Kushiel's Avatar

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Kushiel's Avatar
First edition cover
First edition cover
Author Jacqueline Carey
Cover artist John Jude Palencar
Country United States
Language English
Series Kushiel's Legacy
Genre Fantasy, Novel
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-312-87240-2 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 51088193
813/.6 21
LC Class PS3603.A74 K77 2003
Preceded by Kushiel's Chosen
Followed by Kushiel's Scion

Kushiel's Avatar is the third novel in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series. It is often referred to as the last of the Phèdre Trilogy.

Plot introduction[edit]

In the ten years of peace following the events of Kushiel's Chosen, Phèdre nó Delaunay has prospered. As the foremost courtesan of Terre D'Ange and the confidante of the Queen, she has a place at the peak of D'Angeline society. But the fate of her oldest friend Hyacinthe, living out the terms of an angel's curse, is never far from her heart. The search for the key to his freedom intertwines in unexpected ways with the quest for the missing son of her onetime lover and sometime enemy, Melisande Shahirzai. Phèdre and her consort Joscelin Verreuil travel through many lands, finding the boy in the darkest place on earth and fighting through hell to thwart his captors.

Plot summary[edit]

The Missing Prince[edit]

Prince Imriel de la Courcel is missing. His mother, Melisande Shahrizai strikes a deal with her former lover and rival, Comtesse Phèdre nó Delaunay de Montrève. If Phèdre will promise to find Imriel, Melisande will give her the location of the lost tribe of Dan, whose elders know the Name of the One God, allowing Phèdre to free Hyacinthe of his terrible burden.

Phèdre finds out that Imriel had been abducted by slavers along with other Siovalese children. Following their route takes her through Menekhet, she learns that the dangerous bone-priests, the Skotophagoti, from the new born kingdom of Drujan have bought Imriel.

Phèdre learns more of the new kingdom and king of Drujan, the Mahrkagir ("Conqueror of Death"). Each piece of information is more frightening than the last. She is refused aid from Khebbel-im-Akkad, and begins to doubt that she can save Imriel.

Kushiel's Price[edit]

Those around her beg her not to enter Drujan. As she is about to agree with them she hears Kushiel's bronze wings and feels the presence of Elua and His Companions. At this she replies that she will do this task they give her, as long as they stay with her and help her. Their powers return and she is flooded by love and sympathy.


Phèdre decides to enter the harem (zenana) of the ruler of Drujan in disguise. Phèdre soon realizes that her time in Daršanga will reveal the darkest depths of depravity to which an anguissette can sink. The Mahrkagir is completely mad. In the bedchamber, he cruelly uses her body to its limits and beyond. Elua and His Companions are with her, however. At times she feels their bright light, but afterwards she is left lost, despressed and disgusted with herself.

When she finally sees Imriel in the zenana, he calls her 'Death's Whore' and spits in her face. In pain and fatigue, she leaves him alone but not without one final message - "I come from your mother, Imriel." Imriel's curiosity gets the better of his disgust and a fragile sort of trust develops between the two.

She eventually comes to learn that in ten days she is to be offered as a sacrifice to the Angra Mainyu, the god who channels power to the Skotophagoti by sacrificing a person they love and eating their heart. The Mahrkagir has never known love, until Phèdre. By killing her he will become more powerful than before, and can spread his empire across the world. She decides that she must kill the Mahrkagir on the night of the sacrifice as they will both be alone, unarmed, and in near darkness. She plots with the women and eunuchs of the zenana as well as Joscelin Verreuil, using Imriel as messenger, to stage an escape.

On the night of the ceremony, during the festivities in the hall, the women of the zenana taint the drinks of all the guards and guests with opium. When taken to the darkened room with the Mahrkagir, Phèdre stabs the Mahrkagir in the heart with a sharpened hair pin. With the Mahrkagir dead, the skotophagoti lose their powers. In the hall, Joscelin and the women and boys of zenana stage their attack and all the drugged guards and guests are killed. Joscelin's arm is badly injured in the fighting and many fighters of the zenana are dead. Phèdre, Joscelin, Imriel, and the rest of the survivors of the zenana flee to Khebbel-im-Akkad.

Prince Imriel de la Courcel[edit]

In Khebbel-im-Akkad, there is an assassination attempt on Imriel, who is third in line for the D'Angeline throne. Imriel also learns his true identity as a royal prince. He also later learns from the guards that his parents are great traitors of the realm, had a hand in the death of many people, and that his mother is living under the sanctuary of Asherat-of-the-Sea. Knowing this he now hates who he is and refuses to travel. Phèdre talks to him and tells him a kinder version of his parents, though she can not deny what they did. This brings some solace to the Prince and he agrees that he will travel back to Terre d'Ange while Phèdre and Joscelin travel onward on their search for the Name of God. Imriel, however, pays a boy to pretend to be him so that he can stow away on Phèdre and Joscelin's ship headed for the city of Iskandria in Menekhet.

The Name of God[edit]

Phèdre and Joscelin find Imriel but agree to take him with them. From Iskandria they travel down the Nahar, stopping at some Temples and generally enjoying the journey. They then leave the Nahar at Majibara and ride camels through the desert to reach Meroë. Here they meet the rulers of Jebe-Barkal and receive free passage through the land and gifts to be taken to the lost tribe of Dan in Saba. On their way, they take the last of the zenana women, Kaneka, back to her home of Debeho, a small town of huts and very friendly people.

While Phèdre's skin heals cleanly, the scars on her heart do not, and it takes many months for her and Joscelin to love and understand each other as they once did. After a rhinoceros attack in the camp, the group is forced to make a stop for four days. During this time, after Joscelin having caught a giant fish, Phèdre feels desire again for him. They go to a secluded pool and finally make love again; his caresses erase all of the physical, mental, and emotional scarring that Drujan exacted upon them both and Elua's presence blesses their lovemaking. Phèdre and Joscelin soon learn that they have grown to love Imriel as their son and that he has grown to love them like parents.

Phèdre, Joscelin, and Imriel eventually reach the lost tribe of Dan. There the people debate but decide not to let them travel to the island that contains the Name of God. The women, however, disagree with this decision and help Phèdre, Joscelin, and Imriel to escape on boat. They row toward the island of Kapporeth, where the Ark is kept. Having been betrayed, the Sabean male rulership chase after them, leading to a stand-off on the island. The doors then open and Phèdre gains access to the Temple and learns the Name of the One God. She knows that she has been given this covenant so that she may free Hyacinthe from Rahab's curse of the Master of the Straits and should not utter the Name for any other reason or face the One God's wrath.

The tribe of Dan give up their charges as they can see in her eyes that she contains the Name of God. They travel back to Tisaar and on to Meroë with a tentative re-alliance between Saba and Jebe-Barkal. In Jebe-Barkal, Phèdre is given gifts to take back to the Queen of Terre d'Ange and is given gifts of her own. Joscelin receives a traditional warriors outfit, to everyone's chagrin, and Imriel receives a rhinoceros-hide belt to hold his daggers. They travel back the way they came though the journey is very different as it is rushed and Phèdre is acting strangely because she contains the Name of God. She sees beauty everywhere and often forgets to eat or drink, her mind is filled with the Name and sometimes must bite her lips so as to not utter it.

Melisande's Agreement[edit]

From Menekhet they depart straight for La Serenissima and Melisande. Melisande promises Phèdre that if Phèdre herself would raise Imriel, Melisande will never raise a finger against Queen Ysandre's daughters and will never use any form of trickery against the D'Angeline throne.

Terre d'Ange[edit]

Phèdre presents Imriel in Terre d'Ange to the Queen, where she is punished by Queen Ysandre for not having sent Prince Imriel back to Terre d'Ange and instead taking him with them on a dangerous journey. Her punishment is that she must stay in the City of Elua until Drustan mab Necthana, the Cruarch of Alba and Ysandre's husband, returns to Terre d'Ange in the spring. Phèdre is upset about this, since she knows the Name of God and wants to help Hyacinthe immediately. Phèdre, however, has her own boon to ask. Phèdre asks Ysandre for custody of Imriel, as foster parents. Ysandre refuses but Phèdre uses her promise from over ten years ago—a favour that she can never be denied. This is the favour that she asks. The Queen, although furious, agrees reluctantly and insists that Imriel and her daughters must still have a relationship and that visits by the prince will need to be frequent.

Upon the Drustan mab Necthana's return she journeys to the Straits and frees Hyacinthe from the curse with the Name of God.

Upon their return to the City of Elua, Phèdre throws an enormous party for Hyacinthe's return. Hyacinthe, refusing leadership of the Tsingani, helps choose a new leader for the Tsingani, because he desires to move to Alba to live with Sibeal, Drustan's sister, whom he has come to love.

External links[edit]