~by Jacqueline Carey
During Jacqueline Carey's last book tour, on which I got to meet her, I asked what was the one scene that was personally most difficult for her to write. She answered that it was a scene in Kushiel's Avatar where she stayed true to the characters and to the plot, which resulted in some pretty horrible things happening. While I don't remember exactly which scene she was referring to, I'm pretty sure I know which one it was because it made me want to cry when I read it.
It's been ten years since Kushiel's Chosen takes place and Phèdre is both more mature and wiser. She has spent her time in intense research and study, searching for the answer to her best friend's freedom. Hyacinthe, now the Master of the Straits, has been caught in an longstanding curse trapping him on a remote and lonely island and slowly driving him mad.
When she has exhausted all her resources and is still no closer to obtaining Hyacinthe's freedom, she receives a plea from Melisande Sharizai, Phèdre's one-time patron and traitor to the crown. Her son Imriel, who is the third in line to the throne, has been stolen away and she wants Phèdre to find him. In return, she offers knowledge, information that may lead to the breaking of the curse.
Phèdre accepts the challenge, not knowing that the search will take her to the darkest reaches of the land and her soul. And not only her--Joscelin, her love and constant companion, will also have to face the horrors that await them both.
Kushiel's Avatar does go to some dark places, but it also has some wondrous moments of light, as well. Steeped in mythology, legend, and gods, Carey continues to amaze me with the depth and detail that she puts into her world. While this book didn't capture me as completely as the first two, Carey's writing is still as beautiful and sumptuous as ever. The third book in the original trilogy, it gives a nice sense of resolve to the story while leaving opportunity to return to the characters and world. The next trilogy of books switch their focus from Phèdre and Joscelin to Imriel, and I am most definitely looking forward to reading them.