Thursday, May 10, 2007

Book Review: Kushiel's Scion

So I'll start out by saying that I liked the book. But I didn't love it. And I didn't love it for one reason, having to do with knowing what the author produced in the past and feeling that this book didn't really live up to that. If it was a stand alone book, meaning that if it wasn't a book in a series of books dealing with the same characters, I might've been willing to accept it on its own, but as it is, being a follow up to the books that came before it, I had a hard time accepting it.

Let me explain. Once upon a time there was this book see? Sitting in a corner of the local conglomo bookstore, see? And it peeked my interest because it had this awesome cover on it, with a beautiful girl with this awesome back tattoo exposed and I was intrigued. I picked it up and I immediately got hooked. That book was Kushiel's Dart, and I ate it up, every single word. Yes, it can be considered a rooooooooomance novel and yes there were some very explicit scenes. Fine I admit it, FIGHTING NUN, but there was a lot more to it than that, if you'd just let me explain, FIGHTING NUN. Beneath the desire and passion lied a truly amazing, sprawling tale, and Carey painted a very visual picture of court intrigue and war and of fierce loyalty that just took me by surprise. So I read the other two books and ate it up.

Then I heard about Kushiel's Scion, which picks up with the same characters, years later but under different narration. The first three were written in first person, under the voice of the main character, Phedre. This fourth book is narrated by her adopted son Imriel as he navigates his way through court intrigue and also through his adolescence. The book, as the other books did, does a great job of framing and shaping the main character. But the other books also succeeded in telling a very sprawling, intriguing story with lots of build-up and intensity, where I feel this one failed. Not for lack of trying, but it did. The set up was all there, but when I got to the end, all I could think of was "That's it?" All that work, all the build-up and anticipation for... that? And before you start, I know what you're going to say. That it's the first book in a new series with this narrator and there's more to it. And I agree with you and I truly want to get Kushiel's Justice in my grubby little mitts to continue the story. But if you compare this story arc versus the story arc covered in the first book, it kind of pales in comparison. *Spoiler Alert for those of you who haven't read Kushiel's Dart and want to* Phedre thwarted a full scale war of nations! *Spoiler Alert for those you who haven't read Kushiel's Scion* All Imriel did was fight in a little city-state siege. If I hadn't been aware of the story Carey was capable of telling from the first three books, this book as a stand-alone would be fine, but having read the first three, I'm aware of what she's capable of and this one felt like a mild let down. She laid out the ground work for a great follow-up book, but this one still felt lacking somehow. My rating: B, almost a B+

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