(Cover picture courtesy of LOVEandLIVEtoREAD.)
Imriel de la Courcel’s blood parents are history’s most reviled traitors, while his adoptive parents, Phèdre and 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 beauty, art, and desire.
After a year abroad to study at university, Imriel returns from his adventures a little older and somewhat wiser. But perhaps not wise enough. What was once a mere spark of interest between himself and his cousin Sidonie now ignites into a white-hot blaze. But from commoner to peer, the whole realm would recoil from any alliance between Sidonie, heir to the throne, and Imriel, who bears the stigma of his mother’s of his mother’s misdeeds and betrayals. Praying that their passion will peak and fade, Imriel and Sidonie embark on an intense, secret affair.
Blessed Elua founded Terre d’Ange and bestowed one simple precept to guide his people: Love as thou wilt. When duty calls, Imriel honors his role as a member of the royal family by leaving to marry a lovely, if merely sweet, Alban princess. By choosing duty over love, Imriel and Sidonie may have unwittingly trespassed against Elua’s law. But when dark powers in Alba, who fear an invasion by Terre d’Ange, seek to use the lovers’ passion to bind Imriel, the gods themselves take notice.
Before the end, Kushiel’s justice will be felt in heaven and on earth.
Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at Kushiel’s Justice. Not only did we get to see more of the politics in the countries around Terre d’Ange, but Imriel really grew as a character. He’s so much more mature by the end of the book than he was at the beginning, let alone the beginning of his trilogy.
Poor Imriel! Contrary to the precepts of Elua, Ysandre sends Imriel off to marry an Alban princess named Dorelei in a political match. This is especially heartbreaking as Imriel and Sidonie finally realize just how much they really do love each other. What surprised me most about Imriel is his maturity about the whole arranged marriage, especially by the end of the book. Although he loved Sidonie he put duty first and I don’t want to give too much away, but you just know that it will end badly for Imriel and Dorelei. And although Imriel is heartbroken at having to part Sidonie, he still sucks it up and eventually learns to treat Dorelei as she deserves and learns to love her in his own way.
The plot is not what I’d call fast-paced, but that’s really not the point of the book. The point is Imriel’s amazing adventure across Jacqueline Carey’s vivid fantasy world as well as his own inner journey. Jacqueline Carey is hardly easy on poor Imriel, which makes him a better character for it. Background characters like Sidonie and Dorelei are three dimensional as well and although we only see them through Imriel’s eyes, you get the feeling there’s far more to them than just being love interests/plot devices.
If you loved Kushiel’s Scion, you’ll enjoy Kushiel’s Justice even more. Imriel grows as a character and does learn to overcome some of his demons from the past and confronts every challenge he faces. He’s a loyal, determined and caring person who makes for a great narrator that you can’t help but fall in love with. That doesn’t mean he does have flaws—he certainly does—but that he learns to overcome some of those flaws and is a better person for it. His unexpected action at the end of the book just reveals how much he has changed.
I give this book 5/5 stars.