~by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey is the third volume of the trilogy featuring Imriel nó Montrève de la Courcel as the protagonist. Or, depending on how you want to count it, the novel is the sixth volume in Carey's series Kushiel's Legacy. Regardless, it is an ending point. I've been reading Kushiel's Legacy from the beginning and I love the books. The series has gained a devoted following and many of the individual volumes have been nominated for and have won various awards and honors. Kushiel's Mercy was first published in 2008, so I'm a few years behind in my reading. I've been taking my time with the series. The books are fairly lengthy, and while the second trilogy's style is less flowery than the first's, there is still quite a bit going on. It was only a matter of time before I got around to reading Kushiel's Mercy, and now I have.
After taking revenge on the person responsible for his wife Dorelei's murder in Alba, Imriel is able to return to Terre d'Ange and the woman he loves with all his soul--Sidonie, the heir to the throne. There are many people in the realm who are unhappy with this situation. Because Imriel is the son of Terre d'Ange's greatest traitor, many suspect his motivations and believe his desire to be impure. Imriel and Sidonie know better. However, in order to prove his intentions to the Queen and the peerage, and in order to be officially recognized as Sidonie's husband, Imriel is ordered to bring his mother to justice. Imriel has not had much happiness in his life, and he is willing to do what he must in order to keep it and the woman he loves. But before he can, Terre d'Ange falls victim to the schemes of Carthage and he must confront a foe even more dangerous than his mother.
It has been wonderful to watch Imriel grow and change ever since his introduction in Kushiel's Avatar and as the protagonist of his own trilogy (Kushiel's Scion, Kushiel's Justice, Kushiel's Mercy). He used to be defined by those around him--his traitorous mother, his heroic foster parents--but in Kushiel's Mercy he has finally become his own person. Imriel has matured greatly throughout Kushiel's Legacy; he now knows who he is and what he wants, and he is willing to fight for his own sake. One of the things that I love about Carey's Kushiel books is that the characters' sexuality is integral to who they are as people and is important to their development. The sex isn't just there to be there (although I'm okay with that, too) but it's an important part of the story for a reason.
I'll admit, there were some aspects of Kushiel's Mercy that I was hesitant about, particularly the prominence of arcane magic in the story. Honestly, I felt a little cheated. At least at first. Terre d'Ange doesn't really have a tradition of arcane magic. Although divine gifts and abilities have always played a part in Kushiel's Legacy, arcane magic's role has always been fairly limited up until now. But by the end of Kushiel's Mercy, Carey had convinced me that the incorporation of arcane magic into her world was the correct one. The story that she wanted to tell couldn't have been told in any other way. However, what probably impressed me most about Kushiel's Mercy, was how skillfully Carey not only ties together Imriel's trilogy but the entire Kushiel cycle as a whole. I found Kushiel's Mercy to be an extremely satisfying ending, but I still look forward to reading the next trilogy as well.