Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey

Posted On 27 November 2016

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kushiels-mercyKushiel’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.




Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong final week

kushiels-mercyToday is the final week of our readalong for Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey.  This week  Susan at Dab of Darkness is hosting.  Beware of spoilers because they’ll be lurking.  Now, over to the Q&A.

1) We talked last week a bit about the charm Imriel put on Sidonie so she could maintain her own will. Did it work as well as you expected? Less or more? Is there anything more they could have done with these charms?
Mmm, an intriguing question.  The spell was just not of the same strength as the ensorcelling I suppose – or looked at another way it couldn’t be sustained in the face of such an overwhelming strength of support.  So many people all suffering under the same delusion – difficult to not succumb – even Durstan fell back under the spell.  Interesting that Sidonie’s will power weakened when Imriel was finally sent away and she lost her final support.  The pieces of thread that were used in the spell seemed very flimsy but Imriel was using what he knew.  I wonder if there would have been something more substantial that the spell could have used – like leather bracelets or something else – although I don’t suppose that would have made the spell any stronger.  I was thinking of the spell that ensorcelled the city – I couldn’t help wondering though – surely there must have been some people who didn’t fall under – somebody who missed the spectacle as it were?
2) Mavros as part of the Queen’s Guard! Was that a surprise to you? Were you surprised by any other characters in this weird, corrupted version of the City of Elua? 
I don’t think it did surprise me.  After all, everyone was suffering the same delusion so it makes sense that they all rallied round.  It was so awful watching these characters behave like this.  Durstan and Joscelin were the most surprising for me I think – they were just so different and out of character!
3) In a desperate moment, Imriel seems to be filled with the light of the 13, or at least Elua, until he’s knocked out. Do you think it was Elua answering his prayers sideways? 
It was such a strange moment wasn’t it.  I think it was the Gods helping.  Lateral thinking.  This way he got to look at the problem from a different angle (literally) and as everyone else then left he only had to subdue Joscelin (not as easy as it sounds of course). I couldn’t help thinking they should have tied Joscelin up!
4) We have a few desperate moments once the location of the gem is revealed to Imriel – his duel with Joscelin, his ride to the square, his scramble up the tree, his taking hold of Sidonie, and the breaking of the spell, the appearance of the demon. What did you like most about these moments? Anything you didn’t like? 
I thought the way the spell was broken was really well done.  I was wondering how Carey would manage it to be honest.  It certainly had the potential to be a bit of a let down but the whole, emerald exploding and the demon manifesting in the dirt like a little whirlwind before blasting everyone – well, it was pretty impressive actually.  And I like that Carey made both Imriel and Sidonie jointly responsible for breaking the curse.  I thought it was good that even though Sidonie was once again under the spell she still wanted to trust Imriel.
5) Terre D’Ange is at peace. What reconciliations stood out to you? 
Well, the part I was looking forward to most was the reconciliation with Alais and her parents and to be honest I thought that was a little under played so I was a bit disappointed with that particular scene.  I wanted to have a bit more of a making up scene with Ysandre and Alais.
6) Finally, we have a wedding. Perfect ending to the trilogy? Need something more? Any final questions that you want answered? 
I think it was a really good ending with lots of possibility for more excitement to come.  It seems like maybe Alais is being set up for a future story?  I think the only thing I did want, but it seems a little like asking too much, was something more about Melisande.  I think at the back of my mind I thought she would sneak into the city in disguise to observe the wedding – very unrealistic I know!!  And, I know that she will never be forgiven for what she did but I think I would have liked it if Imriel and Sidonie visited her.  Is that wrong?
Overall though.  I loved this book and after a start where I at first felt that I still wanted to read more from Phedre and Joscelin I confess that Carey completely turned me around on that score.  I loved Iriel’s adventures after all.

Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week No.6

kushiels-mercyToday is week 6 of our readalong for Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey.  This week  Tethyan Books is hosting.  Anyway, here’s the Goodreads link and also the schedule is below in case you want to join in.  Beware of spoilers because they’ll be lurking.  Now, over to the Q&A.

1.  The Euskerri paid a brutal price for their sovereignty.  What do you think about how this played out?  Did anything stick out in your mind?
It was a horrible battle wasn’t it and the Euskerri paid such a high price.  I think the thing that stuck out most for me was that Sidonie has such a head for strategy – good on you Sidonie!
2. How do you feel about the way things ended for Astegal?  Was it just?  If not, what would you have preferred to see happen?
Well, to be honest I sort of expected that ending for him.  Well, not exactly, I didn’t see him having a fight with Imriel but I did think he would lose the battle and either die during the battle or be captured and executed.  I can’t say I felt any sorrow for him at all, sorry if that seems a bit harsh but I just can’t find it in myself to feel any pity on this occasion.
3. Do you have any theories on why Imriel’s charm is able to protect Sidonie?
Well, at first I was thinking it was maybe just down to the fact that it’s a talisman that protects against magic?  I suppose there’s also the fact that both Sidonie and Imriel believe in it and I wonder if that gives it some power, plus calling on their own Gods?.  And then there’s Sidonie’s heritage and the fact that she maybe has a trace of magic in her blood.  At the end of the day I’m not really sure – I am glad it worked though (at least so far!)
4. What do you think about Alais’s change of heart regarding political power and her new plans for her future?
Well, I don’t entirely know what Alais’s new plans entail for her or what it would mean for her going forward but I think it’s good that she has reached some decisions about her own future – I kind of hope that they’re not the sort of decisions that she can never walk away from or change though because she is only young – and I’m not patronising her, just thinking that you change your mind a lot over the course of your young years (and I’m speaking from experience in that respect).  I guess if you look at her past there has been quite a lot of violence involved in one way and another and so perhaps she’s tired of the depths that people will sink to in order to acquire power.
5.  The spell twists the personalities of people we knew, sometimes in disturbing ways.  Do you see the seeds of who they are now in their true selves?  Given their currently twisted view of reality, do you think anyone is acting against their own principles?
It’s like something out of Stepford isn’t it! It’s so weird – even the way Phedre and Joscelin are behaving – they’re like automatons with no real soul left  – or maybe it’s that the soul has been trapped.  I don’t know but it is spooky as anything.  As to whether they’re acting against their own principles – I’m not sure if they are or not, it’s a tricky question.  For example, Phedre and Joscelin seem to think they’re protecting the City and defending what they’s fought for in the past – but, I think rather than say they’re acting against their own principles I’d probably rather say they’re acting against their own principles so much as acting out of character.  The way that they’re all behaving with their own children for example, really cold and indifferent.  That is what really strikes me.  Plus, it strikes me if so many people were telling them a different story they would take steps to try and either prove or disprove it once and for all – rather than sitting behind walls threatening battles.  I guess, to me, they’re acting on their principles, but they’re delusional and irrational.
The Schedule:
Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)

Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week No.5

kushiels-mercyToday is week 5 of our readalong for Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey.  This week  I’m hosting.  Anyway, here’s the Goodreads link and also the schedule is below in case you want to join in.  Beware of spoilers because they’ll be lurking.  Now, over to the Q&A.

We had a number of dramatic chases and escapes this week – what really stood out most for you.

The scene on board the ship!  I was so confident that they’d made their escape. I know, on reflection, that I was being incredibly naive to think they’d made their escape but I really had relaxed into that frame of mind and then boom, they were being chased with a dramatic entrance into the port aboard a flaming ship.  I just didn’t see it coming even though, now I think about it, if they had gotten away it would have been all over and done with much quicker!

Imriel and Sidonie meet with Nicola L’Envers y Aragon who turns into an ally for the two of them arranging for them to gain audience and we once again see Sidonie’s diplomacy skills – how do you think she would compare to Ysandre as a ruler?

I loved that Imriel once again gets to meet Nicola and that he actually has the good grace to apologise to her.  It’s not a big issue in terms of the overall story but I liked it and felt it showed a certain maturity in Imriel that he recognised the way he had previously behaved towards her.  In terms of Sidonie, I’m always very impressed with her cool and calm demeanour.  I liked her reaction to Imriel when he spoke to her about what sort of a ruler she would make – she didn’t seem over anxious to take on the role and I can’t say I blame her.  In terms of how she would compare to Ysandre.  Well, I like to think that she would do things differently but deep down I’m not sure she would – being a ruler is much more than thinking about your own feelings and I think that Sidonie realises this herself.  I’ve not always enjoyed Ysandre’s reactions to things but I think she has a difficult role.

Imriel made a statement this week about once wanting to be a hero but now having changed his mind – and how heroism meant living in terror that you wouldn’t be able to protect those you loved – what do you make of his thinking?

I can’t really blame him for thinking this way given all that he’s gone through.   If I’d been through even a quarter of the adventures he’s already experienced I’d probably go into hiding.  As it is, well, I think he’s got things a little turned on their head.  I think that when you love someone you would always worry about being able to protect them – having children is a perfect example of that, but, the fact that you do love makes you act in unselfish ways – therefore being in love would be more likely to make you rush out and protect someone and therefore be heroic.  Being a hero doesn’t seem to me like something you can just set out to do or be.

Euskerri.  The plan is to sway the Euskerri (by offering them sovereignty) to side with Aragonia.   Do you think the Euskerri are wise to accept or not?

It’s an odd situation.  The Euskerri are sat in the middle of this dilemma and can chance the fate of both sides.  They could side with either party.  As it is they seem to be siding with the underdogs really but I can’t say I blame them.  There seems to be less treachery in that route and more likelihood that that will actually be treated honourably with in the end.

Finally, it seems like both Imriel and Sidonie will return to the battlefront – what do you think of the agreement reached? What do you predict going forward?

I can’t say that I liked the deal that was struck – in fact I found it incredibly aggravating.  But, in the cold light of day I really can’t say I blame the Euskerri for their decision.  After all, Imriel and Sidonie did lead an enemy right to their doorstep – and then what, oh, ‘we’ll just carry on going in that direction while you take all the heat’.  No.  When it all boils down I really don’t blame the Euskerri.  Apart from anything else they don’t really know that Sidonie and Imriel are telling the truth.  I admit that it’s annoying – to be so near, and yet so far, from their objectives – and I don’t agree with taking Sidonie back, the Euskerri wouldn’t endanger their own women so I think that’s just wrong.  I think that they should just have made Imriel part of the deal to show faith.

In terms of going forward , well there’s clearly going to be a horrible confrontation.  Sidonie is, after all, a married woman, perhaps the only way that’s going  to alter is if her husband dies??  I don’t know how else this can really end in a good way for Imriel and Sidonie.

The Schedule:
Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)

Kushiel’s Mercy (Imriel’s Trilogy #3) by Jacqueline Carey readalong week No.4

kushiels-mercyToday is week 4 of our readalong for Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey.  This week  Emma Wolf is our host.  Anyway, here’s the Goodreads link and also the schedule is below in case you want to join in.  Beware of spoilers because they’ll be lurking.  Now, over to the Q&A.
1. After being freed, Kratos decides to stay in Leander/Imriel’s service. Did his loyalty or reasons surprise you? What about how he was able to aid Leander/Imriel?
It didn’t surprise me to be honest.  The others in Imriel’s service seemed to have a purpose to return to – even it that was revenge on the person that had sent them into a life of slavery – Kratos, well, I wouldn’t say he was at a loose end, because that’s not how it felt, more like staying with Imriel held purpose for him.  Plus I dare say he felt a not small amount of gratitude to Imriel for saving him from the life that he had come to expect.  Maybe he thinks he will be able to repay the favour at some point.
2. Despite Justina’s training, her loyalty to Melisande, and her position ready to tip the balance, she is unwilling or unable to help Leander/Imriel. What do you think of this? What good is the Guild or Melisande and her spies if not for this?
Well, I couldn’t blame her to be honest.  She admitted it herself that she was more helpful when it came to pillow talk rather than taking part in dangerous activities and removing someone’s ring probably isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I think if the opportunity had arisen naturally she would have taken it but taking unnecessary risks wouldn’t really have helped.  At the end of the day if she had taken the risk and been caught the whole game would have been over wouldn’t it?  Astegal would have know that she was after the ring, he probably would have had her tortured and, even if she gave nothing away, he would have been on his guard.
3. Any thoughts about the Longest Night?
It was a very different sort of celebration wasn’t it.  More or less the same as any other night but with a little dancing involved.  I thought it was risky of Imriel to dance with Sidonie, that Astegal would note it and maybe be jealous, and it seems he was jealous – enough to try to humiliate Imriel – it didn’t quite work out though.  I thought it was interesting that both Imriel and Sidonie thought to keep Elua’s vigil.  Very telling.  Both of them quietly praying.  Like a reflection of each other.
4. Any thoughts about the aftermath of the breaking of two of the spells? Were you amused by Imriel’s conversation with Sunjata? Were you surprised by Sidonie’s reaction once the spell on her is broken?
Well it almost went drastically wrong didn’t it.  Firstly Sidonie dashing off and finding a lot of home truths that she couldn’t understand and then Imriel finding himself and almost scaring Sidonie out of her wits!  It was all very tense wasn’t it.  I felt very sorry for Sidonie as the full realisation of the spell washed over her – the horrible thing is that she will clearly still remember everything.  She might have not been forced – like she said herself, but having your will removed and having no choice in anything, it seems much  worse to me.
5. Last week, Allie said she hopes Bodeshmun’s power “all blows up in his face.” Thoughts on his death?
Well, it couldn’t have been more prophetic really.  I hate to be nasty but his ending was rather perfect as far as I was concerned.  He was a nasty piece of work and a horrible human being to say the very least.
The Schedule:
Oct.  9th Week 1: Chpts. 1-10 (Hosted by Dab of Darkness)
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)
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