Book Review 2008 #38: Kushiel’s Justice

Kushiel’s Justice is the second in the Imriel Trilogy of Jacqueline Carey, and thus the fifth book overall set in her sumptuous alternate history set around Terre D’Ange, the land of angels.

Not for those new to this series or the author, Kushiel’s Justice continues to highlight Carey’s strongest suit, world-building, as we continue to follow the story of Imriel. The son of the disgraced Melisande Shahrazai matures in this novel, and his refusal to follow the precept of Blessed Elua (with respect to his secret lover) has far reaching, and tragic consequences.
Carey’s worldbuilding and Imriel’s adventures bring him a marriage, a trip to Alba (England), and the loss of his wife takes him to a completely new land in the series: Vralia (in our world, Russia). The details of her alternate world continue to be teased out, and kept me as a reader continuing to read.Carey has quickly catapulted herself to the level of the best writers of alternate history in this regard.
I am not convinced that Imriel is quite as good a protagonist as Phedre was; I have a sneaking suspicion that in the reversal of the usual problem, Carey writes female characters in far better detail and motivation than her male characters. Indeed, I found the daughters of the Queen, Alais and Sidonie, somewhat more convincing than Imriel himself as a character. Still, Imriel does grow throughout the book and I look forward to seeing if this character growth is sustained in the third and final novel of the series.
Anyone who has followed Carey’s novels to this point will not be disappointed in Kushiel’s Justice.