Title: Kushiel’s Scion
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Series: Imriel’s Trilogy #1
Rating: 5/5 stars!
The Overview: 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.
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 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… :)
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