Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey

Having read the Kushiel trilogy (okay, there are more than three books, but the original three make up one coherent trilogy) by Jacqueline Carey I was happy to pick up the newest addition to the series. Carey's books are described as "sexual fantasy," which is an odd term for so many reasons. First, her works are no more sexual than your average romance books, but no one would ever call them "sexual romance." Second, sexual fantasy somehow sounds like a pornographic sex with aliens type idea. It's really not. Her books just happen to be set in a world with sexual freedoms and assumptions quite different from our own which do revolve around the sexual relationships of characters. But there's nothing in the book to make you blush - well too much.

Kushiel's Scion is a companion/continuation of the original series, I enjoyed it. The main character is the adopted son of Phedre, the heroine from the original books. Which brings up a slightly picky but nonetheless annoying point. Why put Phedre on the cover of the book if the book isn't about her? It goes back to the sexual fantasy description. Because of Carey's pigeonholed genre I feel as though the editors wouldn't want to put an 18 year old boy on the front because it might deter the reader or give them the wrong idea. But, looking at the cover I would have never guessed anything about the plot. But I digress...

Kushiel's Scion is looooooooooooong!! And I don't mean the 940+ pages of the story. All of Carey's books are weighty tomes. But the story is unnecessarily long. There are a few points at which I wished 50+ page descriptions had been rewritten with "it was a long and busy winter." In trying to give the image of how Imriel, the hero of the story, has developed, Carey feels it necessary to show - in explicit detail - every moment in his development. There is finally a point when Imriel says, more or less, "enough, I want to go home." There are 250 pages to go at that point and I found myself skimming. Something I almost NEVER do in fiction. 

I like Carey's stories in a fun, escapist way. She has a different way of looking at society that makes me stop and rethink from time to time. She is open-minded in a way that I find refreshing. I don't think her books would appeal to everyone. You definitely would NOT want to read this novel if you didn't understand the original Phedre trilogy. But all that having been said, I would recommend this book - especially to people who enjoy Arthurian quests and love triangles.


Saffron said...

Mmmm, I quite enjoy those long, 50 pages of descriptions. Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for the visceral way in which Carey explores her world. I just can't get enough.

A Gwen Nelson said...

Thanks for your comment Saffron. I do like the escapism of Carey's writing. I agree that her worlds come to life through her writing. I never felt frustrated in the other books like I did in this one. I think I wanted the character's problems to finally be resolved.