Review Rerun: Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey
This review first appeared on July 15th, 2009.
Title: KUSHIEL'S SCION
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Series: this is both the fourth book of Kushiel's Legacy and the first book of what is commonly known as either the Imriel Trilogy or Treason's Heir. I think the latter is much cooler.
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group
Publication Year: 2006
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All Imriel no Montreve de la Courcel wants is to be left alone. He's happy with his adopted family, and would be glad to spend his life free from court intrigue. The people of Terre d'Ange aren't so willing to accept the son of their country's most infamous traitors, though, and as Imriel grows to manhood, he faces increasing pressure from those who fear he share his mother's monarchic ambitions. Desperate to escape his past, Imriel heads to Tiberium and its fabled university in search of a life of his own.
When I reviewed KUSHIEL'S AVATAR oh-so-many months ago, I mentioned that I had initially hoped Jacqueline Carey would become, for me, an author of Robin Hobb-like proportions. I wanted to lose myself in her chunksters with nary a complaint. I wanted to engage in turgid bouts of wretched sobbing. I wanted to come this close to giving myself a heart attack as I read.
And now she's done it, fully and completely. I LOVED THIS BOOK.
I know I'm in the minority here, but I found Imriel a far more compelling protagonist than Phedre. I engaged with him straight off. I worried about him, I cried for him, and I have no doubt he'll stay with me for a long time to come. Hell, I'm even considering giving him a place among my almost-but-not-quite favourite characters, pending my reaction to the next two books, and y'all know I am reluctant as all hell to expand my favourites (and near-favourites) lists.
I've thought about it an awful lot over the past few days, and here's what it boils down to: KUSHIEL'S SCION is Imriel's story. I found the first three books a sometimes uneven mix of Phedre's Story and Things Happening To Other People With Phedre As Witness, and it bothered me. I like big, sweeping epics as much as the next girl, but I read primarily for character and I did sometimes find that Carey's big, epic plots got in Phedre's way. That's not at all the case with Imriel. KUSHIEL'S SCION is utterly character driven; and, what's more, it's personal. Yes, there are big things going on, and said big things necessitate lots of travel of the sort that seems designed to show off Carey's gorgeously realized alternate world. But none of the external stuff takes away from Imriel. He's very much at the heart of everything that happens.
His story is gorgeous, too. He wants to be good; to escape the shadow of Darsanga and prove he can live up to the example his foster parents have set--but he's terribly, horribly afraid that he can't. My heart ached for him time and again as he struggled to become the person he wanted to be. This is one of the classic stories, my dears, and I'll freely admit that it's one of my favourites. Carey deals with it very well indeed.
I'd have loved the book for that alone, but there's so much more here! I also felt a great deal for the supporting cast, particularly Alais, Mavros, Eamonn and Lucius. I loved the academia. I thought Carey's alternate Italy was glorious. The book thrilled me no end on almost every level. It gave me that wonderful feeling, deep in my chest, that I only get from books I absolutely loved. I was always eager, sometimes even desperate, to return to it.
I don't feel like I've done it justice. Suffice it to say that I could not even think of rating this below 4.5 stars, and y'all know how rare that is for me. I absolutely recommend it, though it's probably best if you start with the first trilogy so's you've got a proper feel for how Imriel's bioparents affect him.
4.5 stars - loved the hell out of it
I think I'm in love with the UK covers for this series. So. Gorgeous.
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