And first I'd like to say, I've seen so many similarities between the Kushiel books and the Earth's Children that ever since I read Dart, I was pretty sure Jacqueline Carey was influenced by Jean Auel. There's no doubt at all now. I really think that these books would appeal to most of my EC crowd, so if you've never looked at them, I recommend you at least give Kushiel's Dart a read.
If you haven't finished the book yet, you should really save this post for later so I don't ruin it for you. Seriously.
I'd also like to add: I'm disappointed that we didn't get to see all the Houses of the Night Court. That's a promise she better follow through on in the next book.
Ok, so I sped through it like crazy and am still not quite through processing it. I'll need to read it again and savor it for sure, but my first impression is that I really, really like it. I thought it was better than Scion (which I looked forward to immensely because I'd been wanting to learn about Tiberium). I'm still not sure if I can compare Imriel's books to Phedre's, so I don't know which I like more, but Justice is high on my Squee Spectrum. I bawled several times, and I'm not sure I've cried quite so many times at a book before. At this point, I also feel I could wager with 98% certainty that I know what the next novel is going to be about, and I almost think I could call the title. I won't, though, because we know what happens if you start meddling after divining...
The world itself has always intrigued me. I love the idea of a race descended from Angels, and gods being alive and at work in the world. A lot of people got upset with Scion because of the whole possession thing and felt it was too far 'out there' (disclaimer: my mom's a channeler, so that was right up my alley anyway) and I've even heard some people complain because the Mahrkagir (sp?) and Name of God were beyond their suspension of disbelief. If that's your leanings, you may not like this book. But bindings, old school earth magic, shape-shifting, and the power of love manifested on earth really made this a fun read, IMO. Even with the major plot spoiler certain book sellers let out a year ago, I still enjoyed discovering how it all went down. I mean, didn't we all know last book that Imriel is a Prince of Terre d'Ange and his story will be as such? If you didn't already know she was going to die, and probably gruesomely, then, well, I guess I'm glad I'm not ruining the next book for you. :D
Oh, what a man Imriel has grown into! As I told a friend, I either fell in love with him or Sidonie – I'm not quite sure which. Maybe Imriel, if only for his wonderful line, “Because I will make you beg” and the way he went about doing just that. I'm so glad to see Imri embracing his sexual power as well as falling in love. It seems he's always got to fight against some part of himself, but I'm actually glad it was magic and not angst this time.
He's such an honorable man, and I loved seeing how he grew in this book. He really tried to love Dorelei and do his duty, and watching him as he prepared to become a father was just too sweet. Proving his worth in Clunderry was awesome all around, and even more so as he kept his vow to avenge Dorelei's death.
With Scion, a lot of people didn't like the switch to Imriel's voice after being too used to Phedre's. I think that in Justice, his voice has grown much more similar to Phedre's. I don't know if that was purposeful to show how he matures, or if maybe making him so angsty in Scion was stretching it a bit. Could just be that Carey is more comfortable in that kind of voice. I noticed more parallels to Dart, like speaking about an instance from a much later perspective. It lost some of the immediacy but lets him ruminate and give the 'Could we have changed anything if we knew then?' spiel.
Now there is a perfect Queen of Terre d'Ange. I hope she gets to, because she'd just rock the realm. I don't have much else to say about that, but I really like her.
The scene where Ysandre discovers them is just too perfect. I'd have expected her to relent and make more amends after the words she threw at Imri and his obvious reaction, but I guess I'll have to wait until next book to find out. She's being more stubborn than fair, which seems out of character. I understand the initial reaction, but having several months to mull it over while half-dead Imri is hunting bear-witches alone in Skaldia makes one think that the Queen would recant. I'm a bit afraid it's more plot device than anything, and I'm hoping like hell that I'm wrong.
I was really surprised at how much I liked Dorelei, too. She wasn't nearly as meek as she seemed with just a passing mention, and I can also empathize with the whole loving the wrong man thing. I really don't think that killing them was the answer. I think a year and a day marriage isn't all that bad, and yeah, if they'd talked to Imri he could have taken more precautions and raised his son right. Oh well, fate's a bitch.
Maslin surprised me, too. I ended up really liking the guy, and that I did not expect.
And, yes, I still like Barquiel L'Envers. Everyone always hates him with a passion, but I always felt he was loathed too much just because Phedre needed a nemesis. Having the books written from her and Imriel's points of view, we read a lot of, “I don't trust him one bit. He's such a bad guy.” and so everyone hates him. I honestly thought he was a nicely fleshed character who always ended up doing the mostly right thing in the end. Sure, he killed people, but influential nobles did that back then. The Stregazzas deserved it. If he and Phedre had worked together instead of her mistrusting him just because Delaunay did, then they could have saved the realm. It pained me all over again to see Imriel hating him just because Phedre did, and now watching Barquiel turn into a nasty guy afterall disappoints me. The whole framing for treason thing bugged me in Scion. I actually loved it when L'Envers rode all night to challenge Imri, and I wish like hell that they could have just fought and come to respect each other. If only Imri hadn't been half-mauled and Barquiel insisting anyway...That was kind of disappointing, but I was glad that he finally cooled off and left without hurting Imriel. I hope he's not an ass in the next one.
It was so wonderful to finally see Imriel and Sidonie together. I think they make a great couple, and I was rooting for that pairing. Especially since she's such a little minx. Rawr! The scene where he took off the crooney-stone to read her letter, ah! Broke my heart. I kind of miss having that kind of all-encompassing passion, and I was reminded of many similar encounters of my own that gave me a nice warm-fuzzy feeling. I think they'd make an excellent King and Queen, and I hope we get to see that in the next book.