Saturday, December 23, 2006

Kushiel's Scion; J. Carey

Written by Jacqueline Carey and published this past June by Warner. It is the first of a new trilogy which follows on after the end of the original Kushiel trilogy. I'm on the fence about whether or not a new Kushiel reader would have to read the last book (Kushiel's Avatar) in the previous series. I suppose reading KA would be helpful because it would explain relevant historical background and provide character motivation for the current book. OTOH, there is probably enough background detailed in Scion that a new reader could get away with avoiding Avatar. I guess it depends on how much background and detail you want and if you have enough stamina to read both books in a row.

The main character is Imriel no Montreve de la Courcel, third in line to the throne of Terre d'Ange. Kushiel's Scion, at its heart, is Imriel's coming of age tale. Ms. Carey has done an admirable job portraying pretty typical teenage angst amid a twisted and complicated tale of political intrigue. Imriel himself has been deeply emotionally and physically scarred in his young life; by his mother, by the political and cultural mess she created and then left him to, by his capitivity and slavery in what we would likely call the Middle East.

There are two scenes which stand out in my mind. First Imriel's visit to Balm House on the eve of his sixteenth birthday. Second, his visit to Valerian House with his Shahrizai kin (his mother's folk). Another issue that arises which I feel is particularly well done. Imriel has a torrid affair which exposes both his faults and his strengths. Carey shows how lust and desire can overpower a person's better judgement and common sense. Imriel's age is a factor, yet Carey reveals the universal truths of troubled but compelling- almost irresistable- relationships.

Much of Scion involves character building. I'm a little surprised I found a teenager to be quite so compelling. Perhaps Imriel was a little..I don't know naive. Blind to certain situations and repucussions. Things which could be attributed to his age. Imriel learns that one's fate isn't predestined by the traits and circumstances one is born into. Life is what one makes of it. Too he learns sometimes one has to decide between two bad choices- life isn't neat or clean or easy. Difficult lessons at any age I think.

There is plenty of action to go around, but much of it seems to be for Imriel rather than advancing the overarching plot. Then again, this is only the first book of the new series, so who knows which events will prove more important than others? I very much enjoyed this book & highly recommend it to you.


CindyS said...

Hmmm, I have yet to read the first trilogy but do have the first in my TBR pile. I have been dropping in but the last few times I could barely see the screen I was so tired - I am getting up at 7am and in bed by 10pm but there were a few nights I was fighting to stay awake.

On that note I wanted to say I'm glad to hear the GF was able to go home and I hope Son #1 gets to see her!

I just now got to read your Advent Tour and I love your Christmas Memory - I rarely like people in art but some of my favourite have snow ladden streets and cheerfully dressed shoppers. And I'm a real sucker for the moonlight ;) I haven't listened to the music yet because I would have to get up to turn the speakers on and its the first time I've sat today so it's not happening!

And Christmas lights - Grrrrrr.


Bookwormom said...

Merry Christmas Cindy! I hope Santa brings you what you asked for!