(Cover picture courtesy of Wikipedia.)
Imriel de la Courcel’s birth parents are history’s most reviled traitors, but his adoptive parents, the Comtesse Phedre and the warrior-priest Joscelin, are Terre d’Ange’s greatest champions.
Stolen, tortured and enslaved as a young boy, Imriel is now a Prince of the Blood; third in line for the throne in a land that revels in art, beauty and desire. It is a court steeped in deeply laid conspiracies—and there are many who would see the young prince dead. Some despise him out of hatred for his mother, Melisande, who nearly destroyed the entire realm in her quest for power. Others because they fear he has inherited his mother’s irresistible allure—and her dangerous gifts.
As he comes of age, plagued by unwanted desires, Imriel shares their fears. When a simple act of friendship traps Imriel in a besieged city where the infamous Melisande is worshiped as a goddess and where a dead man leads an army, the Prince must face his greatest test: to find his true self.
I was skeptical about the spin-off Imriel Trilogy after the Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy was so good. But what I like about hearing Imriel’s story is that it’s a coming-of-age story in which the protagonist truly struggles with a terrible past in order to find out who he is. He has very real trust issues, he’s scared of his mother’s reputation following him everywhere and most of all, he still has the emotional scars he gained in Darsanga.
You can’t help but cheer for Imriel the whole way as he tries to overcome his past and discover what his future will be like. From his escapades in Tiberium to his burgeoning love life back home, he’s quite a likeable character. Imriel really does go on a physical, but also spiritual and emotional journey to find healing and make peace with his past. He does both great and not-so-great things along the way, but in the end he comes out as a better person. Yet still, because of his past, he has trouble reconciling the fact that he is of Kushiel’s line just as his mother is. But with friends like Eammon and Lucius, you have the feeling that he’s in good hands.
The complicated politics of Jacqueline Carey’s world are still at play here, which includes the fallout of Melisande’s treachery. There’s also the movement in Tiberium to return to a republic rather than having a princeps who is more of an emperor than anything. Not only that, part of the fallout of Melisande’s treachery is that although Imriel is third in line, there are those that would quite willingly murder Ysandre’s daughters to help him gain the throne. It makes me happy that Jacqueline Carey’s books are not just shamelessly sex-filled, but that she actually developed a world and populates it with three dimensional characters that have realistic motivations. Not many authors can do that, believe me.
I give this book 5/5 stars.