Kushiel’s Mercy

51f-tlefrqLIt’s those books where alternate-history Renaissance France is full of beautiful people who have the very best sex in all of alternate-history Europe, while traveling the world in search of adventures and things! At its best, Carey’s Terre d’Ange series takes the Eddingsian exploratory motif and tosses it with liberally applied political intrigue and a dash of romance, to the general good. (Plus, some light and occasionally not-so-light bondage wanders across the page. Y’know.) At its worst, you have Kushiel’s Mercy, which is really not that bad of a worst, if I didn’t have five other books to compare it to.

The political and (increasingly more frequent) magical plots are pretty great; unfortunately, the less spoiled about them, the better[1], so I can’t really elaborate. But where I would normally expect to see yet more exploration of alternate Europe and environs, most of first-person narrator Imriel’s focus is on the survival of his relationship with Princess Sidonie. Which is really just too many reflections about how dire things are and how certain he is to overcome them nevertheless, especially when you consider that he’s still traveling to three new locations over the course of the book. On a more subjective note, I had a problem with a mid-book twist in which the consistent first-person narration was broken via the introduction of a new-to-the-series character. Upon reflection, I should ought to be glad to have let Imriel’s focus take a rest, but it was just too jarring of a shift.

In the end, it’s as I said before. I was looking for a fantasy travelogue with a little romance, and I got a romance novel with a bit of travel thrown in. It was still a good book, just not quite as good as what I wanted. Mostly, it has made me want to pick up one of my unread Dave Duncan serieses.

[1] But check this out: the jacket didn’t spoil it either, which is awesome both for itself and for the unusualness of the event.

12 thoughts on “Kushiel’s Mercy

  1. Amy Young

    I may not ever get around to reading this, as I hit the extent of my tolerance for whiny-teenager-you-can’t-even-threaten-to-spank-to-get-him-to-grow-up in Kushiel’s Justice. By the end of that book, I wanted to stick a spork in his eye.

  2. Chris Post author

    I’d recommend against it, then, ’cause he pretty much stopped bothering me about halfway through his first book. I can’t say he’s much different from Justice at all, just a lot more repetitively single-minded about it.

  3. Amy Young

    That sounds absolutely ghastly. I’ll probably give it a miss, then, unless my drive for completism overcomes my aversion.

  4. Chris Post author

    I guess the problem is that this doesn’t really open a dialogue, y’know? I mean, besides “Nuh-uh!”, which, while it does apply, isn’t very interesting.

  5. Chris Post author

    I have found that I am somewhere near the middle of the attractive side of the scale, and that I am sufficiently awesome to make up a lot of the remaining gap between me and like Brad Pitt or whoever.

    P.S. U R ugly, instead!

    (Better, but not particularly topical.)

  6. Chris Post author

    Kushiel turns out to be an angel. I’m not sure if angels can be sluts? A chick angel slut might be pretty hot, come to that, but Kushiel is a dude angel, which doesn’t help me a lot.

    (I… I can see that it is. Alas!)

  7. Chris Post author

    He’s the protagonists’ patron… angel, I guess is the right word. You can tell because they hear the clash of bronze wings at least one a book. Well, that, and the BDSM proclivities.

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