Tag Archives: alternate history renaissance France

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.