Die deutsche Rezension findet ihr hier
Imriel nó Montrève de la Courcel is a boy with many roots. He is Melisande Shahrizai’s biological son, but had lived for ten years as a shepherd, believing he was an orphan. Then he had become a slave who had to endure torture and sexual abuse until Phèdre nó Delauney de Montrève liberated him – and adopted him together with her partner, Joscelin Verreuil. At the same time, he is the Queen’s cousin and therefore a possible heir to the throne, which is regarded suspiciously by many; his mother is the greatest traitor the country has ever seen after all. It is a difficult environment to grow up in, made even worse by his experiences as a slave and the origin of his family. The Shahrizai are direct descendants of Kushiel, the God who punished and loved all the same. How can Imriel desire what once tormented him?
The boy still has to learn that it is not the same, just as there are many things he does not know of yet. And this is his story.
Long, way too long I have waited to read the next book in the Kushiel series. I have been blown away by the first three books, and they have been the first heavy tomes, besides some Potter books, to enter my book shelves. However, this had been Phèdre’s story, which I had been reading in German. How would I cope with Imriel, who had only appeared in the third book and had been a child? Would I even understand the English? My former plan to reread the first trilogy in English first was never put into action, but with the years I assembled all the other books of the series on my shelf. Now that I owned all of the author’s books it was about time to change something. Project Imriel was started and what shall I say? I am delighted.
Imriel is not Phèdre. They are different characters with a different past, different strengths and weaknesses; their biggest common ground is their love for each other and the connection to Kushiel, though they deal with the latter differently. Still, this first book of a new trilogy resembles the other one to some extent – the book takes its time. We do not directly start with the main plot, but take a lot of time to rediscover the known characters and especially to get to know Imriel und to follow his development. He went through a lot, so there is much that needs to be learnt and understood – that is true for us as well as for him.
If you think this might become boring, then you are mistaken. Jacqueline Carey takes us to her version of an Europe of the Renaissance with all its wonderful and not-so-wonderful characters you either love or hate, you suffer with, you take to your heart, and who you will curse so badly it will surprise you how mean you can become. This book is full of emotions even though there is not much going on, so it cannot possibly get boring. Instead, with every page I read I fell more and more in love (again) with the author, her creativity, her world, and remembered rather sadly that “Kushiel’s Scion” does “not even” have one thousand pages.
Still, you do not have to do entirely without suspense, and the last third is full of it. Did somebody ever tell authors that it is difficult to read when you constantly have tears in your eyes? Well, if so, Jacqueline Carey has not been present, because what she does here almost cruelly tugs on your heartstrings. It is no wonder – the characters, as well as the reader, are easy targets. Why? Now, this book is so full of love. Romantic love, true friendship, forbidden love, unrequited love, the love of a mother, of a father, of someone close … “Love as thou wilt” is the motto the D’Angelines follow and that is what the book represents.
As if I would not already be utterly in love with the book, it is also beautifully written. Beautifully as in “stunning” and “moving”. The sentence “when all is said and done” might be mentioned a little bit too often, but Jacqueline Carey is still an artist of words. Especially sex scenes often get vulgar, but not so here. There are many scenes like that, but she always manages to show the … well, what? Holiness? Sex is a way for the D’Angelines to show their love and nothing else, which is why it is sacred. Whether it happens because of lust or sympathy or worry or anything else, it happens to bring joy to each other, to help and heal, to worship the gods of their country. It is almost a heavenly concept that works in this world and if you read about it, you cannot not understand it. Nothing here is vulgar or clumsy, but like the rest of the book: beautiful.
I have to take away half a star, because the story drags a little bit at the beginning as we get to know Imriel and everything else (again). After that, there is nothing I can criticize. If you are looking for an atmospheric and slightly erotic fantasy novel that can sweep you away even without much suspense, then “Kushiel’s Scion” is the book you should read.