!!!
So you wrote a highly-successful trilogy. Congratulations! What now? Well, you could write a sequel trilogy: new narrator, same old world and intrigue. Some writers want to milk the cash cow for all it's worth. Other writers, like Jacqueline Carey, create worlds compelling enough to justify returning to them time and again. Sinking into Kushiel's Scion is like having an old friend come to visit: all the things that you remember are there, but time has passed, and with it has come change. So you get to know each other again, laugh over old jokes, and share new ones.
Imriel is really the only logical choice for narrator of this trilogy. He belongs to the next generation, and although he is third-in-line to the throne of Terre d'Ange, he is first-in-line to inherit the political turmoil set in motion by his exiled mother, Melisande. It's fitting from a dramatic perspective as well, for Imriel is Phèdre's adopted son, a successor of sorts for her. The son of the antagonist of the previous trilogy is the protagonist of the new trilogy, and his first order of business is related to exactly that issue: who the hell is Imriel de la Courcel, and is he good?
I kept on waiting for something to happen in this book. At each turn I expected someone—Imriel—to get kidnapped or beaten or framed for a crime. That last one sort of happens, and it is a minor if important event. I was looking for something big, something that would incite action and drive the rest of the plot, much like Imriel's kidnapping drives the plot of Kushiel's Avatar. That kind of plot bomb is absent from Kushiel's Scion. Most of the book covers the span of years prior to Imriel's coming-of-age, at which point he leaves for the university at Tiberium. Then, in the second movement, if you will, we get some action that influences Imriel's outlook, prompting him to return to the City of Elua for the book's recapitulation.
Now I realize I was doing what many other reviewers have done, which is compare Kushiel's Scion to Kushiel's Avatar. I think it's natural to want to compare two consecutive books in a series, and from the perspective of writing quality it's a valid comparison to make. Nevertheless, Kushiel's Avatar is the concluding volume in a trilogy, and as such its plot is constructed differently from Kushiel's Scion, which is the beginning of a trilogy. It's far more apt to compare this book with that other beginning, Kushiel's Dart. Indeed, then we see the similarities emerge.
As Kushiel's Dart does with Phèdre, this book quickly covers a number of years during Imriel's youth. Imriel is of noble birth, but both our narrators are outsiders to nobility, for he was raised as an orphan and a goatherd. Moreover, both of them have psychic burdens they will bear for the rest of their lives: Phèdre, of course, is Kushiel's chosen; Imriel has Daršanga, as well as the shadow of his mother's betrayal hanging over his deeds. Kushiel's Dart is Phèdre's coming-of-age novel, the story of how she comes to terms with who she is and ends up embracing a life into which she has been manipulated by Anafiel and Melisande. Likewise, Kushiel's Scion is Imriel's story of growing up. He is part of the Courcel family yet not a part, part of the Shahrizai family yet not a part. Restless from this sense of not belonging, he eventually strikes off beyond Terre d'Ange to seek some sense of direction. It's not adversity that Imriel needs; it's reassurance that he can be good, that he is not a slave to fate.
As far as the change in narrators goes, I think they're really interchangeable. Phèdre was a great narrator, and so is Imriel, because they're both Carey narrating with a single voice, one which uses a somewhat archaic, stilted vocabulary and syntax. I don't mean to say that they are the same person, and if you replaced Imriel with Phèdre, you'd definitely have a very different story. Yet the style of narration remains the same, which is both reassuring and a little disappointing.
Also much the same are the politics. I love the politics in this series. Carey achieves the proper balance between national interests, like the Alban succession issue, and the conspiracies among families and houses, like Bernadette de Trevalion's plot to murder Imriel. One of the reasons I find historical fiction so fascinating is its ability to portray that dynamic between the massive national conflicts and the smaller, personal conflicts that drive individuals. Epic fantasy can accomplish the same thing, and Carey is an excellent example of this. Ysandre may trust Imriel, love Imriel as her cousing; but as the queen, she has certain obligations. Obtaining justice is not as simple as accusing the guilty party and presenting evidence, not when such accusations might breed more distrust and discontent. As he matures, Imriel recognizes that this is part of being nobility. Instead of choosing to reveal Bernadette's plot, he blackmails her into secrecy in an attempt to prevent future blood feuds.
If anything, I wish there had been more politics. Most of the intrigue centres around the Unseen Guild, a secret society that manipulates events in Europa for its own purposes. This is the society that taught Anafiel Delaunay the ways of espionage. Imriel encounters the Guild in Tiberium, personified as Claudia Fulvia, wife of a Roman senator. They are just as interested in him as he is in them: having a Crown Prince of Terre d'Ange, someone who is third-in-line to the throne, in their organization would be incredibly beneficial. Imriel stumbles upon the Unseen Guild while trying to discover who taught Anafiel. Soon, however, he becomes obsessed with learning more about the Guild and their relationship to his exiled mother.
Honestly, the problem with having the Guild as adversaries (I'm deliberately avoiding the less neutral term of "antagonist") is that they're so damn shadowy. Aside from Claudia, and perhaps Canis, we don't knowingly meet any other Guild members. As a rule, I am suspicious about enemies who operate behind the scenes—they smack of plot device. To Carey's credit, the Guild is not the one that rides to Imriel's rescue when Lucca comes under siege. Still, they are far from a compelling addition to the canon.
As the first book in a trilogy, Kushiel's Scion captures the introductory flavour of Kushiel's Dart. Unfortunately, it lacks a big central conflict. Even the latter book has one in the form of the Skaldian invasion. The siege of Lucca is a major turning point in Imriel's life, but it lacks the gravity of previous events in the Kushiel series, where every book, including the first one, left Europa altered in some fundamental way. So in that sense, Carey did not meet the standards she set in her previous trilogy. But I'm not saying it's bad, and I'd venture that it's something more than good. In terms of characterization, which is a parameter I rank highly (often even higher than plot), this is a great book. For those who have read the first trilogy and are aching to return to Terre d'Ange, I don't think you'll be disappointed. I know, I miss Phèdre too. But every generation must eventually cede new adventures to the next one, and it's Imriel's time now.
I've seen a fair amount of moaning about this 1/3 of an overall 2/3 not stacking up to the first trilogy and I have to disagree with it all. There are not many times I wish to be a man (bar waiting for the toilets at a concert) but reading this made me pine for a codpiece and facial hair. Imriel is a bad egg, readers of this series will know why but he's cut from very prestigious cloth and his fine breeding makes for a spectacular young man.
The pace is steadier, we've not got so much intrigue or treachery, deceit and murder but the seeds are sown for a fantastic story I'd be a fool to miss.
Jacqueline is becoming one of my favourite authors of all time - her skill is outstanding. I will be reading on.
3.5 Stars This was an enjoyable start to a companion trilogy set in the same world as Kushiel's Dart. I found the new protagonist a bit whine in places, but it was great to see familiar characters. A good story but (so far) not as good as the original trilogy.
I want to start off by saying that Carey’s Kushiel’s trilogy (the first set of novels that comes before this trilogy) is easily one of my all-time favorite fantasies. Those books affected me so profoundly that I was incredibly sad to see them come to an end… Until I realized that Imriel’s trilogy picks up right where Kushiel’s it left off. It’s always wonderful to find out that a journey you thought was over is, in fact, just beginning! Only now, we are reading from Imriel’s perspective rather than Phedre’s, which is a change that only furthered my excitement for this new adventure. I fell in love with Imriel in the last book and was incredibly curious to see the world and the other beloved characters through his eyes. So, as you can see, I went into this novel with high expectations (risky, I know) and was not disappointed in the least!
While I loved the Kushiel’s trilogy for its epic love story and adventure, I love this one mostly for the inner conflicts and strong character development (although by no means did it lack love or adventure). The story follows the journey of Imriel as he learns about himself, his allies and enemies, and the world. His growth throughout the novel pulled at my heartstrings. Watching him try to overcome the horrors of his past while simultaneously trying to find his place in a world of intrigue (one he would not have chosen for himself) was profound. While it’s a little early in his journey for a true love story to develop, there is still plenty of adventure and excitement to be had within these pages. It’s one of those novels that had me up until the wee hours of the night just to see how everything played out.
This novel, much like its predecessors, was incredibly sexual, but not once did it ever feel dirty. The sex is more like an integral part of the plot and character development rather than a ploy to make the novel more risqué. Because of this, the love/sex/relationships remained secondary to the overall arc of the story. This is why, even though it has elements you’d find in a romance novel, it’s still read more like an epic fantasy than anything else. Although I don’t mind an occasional romance, reading about characters and relationships within a complex plot structure and robust world always seems more gratifying. I’ve come across very few who achieved that beautiful balance as well as Jacqueline Carey.
These novels are also very political. You should know that I find politics in general incredibly boring. What’s amazing is that Carey incorporated them into the story with abundance but managed to make it interesting and often… dare I say it… downright entertaining. As profoundly not boring as the politics are, it requires a bit more focus from the reader than your average fantasy novel. Because the payoff was so high, the extra effort to remember all the foreign names and political agendas tied to them didn’t bother me in the least (the trick is to relax a little bit – Carey usually reminds you what each person was involved with in the past when she brings them up again).
Overall, there’s not a single bit of this novel I didn’t like. I will say it is difficult to recommend because of the risqué subject matter, generous politics, and incredibly slow-developing plot line. If you think you can handle all that, I suggest starting with Kushiel’s Dart… :)
Kushiel’s Scion is the first book in the second of three Kushiel’s Universe trilogies. This trilogy focuses on Imriel, the son of traitors, third in line for the throne of Terre d’Ange, who wants more than anything to just be a good person and do the right thing. We met him in the previous trilogy when he was ten or eleven and he was a great character. I liked him even more in this book, reading from his own perspective this time.
We spend a lot of time growing up with Imriel in the first part of this book, with a little bit of recapping from the previous trilogy but mostly moving forward past that time. For a few hundred pages maybe, I wasn’t really even quite sure what the plot was since the little bit of dramatic news in the opening chapter didn’t really seem to go anywhere. Despite that, I was never bored. I was interested in Imri’s smaller-scale troubles and minor political intrigues while he was growing up, and I was interested in the later parts when the action picked up and reached a larger scale. I was more consistently entertained with his book than I had been with the previous trilogy. I did enjoy those books too, but they had some slow and sloggy parts. I didn’t think this book did.
For those who read my Lightbringer reviews earlier this year, you might remember the Boob Quotient chart. Jacquelin Carey is trying to give Brent Weeks some competition with her Phallus Quotient. She’s not quite there yet, but she’s closing in. Actually, Carey’s books were published first, so I guess she was the body part trendsetter and Weeks was just trying to dethrone her…
Sarcasm aside, I enjoyed this story a lot and I look forward to seeing what happens next. As with the previous books, this one has a mostly-complete story with some plot threads I expect to be carried throughout the trilogy. I’m rating it at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 on Goodreads.
This book was absolutely dreadful and it quite nearly bores me to tears. I don’t know why I insisted on torturing myself by plodding through 900+ pages of such a boring story, I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. Because reading this book truly did feel like a punishment. I don’t know how it got so many glowing reviews, I’m quite puzzled by it in fact!
This begins the second trilogy, in the Kushiel's Legacy series. This trilogy follows Imriel de la Courcel no Montreve, the adopted son of Phedre and Joscelin, and the biological son of Melisande Sharizai.
Imriel is now a teenager, coming into his majority at the royal court of Terre D'Ange. He's third in line to the throne, and as such has his allies, and his enemies at court, mostly just because he his mother's son. His mother was a traitor, but he has never known her, and shys away from his heritage, and all the dark and dangerous cravings of his sharizai blood. The court itself is a tricky place, some there would see him out of the way, and some would have him married off to secure one throne or the other.
Imriel travels to Tiberium, to study at the great universities, and leave his noble name behind. But intrigue has a way of following him.
It has to be said that this was not quite as exciting as the previous book, but then that was the climax in the trilogy, and this is just the beginning of this one. As such, it's not so much one great adventure, as a series of events as Imriel grows up and finds himself, segueing into a sort of medium-sized adventure as Imriel goes away to the Tiberium university. It's comparable in a way to the first of the Phedre triology. Except this does indeed introduce new places and cultures and characters that we haven't see before, it's by no means the same as the first book, and by no means un-exciting!
See my other reviews of Kushiel's Legacy: ← #3 Kushiel's Avatar | #5 Kushiel's Justice (Review coming soon)
Better than Phedre #3, but not as good as Phedre #1-2. Even so, I was set to give this 4.5 stars, then round up for the sake of Carey's gorgeous prose...but the final quarter of the story (i.e. the siege at Lucca) was positively interminable. By that point I really didn't GAF about any of the Tiberians *or* Luccans, & the part about the ancestral ghost general possessing Imri's buddy felt so out-of-place in an otherwise reality-based plotline. I just wanted Imriel to get back to Terre d'Ange & the side characters there -- the ones I *do* care about.
Also, I loathed Claudia. She believed herself so badass & noir, but honestly? Phedre, Melisande, Nicola, Roshanna, Sidonie, or even Ysandre could kick her ass in their sleep. STFU, woman.
I'm on board with the potential Imriel/Sidonie pairing. Sidonie is a total ice queen, so she's obv worked hard at smothering her fiery Kusheline blood...which in Carey's world means she's probably yearning to relinquish control to Imri & let him have his wicked spanky sex. 😈 I liked her, though.
...Anyway. 4 stars, because most of this 900-pg doorstop is worthy of the high mark. Bonus points for Imri's mysterious cousins Mavros & Roshanna, who were scene stealers every time they appeared.
4.5* My favourite part about this was Joscelin. He is incredible and such a wonderful father figure. In general, all the callbacks to Phèdre's trilogy were a bliss to read.
But this isn't their story anymore. It's Imriel's. And how I love the main theme of his story: what does it mean to be good? Especially considering Imriel's history and blood line, this is such an important and interesting question to ask. Imriel is filled with self-hatred because of the turmoil of dark desires and his childhood trauma and, for the most part, is his own worst enemy. Otherwise, this is an interesting story, illustrating mostly Imriel's teenage years, from court politics to the countryside surrounding Montrève and to the University of Tiberium. As I mentioned, I adore Imriel's relationship to Phèdre and Joscelin. It is filled with so much love but by no means simple or easy.
As always, Carey's prose is lyrical and picturesque. One can't help but visualise this entire world in all its colour and atmosphere. Particularly, Tirberium was beautiful to learn about. As well, because Carey as always, has woven real history into her world, from architecture to social structures to politics. The university setting brought us wonderful friendships that felt very real to me as a first year student myself, philosophical discussions, and emotional turbulence.
While I liked exploring Imriel's sexual identity, I didn't really like his choice of lovers in particular so far (to be blunt, he's got bad tatse) and, being me, I'd like him to be a bit more queer (though there are stil chances of embracing the bisexual in himself, and admittedly there are valid reasons - trauma - why he can't yet). The other aspect where this doesn't quite reach the level of Phèdre's trilogy. It lacks epicness. Phèdre is a hero and has a hero's journey. There is this underdog flair to her and cheering her on whenever she surpasses others' expectations of her. Maybe we'll still get that from Imriel, but so far, I don't see that yet. Again, it's topic actually discusse din the book, there not being any wars anymore and no chance to prove oneself a hero and wether that shouldn't rather be a reason for joy than sadness.
Overall, I don't think we're quite there yet with Imriel, but as with Phèdre, this is only the beginning and flwe're still from the end. There is a lot of potential in this first book, and I'm excited to read on.
While I'd probably actually rate this a 3.5 stars, I feel affirmed in rounding it up to 4 stars because of the strong emotional responses this novel elicited from me. It felt great to be settling back in a familiar setting and to see so many familiar faces as well. While I did have my frustrations with our main protagonist, it was compelling to see how he grew throughout the novel.
J’étais vraiment tombée sous le charme de la première trilogie de Jacqueline Carey mettant en scène les aventures de Phèdre et de Joscelin. Même si j’étais impatiente de me lancer dans l’histoire d’Imriel, j’ai attendu plusieurs années pour vraiment le faire et c’était donc avec plaisir que j’ai retrouvé les personnages que j’avais pris le temps d’apprécier.
J’ai été assez surprise en commençant le roman en retrouvant Imriel encore assez jeune. On peut ainsi le voir grandir et évoluer tout au long des chapitres de l’enfance à l’âge adulte. J’ai tout de suite été emportée par l’histoire, d’autant plus que l’on retrouve la présence quasi constante de Phèdre et Joscelin derrière lui et c’était très intéressant de voir ce qu’ils étaient devenus à présent. On assiste donc à son désir de ne plus être le fils de sa mère, de s’éloigner de tout ce qu’elle pourrait représenter et d’avoir peur de ce qu’il est vraiment. Ce n’est pas forcément simple quand on sait l’héritage qu’il a. Mais Imriel va évoluer, rencontrer ses cousins, se rendre compte que Phèdre n’est pas aussi blanche qu’il ne le voudrait, et qu’il devra un jour ou l’autre faire face à ses démons intérieurs. Mais petit à petit, et même si cela est très difficile, il va se rendre compte qu’il est différent des autres et qu’il doit assumer ses désirs.
Bien sur les intrigues politiques sont toujours là et même bien plus présentes dû à sa lignée pour la couronne. Même s’il fait tout pour en rester éloigné et ne pas soulever les soupçons, il n’en faut pas beaucoup pour le remettre sur le devant de la scène. Aussi, notre jeune garçon rêve de liberté et d’aventures bien que cela soit très compliqué.
J’ai beaucoup aimé suivre l’ensemble et j’ai adoré l’univers fantastique que l’auteur a créé. Par contre même si j’ai été complètement emportée par la première partie du roman, j’avoue que j’ai un peu moins adhéré à la seconde mettant en scène notre héros dans une autre partie du royaume et vivant ses propres aventures seul. Après ce n’est pas vraiment un souci mais c’est vrai que je l’ai senti, mais je suis curieuse de voir ce qu’il se passera pour la suite, car je suis sûre qu’il ne manquera pas d’y avoir de nombreux événements marquants. De plus, je suis curieuse de voir ce qu’il se passera pour tout ce qui touche à Melisande dont on entend tant parler ici.
Un très bon roman et je suis impatiente de me plonger dans la suite.
I keep being surprised by these novels, thinking about the fact that they were published almost a decade ago. They still seem pretty unique in how far they are willing to go, and with such grace.
Kushiel's Scion is superbly fun for its relationship with the preceding trilogy. For me, much of the joy of cycles comes from checking in with the characters that already have their Happily-Ever-After. And the HEA of Phedre's trilogy is superb. Phedre and Joscelin are in a committed relationship, no longer suffering from jealousy or uncertainty - and this HEA involves Phedre having lovers (or at least one lover - and a woman! Who is friendly with the whole family! Bisexual women yay!) There is something so cool and fun about it and I loved every single appearance of these plotlines - of Phedre's happiness which is monogamous but within an open marriage that seems not to suffer at all for its openness. I understood how uncomfortable Imriel continued to be about it, because it was in character for him - but Joscelin's new-found peace!
It's always fun when writers like their villains, and Melisande feels like such an authorial favourite. It's great seeing Phedre continue to have a complex relationship with her, and at the same time, Carey doesn't overdo it, letting Melisande remain a background presence.
I started reading Kushiel expecting it to be a guilty pleasure with lots of cringing - sort of like Anne Rice - but it's not that, it's fun as well as genuinely good on so many levels.
This book caught me in a complicated time of my life, so my opinion might be a little biased. Still, it was a valuable companion and it helped me, so I will try to write something coherent.
I loved the previous books in Kushiel's series. Three years have passed since I read the last one, but it was not hard to remember the characters, the places and the story as I was beggining this one. Some years have passed since "Kushiel's Avatar" and here we have a new narrator, Imriel, son of Phèdre's and Terre d'Ange greatest enemy, Melisande Sharizai.
It is, essentially, a book about coming of age and growing up, with political intrigue, travel, adventure and sensuality. I didn't find Imriel's voice as compelling as Phèdre's, but he is still a good character, with a lot of dark spots in his personality.
Jacqueline Carey manages, once again, to write a book where you care about every character and relish in meeting again the old characters you love (although they are absent in almost half of the book).
So, I enjoyed returning to this world, but the last 1/3 of the book - the siege - really bored me most of the time. It seemed nothing relevant was happening, at least nothing important to the great scheme of things. And hence the 3 stars. Still, I'm looking forward to know what will happen next.
Une superbe lecture qui ne passe pas loin du coup de cœur :) Avec cette suite, on change de personnage narrateur mais il est tout autant, voire plus attachant que Phèdre dans la première trilogie. Par contre, ses aventuriers sont un poil moins palpitantes que celles dans Kushiel, même si j’ai adoré suivre ce récit de vie, d’un personnage meurtri qui tente de surmonter ses traumas. Je passe à côté du coup de cœur à cause d’un gros pan du roman vers la fin qui traine en longueur (200 pages ?) et qui n’apporte pas grand chose à l’intrigue, vraiment dommage. Mais je lirai la suite sans aucun doute :)
If you're not familiar with Jacqueline Carey and her Kushiel's Legacy series, which is steadily approaching epic proportions.... well, let it suffice to say that if you're not familiar with it, you should be. The series is filled with everything that makes fantasy so great; an sub-alternate world that parallels our own wonderfully, a great historical feel, well-rounded characters, political intrigue, great scenery, epic travels, wonderful costumes, deep emotions, quests o which the fates of nations depend...
Carey manages to do it all. I've found that, in fantasy, it's easy to overwhelm the reader with all of this, something which Carey luckily doesn't do. She has always, for me, managed to hit the jackpot by pacing that incredibly thin line between epicness and humanity/humility in her characters. Some have argued that her prose is too description-and-adjective-heavy. I myself disagree and would much prefer descriptive prose to minimalistic prose, at least in fantasy, and even if her sentences sound a little loaded sometimes, for me that just adds to the feel of the book and makes it even easier for myself to lose myself in it.
That being said, I have to say that Kushiel's Scion is a lesser sister among its marvelous Kushiel's Legacy siblings. Most of this has to do with the fact that I am completely utterly in love with Phedre (for the uninitiated, Phedre was the narrator and main character of the first three Kushiel's Legacy novels - the next three, of which Kushiel's Scion is the first - are narrated by prince Imriel. Phedre still plays a part, but only a small one). She is my favourite fantasy novel character ever and I deeply regret having to say goodbye to her narrating.
But of course, there are many redeeming qualities to Kushiel's Scion as well - Imriel's inner struggle, the lovely, student-y, riot-y vibe of Tiberium, the character of Lucius and his later transformation-and-back into Gallus Tadius (I especially loved that), Master Piero and the way he thinks, Canis the mysterious philosopher-beggar... And most of all, the thing I've always loved most about Carey's novels; how she makes you care about every single character, because every single character is well-rounded; how every one of them is incredibly human with good and bad in a somewhat equal distribution - how even the smaller side-characters, like the widow Anna or Brigitta or Romuald or Helena feel real to you. How Carey always makes you feel like behind every story, around every corner, is another story waiting to be told and that the one she tells is only a facet of the full picture, yet an incredibly fulfilling and beautiful facet.
After the Phedre trilogy our dear Jacqueline Carey continues her story with the trilogy of Imriel, the son of Melisande, who has caused so many problems to our heroes so far. Together with the trilogy, we are also changing protagonist and narrator and I can say that we are changing the climate to a great extent. Because of this, we take things somewhat upside down, from a man's look and from a darker point of view.
You see the protagonist of this new trilogy has inherited some of the dark characteristics of his mother and because of the traumatic experiences of his childhood he has an intense phobia about where he can be driven if he lets his instincts free. When he reaches adolescence and the first sexual awakening, this fear becomes more intense and when the time comes to join his country's very sexually-charged society it becomes panic. The dark side of himself is more and more expressed and its culminated with the awareness of the violence of his sexuality; this, together with the news of his mother's escape, makes him very much anxious and leads him on a journey of self-discovery to which he will meet many helpers and many adventures, centered on a fantastic version of Rome.
In general we come across these elements that dominated the first trilogy. Complex psychological analyses, tenderness, emotionality, intense sensualism that culminates in very lively erotic scenes, travel to a world that looks like ours but is totally different and in some places enough action that offers the necessary culmination to the story. We also come across the usual elements of the plot that include aristocratic intrigues, dangerous political games, travel to search for revealing information, and more. The problem, however, with this first book is that there is not enough coherence between these elements and history in general. That is, we pass from one stage to another without any obvious connecting element, and the final culmination, although very exciting, is an event completely independent of everything written until then.
I did not like the latter and this somewhat lessened the delight that the otherwise very good book, the beautiful writing, the very interesting characters and the nice game with the real story, gave me. Of course I am satisfied again, I just wait for something more in the continuation of the story that I think it will be interesting.
Μετά την τριλογία της Φαίδρας η αγαπητή μας Jacqueline Carey συνεχίζει την ιστορία της με την τριλογία του Imriel, του γιου της Melisande που προκάλεσε τόσα πολλά προβλήματα στους ήρωες μας ως τώρα. Μαζί με την τριλογία αλλάζουμε και πρωταγωνιστή και αφηγητή και μπορώ να πω ότι αλλάζουμε και κλίμα σε αρκετά μεγάλο βαθμό. Εξαιτίας αυτού του γεγονότος παίρνουμε τα πράγματα κάπως ανάποδα, από την ανδρική ματιά και από μία πιο σκοτεινή οπτική γωνία.
Βλέπετε ο πρωταγωνιστής αυτής της νέας τριλογίας έχει κληρονομήσει κάποια από τα σκοτεινά χαρακτηριστικά της μητέρας του και εξαιτίας των τραυματικών βιωμάτων της παιδικής του ηλικίας έχει μία έντονη φοβία για το πού μπορεί να οδηγηθεί άμα αφήσει τα ένστικτά του ελεύθερα. Όταν, μάλιστα, φτάνει στην εφηβεία και στο πρώτο σεξουαλικό ξύπνημα αυτός ο φόβος γίνεται εντονότερος κι όταν έρχεται η στιγμή να ενταχθεί στην ιδιαίτερα σεξουαλικά φορτισμένη κοινωνία της χώρας του μετατρέπεται σε πανικό. Η σκοτεινή μεριά του εαυτού του εκδηλώνεται όλο και συχνότερα με αποκορύφωμα τη συνειδητοποίηση της βιαιότητας της σεξουαλικότητας του, αυτό μαζί με την είδηση τις αποδράσεις της μητέρας του τον προβληματίζουν στον μέγιστο βαθμό και τον οδηγεί σε ένα ταξίδι ανακάλυψης του εαυτού του στο οποίο θα συναντήσει αρκετούς βοηθούς και πολλές περιπέτειες, με επίκεντρο μία φανταστική εκδοχή της Ρώμης.
Σε γενικές γραμμές συναντάμε αυτά τα στοιχεία που κυριαρχούσαν στην πρώτη τριλογία. Μεγάλες ψυχολογικές αναλύσεις, τρυφερότητα, συναισθηματισμό, έντονο αισθησιασμό που κορυφώνεται σε πολύ δυνατές ερωτικές σκηνές, ταξίδια σε έναν κόσμο που μοιάζει με το δικό μας αλλά είναι εντελώς διαφορετικός και σε κάποια σημεία αρκετή δράση που προσφέρει την απαραίτητη κορύφωση. Επίσης συναντάμε και τα συνηθισμένα στοιχεία της πλοκής που περιλαμβάνουν ίντριγκες της αριστοκρατίας, επικίνδυνα πολιτικά παιχνίδια, ταξίδια προς αναζήτηση αποκαλυπτικών στοιχείων και άλλα. Το πρόβλημα, όμως, με αυτό το πρώτο βιβλίο είναι ότι δεν υπάρχει αρκετή συνοχή μεταξύ αυτών των στοιχείων και της ιστορίας γενικότερα. Δηλαδή περνάμε από το ένα στάδιο στο άλλο χωρίς κάποιο εμφανές συνδετικό στοιχείο και η τελική κορύφωση, αν και ιδιαίτερα συναρπαστική, είναι ένα γεγονός εντελώς ανεξάρτητο με οτιδήποτε γράφτηκε ως τότε.
Αυτό το τελευταίο δεν μου άρεσε και μείωσε κάπως την απόλαυση που μου πρόσφερε το κατά τα άλλα πολύ καλό βιβλίο, με την όμορφη γραφή, τους πολύ ενδιαφέροντες χαρακτήρες και το ωραίο παιχνίδι με την πραγματική ιστορία. Φυσικά δηλώνω ικανοποιημένος για άλλη μία φορά, απλά περιμένω κάτι ακόμα στη συνέχεια που πιστεύω ότι θα είναι ενδιαφέρουσα.
This is the first book of the second trilogy in the Kushiel’s Legacy series, so I can’t really avoid spoilers (although I don’t think there are major ones in my review... but tread carefully if you’re interested in reading these books)! But what I will say first is that I really enjoy Carey’s style of writing, although admittedly she has a tendency to be very repetitive at points; some phrases – e.g. “fox-brown eyes” – cropped up far too often. Anyway, even when not a huge amount was happening in the story, I was still captivated by her lush prose. The first-person style is like Phèdre’s from the first trilogy, in that Carey makes good use of short sentences to keep the pace going and there’s a similar pensiveness to the narration. However, Imriel is still his own person, and I enjoyed seeing his growth throughout the book.
A large part of the story focuses on Imriel growing up, from a child at the beginning to a man of 18 years. Throughout, he’s trying to find his sense of self and what it means to be good, as he struggles with the horrors in his past, the betrayals by his infamous mother, and the dark desires resulting from his Kusheline blood.
There is definitely still mystery and courtly intrigue in Imriel’s life as there was in Phèdre’s, but the stakes don’t seem quite as high. There were revelations here and there though, and I’m excited to see how they play out in the remaining two books. My friend @allthepagesturn on Instagram really enjoyed those recently, so I’m particularly excited to try them!
I always have high expectations for Carey's novels and this one did not disappoint. She has a way with prose that is flowing and delicate without being purple. Every word makes sense and feels like it is placed with precision and care. I usually skim over erotic segments in literature and begin to feel awkward, but the way Carey writes sexual encounters is written with meaning and purpose and is often so tender and considerate that you might even find yourself tearing up. Overall, I really enjoyed the book even though I found the final 1/3 a bit tedious - this definitely feels like it is setting up the characters for the rest of the trilogy.
I surprisingly enjoyed this much more than I thought I would.
Although not as wonderful as I remember the Phedre trilogy being, this story - in its own right - is just as intriguing. I know many people have complained that it's not what they were expecting, that Imriel isn't as great a narrator as Phedre. Perhaps they are right. I know after I finished Kushiel's Avatar, the thought of reading Scion felt like a betrayal. I bought the book, but I couldn't bring myself to actually read it. It took over a year (1.5yrs, to be exact) until I finally did.
I'm glad I waited. I was able to look at this book in a whole new light, without Phedre's voice in the back of my mind. I think this gave me the advantage of looking at Imriel's voice as his own, rather than a Phedre let down.
Definitely a bit softcore compared to Phedre's trilogy, but that is to be expected. Imriel isn't an anguisette, he isn't one of the highest paid courtesans in all the realm. He is, however, a traitor's son, third in line for the throne, with Kushiel's blood in his veins. His dark history in Darsanga combined with Kushiel's heritage is what I think makes him a character I want to read about. He is NOTHING like Phedre, and I can appreciate that.
There are some new characters I grew to love - Eamonn, Mavros, and Alais.
I've noticed one feeling which holds strong in all of the novels: no matter where Phedre or Imriel travel, the greatest voyage for me is when they return home. I absolutely ADORE Terre d'Ange, and I almost feel as homesick as they do as the book nears its end. I felt this heavily in Scion, possibly because I was dying to return to Phedre and Joscelin, to see what they were up to while Imriel was away.
Basically, I loved this. Maybe not to the standard I loved Avatar, but definitely in its own right.
I'd wondered if Jacqueline Carey would be writing any more in her Kushiel universe, and was thrilled to find that she's continued in a new trilogy centering on Imriel de la Courcel.
I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. This book begins a new trilogy, one that blends with the previous storyline while forging ahead and making the reader love Imriel just as we've loved Phèdre. It's a treat to see this new perspective on life, and I found myself just as engaged with Imriel's story and character despite our difference in gender. Carey is a wonderful writer, and I can see how the next book will bring us even more heart-wrenching adventures that pain us in just the right way.
Once again, Carey made me forget that I have a toddler at home who doesn't care if I didn't go to sleep until 4:30am reading this book. I am an idiot - but I had a great time reading this continuation of the Kushiel series. Instead of Phaedre, the series focuses on Imriel. He's a bit annoying at times, but who isn't when they're young? I am always amazed at how much stuff Carey crams into her books and I look forward to reading the rest.
I'm glad to be back in this world. I really liked Kushiel's Scion and the point of view of Imriel. It was a bit slow moving in some places. The plot is epic, the world building is fantastic and the romance is surprising. Four stars and a highly recommended read!
I've tried starting this one before and didn't have much luck. For some reason I had better luck this time and I'm glad I did. A story about love, and a little slice of what I wish the world was more like.
As with the Phedre trilogy, the Imriel one appears to be in the same vein: epic fantasy at its finest and all that comes with it in politics, war, intrigue, but also a theme that is often overlooked or simply left out of fantasy - love, in its trademark Carey fashion.