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

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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 |
It's odd to think how much I love the first trilogy and how much I struggled with the second trilogy. They're different kinds of stories, really, I think. The first trilogy definitely has love in it, and to some degree, magic, but there's also a lot of heroism-in-unlikely-places and politics. Politics and heroism definitely have their place in the second trilogy, but love and magic hold centre-stage. I wasn't expecting it. Another issue is that Imriel is a less mature hero than Phèdre, and his trilogy covers shorter spans of time.

The plot is definitely Jacqueline Carey all over, but Sidonie and Imriel just don't carry it as well as Phèdre and Joscelin, for me. All the same, I enjoyed it quite a lot, when I didn't stall with reading it. I think it's best to just bear in mind that it's a different kind of story. And that Imriel isn't Phèdre -- where Phèdre opens doors with her body, Imriel has to wait and chafe, and that carries through to the reader, I think!

In terms of this book alone, it definitely brings the trilogy to an amazing finish. The very last chapter made me grin and clap my hands. A lot of the events of the book are painful -- Jacqueline Carey, once again, spares the readers nothing. I think it's partly my hatred of lying/deceit/seeing people being deceived that makes this book very hard to read. There's a lot of that.

In terms of characters, Phèdre and Joscelin are unimpressive, in this book, for plot reasons. It makes me uncomfortable to see them so wrong, for once. I know they're spell bound, but I also feel like somehow they should doubt, somehow they should realise Imriel is right... Melisande is also another interesting point. It feels odd seeing her with much less ambition, content, mellowed out some by motherhood. I don't really like the point it makes about motherhood, in one sense. It shouldn't make you "soft". But I also like that she was redeemed somewhat.

I definitely liked this trilogy, even though I stalled with it, but my feelings are much more conflicted than with the first trilogy, and I don't think I'll be taking it up to reread very soon. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Taut plotting, engaging characters. This is the 6th book in the Kushieline series, and I think it suffers from some credulity-straining plot devices. There's adventure and intrigue, certainly, along with true love and steamy sex but there are also fairly good-sized holes in the story and some inconsistencies that hurt. It's so Byzantine that I'm reluctant to go into any detail for fear of spoilers, but Melisande is back, her beauty undimmed. I recommend this with reservations to those of you who have read and loved the first five books. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
very interesting twist that brings a whole new area of that world and culture into focus ( )
  Guide2 | Oct 3, 2011 |
Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey is the third volume of the trilogy featuring Imriel nó Montrève de la Courcel as the protagonist. Or, depending on how you want to count it, the novel is the sixth volume in Carey's series Kushiel's Legacy. Regardless, it is an ending point. I've been reading Kushiel's Legacy from the beginning and I love the books. The series has gained a devoted following and many of the individual volumes have been nominated for and have won various awards and honors. Kushiel's Mercy was first published in 2008, so I'm a few years behind in my reading. I've been taking my time with the series. The books are fairly lengthy, and while the second trilogy's style is less flowery than the first's, there is still quite a bit going on. It was only a matter of time before I got around to reading Kushiel's Mercy, and now I have.

After taking revenge on the person responsible for his wife Dorelei's murder in Alba, Imriel is able to return to Terre d'Ange and the woman he loves with all his soul--Sidonie, the heir to the throne. There are many people in the realm who are unhappy with this situation. Because Imriel is the son of Terre d'Ange's greatest traitor, many suspect his motivations and believe his desire to be impure. Imriel and Sidonie know better. However, in order to prove his intentions to the Queen and the peerage, and in order to be officially recognized as Sidonie's husband, Imriel is ordered to bring his mother to justice. Imriel has not had much happiness in his life, and he is willing to do what he must in order to keep it and the woman he loves. But before he can, Terre d'Ange falls victim to the schemes of Carthage and he must confront a foe even more dangerous than his mother.

It has been wonderful to watch Imriel grow and change ever since his introduction in Kushiel's Avatar and as the protagonist of his own trilogy (Kushiel's Scion, Kushiel's Justice, Kushiel's Mercy). He used to be defined by those around him--his traitorous mother, his heroic foster parents--but in Kushiel's Mercy he has finally become his own person. Imriel has matured greatly throughout Kushiel's Legacy; he now knows who he is and what he wants, and he is willing to fight for his own sake. One of the things that I love about Carey's Kushiel books is that the characters' sexuality is integral to who they are as people and is important to their development. The sex isn't just there to be there (although I'm okay with that, too) but it's an important part of the story for a reason.

I'll admit, there were some aspects of Kushiel's Mercy that I was hesitant about, particularly the prominence of arcane magic in the story. Honestly, I felt a little cheated. At least at first. Terre d'Ange doesn't really have a tradition of arcane magic. Although divine gifts and abilities have always played a part in Kushiel's Legacy, arcane magic's role has always been fairly limited up until now. But by the end of Kushiel's Mercy, Carey had convinced me that the incorporation of arcane magic into her world was the correct one. The story that she wanted to tell couldn't have been told in any other way. However, what probably impressed me most about Kushiel's Mercy, was how skillfully Carey not only ties together Imriel's trilogy but the entire Kushiel cycle as a whole. I found Kushiel's Mercy to be an extremely satisfying ending, but I still look forward to reading the next trilogy as well.

Experiments in Reading ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Aug 25, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jacqueline Careyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:45 -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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