DDog's Reviews > Kushiel's Scion

Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey
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's review
Jul 29, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: at-home, fantasy, sex, alt-hist
Read in September, 2009

When I started reading this one, Nobilis told me it was a solid 8 to the first trilogy's 9. I think I'd have to agree that Kushiel's Scion did not wow me as much as the first three, but it was still excellent. It was decidedly bizarre to be seeing the world of Terre d'Ange and its neighbors through the eyes of someone other than Phèdre, having grown accustomed to her perspective during the previous thousands of pages of story. I was worried at the beginning that Imriel would turn out to be a pale shadow of Phèdre's character and lack a true voice of his own, but I'm glad to say I was wrong. Imriel's voice emerges surely and steadily once out of the obligatory recap phase, as well as many other delightful characters.

I enjoy that Jacqueline Carey seems to be visiting different lands in turn in each book. I hope some of the next ones take us into the Chowat, Ch'in, and Bhodistan. I did want there to be more mystery in Tiberium; Imriel ends up being very preoccupied with matters other than the city itself and its culture, and I felt like we didn't see as much of the "destination" of this book as we did of Menekhet, Jebe-Barkal, Saba, Skaldi, Alba, La Serenissima, and even Drujan and Khebbel-im-Akkad in previous books. Another reviewer said that Rome is too well-known to be reinterpreted well in this style, but I think it would have been possible if we'd actually seen more of it.

The only real complaint I had about this book was that it was just a tad too slow, hence the lower rating than the first three. I found myself gauging how much remained of the book and wondering whether there would be enough story to really stretch the last 400 pages. Of course, it turned out to be there was, but I dislike that dragging sense. This book was much less fraught with intrigue in my estimation, despite the very intense revelations that were made. Very little of what was set up in the earlier parts was resolved in the later parts, and the action and intrigue there was seemed to spring out of nowhere in the last half of the book. I much more enjoyed the resolutions of the story arcs of the previous three books, where most of the set-up of each book is resolved within it but with threads extending to the next. I guess the argument could be made that this book is more about Imriel's coming-of-age than political schemes, but Kushiel's Dart was Phèdre's coming-of-age and involved plenty of intrigue.

It's hard to say; on the one hand, Imriel is not Phèdre, and that's a good thing, but on the other hand the challenges that Imriel faces in this book tend to measure up short to the challenges the main characters faced in the previous books and even to the challenges he faced himself as a child in Kushiel's Avatar; but I guess that's the point the book makes for him, which is to accept he is not his foster-parents and doesn't need to chase around the world for the high adventure that fell unwanted into their laps. Which, though a good point to make and suitable to the character Imriel becomes in this book, makes for a slower-moving and less perfectly-arced story-line.

All-in-all, though, I recommend it as an excellent read, and I'm eager for the next one.

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