I quote Yeats with Melisande Shahrizai firmly in mind. For the last two books I’ve waited to see the perilous beauty again, knowing she’d have to appear again at some point. Her machinations and her legacy have always been at the heart of the series, even when she was unseen.
At the beginning of Kushiel’s Mercy, Melisande’s shadow lies heavily over her estranged son, Imriel de la Courcel. Imriel is in love with the Dauphine, Sidonie, but Sidonie’s mother the Queen does not fully trust Imriel. And, too, there are many other D’Angelines who are suspicious of Imriel as a result of Melisande’s crimes. The Queen forbids Imriel and Sidonie to wed unless Imriel finds his mother and brings her to justice.
Before Imriel can do that, though, a terrible enchantment falls upon the City of Elua, and Imriel is the only one who can save both Sidonie and Terre d’Ange. And the only people he can trust to help him in his quest are two of his greatest enemies.
I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoyed the previous five. It has it all: dire magic, forbidden love, transcendent spirituality, devastating war — and yes, sex. There is not as much sex as there is in some of the previous installments, but what’s here is beautiful, lit as it is with Imriel and Sidonie’s love. If you liked the waterfall scene between Phèdre and Joscelin in Kushiel’s Avatar, you will like the love scenes in Kushiel’s Mercy.
I can’t say much more without ruining the plot, but I will say that when I turned the last page, I cheered Jacqueline Carey for a job well done.