BookMattic's Rating: 3/5
Goodreads Rating: 4/5
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book although it was my least favorite of any of the books in the Kushiel's series so far. Unlike the other books this one took a long time to get into the exciting parts of the story and even then it didn't have any grandiose battle at any part during the book. There were few action scenes, but I knew after reading the whole story that it wasn't meant to be an action epic. This book had it's own beauty, a wonderful forbidden love, and utter sadness unlike it's predecessors which in itself made the book worth reading. It was also great to see Imriel grow up and mature even more throughout this book. I truly believe that Imriel has become a responsible adult.
The beginning couple of hundred pages were setting up the forbidden love between Imriel, third in line to the throne and the traitor's get and Sidonie the heir to the throne of Tere D'Ange and Imriel's cousin. At first they thought it might just be a fling and so when the time came for Imriel to do his rightful duty for his nation he was somewhat forced willingly but not happily to wed the princess of Alba, Dorelei and reside in the far off land of Alba as husband and father to the to be heir of Alba if they had any children. Imriel had to make a choice between love and duty, and mostly because of his mother's history he chose duty.
While in Alba Imriel met a few new people, mainly Dorelei his Alban wife which was very loving and caring toward Imriel but she could tell that he loved someone else. Imriel really tried his best to respect his wife and show her love, but he could never love her as much as Sidonie. One of the best things that came out of Imriel and Dorelei's marriage is that he truly grew to love her in his own way though. Dorelei taught Imriel his best lesson yet, not to be so self centered and start thinking more about other people. The second main character is Urist the skilled veteran that has served under Cruarch Drustan, husband of the Queen of Tere D'Ange and Sidonie's father, since the invasion of Tere D'Ange some 20 years ago by the Skaldi. At first Urist seemed very stiff and suspicious of Imriel, but he quickly changed his mind when he saw that Imriel was a good man and didn't want to change anything about Alba. He also respected Imriel because he saw Imriel doing his best to love Dorelei. Of course we got to see some old favorites such as Joscelin, Phèdre, T'Phillipe, Eamon, and Hyacinthe the master of the straights. We got a chance to know a few others.
As soon as Imriel sets foot on Alban soil the story really takes flight. The gist of the story without giving too much away for those of you that haven't read the story yet is that while Imriel first arrives in Alba he somehow gets put under a magic spell that makes his feelings uncontrollable for his deepest desires for the one he loves which of course is Sidonie not Dorelei. This may sound cheesy but it's actually not. This was done by the ones the Albans call 'bear witches'. This sets in turn a dreadful dark event which leaves his wife and unborn child dead at the hands of Berlik, one of the leaders of the 'bear witches', and Imriel nearly dead after the attack. 'Bear witches' have the unique ability to turn themselves into very large bears.
Thankfully Imriel survived the gruesome attack which Berlik had some good reasons for doing, but unfortunately Berlik fled Alba to a far off land. During Imriel's pursuit of vengeance against Berlik he came across few challenges which were for the most part emotional and for the fact that he was practically going on this mission alone due to his mates being stopped somewhere at the border of Skaldia as well as Urist's leg getting injured to the point where he had to wait in a port city for Imriel to return. This aspect of the story was unique and what makes it different from the others. In my opinion it made the story less interesting but also made me connect with Imriel more because he's the only character through most of the last three quarters of the book.
Jacqueline Carey is definitely by far one of my favorite authors and she has made this wonderful fantasy world with so many great characters it's almost hard to keep track of everyone but I feel like she didn't take advantage of the world she created previously. It just didn't come to life like I expected it to. Instead she tried to show us a maturing side of Imriel and the fact that no one should betray Elua's precept 'Love as thou wilt' no matter who it is even if it's your cousin!
As I have finished this book which does do a great job of pumping us up for the next book I know that Kushiel's Mercy is going to be a fantastic conclusion to the series.