Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Mercy is the final instalment of Imriel’s trilogy and brings to a conclusion the story of Imriel and Sidonie. As we’ve come to expect from Carey Kushiel’s Mercy is packed with great world building, evocative writing and strong story telling.
Imriel and Sidonie have both come to realise that their love cannot be denied, the Gods will not allow it and having announced their love for each other the country is torn between those that remember all too well the atrocities caused by the treachery of Melisande and think that Imriel is foremost his mother’s son and those that want to embrace the romanticism of the pair. Ysandre decrees that should the young lovers pursue their idea of marriage Sidonie will be disinherited and no longer next in line for the throne. The solution, Imriel is to seek out his mother Melisande and return her to Terra D’Ange where she will face execution as a traitor.
I won’t elaborate on the plot too much as there are a few twists here and there and I don’t want to ruin them but the story goes in a completely different direction than I anticipated and rather than centring on the search for Melisande it becomes instead a story of dark magic, a nation ensorcelled and a search for magic talisman’s that will lift the curse.
So, instead, a brief discussion on other feelings that this final book raised for me.
I thought the story was very clever although I was surprised at the level of magic used as it seemed a lot stronger than in previous novels which have barely skimmed the magical pool. I admit that in relation to the actual effects on the people of the City I was dubious and had a number of niggles but setting those aside enabled me to enjoy the plot. It was really interesting to return to Terra D’Ange and see the effects that the magic had wrought on some of our favourite characters! I admit that it was difficult to read in some respects.
In terms of the other characters. We have the introduction of a new pov. Leander is one of Melisande’s spies and winds up becoming a main pov character for a few of the chapters. It was really intriguing to be inside his head particularly given his role (which I will remain mysterious about as it would be a spoiler) but I have to credit Carey here with pulling off a completely different feel of character.
Astegal is the main bad guy of the piece. I found this character a little bit weak if I’m going to be totally honest maybe, that’s just because in terms of being a scheming manipulator he really isn’t a patch on Melisdande. In fact because of the success of the first three books, and in particular the main characters, this series was always, for me, going to struggle a little. That being said though, after a little bit of a shaky start to the series, I did end up finding it very entertaining. Carey is just a wonderful story teller and I think in terms of making this a love story, and more to the point star crossed lovers, it was always going to appeal to some people more than others. Phèdre and Joscelin love each other but the focus of their stories was not the love they had for each other whereas this series centres quite strongly on Imriel and Sidonie and their almost impossible love affair.
I think the side of this story that I enjoyed the most was the meeting between Melisande and Imriel. It felt like I’d been anticipating this for such a long time that I wondered whether Carey would manage to pull the scene off. I think she did. Melisande has got to be one of the best villains around. To be honest I wished that she’d played a bigger role in the story but even as it was I did enjoy this meeting.
The other surprise for me was Barquiel L’Envers and the role that he played in Imriel’s success. It was a pleasant surprise to be honest as he’d always been a little bit like the thorn in the side so it was good to see that he could be convinced of the truth of something.
Overall, I really enjoyed this series. There’s plenty going on and the writing is really good. Did I enjoy it as much as reading about Phèdre and Joscelin adventures, in fairness, no, but I’m glad I read on and I’m looking forward to the next series which I understand jumps us forward considerably and brings a new cast of characters into play.