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Kushiel's Scion (Kushiel's Legacy Series #4)
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Kushiel's Scion (Kushiel's Legacy Series #4)

4.4 138
by Jacqueline Carey

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Imriel de la Courcel's birth parents are history's most reviled traitors, but his adoptive parents, the Comtesse Phedre and the warrior-priest Joscelin, are Terre d'Ange's greatest champions. Stolen, tortured and enslaved as a young boy, Imriel is now a Prince of the Blood; third in line for the throne in a land that revels in art, beauty and desire. It is a court


Imriel de la Courcel's birth parents are history's most reviled traitors, but his adoptive parents, the Comtesse Phedre and the warrior-priest Joscelin, are Terre d'Ange's greatest champions. Stolen, tortured and enslaved as a young boy, Imriel is now a Prince of the Blood; third in line for the throne in a land that revels in art, beauty and desire. It is a court steeped in deeply laid conspiracies...and there are many who would see the young prince dead. Some despise him out of hatred for his mother, Melisande, who nearly destroyed the entire realm in her quest for power. Others because they fear he has inherited his mother's irresistible allure...and her dangerous gifts. As he comes of age, plagued by unwanted desires, Imriel shares their fears. When a simple act of friendship traps Imriel in a besieged city where the infamous Melisande is worshiped as a goddess and where a dead man leads an army, the Prince must face his greatest test: to find his true self.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Fans of Jacqueline Carey's shelf-bending fantasy trilogy Kushiel's Legacy (Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, and Kushiel's Avatar) will rejoice in the author's return to the exotic and unabashedly erotic realm of Terre d'Ange, with Kushiel's Scion, the first book in a trilogy chronicling the life of Imriel de la Courcel. This sequence follows Imriel (the foster son of Phèdre nó Delaunay and her consort, Joscelin Verreuil), as he comes of age and sturggles to find his true self -- even at the risk of unearthing a heritage fraught with infamy.

After being saved from a childhood of slavery and torture, Imriel was adopted by champions Phèdre and Joscelin. Now, a teenager, he's a handsome prince -- but in a court steeped in deadly intrigue, he can never live down the notoriety of being the birth son of Melisande Shahrizai, a sadistic villainess who nearly destroyed the realm. Imriel decides to leave home to study abroad as an anonymous student, but in his quest for wisdom he comes face to face with his deadliest adversary: himself.

While the Kushiel novels are best known for their wild, sadomasochistic sensuality, it's almost disrespectful to look at the saga simply as erotic fantasy; it's so much more than that. Marshaling dozens of complex and interconnecting themes -- political and social conflicts, deep-seated cultural differences, honor, faith, the importance of family and friendship, existentialism vs. predestination, etc. -- Carey has created a richly historied and vividly described medieval realm that readers will not soon forget. There's a reason why literally hundreds of fans have tattooed themselves with the briar rose marques described in the novels (www.jacquelinecarey.com/gallery_tats.htm) -- and like those tattoos, this intense and disturbingly beautiful saga will stay with readers for a long, long time. Paul Goat Allen
Imriel de la Courcel is both blessed and afflicted with rare powers. The prince of Terre d'Ange cannot only deliver exquisite pain at will; he holds the power to discern men's souls. With these gifts, he can enact vengeance in a hostile world. He discovers that learning the precept of love is much more difficult. A welcome addition to the Renaissance world portrayed in Kushiel's Avatar.
Publishers Weekly
The magnificent fourth book in Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series marks the start of a new trilogy set in Terre d'Ange, the author's reimagined Renaissance world. The story picks up where volume three, Kushiel's Avator (2003), left off, though Imriel no Montreve de la Courcel, a prince of the blood, now narrates in place of the unforgettable heroine of the previous books, Phedre no Delauney. As a boy, Imriel is abandoned by his treasonous parents and subjected to terrible indignities by pirates. Later rescued and adopted by Phedre, he grows into a position of authority and learns many skills, including sexual prowess. He has a torrid affair with a married woman, and finally survives a terrible siege at a walled city he courageously defends. The specter of Imriel's sinister, absent mother, Melisande Shahrizai, looms over the action. Credible and gripping, this is heroic fantasy at its finest. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Born the son of two of the Kingdom of Terre d'Ange's most infamous traitors, Imriel de la Courcel has grown to near-manhood under the loving care of the Comtesse of Montreve and her consort, two of the land's greatest heroes. Seeking to find his calling and gain experience as someone other than a "Prince of the Blood," Imriel travels to the country of Tiberium. When political intrigue sparks the city to riot, catching Imriel in its midst, the young man must confront his true self to find the path he was born to follow. Carey (the "Kushiel's Legacy" series-Kushiel's Dart; Kushiel's Chosen; Kushiel's Avatar) has taken her tale of a land blessed by the gods into a new generation as the sons and daughters of familiar characters search for ways to leave their mark on the world. Her exotic alternate earth, set in a Renaissance-like time of cultural flowering and sensual gratification, provides a lush backdrop for a cast of compelling and fascinating characters. With particular appeal to fans of Terry Goodkind, Tanith Lee, and Storm Constantine, this evocative debut in a new trilogy, strong enough to stand on its own but enriched by other series titles, belongs in most libraries. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The opening installment of another doorstopper trilogy, set in the same quasi-Europe as Kushiel's Avatar (2003), etc. The exquisitely beautiful inhabitants of Terre d'Ange, descendants of angels, are bidden by their gods to "love as thou wilt." The "anguisette" Phedre-her fate is to experience pain as pleasure-and her consort, Joscelin the former warrior-priest, have adopted young Imriel de la Courcel, son of the demonic traitor Melisande, after having rescued him from sexual slavery and torture. As he grows toward manhood, Imriel must confront those terrible experiences and the dark urges they provoke within him. Then Melisande, confined on pain of death within a temple following her treacherous attempt to seize the throne, vanishes. Those at Court not inclined to trust Imriel now have reason to redouble their suspicions. While confined, Melisande wrote many letters to Imriel, none of which he has read; now he asks Phedre to read them, hoping for clues as to his birth-mother's whereabouts and intentions. A few of Imriel's rivalries at Court develop into enmities, though he becomes great friends with Prince Eamonn of Eire. Queen Ysandre urges him to marry into the family of her husband, Drustan, Cruarch of Alba-the children of such a union would inherit Alba's throne-but Imriel refuses, instead tying himself to Ysandre's daughter Sidonie through their mutual attraction and the secret oath of loyalty he has sworn her. Finally, he resolves to join Eamonn in Tiberium as a student-and the plots begin in earnest. No great claims to originality, but skillfully rendered, sensual and thoroughly engrossing-this will appeal to newcomers and fans of the first trilogy alike.
From the Publisher
"Intelligent, sexy, heartbreakingly human.... Carey at her intoxicating best." ---Booklist Starred Review

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Kushiel's Legacy Series , #4
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Kushiel's Scion

By Jacqueline Carey


Copyright © 2006 Jacqueline Carey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-50002-X

Chapter One

WE WERE ATTENDING a country fair when the news came.

For a while, a long while, after our final return to Terre d'Ange, life was blissfully uneventful. Having had enough adventures to last me a lifetime, I was grateful for it. Whether in the City or at Montreve, I tended to my studies, immersed in the daily business of living and content to let the affairs of the world pass me by untouched. Phedre and Joscelin did all they could to allow this respite to endure, sensing there was healing in it for me.

There was, too. As the slow months passed and turned into years, I felt things knotted tight inside me ease. My nightmares grew less and less frequent, and the times of happiness longer.

Still, even Phedre and Joscelin couldn't protect me forever.

It was my third summer in Montreve. I had turned fourteen in the spring, though I looked younger, being slow to get my full growth. The Queen's chirurgeon claimed it was due to the shock of enslavement and what had befallen me in Dars=anga, and mayhap it was so. I only know that I chafed at it. My parents were both tall; or so I am told. I cannot say, having never known my father. If it's true, it is the only gift of theirs I'd ever wished for.

The fair was held in an open field on the outskirts of the village, alongside theriver. It was a small gathering. Montreve was not a large estate, and the village it bordered-which was also called Montreve-was modest in size. But it was a fair, and I was young enough to be excited at the prospect of it.

We made for a merry entourage as we rode forth from the estate: Phedre, Joscelin, and I, accompanied by her chevalier Ti-Philippe, his companion Hugues, and a few other men-at-arms, all of them clad in the forest-green livery of House Montreve. The Friote clan was already there, tending to our wool-trading interests. The bulk of our wool would be shipped elsewhere for sale, but there were always small landowners looking to buy.

There were other goods available for purchase or trade, too: fabrics and yarns, livestock, produce, spices, and other uninteresting items. Of greater interest, at least to me, were the crafters' booths, which displayed a fascinating array-leather goods, arms and bits of armor, jewelry, mirrors, mysterious vials of unguents, musical instruments, and intricately carved toys. Not all of them were meant for children, either.

Best of all, there were Tsingani, with horses for sale. Not many-the pick of the lot sold at the great horse fairs in the spring-but a few. We spotted their brightly painted wagons from the road, and I saw Phedre smile at the sight. There was a time when the Tsingani wouldn't have been welcome at a small country fair, but a lot has changed since those days. In Montreve, they were always welcome.

There were a few good-natured cheers and shouts of greeting as we arrived, which Phedre acknowledged with a laughing salute. She was always gracious that way, and well-loved because of it. We tethered our mounts at the picket line and Joscelin gave a few coins to the village lads who hung about to attend them.

Ti-Philippe and the others remained mounted. "I'll take Hugues and Colin and ride a quick circuit," he said to Joscelin, who gave a brief nod in reply. "Marcel and the others will cast an eye over the fair proper."

I hated hearing that sort of thing. It cast a pall over the day's brightness, knowing it was because of me. Queen Ysandre was insistent that my security was paramount, and a fair brought strangers into the area. They were only being cautious; but still, I hated it.

Joscelin eyed me, noting my expression. "Take heart," he said wryly. "When you come of age, you'll be free to take all the risks you like."

"Four years!" I protested. "It's forever."

A corner of his mouth twitched. "You think so?" He tousled my hair lightly. I hated when almost anyone else did it-I didn't like people touching me-but my heart always gave a secret leap of happiness when Phedre or Joscelin did. "It won't seem it, I promise." He glanced at Phedre then, and something passed between them; a shared and private understanding.

There are those who laugh at their union, although not many. Not now, after all they have endured together. It's true, though. 'Tis an unlikely pairing, Kushiel's Chosen and a Servant of Naamah in love with a Cassiline warrior-priest.

Phedre was a courtesan, sworn to the service of Blessed Elua's Companion Naamah, who gave herself to the King of Persis to win Elua's freedom, and who lay down in the stews of Bhodistan with strangers that he might eat. It is a sacred calling in Terre d'Ange, though it is not one practiced by many peers of the realm. But Phedre was a Servant of Naamah long before she inherited Delaunay's title and estate, and although she has not practiced it since Dars=anga, she has never renounced Naamah's Service.

And Joscelin-Joscelin was a Cassiline Brother when they met, although he left the Brotherhood for her sake. From the age of ten, he was trained to be a warrior-priest, sworn to celibacy. Alone among the Companions, Cassiel claimed no territory in Terre d'Ange and begot no offspring, but remained ever at Blessed Elua's side. That is the vow of the Cassiline Brotherhood: To protect and serve.

The Cassilines are very good at what they do; but Joscelin, I think, is better.

"What will you, love?" he asked Phedre, indicating the fair with the sweep of an arm. His steel vambraces glinted in the sun. "Pleasure or the duties of the manor? The Tsingani or the Friotes?"

"Ah, well." She cocked her head. "We could glance at the fabric stalls on the way to either one. If there's aught of interest, it won't last long."

I groaned inside. I hated looking at fabric.

Although I made no audible sound, Phedre's gaze settled on me, dark and unnerving. Her eyes were beautiful, deep and lustrous as forest pools, with a mote of scarlet floating on the left iris, vivid as a rose petal. And she was capable of a look that saw right through one. There were reasons for it.

"All right." She smiled and beckoned to another of the men-at-arms. "Gilot, will you accompany Imriel to-to the Tsingani horse-fields, is it?"

"Yes, please!" I couldn't help the grin that stretched my face.

Gilot swept an extravagant bow. "Lady, with a will!"

He was my favorite retainer, after Ti-Philippe and Hugues, who were almost family. He was the youngest-only eighteen, the age of majority I coveted. But he was good with a sword and quick-thinking, which were qualities Joscelin looked for in hiring retainers. I liked him because he treated me as an equal, not a responsibility.

Together we plunged into the fair and began forging a path toward the horse-fields. "They've got one of those spotted horses from Aragonia, did you see?" Gilot asked. "I spied it from the road. I wouldn't mind having one."

I made a noise of agreement.

"Whip-smart and smooth-gaited, they say." He shrugged. "Next year, mayhap, if I save my coin!" A stand of leather goods caught his eye. "Ah, hold a moment, will you, Imri? My sword-belt's worn near enough to snap near the buckle. It was my brother's anyway. I ought to buy new."

I loitered at Gilot's side while he perused the goods available, and the leather-merchant made a great show of exclaiming over my own belt. It was a man's belt, though it held only a boy's dagger. "What have you there, little man?" he asked in a jovial, condescending tone. "Boar-hide?"

"No." I smiled coolly at him. "Rhinoceros."

He blinked, perplexed. Gilot gave a sidelong glance, nudging me with his elbow. The belt had been a gift from Ras Lijasu, a Prince of Jebe-Barkal. Gilot knew the story behind it. The merchant blinked a few more times. "A rhinoceros, is it? Good for you, little man!"


I turned, recognizing the voice. At an adjacent stall, Katherine Friote beckoned imperiously, shoving up the sleeve of her gown.

"Come here and smell this," she said.

I went, obedient. Katherine was in the middle of the Friote clan, a year and some months my elder. In the past year, she had begun to ... change ... in a fascinating manner. The skinny, bossy girl I had met two summers ago had become a young woman, a head taller than me. She thrust her wrist beneath my nose.

"What do you think?" she asked.

I swallowed hard. She had rubbed a dab of perfumed ointment on her skin, and the scent was strong and cloying, like overblown lilies. Beneath it, faint and elusive, I could smell her own scent, like a sun-warmed meadow.

"I think you smell better without it," I said honestly.

The perfume-seller made a disgusted sound. I thought Katherine would be annoyed with me, but instead she wore a look of amusement. She bobbed a teasing curtsy in my direction. "Why, thank you, Prince Imriel."

"You're welcome." My face felt unaccountably warm.

"Prince, is it?" The perfume-seller turned his head and spat on the ground. Obviously, he was a stranger to Montreve. "Prince of sheep-dung, I'll warrant!"

At that moment, Gilot appeared at my side, wearing a sword-belt so new that it creaked over his Montrevan livery. "Well met, Demoiselle Friote," he said cheerfully. "Would you care to accompany us to the Tsingani camp? His highness has a fancy to see the spotted horse, and the Comtesse has given us her blessing."

Now it was Katherine who blushed at Gilot's chivalrous attention, while the perfume-seller opened and closed his mouth several times, fishlike, then squinted hard at me. I muttered somewhat under my breath about spotted horses, which all of them ignored.

"Shall we?" Gilot asked Katherine, extending his arm and smiling at her. He had a lively, handsome face and brown eyes quick to sparkle with mirth. Still, it irked me to see Katherine dote on him.

We made our way through the stalls, pausing for Gilot to purchase a sweet of candied violets for Katherine. Through the crowd, I caught a glimpse of Phedre at a cloth-seller's stall, examining bolts of fabric. The merchant was fawning over her. At her side, Joscelin observed the process with an expression of long tolerance. He stood in the Cassiline at-ease position, arms crossed, hands resting lightly on the hilts of his twin daggers.

I mulled over my irritation as we continued walking, kicking at clumps of foot-churned grass. "I wish you wouldn't say such things," I said at length. "Not here."

"What things?" Gilot gave me a perplexed look.

"Prince," I said. "Highness."

"Well, but you are." He scratched his head. "Look, Imri, I know-I mean, I understand, a bit. But you are who you are, and there's no changing it. Anyway, there's no call to let some tawdry peddler insult you. I'm not one to let it pass unnoted."

I shrugged. "I've heard worse."

"You didn't mind so much when I said it." Katherine glanced at me under her lashes. The sun brought out golden streaks in her glossy brown hair, and sparkled on tiny crumbs of sugar clinging to her lips.

I looked away. "Please, forget I spoke of it."

These new feelings Katherine evoked shouldn't have disturbed me. In Terre d'Ange, the arts of love came to us easily and young; or so it should be. I was different. It wasn't that I was immune to the promptings of desire-in the past several months, I had grown uncomfortably aware of desire stirring in my flesh. But in the zenana of Dars=anga, death and desire were inextricably linked. I couldn't think about one without the shadow of the other hanging over it. So at a time when boys my age were conducting fumbling experiments with one another and begging kisses from girls, I kept myself aloof, afraid and untouchable.

Gilot sighed. "Come on, let's go."

I forgot my grievances in the Tsingani camp. There were two kumpanias present with three wagons between them. The wagons were drawn in a circle, with their horses tethered at the rear. At the front of the wagons, women tended cooking fires where kettles of stew and pottage simmered. The unwed women wore their hair uncovered and loose and made long eyes at the Tsingani men, and all of them wore galb displaying their wealth, necklaces and earrings strung with gold coins. A few of the men were engaged in haggling with potential buyers, but most of them idled in the center of the circle. Bursts of music issued forth as one or another began to play-fiddle or timbales, accompanied by rhythmic clapping and snatches of song.

It would be a good life, I think, to be one of the Travellers; or at least it would be for a man. It was harder for Tsingani women, who must abide by a stringent code of behavior lest they lose their virtue; their laxta, they called it. If that happened, they were declared anathema.

It is better now than it once was. Much of that is due to Hyacinthe, who is the Master of the Straits and wields a power beyond the mortal ken. I know, for I have seen it; seen wind and wave answer to his command. He was one of them, once-a half-breed Tsingano, born to a woman who lost her virtue through no fault of her own. In the end, they would have had him as their king, but he refused it. Still, he has urged change upon them and many of the Tsingani have eased the strictures they impose on their women. Hyacinthe has reason to be concerned with the lot of women, since it is to Phedre that he owes his freedom.

I shivered in the warm sunlight, remembering the day she spoke the Name of God and broke the curse that bound him to an immortality of dwindling age on that lonely island. There are some memories so profound they cannot be conveyed in words.

Some of them, for a mercy, are good ones.

Gilot let out a low whistle, breaking my reverie. "Look at him, will you! What a beauty."

There was an admiring crowd around the spotted horse staked on the outskirts of the circle. I had to own, the horse was a beauty-a powerfully arched neck, strong, straight legs, a smooth back. His coat was a deep red-bay, speckled with white as though, in the middle of summer, he stood amidst a snowstorm. He basked in the adulation of the crowd, tossing his head and stamping his forefeet, almost as though to beat time with the nearby timbales.

"Imriel, Katherine!" Charles Friote detached himself from the throng of admirers and waved us over. He was my age, though to my chagrin, he too had grown in the past year, overtaking me by a head. "Hello, Gilot," Charles added belatedly, then dropped his voice to a whisper. "He's not for sale, the Tsingani say. But maybe for Lady Phedre ...?"

I was opening my mouth to reply when the Tsingano holding the spotted horse's head beckoned to me, calling out. "Hey, rinkeni chavo! Come meet the Salmon!"

It was the spotted horse's name, I guessed. While Charles squirmed with envy behind me, I moved forward. The Tsingano who had beckoned me grinned, his teeth very white against his brown skin.

"Here, chavo," he said, pressing something into my palm. "Give him a treat."

It was a bit of dried apple; the end of last autumn's stores. I held my hand out flat. The Salmon eyed me, lordly and considering, then bent his head to accept the tidbit, his lips velvety against my palm. I began to think about what a glory it would be to ride him-to own him-and wondered if perhaps the Tsingani might sell him to Phedre after all. I could repay her for him. There were monies that were mine to spend, held in trust for me; the proceeds of estates I had never seen, nor cared to.


Excerpted from Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey Copyright © 2006 by Jacqueline Carey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Intelligent, sexy, heartbreakingly human.... Carey at her intoxicating best." —-Booklist Starred Review

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Carey is the author of the New York Times bestselling Kushiel's Legacy series, the Sundering epic fantasy duology, the postmodern fables Santa Olivia and Saints Astray, and the Agent of Hel contemporary fantasy series. She lives in Michigan.

Simon Vance, a former BBC Radio presenter and newsreader, is a full-time actor who has appeared on both stage and television. He has recorded over eight hundred audiobooks and has earned five coveted Audie Awards, and he has won fifty-seven Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, which has named him a Golden Voice.

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Kushiel's Scion (Kushiel's Legacy Series #4) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 137 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Phedre was the main draw for the other books. All of which were beautifully written and captivating. This one with a lack of the character who we have grown to adore is hard to get into. Throught the whole thing you just keep hoping for more of phedre. This is the end of this series for me. It's sad because I loved the first book so much I read it till it fell apart.
Danibelle More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in the second Kushiel's trilogy. It's a great continuation from a different character's perspective and I reccomend it to everyone who enjoyed the first trilogy. Do not read if you have not read the books that come before this one- the information is completely necassary to enjoy this book.
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Carey does it again. Amazing story line. There were times i couldn't put Imriels story down. Im on the 7th book now. Worth every minute. I love who the main character becomes and watching him grow. Great read.
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