Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey is the sixth book in the Kushiel Legacy series and the final book in the Imriel Trilogy. It focuses more on a sword-and-sorcery plot line plus the romance between Sidonie and Imriel. You won’t get much in the way of high political intrigue though.
The Romance: This is the highlight of the story. Imriel’s going to have to woo his lover Sidonie all over again. He goes to desperate lengths to save her when she gets married to the villain.
The sex scenes were well-written though there were far fewer than in Kushiel’s Justice. Sidonie shines in this final book of the Imriel Trilogy in terms of her actions for Imriel and the nation of Terre D’Ange. Jacqueline really brings home how star-crossed these two lovers really are.
The romance was neatly tied with the overall plot development.
The Plot: It felt like your classic fantasy storyline. You’ve got mind-bending, nasty magic at work. There’s an evil sorcerer and a warlord hell bent on taking over the world.
Imriel must find a way to break the sorcerer’s spell before his homeland is plunged into civil war. Of course his lover Sidonie is mixed up in this business. I won’t go into great detail because I don’t want to spoil things for you but the Sidonie romance is definitely a key part to breaking the spell over the City of Elua.
There are one or two major and surprising plot twists in the story. These twists really ratchet up the suspense. Near the end, you wonder if Imriel will succeed in saving his foster parents, save Sidonie from losing herself forever and stop the start of a civil war in Terre D’Ange.
It all hinges on one final moment that depends in part on a stroke of divine aid (hence the title “Kushiel’s Mercy”). Well, you might call it divine inspiration.
The World: Imriel travels to Carthage, Cythera and a few other places. The most detail goes to Carthage where Imriel spends an interesting time wooing Sidonie back into his life — without realizing he’s doing so. Suffice it to say, the world’s descriptions and cultures took a bit of a back seat in this novel.
The Characters: It felt like Imriel hit the end of the road of his character development. There’s not much going on for him except coming to terms with his feelings for his mother, Melisande Shahrizai — who he turns to for help despite promising to bring her to justice at the start of the novel.
Sidonie changes in this novel too. Most of the story is told from Imriel’s point of view so it was tough to appreciate her feelings after what happened in Carthage.
There are some minor characters introduced and used but they weren’t as entertaining as characters from previous books in the series. Kratos was key to helping Imriel with the Carthage situation but then takes a back seat in the last quarter of the book.
The Intrigue: If you’re expecting a whole lot of cloak and dagger intrigue you’re not going to find it. There really isn’t any. There’s politically charged situations but nothing like what you saw in Phedre’s story (Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen).
Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey is strong on the steamy romance and its two major plot twists will keep you glued to its pages. For a finale of Imriel’s trilogy it does a pretty good job of tying everything up. If you’re expecting much in terms of world building, character development or cloak-and-dagger intrigue you won’t get it, however.