The OF Blog: Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey

As occasionally happens, I get an advance copy of this or that speculative fiction novel. The ones that I enjoy, ones that I don't mind recommending to other people, I tend to review on the Blog or at Below is the review of Jacqueline Carey's return to her Kushiel series. The book will be widely available on June 12, 2006. Enjoy!

Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey

Thanks to Warner Books and Pat5150, I had the pleasure of reading Jacqueline Carey's forthcoming Kushiel novel. Kushiel's Scion is a return to the world made popular by Carey's Kushiel's Avatar series, which featured the courtesan/spy/ambassador character of Phedre no Delaunay. This new novel features many of the characters from the previous trilogy, but there is a new Point of View character, Imriel no Montreve de la Courcel. For fans of the first trilogy, Imriel will be no stranger. He is the 3rd in line to the throne of Terre d'Ange and the son of two of the realm's greatest traitors of all time, Melisande Shahrizai and Benedicte de la Courcel.

For those unfamiliar with Carey's novels, the setting is an alternate reality/history with many fantasy elements. The maps, most of the histories, and the cultures, are recognizable from our own Medieval and Renaissance. When Jesus (Yeshua) was crucified by the Romans (Tiberium), a drop of his blood, mixed with Mary Magdeline's tears and the dirt of the earth. From this combination was born Elua, blood of the One God and of the Earth. Elua was rejected by God, and he was sent to wander the earth. Elua was joined by several angels in his wanderings. Eventually, Elua and the companions settled in what we know as France, coupling freely with the residents, and creating a people with the mixed-blood of both angels and humans. The resulting generations of Terre d'Ange were graced with more than human beauty and artistic skill. The defining tenant of Terre d'Ange is Elua's teaching to "Love as thou will."

It takes a while for Carey to create a distinct feel for this fourth Kushiel novel, but it isn't time wasted. The first parts of the novel create a distinct sense of character and place, connecting with the events of the previous series while developing a distinct new point of view for Imriel. The novel is once again written in a narrow first person narrative, that allows greater access to Imriel as well as making a more distinct link for the reader with the story. Carey handles the style and the unfolding of the story with her characteristic deftness and certain talent.

The arc of this story is self-contained enough that it is an enjoyable stand-alone novel. That being said, Kushiel's Scion builds upon the stories and events of the previous trilogy. The characters, plots, histories, intrigues, and scope of the created world all tie together to create a bigger picture. This new novel is best read after the Kushiel's Legacy series, which began with Kushiel's Dart, as it reveals and continues plot elements that were already in play at the beginning of that first novel. As such, Carey places new pieces to this elegant puzzle with her latest novel.

The novel begins with the disappearance of Melisande Shahrizai from a foreign temple where she had been granted santuary from the conviction of being a traitor and sentenced to death. With Melisande free, the safety of Terre d'Ange and the royal family is certainly in question. The following story is that of Imriel's coming of age in trying times and situations. It's also the story of a young man coming to terms with his own history, the urges of his heritage, both of blood and of his parents' past deeds. In all things, Carey manages to create a fresh return to her Kushiel world.

While the Kushiel novels might not be pushing all the boundries of modern fantasy, it does provide an interestingly layered look into characters. In a world of sex, art, and politics, there are many shades of grey to every one of Carey's characters. The result is a rich world, with interesting and often deeply woven plots. Most importantly, the novel is entertaining, enticing, and an enjoyable read.

In Carey's words in a recent interview, Kushiel's Scion is about "Angst! Sex! Adventure! Intrigue! Philosophy!" It certainly doesn't disappoint. I happily recommend this latest novel by Jacqueline Carey, and also Carey's first novel Kushiel's Dart as a good place to start for those who have yet to read the Kushiel novels.

Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey available June 12, 2006

For those interested in reading a recent interview Pat5150 and I conducted with Jacqueline Carey, it can be found on Pat's Blog... HERE

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