With Kushiel’s Scion, Jacqueline Carey returns the reader to the world of Terre D’Ange, whose people are descended from gods and carry passion in the blood. The novel opens with Imriel de la Courcel, the long-missing Prince of the Blood, returning to his home country and joining the household of PhÃ¨dre nÃ³ MontrÃ¨ve and her consort Joscelin Verreuil, heroes of Carey’s first Kushiel trilogy, who rescued him from torment and slavery. Imriel is already regarded with suspicion in the public eyeâ€”and doubts about his loyalty increase when his infamously traitorous mother, Melisande, escapes from her self-imposed prison in neighboring La Serenissima.
In addition to accusations of treachery and deceit, Imriel struggles with his mother’s other legacyâ€”the dangerous desires inherent in his family’s bloodline. Desperate to escape his history and darker urges, Imriel flees to Tiberium, where he encounters the Unseen Guild, a secret organization who taught his mother the arts of covertcy and who now seeks to recruit him.
This novel is something of a departure from Carey’s earlier Kushiel books; though it maintains the complexity of character and the richly articulated world that characterized her first trilogy, it has a much quieter tone and slower pacing. The focus is on Imriel’s internal struggle to reconcile the traits he inherited from his mother with his own desire to do good; the book deals much more with philosophy than action and adversity. However, Carey enlivens the novel with a compelling blend of character personalities, clever subterfuge, and the continuing mystery of Melisande’s schemes that unites this trilogy with her earlier work.
In Scion, the author has done an excellent job of creating a distinct and authentic voice for Imriel, who shares neither the previous heroine PhÃ¨dre’s unique sexuality nor her assurance and sense of self-identity. Terre d’Ange and its familiar locations take on a new character when viewed through Imriel’s eyes; the experience of her world is appreciably different in this book. Imriel himself is a strongly sympathetic and relatable hero, whose thoughts and views change believably as he himself matures and develops over the course of the novel.
To her credit, Carey has not tried to top the epic arc of her first trilogy by introducing an even more staggering series of events; her approach in following more subtle plotlines makes for a very authentic-feeling follow-up to the first trilogy. This start of what seems to be a quieter series of books gives a different and interesting view of life in Terre d’Ange in the wake of heroes.
June 13, 2007 – C. Wright for Senses Five Press