Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

Narrator: Simon Vance

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2008)

Length: 24 hours 15 minutes

Series: Book 6 Kushiel’s Legacy

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 6 in Kushiel’s Legacy (also referred to as the Terre D’Ange Cycle) it is Book 3 in the second trilogy and focuses on Imriel de la Courcel, who we met in Book 3 of the first trilogy, Kushiel’s Avatar. Kushiel’s Mercy is best read as part of the second trilogy, if not as Book 6 in the larger series, since there are plenty of characters and situations referred to from the previous books.

Imriel de la Courcel, a Prince of the Blood, and Sidonie de la Courcel, Terre D’Ange’s princess and next in line to the throne, are in love. This doesn’t sit well with much of the realm because Imriel’s estranged birth mother, Melisande Shahrizai, betrayed the nation a generation ago. Imriel and Sidonie are faced with a difficult choice: Bring Melisande to justice or Sidonie will not inherit the throne. After beginning their search for Melisande in earnest, an unlikely city nation, Carthage, comes with luxurious gifts, promises of alliance, and an apparently heartfelt hope that Sidonie will consider their General Astegal for marriage. Things do not go as expected, for anyone.

This historical fantasy is another beautiful addition to the Terre D’Ange cycle. Through the adventures of Imriel and Sidonie, we learn more about this alternate world Carey has created. Carthage is a budding empire, rich in gold and gems but also dependent on slavery. General Astegal comes off as a very charming man, willing to bend to Terre D’Ange’s way of things when it comes to love; for instance, he wouldn’t be in a miff if Sidonie decided to have a harem of pretty young men. The other culture that really stood out for me was the Euskerri, which is akin to the Basque. Deeply proud and also demanding equality from their two neighboring countries – Terre D’Ange and Aragonia.

In the previous books, there has been some magic, though much of it is left up to the reader’s interpretation. In this novel, the magic is direct and has immediate consequences. Even though this is a reread for me, I always find myself surprised by how not subtle the magic component is in this story, as compared to the previous books. So how do you fight strong magic when you only have a passing experience with it? That is something that Imriel and Sidonie will have to figure out, though I do like all the hints that Elua, Terre D’Ange’s primary deity, may be giving them a hand. The magic does follow certain rules, which I liked, though it was quite the trial for Imriel to figure out what those rules were.

There’s plenty of adventure and sneaking about in this story. Imriel must make alliances with the most unlikely of people to even make a solid attempt to not only rescue Sidonie but the entire capitol of Terre D’Ange, the City of Elua. Indeed, spying, misdirection, and disguises make up a good part of the book. I think it was hardest on Imriel to deceive his beloved foster parents, Phedre and Joscelin. There’s some pretty intense scenes that had me holding my breath! Also, those scenes with Barquiel L’Enver, a man who has disliked Imriel since he was born, were quite worthy.

Sidonie really shines in this book. Even with everything told through Imriel’s eyes, Sidonie had some tough decisions to make and was at the center of some dangerous situations. Carey has this magical way of writing female characters behaving in feminine ways and still getting important stuff done. While Imriel is the character that carried me forward in this story, there’s a strong argument for Sidonie being that star of the story.

Each time we think our heroes have found the key to winning the day, there’s another twist or another spell or another hurdle or another bad guy that must be vanquished. One of the hardest things about this was that sometimes they had to find a way to sneak past, trick, or even fight friends and family that were ensnared in the magic. My poor nails! I was biting my nails too often with this story!

As with the series, there are incredible sex scenes that range from playful to desperate to healing to sad to joyful. Carey is just as detailed in her love scenes as she is with her use of cultures and linguistics. I always enjoy these scenes because they reveal something further about the characters.

The ending was well done. I was very satisfied that things were not easy to unravel and iron out. Not everyone gets everything they want. There’s plenty to be forgiven all around. Still, it was beautiful and satisfying.

The Narration: Simon Vance does this final book in Imriel’s trilogy justice. He had to take on further accents as our heroes experienced new cultures. There were also plenty of complicated emotions and intense scenes and Vance did a great job capturing the subtleties of those emotions in his voice work. Also, he did a fantastic job with the sex scenes.

What I Liked: Tangible magic with rules; Imriel has to make some unlikely alliances; Sidonie is at the heart of the matter and she shines through; exploration of further cultures in this alternate world; the love scenes; the intensity of Imriel interacting with his foster parents; Imriel and Sidonie really had to fight for their love; the ending was very satisfying.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is an excellent way to end this trilogy.

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Review

Eyrie

Fantasy Book Critic

Dear Author

Miss Geeky

The Bibliosanctum

Kushiel's Mercy Part VII

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am your host as Lisa had some unexpected appliance failures that wreaked havoc with her household this past week. We’re covering Chapters 76-End, so be prepared for spoilers below!

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?

I actually don’t recall what I was expecting the first time I read this book. However, I do really like that these charms weren’t a cure all. Carey kept it real in that this is Imriel’s sincere attempt at a bit of magic he doesn’t really understand versus a well-wrought magic done by a master magician.

Other than having Kratos watch her as much as he could, I don’t think the three of them could have done anything more.

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?

Mavros really was the one that shocked me the most. He’s been a stalwart friend, but I never pictured him in uniform! I wonder if he will keep the post, now that everything is back to normal? I can’t recall if that was mentioned at the end.

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?

I want to believe that Elua and his Companions were making a true plea to the people of the City through Imri. Having Imri knocked unconscious and coming to in a position to see the the gem’s hiding place in the portrait was their backup plan.

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 recall that the first time I read this book, I was truly worried that Kratos would die by Joscelin’s hand. That would have been a true sorrow! So that fight was definitely worrisome. I’m glad that Imri trusted the core of Joscelin and came up with his unexpected tackling.

When Imri put a blade to Sidonie, I knew he wouldn’t harm her, but I wasn’t sure she would trust him enough to do what was needed.

Demon! OK, so it’s freed and the spell broken and perhaps it was a grateful enough to give them a bow, but I have always wondered what the demon did next. Does it have a home with other demons that missed it? Or did it seek out Bodeshmun’s soul and torment him? Did it zip off to some other town and torment innocent souls?

5) Terre D’Ange is at peace. What reconciliations stood out to you?

In a way, I’m glad we had Imriel’s madness and his return to sanity to show us how regretful he was over the things he said and did while his wits were not solely his own. I can only imagine how a big city and most of the nation’s army felt. Yet we also have the folks, like Drustan, who were bespelled but then left, regaining their wits. So they can now they can help guide the rest to reconciliation.

That scene where Sidonie requests Imriel to fetch her mom to help out in getting people settled and Imriel goes to Ysandre, only to have Ysandre turn him down, and then he pushed back – that was awesome.

6) Finally, we have a wedding. Perfect ending to the trilogy? Need something more? Any final questions that you want answered?

Yes, the wedding was beautiful. It was also good to see the Bastard returned and the real Leander (who I think Sidonie wants to do a three-some with). It’s hard to say goodbye to these characters, so of course I can think of all sorts of things I would love to see – like just where Phedre and Joscelin hid the lost book of Raziel. That whole demon question I had above. Alais and her role in Alba. What will Barquiel do now, or perhaps even more exciting, a young Barquiel’s adventures.

Other Tidbts:

Too bad there wasn’t a trusted female servant for Sidonie that could have kept an eye on her in the bath. Which also begs the question of how she kept her back scar from being questioned, because I suspect she did have bath attendants….

I love that she turned the scar into a beautiful tattoo. I expect that breaks all sorts of taboos, just as Phedre no Montreve having a marque and being a Peer of the realm was worth commenting on back in her day.

Melisande has her official pardon… and now I wonder about what’s his face who accidentally killed his sister Persia. Will he get a pardon?

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part VI

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering Chapters 63-75, so be prepared for spoilers below!

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?

I think I need more info, really. The Euskerri obviously hold their sovereignty dear, but why? Were they being unjustly taxed? They have their own language and customs, but do they use Aragonian or D’Angeline coinage? Are their people conscripted into either army? In short, I am wondering if they want their own rulership because of their different language/culture alone or because they have been unjustly treated by either or both of their neighboring countries.

At any rate, they gave as good as they got. Definitely worthy fighters even if they don’t know much about planning, strategy, etc. Only time will tell if their sacrifice of so many young men was worth it.

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?

It was just. Aragonia ordered the execution and Imriel and Sidonie, representing Terre D’Ange, carried it out. I guess he could have been tortured for info on the jewel, but that’s a messy business.

3. Do you have any theories on why Imriel’s charm is able to protect Sidonie?

I think Elua and Kushiel are lending their aid on this one. It was a desperate thought in the first place and Imriel isn’t trained to any sort of magic or spiritual rites, so he simply had to do his best.

4. What do you think about Alais’s change of heart regarding political power and her new plans for her future?

Totally makes sense. She has spent years away from the D’Angeline court, growing up, seeing how she can make a difference with all the knowledge and training she has been given. Plus, the last time we checked in with her on this issue, she was… 13? 14? So, it’s totally fine that she’s changed her mind on this as she’s grown up. I think she will make a fine leader.

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?

A friend of mine in college once said that alcohol tends to bring out the person’s real personality and after several years, I think I finally agree with him.

Here, I think this spell brings out the worst in people. Their core is still their, but now all their fears, suspicions, even hates are brought much closer to the surface and folks are much more likely to act upon those feeling than on any rational thoughts. Right now, nothing extreme has happened to anyone but Sidonie and Imriel. So, yes, I think everyone is still acting according to their principles but this spell has the fear talking, so folks are being a bit closed off, protecting those things they hold dear first, and suspicious of the rest….. kind of makes me think of certain political stuff going on lately here in the real world…..

Other Tidbts:

Imri has indeed written too many goodbye letters these past few years.

It was nice to see Kratos again.

It was cool that Sidonie came up with the plan, even if it was Imriel that had to take it to the Euskerri. Still, we know she’s a badass.

It was good to see Joscelin sparring with Imri again even in these messed up times.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part V

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog is our host. We’re covering Chapters 50-62, so be prepared for spoilers below!

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

The flaming ship! Those sailors risked everything – their ship, their possessions (and for some, it was probably everything they owned), and their lives, but also their livelihoods (if badly injured, would they be able to work as sailors again?). Even though this is a reread for me, I am still amazed that these sailors and their captain were willing to risk so much for these royals. Perhaps Solon is a great and yet sometimes terrifying boss. I bet he will reward their loyalty handsomely and also I don’t doubt that he would have punished them horribly had they handed Sidnoie and Imriel over.

2) 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?

Sidonie has definitely learned well from Ysandre. Their situations are quite different but I see echos of Ysandre’s skill and poise in Sidonie, but Sidonie is definitely her own woman in these scenes. She has to be since her mom is still bespelled. I think Ysandre would be proud of her.

3) 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?

Yes, our boy has grown up and continues to build his wisdom, doesn’t he? I think he’s right – being hero can mean you are constantly concerned or worried about being able to protect those you care about or those in your charge. Sometimes no matter how clever you are, no matter how physically fit you are, no matter how broad and excellent your skills, you won’t be able to protect everyone all the time. So, yes, you live in terror of that coming true and something catastrophic coming about on your watch. The hero part is still doing it anyway, pushing forward and giving it your best despite this knowledge.

4) 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?

Oh, wow. What a mess there. The Euskerri have been lied to far too often, so I get why they need so many assurances and how it’s a very tentative yes on their part. Still, I was severely frustrated with them too. With both Imriel and Sidonie giving their word on the trueness of the offer, of course I would accept it. But the Euskerri make some solid arguments for needing more than the word of a few royals of country that is facing civil war and possibly invasion (again?) by Carthage. Still, I didn’t like that they were a bit underhanded in refusing Imriel and Sidonie passage to Terre D’Ange.

5) 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?

Ooops, so I answered part of this int he question above. Of course I don’t want Sidonie and Imriel to head back to Aragonia. They just escaped there! But I see that the Euskerri feel they need a few royal guests (hostages) to ensure the treaty is signed in full by Aragonia.

Other Tidbts:

I really like that Sidonie was uncomfortable with the days of sleeping on uncomfortable mats or on the cold forest floor as they made their way to the Euskerri village. I love that she didn’t complain.

I think it took a lot for Sidonie to ask Imriel to end her life rather than let Astegal have her again. I think it took even more for Imriel to agree to it.

Imriel takes note that the Aragonia council is made up of all men and perhaps finds it odd. Nicola seems to have to work in the background, not given a voice at the council.

I loved that Imriel could look back on his kidself and see that his disliking of Nicola was wrong, petty. I’m glad he finally has a chance to see Nicola as Phedre’s confidante.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part IV

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Emily at Emma Wolf is our host. We’re covering Chapters 36-49, so be prepared for spoilers below!

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?

Not really. he strikes me as a loyal fellow and also his reason of ‘you’re an interesting guy’ rang true. This is probably the most exciting thing he’s done in many years. Also, he can see that Leander/Imri is a person of morals. He kept his word in freeing the slaves, he’s not rude in action and word, and he doesn’t lightly bed folks for a momentary enjoyment.

I really liked how he suggested working with Esme the bath house attendant. It shows he’s been paying attention to the rude soldiers around him, that he doesn’t approve, and that (most of the time) he can’t do anything about it – but here is the chance for Esme to do something about it.

I honestly can’t recall if he dies or not so I was pleased he made it through this section.

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?

I think Justina was being honest about her abilities. She points out that she was trained and put in position to influence politics and keep an open ear. She wasn’t trained in slight of hand, etc. I expect she’s not trained in the masseuse arts either, so she couldn’t simply do what Esme could. Plus Astegal has Esme for that and if Justina offered out of the blue to do so, and his ring happened to come loose, I think he would be suspicious. I expect we’ve all worn rings to sleep and if someone tugged on one of mine, I would most likely wake up.

So I don’t blame Justina for backing out of this one, but I do think she could have done more to either help Imri or Sidonie. She did see a little comfortable with her current position and I sensed she was hesitant to give up that position/power/influence/money (whatever combo).

Event the Guild and Melisande were not prepared for the magic wrought by Bodeshmun. Melisande and Solon knew, somewhat, ahead of time but I’m not sure they could have stopped it if they had tried. It’s all a bunch of ‘what-ifs’.

3. Any thoughts about the Longest Night?

I, like Leander/Imri, hoped for a beautiful pageant like the City of Elua holds yearly, but I could also see why Astegal and Bodeshmun wanted to avoid that. I did really like that the Imri side of Leander/Imri went in search of a patch of nature where he could do some Elua worshiping and he stumbled upon Sidonie doing the same thing. Even though he wasn’t allowed to join her, I did find that a very beautiful scene.

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?

So much here! First, Imriel coming back to himself was both beautiful and a little traumatic at the same time. I’m sure it appeared very strange to Sidonie at the time. I’m listening to the audiobook and Simon Vance, the narrator, does a great job with the Leander voice, the Leander/Imri voice, and then Imri’s voice and keeping it all straight throughout these sections.

I did love Imri’s discussion with Sunjata and I think Sunjata is a good chap seen as he had the decency to blush over the entire thing. Still, I find myself comparing his actions in their romance to Astegal’s actions in bed with Sidonie. Now Sidonoie was be-spelled unknowingly and against her will, while Imri did it with purpose…. and yet is it totally right for Sunjata to have bedded Leander/Imri? Hmmm… Perhaps it’s simply how things had to be in the moment if Sunjata was to avoid tipping the balance on Solon’s disguise spell.

Sidonie is awesome. I love her reaction initially to the tattoo being found. Even be-spelled, she knows that’s not right. Once cut out, I love that her first reaction is to deeply want Astegal’s death, make love to Imri, and then discuss how to save the realm.

5. Last week, Allie said she hopes Bodeshmun’s power “all blows up in his face.” Thoughts on his death?

This was such a tense section! I knew Imri was capable of killing, and I believed him when he set his mind to killing some of he guards in cold blood. We’ve seen Joscelin do it and we’ve seen Imri in tough situations. So I knew he wouldn’t balk, but I expect those deaths will weigh heavily on him for some time.

But killing Bodeshmun will not be one of those deaths that weighs upon him.

I do wonder what the black flaky stuff was. Perhaps some desiccated deadly mushroom or such.

Other Tidbts:

I hope Sidonie’s visit with Roderick while she was be-spelled works to her favor later when she tries her best to explain to folks about the evil spell.

I was glad that the guards kept their secret of falling asleep on the job among themselves but I doubt they were fooled. Perhaps they thought it was a wicked, petulant joke of Sidonie’s, perhaps not.

I was a little surprised that Sunjata was scared to stick around in the city during the ring switch. He obviously didn’t want to be caught if things went south, but, honestly, I don’t think a jot down the coast (or wherever he went) would have mattered. If Esme had been caught, she would have been forced to tell, then Leander/Imri would be in custody and they would just round up his associates. Sunjata being a gem merchant’s representative would be high on that list. So unless Sunjata is excellent at disguises, he would have been in the thick of it anyways.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part III

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Emily at Emma Wolf is our host. We’re covering Chapters 23-35, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Imriel spends the night at Melisande’s before Solon is to do his spell. Melisande tells Imriel that she would like it if, after all this, he would find it in his heart to come visit her again. Do you think he will? What would that reunion be like?

Perhaps in the far future, if all turns out OK with Imriel and Sidonie, they might arrange some clandestine meeting when Imriel and Sidonie are making some royal progress in Alba or Aragonia or such. I can see Melisande arranging it anyway and just popping in on them. If the two of them ever reproduce, then Melisande might find it impossible to stay away forever despite their wishes. I think the initial reunion could be really awkward. But if Sidonie can find it in her heart to forgive, or at least find conclusion (recognizing that Melisande’s punishment for the Skaldi invasion is permanent exile), then I think they could all move forward and just be what they are – a messed up family that do care about each other.

2. Solon tells Imriel to “put Imriel away” and “make him small…like a tiny, tiny seed.” How much of Imriel remains inside “Leander” once the spell is complete?

We see flickers of him even from day one, like when he says goodbye to Melisande. Later, when the chamber maid makes it clear that she wouldn’t mind a dalliance, Leander/Imri holds back and Leander has to explain it away to himself. So obviously Imri is still in there and he does have an influence on the actions his body takes.

3. Sidonie and Leander/Imriel meet and court again. What do you think of this and the echoes of their past courtship? How much of Imriel does Sidonie actually remember, if anything?

I think the rose petals cause an echo of past memories to serve. Also it’s kind of sweet to see Leander/Imri bumbling along with the flirting. I think we can see flickers in Sidonie but to her Leander is a stranger, so she’s not going to reveal her concerns about her memory or pieces into quite fitting together yet. She has all the training in royal poise going on. It will be interesting to see these two learn to trust each other all over again.

4. What do you think of Leander/Imriel’s cover story of how he came to be in the service of Solon and sent to Carthage? What do you think of Carthage generally?

Leander, like any good spy, is sticking as close as he can to the story. However, he has to leave out or alter anything that might remind Sidonie of Terre D’Ange. I think he will find that harder to do than he expects. In general, I think the cover story is enough. After all, both Bodeshmun and Astegal (I’m assuming) have to realize that various spies will wiggle their in close to try to learn how they pulled off this big magic with Terre D’Ange.

Carthage in general seems to be an old and vibrant city. I like it even if I don’t agree with everything (like the life-long slavery). And while I like the look of palanquins I too find them ridiculous. Unless you’re having sex while your slaves carry you around the city. That’s what I would use a palanquin for. And mine would be steampunked up, with some sort of automatons carrying me and my harem around town. Maybe the automatons would be in the shape of armadillos, because I really like them but, alas, they carry the the leprosy virus. So no live armadillos for me.

5. We see Sunjata and Bodeshmun, this time through Leander’s eyes. Has your impression changed?

Since this is a reread for me, I was really looking forward to seeing Sunjata again. I love that Leander is in a on/off relationship with him. I felt that Sunjata was, in general, a gentle soul even from the beginning, even when he stuck Imri with the madness needle. So it’s nice to see that expanded upon here.

Bodeshmun is an arrogant man, just like folks have told Imri. I’m glad to see it as that could be a key to his undoing. Tho I do believe he’s very dangerous and has the power to remove Leander’s eyes.

6. Why did Leander/Imriel choose Kratos, Ghanim, and the brothers? Was it more Imriel or more Leander who did the choosing?

I think it was more Imriel doing the choosing here. He picked men that he knew would end up in hard labor and it would probably kill them. He chose well. I expect these men will serve him loyally.

Also, wasn’t it hard to watch Leander/Imri agonize over the Aragonian boy? Jacqueline Carey sure does know how to jerk the emotions out of me!

Other Tidbts:

I love that Leander/Imri brought Sidonie a chess set!

Seeing Imri through Leander’s eyes has been very interesting. I think this is what many D’Angelines think about Imriel to one degree or another.

Also Leander’s ideas about Imriel’s hunt for his mother to bring her to justice were interesting.

I think it’s interesting that Sunjata wanted to see Leander/Imri totally naked, thereby seeing Imri’s true body.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part II

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Allie at Tethyan Books is our host. We’re covering Chapters 11-22, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) Imriel visits a few of the Houses with Astegal. If you were to visit Carey’s Terre d’Ange, would there be a particular house you’d be interested to see?

Such a hard choice! I think we had a question similar to this one way back at the beginning of the series and now that we’ve come so far, experienced so much with these characters and the discussions, I bet my answer has changed. I’m waffling between Jasmine (for pleasure’s sake), Eglantine (to create is to live), and Balm (rest and be soothed). You know, I think I will make the rounds to all three like a good D’Angeline would.

2) The Carthaginians’ scheme was some of the most blatant magic that I think we’ve seen in the series. Given that there is a whole country of people who are not fooled, do you think they really expected to get away with it cleanly in the long-term? Do you think they have an alternative plan?

You’re right about the magic being upfront and in our faces with this story. After the more subtle, perhaps even bordering on magical realism, in past books, it’s a bit of a change, isn’t it?

It’s been some years since I last read this book, so I’ve forgotten the details. But based on Carey’s intricate plots, I would say that there is more to this plot that what we’ve seen so far, and what we’ve seen so far has the D’Angeline monarchy, a chunk of its priesthood, and its army enslaved. So, yeah, I bet there’s more coming.

3) Barquiel l’Envers goes from a petty antagonist to one of Imriel’s only allies. Does this change your opinion of him? Do you think this adventure will alter his perception of Imriel?

Quite frankly, I love this part. It’s very much like how Barquiel gave Phedre such the stink eye yet still rode out to save her from a skinning. I can say from experience that Barquiel’s role in this book made me look more kindly upon him during rereads later on.

4) We finally see Melisande again! What do you think of what she has become? Do you think she still deserves execution for her crimes?

It was good to see her interacting with someone she wouldn’t consider seducing (probably, hopefully!). It was a different side of her and also I think she has gained some wisdom over the years. It was both fascinating and chilling to see how honest she was about her amorality.

Yes, she does deserve to be punished for her crimes. Those people who died during the Skaldi invasion are still dead. There are still plenty of repercussions from that act of treason. However, this is not always a just world and I think Imriel’s compromise (banned from D’Angeline soil for life) is the best he could get. Sometimes making a final ruling, as such, lets people move on, whether they think it is fair or not.

5) What do you think will be Imriel’s key to change out of the form and mind of Leander? Do you think you would be willing to undergo such a transformation?

So I do recall the answers to the first question. And I recall how each happens –  and I think you will all enjoy those scenes as I did.

Would I be willing to undergo such a transformation? Well, for the love of my life, sure. No problem. Heck, even just for Halloween I might do it. It might be interesting to be a fairly attractive young man with a randy attitude for a day or week or so.

Other Tidbts:

Imriel’s little trick with the pillow was simple and perfect for getting info. Our young man has come pretty far since he was a kid. I don’t think he would have done that even at the beginning of this trilogy.

Madness for a whole month! And then when you get your wits back, you have perfect recollection of all the hurtful, crazy shit you said and did. That is one nasty piece of magic.

It was silly for Imri to bring the Bastard but I think he really needed a D’Angeline friend at the time.

The Wise Ape! Fascinating man. I would love to see some fanfic about his life.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Part I

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

Ah! It’s definitely good to be back in the land of Terre D’Ange! The read along continues with Kushiel’s Mercy, Book 3 of Imriel’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, I am your host. We’re covering Chapters 1-10, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) So far, what do you think of the variety of responses people have to Imriel’s and Sidonie’s relationship?

I’m always a bit surprised at how many folks disapprove of their  relationship. At one point, someone tells Imriel they have a right to their anger and I think I would have to take it on a case by case basis. I’m don’t think they all have a right to their anger.

Then there are those that just love the naughty  feel to it all, the defiance and that’s OK but perhaps not sincere. I’m very glad there are some who are truly happy for Imri and Sidonie. I’m glad that Sidonie and Imri are careful as to what parties they choose to  attend and don’t overly flaunt their relationship, adding salt to some people’s wounds.

2) Imriel starts the hunt for Melisande. What do you think of his efforts so far? Could you hand over a wayward relative to the authorities?

I’m always of two  minds about this part. Basically, others are doing most of the searching and asking for him. Hyacinthe is searching in his sea mirror. Phedre is sending off queries.  I’m sure  the queen has her little spy network working on it too. As things go on, he does get more involved, and I can understand his hesitancy – going off  after his mother, once she’s located, would mean an end of his daily bed tumbling, at least until he returns. Also, and I believe he’s aware of this at this point as well, she is his biological mother and did adore him as a babe. There will be some sorrow in seeing her finally facing justice and being put to death.

As to the second question, it probably depends on what my wayward relative had done and if they had or were trying to make amends. Stealing  from someone but then showing remorse – perhaps not. Depends on what was stolen. Even murder, I would have to consider the reason why they did it. Treason to the country and nearly bringing about a successful invasion and fall of the existing functional & fairly fair government – uh, yeah, I think I would have to hand them over.

3) Sidonie makes her first ventures into the spicier side of the love arts. Comment away!

I’m so glad they did a viewing –  and not just because it was fun to read! I really loved that Imri wanted to see her reactions to the various activities available to those who like a bit more  spice in their bed play. And I love that Imri lost his fear of himself, finding his own abilities and responses were in keeping with Elua’s teachings. Tho he did mess up once, I think Sidonie’s response was perfect! Imri did atone for that, and did it  well.

4) The priesthood weighs in on Sidonie’s and Imriel’s relationship. Do you think Imriel’s words were the clincher, or do you think the priests had mostly made up their minds before the meeting?

I think it was a mix. Some of the priests had already made up their minds before they met Imriel. Yet he spoke quite well, his honesty coming through clearly. I love that he cites Joscelin’s words about his attempt to live without Phedre. Imri has tried to live without Sidonie and that hasn’t gone well for many people – not just Sidonie and Imriel.

When I first read this book years ago, I recall being quite put out that the priesthood should have any say on such a personal matter. But, as Jacqueline Carey is always doing, she shows me through this book how their union is bigger than just the two of them. Also, I have read several historical fiction and non-fiction histories since then and getting the church’s blessing for royal unions is not really that uncommon. So, I was a silly thing then, but am less silly and ignorant now.

5) It’s been two years since Imriel last celebrated the Longest Night in the D’Angeline fashion. What was the most interesting part of this night for you?

Favrielle out did herself this time! She’s always setting the bar for eloquence when it comes to ball attire. I don’t think I have ever  held onto something that long in hopes of using it for something  incredible, but I’m glad she did.

Barquiel! What an ass! I bet he’s the one that got that wine baron sloshed and then riled up  enough to make a scene. In the end, I did feel sad for the wine baron, and I wanted to punch Barquiel in the teeth – tho that would probably not work out so well for me.

6) We catch our first glimpse of the Carthaginians and the general Astegal. What do you think of their tribute?

Wow! He really goes for the glitz! And there is so much of it! While apologies are made for Imriel’s experience with the Carthaginian slavers so many years ago, I  had to wonder how much of that tribute was ‘earned’ through slavery. Still, it’s a new culture for us to explore with these beloved characters and I look forward to it.

Other Tidbts:

Mavros is such a stalwart friend! I’m glad he keeps popping up in these books even tho he has a minor role so far.

The Captain of the Queen’s Guard, Claud du Montluc, seems like a good chap. I’m glad he took Imri’s advice in getting his men trained to fight on horseback.

Ah! Amarante! She’s such an understanding and gracious person. I’m glad that Imri no longer has any jealousy over her when it comes to Sidonie.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Mercy Read Along – The Schedule

Streak being calm & snuggly.
Streak being calm & snuggly.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Mercy is Book 3 of the second trilogy) is one of my all time favorite series. After dealing with some medical stuff, I’ve returned to continue the read along! Below is the schedule.

Here is the current 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)

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S MERCY in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey

Chupacabra has spotted something!
Chupacabra has spotted something!

Where I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Simon Vance

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2009)

Length: 25 hours 33 minutes

Series: Book 5 Kushiel’s Legacy

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 5 in Kushiel’s Legacy (also referred to as the Terre D’Ange Cycle) it is Book 2 in the second trilogy and focuses on Imriel de la Courcel, who we met in Book 3, Kushiel’s Avatar. Kushiel’s Justice can work as a stand alone, though there are plenty of characters and situations referred to from the previous book.

Imriel de la Courcel, a Prince of the Blood and adopted son to Phedre no Delaunay de Montreve, has returned to Terre D’Ange from his time in Caerdicca Unitas where he was attending university. He grew up quite a bit in the previous book and those around him think he may be ready for more responsibility. Unexpectedly, passion erupts between him and the heir to the Terre D’Ange throne, Sidonie de la Courcel. Not wanting to embroil the nation in the politics of their potential union, Imriel acquiesces to marrying a royal of the Alban family, Dorolei. Things go awry. Terribly, terribly awry and Imriel is propelled on a quest that takes him far afield of either nation.

Out of the first six books, I often found this book to be the slowest paced. It’s still a worthy read, yet I found it to have the fewest action scenes and long periods of travel and/or contemplation. However, this time around I read it with an on-line group and new little gems were revealed to me. It’s a time of change for Imriel and also of challenges that will define what kind of man he becomes going forward. It took him quite a bit of time and agonizing to figure out who he wanted and yet, now he has to make the hard choice of serving his country or alienating half the kingdom. Elua’s precept, love as thou wilt, was set aside.

Setting the gushy feelings aside for the moment, this installment to the series allows the reader to explore more of Alba and the Maghuin Dhon (the Bear Witches). Alais, Sidonie’s younger sister, travels with her father, the Cruarch of Alba, and Imriel, exploring the countryside as they make their slow progress to Dorolei’s home. The Alban nobles are not quick to adopt Imriel. They test him in several ways, including a cattle raid. But before long, tragedy strikes. My heart went out to Imri! I think he went a little insane with it for a short time, as to be expected.

From here, Imriel has a quest to undertake in order to fulfill an oath. But it’s more than that. There’s honor and duty in the quest for sure, but there’s also the need for vengeance. Something important was taken from Imriel, and from others, and he can’t let that abide. His quest takes him further east than he has ever traveled, into lands that barely exist on D’Angeline maps. Throughout this lengthy travel, Imriel meets many characters and several have views on vengeance versus justice. Indeed, this becomes one of the main themes of the second half of the book.

The sex scenes are just as compelling as the action scenes, and are more numerous. Carey doesn’t waste the reader’s time with flippant or empty romance scenes. While detailed, the sex scenes are beautifully written and always provide extra insight into the characters. After all, how we treat someone in private in intimate moments can be very revealing of our natures.

This series continues to render a rich and vibrant world filled with many cultures. Carey does an amazing job of fleshing out characters, even minor ones, giving them their own motives. I never feel like words are wasted when reading Carey. I love that I don’t always agree with a character’s choices, but I almost always see where they are coming from. Carey also includes different religions, food, and daily practices. The landscape and weather shape the backbone of the story. Indeed, I feel immersed when reading this series. The journey was worth the reread.

The Narration: Simon Vance’s skills are on great display with this book. His abilities with accents are surely put to the test with this tale! French, Gaelic, and Russian are just a few of the accents needed for the large cast of characters. There are also several moments of deep and complex emotions and Vance does a great job of showing these in his character voices.

What I Liked: The diversity captured in this book; Imriel has to make some hard choices;  the discussions of vengeance versus justice; exploring new lands; Imriel’s quest; Elua’s precept; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: I think the US market is ready for Imriel to be on the covers of this trilogy.

What Others Think:

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Eyrie

The Obsessive Bookseller

The Bookbag

Fantasy Book Critic

Fantasy Findings

Alexei Cyren