Friday, July 25, 2008

Kushiel's Mercy (Book #70)

For the past several years, Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series has been among my favorite reads. It's epic fantasy, but atypical in being written in first person and having quite a bit of sex. It hits all my epic sweet spots--big stories, big stakes, characters you get to know well and care about over the course of multiple 700-page doorstops of books. And I love the way Carey plays with real history, creating echoes but not quite duplicates of our world.

Kushiel's Mercy (2008) is the final book in the second trilogy. The hero/narrator, Imriel de la Courcel, son of traitors and foster-son of heroes, has to prove his worthiness to wed his kinswoman Sidonie, Dauphine of Terre D'Ange. The queen orders him to find his missing mother and bring her back to Terre D'Ange for justice, but other threats intervene.

I enjoyed the book, and I hope the loose ends here and there mean we haven't seen the last of this world. I'd love to see a trilogy featuring Sidonie's sister Alais having adventures in Alba, for example. But I thought Mercy suffered a bit from being in first person, which I'd considered a strength of earlier outings in the series. There were sections in the second act where it felt like the main action was hundreds of miles away from Imriel, and rather than adding to the suspense, it frustrated me. I would've liked to see what was going on from Alais' eyes, or Drustan's, or Barquiel L'Envers'. (Speaking of L'Envers, I think I can say without introducing spoilers that I was delighted to be proven right about him.)

In general, a solid end to a strong series.

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