Compared to Kushiel’s Scion, Phèdre and Joscelin return for a much larger portion of this book and they are as awesome as ever. They add excitement and helped me through much of the slog that was the first 300-odd pages. Yes, that’s right. Though previous Kushiel books have been long and probably could have withstood some cutting easily, I never minded the extra. With both Scion and Justice, that extra could have been done without. Seriously, you could knock off the first 200 pages of Kushiel’s Justice and not miss a thing.
Part of the problem is Imriel himself. He has his moments of improvement as well in this book. While he’s married to Dorelei he actually grows as a character. I actually don’t mind him so much. I even find myself starting to care. His relationship with Dorelei is strong, it develops, unlike his “relationship” with his cousin Sidonie. It becomes more reminiscent of the wonderful relationship growth she portrays between Joscelin and Phèdre and I found myself actually enjoying it.
And then… [Spoiler. Highlight to read] Dorelei dies. DIES! What a cop out! How about having characters that have to live and grow beyond their selfish wants? How about letting Imriel and Dorelei grow together as a couple, overcome all their trials and tribulations together? No, let’s just make it easy by killing her off so that Emoriel (as I have come to think of him) can go back to his unbelievable Romeo and Juliet-style relationship with Sidonie! I don’t buy that relationship for a second. I don’t care about Sidonie, I don’t care about Emoriel.[End spoiler] I don’t care so much that I put the book down and never picked it back up, even though I intend to. And I got to the part where it should have been exciting. The revenge ought to get the blood going. But I simply. Did. Not. Care.
Among other things, Jacqueline Carey‘s prose has taken a plummet. The flowery tone is inconsistent and sentences are often choppy and plagued with grammatical mistakes. The plot is far too thin for the length of the book. And the sex! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there was too much sex. And it has nothing to do with quantity (though there definitely was quite a bit of it), but quality. Or really, lack thereof. With the exceptions of the scenes with Dorelei, they’re all repetitive and boring. I don’t care how hot Emoriel is for Sidonie. I don’t want to hear about Sidonie’s young, creamy, tight flesh over and over again. And I know Phèdre was an odd creature, but I was never before under the impression that D’Angeline women turned on like faucets if a man just looks at them right. When did that happen?
Okay, well, that wasn’t maybe as successful as I would have liked. But I’m annoyed because the first Kushiel trilogy was so fantastic and this was… sad. As sad as poor little Emoriel.
~Beth Johnson Sonderby
A disappointing installment in this excellent series.