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Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Mercy (2008)

by Jacqueline Carey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Imriel Trilogy (3), Kushiel's Legacy (6)

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1,421385,316 (4.15)58



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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Note: While this is Book 6 in Kushiel’s Legacy (also referred to as the Terre D’Ange Cycle) it is Book 3 in the second trilogy and focuses on Imriel de la Courcel, who we met in Book 3 of the first trilogy, Kushiel’s Avatar. Kushiel’s Mercy is best read as part of the second trilogy, if not as Book 6 in the larger series, since there are plenty of characters and situations referred to from the previous books.

Imriel de la Courcel, a Prince of the Blood, and Sidonie de la Courcel, Terre D’Ange’s princess and next in line to the throne, are in love. This doesn’t sit well with much of the realm because Imriel’s estranged birth mother, Melisande Shahrizai, betrayed the nation a generation ago. Imriel and Sidonie are faced with a difficult choice: Bring Melisande to justice or Sidonie will not inherit the throne. After beginning their search for Melisande in earnest, an unlikely city nation, Carthage, comes with luxurious gifts, promises of alliance, and an apparently heartfelt hope that Sidonie will consider their General Astegal for marriage. Things do not go as expected, for anyone.

This historical fantasy is another beautiful addition to the Terre D’Ange cycle. Through the adventures of Imriel and Sidonie, we learn more about this alternate world Carey has created. Carthage is a budding empire, rich in gold and gems but also dependent on slavery. General Astegal comes off as a very charming man, willing to bend to Terre D’Ange’s way of things when it comes to love; for instance, he wouldn’t be in a miff if Sidonie decided to have a harem of pretty young men. The other culture that really stood out for me was the Euskerri, which is akin to the Basque. Deeply proud and also demanding equality from their two neighboring countries – Terre D’Ange and Aragonia.

In the previous books, there has been some magic, though much of it is left up to the reader’s interpretation. In this novel, the magic is direct and has immediate consequences. Even though this is a reread for me, I always find myself surprised by how not subtle the magic component is in this story, as compared to the previous books. So how do you fight strong magic when you only have a passing experience with it? That is something that Imriel and Sidonie will have to figure out, though I do like all the hints that Elua, Terre D’Ange’s primary deity, may be giving them a hand. The magic does follow certain rules, which I liked, though it was quite the trial for Imriel to figure out what those rules were.

There’s plenty of adventure and sneaking about in this story. Imriel must make alliances with the most unlikely of people to even make a solid attempt to not only rescue Sidonie but the entire capitol of Terre D’Ange, the City of Elua. Indeed, spying, misdirection, and disguises make up a good part of the book. I think it was hardest on Imriel to deceive his beloved foster parents, Phedre and Joscelin. There’s some pretty intense scenes that had me holding my breath! Also, those scenes with Barquiel L’Enver, a man who has disliked Imriel since he was born, were quite worthy.

Sidonie really shines in this book. Even with everything told through Imriel’s eyes, Sidonie had some tough decisions to make and was at the center of some dangerous situations. Carey has this magical way of writing female characters behaving in feminine ways and still getting important stuff done. While Imriel is the character that carried me forward in this story, there’s a strong argument for Sidonie being that star of the story.

Each time we think our heroes have found the key to winning the day, there’s another twist or another spell or another hurdle or another bad guy that must be vanquished. One of the hardest things about this was that sometimes they had to find a way to sneak past, trick, or even fight friends and family that were ensnared in the magic. My poor nails! I was biting my nails too often with this story!

As with the series, there are incredible sex scenes that range from playful to desperate to healing to sad to joyful. Carey is just as detailed in her love scenes as she is with her use of cultures and linguistics. I always enjoy these scenes because they reveal something further about the characters.

The ending was well done. I was very satisfied that things were not easy to unravel and iron out. Not everyone gets everything they want. There’s plenty to be forgiven all around. Still, it was beautiful and satisfying.

The Narration: Simon Vance does this final book in Imriel’s trilogy justice. He had to take on further accents as our heroes experienced new cultures. There were also plenty of complicated emotions and intense scenes and Vance did a great job capturing the subtleties of those emotions in his voice work. Also, he did a fantastic job with the sex scenes. ( )
  DabOfDarkness | Nov 30, 2016 |
My favourite book in this series, this was an amazing story! Oh Miss Carey, sometimes the scope of your imagination makes me dissolve into a teary eyed, babbling creature. When Imriel had to go to a faraway land to make Sidonie fall in love with him all over again in a different skin with no memory of her ties to him due to an evil enchantment, that was... truly EPIC! Hugely recommended series! What a couple... ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |

An excellent conclusion to the second trilogy of Carey's sequence of alternate history books, in which Imriel, the narrator, and his lover Sidonie, the heiress to the throne which his mother attempted to subvert, must deal with identity-changing sorcery and foreign domination, while sorting out geopolitical conflict at the same time. There is a bit more kinky sex than in the previous two books in this trilogy, though still nothing like as much as in the first trilogy. Instead, Carey is very effective in portraying her central characters' deep relationship and the challenge it poses to the state where they live. But just when you think you know where the book is going to go, with potentally a brutal resolution to the story of Imriel's mother, she takes us in a completely unexpected direction - Cyprus, Carthage and Catalonia, with a side order of the Basque Country. I found the Basque bit a little bolted on and geographically inconsistent, but the rest of it is all great fun and a worthy finish. ( )
  nwhyte | Sep 12, 2015 |
Okay. I wish it was a continuation of Phedre's story. Sighs. ( )
  evagordon | Apr 17, 2014 |
Summary: Imriel de la Courcel, son of Melisande Shahrizai, the greatest traitor Terre d'Ange has ever known, now stands third in line for the throne. That fact makes his relationship with Sidonie, the heir to Queen Ysandre, quite inconvenient. Most people believe that it is a sham, that Imriel is making a bid for power, but Imriel and Sidonie have denied Elua's precept of "love as thou wilt" before, to disastrous consequences, and they are not willing to be separated again. Ysandre has decreed that she sanction their union only if Imriel can find his mother and bring her to justice, otherwise Sidonie risks being disinherited. But once again, circumstances intervene, and an envoy from Carthage comes secretly bearing dire magics that leave Imriel mad and Sidonie taken off to foreign lands, believing herself to be the willing bride of another. And now Imriel must sacrifice everything, down to the deepest core of his being, if he wants to rescue her and save his homeland from the delusions that are tearing it apart.

Review: I have said before, many times (many many times), how amazing Jacqueline Carey's writing is, how incredible her characters are, how rich her worldbuilding is, how much I love Phèdre and Joscelin and Imriel and Terre d'Ange and the Kushiel books and just about everything to do with this series. In fact, my saying as much usually takes the form of a very caps-lock-y "OH MY GODS YOU GUYS THESE BOOKS ARE SO AMAZING WHY AM I ONLY READING THEM NOW EVERYONE I KNOW SHOULD BE READING THEM IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE EEEEEEEE! SO GOOD!" And this book didn't let me down on any of those fronts, so rather than spending paragraphs of this review in fangirly squee-ing mode, let's just take all of that as a given, shall we? Splendid.

So, some particular things I liked about this book. Carey's very good about plotting long, epic books that each have satisfying and relatively stand-alone plot arcs but also function as part of a greater whole. This installment, like all of the others, had plenty of twists and turns, and complications, and details that muddy up the waters just when you think you see where things are going to go. This book in particular did a nice job of dealing with the idea of the sins of previous generations being visited upon the next generation, and of having to deal with your past, even when it's not of your own making, before you can embrace your future. I also absolutely loved the way that this book played with the ideas of personality and memory and free will and identity, and how all of those things interact, and the various ways each of those could be subverted, and the effects that it would have. (And although the overriding theme is essentially "true love conquers all", I definitely appreciated that true love didn't conquer all without a fair number of struggles. If all it took was Imriel and Sidonie meeting each other again and they instantly fell into each other's arms with all of the magic dissolved, I'd have been pretty disappointed, but Carey's much more subtle than that.)

Overall, this book does an very nice job with bringing not only Imriel's trilogy, but also the Kushiel series as a whole to a satisfying conclusions. There are a couple of exceptions, and they're the reason I'm docking this book half a star, and they both have to do with my expectations that were fostered in previous books that didn't quite pan out in this one. And those things are: Melisande and the Unseen Guild. Especially in Kushiel's Scion, it's made out to seem like the Unseen Guild is going to have some huge role to play in the climax of the series, and they're mentioned a bit in the beginning of this book, but it winds up sort of fizzling out and becoming a non-starter. Secondly, I was hoping there was going to be a last bit with Melisande. She shows up again in this book, and she's instrumental in driving parts of the plot forward, but - like with the Unseen Guild - I was expecting her to have a more pivotal role in the climax. She also seems to have mellowed a bit since she's gotten older, and to some extent I buy that - there are some nice scenes between her and Imriel involving Elua's precept - but I was expecting her to have at least a little of her old spark, some final scheme or machination that came in to play at the end, but there just... wasn't.

But, to be fair, on the whole, I was so busy enjoying all of the elements that *were* there that I didn't really bother too much over the few that I thought there should have been but weren't. This series was amazing, and I'm already torn between picking up Carey's newer books, or starting a re-read of the Phèdre books. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Don't start with the last book, but the Kushiel books (either the Imriel books or the series as a whole) are so amazingly good, and rich, and absorbing, and wonderfully written, and full of amazing characters, that if you like grown-up epic fantasy, you should definitely be reading them. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Nov 27, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jacqueline Careyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There are people in my country who have never traveled beyond the boundaries of Terre d'Ange.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 044661016X, Mass Market Paperback)

Having learned a lesson about thwarting the will of the gods, Imriel and Sidonie publicly confess their affair, only to see the country boil over in turmoil. Younger generations, infatuated by their heart-twisting, star-crossed romance, defend the couple. Many others cannot forget the betrayals of Imriel's mother, Melisande, who plunged their country into a bloody war that cost the lives of their fathers, brothers, and sons.

To quell the unrest, Ysandre, the queen, sets her decree. She will not divide the lovers, yet neither will she acknowledge them. If they marry, Sidonie will be disinherited, losing her claim on the throne. There's only one way they can truly be together. Imriel must perform an act of faith: search the world for his infamous mother and bring her back to Terre d'Ange to be executed for treason.

Facing a terrible choice, Imriel and Sidonie prepare ruefully for another long separation. But when a dark foreign force casts a shadow over Terre d'Ange and all the surrounding countries, their world is turned upside down, alliances of the unlikeliest kind are made, and Imriel and Sidonie learn that the god Elua always puts hearts together apurpose.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:43 -0400)

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Having paid dearly for ignoring Elua's edict to love as thou wilt, Imriel and Sidonie have finally come forward to publicly confess their love for each other--only to watch the news ignite turmoil throughout the land. Those who are old enough cannot forget the misdeeds of Imriel's mother, Melisande, whose self-serving lies plunged their country into war. In order to quell the uprising, Queen Ysandre hands down a decree: she will not divide the lovers, but neither will she acknowledge them. And if they decide to marry, Sidonie will be disinherited. That is, unless Imriel can find his mother and bring her back to Terre D'Ange to be executed for treason....… (more)

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