||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (May 2010)|
|Cover artist||Cheryl Griesbach and Stanley Martucci|
|14 June 2007|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Pages||768 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-446-50003-8 (first edition, hardback)|
|LC Class||PS3603.A74 K83 2007|
|Preceded by||Kushiel's Scion|
|Followed by||Kushiel's Mercy|
Kushiel's Justice is a novel by Jacqueline Carey. It is the sequel to Kushiel's Scion. Kushiel's Scion is itself the sequel to the Kushiel's Legacy Trilogy (Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, and Kushiel's Avatar). Since they are directly connected, this is at times described as the fifth in a series; however, it is also often described as the second of the latter series, dubbed the 'Imriel Trilogy'.
Imriel de la Courcel
Imriel nó Montrève de la Courcel is the son of the great-uncle of the D'Angeline Queen Ysandre de la Courcel. His mother, Melisande Shahrizai, is a traitor who twice attempted to seize the D'Angeline throne, once with the help of his father, Benedicte de la Courcel. Rescued from slavery by Phèdre nó Delaunay and her consort Joscelin Verreuil in Kushiel's Avatar, he is formally adopted into House Montrève and begins to understand his history and that of his blood relatives. Despite his being the son of two infamous traitors, he is also the adoptive son of the realms perhaps most loyal royalists. He has no aspirations for the throne and is ashamed of his heritage.
The novel begins with Imriel sitting down to read the letters that his mother, Melisande Shahrizai, has written him all these years. After the occurrences in Kushiel's Scion, especially with Canis in Lucca, he is now concerned with where she is and the influence she is trying to have on his life. The letters, while not exactly comforting, tell him much and help soothe some of his resentment. Phèdre nó Delaunay, his foster-mother, asks him if he wants to discuss them but he declines.
When he presents himself to the Queen, he tells her his decision to wed the Alban Princess Dorelei. He met her when he was eighteen and Prince Talorcan, Drustan's nephew and heir apparent, came to visit. While Drustan would like to name Alais as his heir, he cannot without risking another civil war. If Alais were to wed Talorcan, she would rule at his side but their children wouldn't inherit the throne, as Alba works by matrilineal succession. However, if Imriel were to wed Dorelei, his son would become Cruarch and Terre d'Ange's influence in Alba would not wane. For this reason, he agrees to wed Dorelei to preserve stability.
At the same time, however, he has discovered that he is attracted to his cousin, Sidonie de la Courcel. He knows that she feels the same. He is still the son of two infamous traitors and she is the dauphine. They cannot be together. Despite this, during the Midwinter Masque at the palace, Imriel and Sidonie kiss, and a secret relationship begins. Only Sidonie's lady-in-waiting, Amarante, and Imriel's best friend, Mavros, know of their relationship. They often assist Imriel and Sidonie and warn them if people are going to burst in and see them together.
Because of his impending wedding, Imriel begins to take lessons with Alais on Alban history, law, religion, and linguistic nuances. After these classes he would often meet Sidonie at her quarters and then they would use their few hours alone to make love. While Alais does not approve of their relationship, predominantly due to the necessary secrecy, she does nothing to stop them. During one of these lustful afternoons, Imriel tells Sidonie about what happened to him in Drujan (see Kushiel's Avatar). She listens calmly but is greatly saddened. She then asks whether he would still be willing to be cruel with her because she would very much like it. For once Imriel seems to be more comfortable and willing to try this, as long as it is with her.
Their relationship continues until the wedding. Imriel begins to get very frustrated that his consent to the wedding will soon rob him of another of the people he loves. He and Sidonie know they cannot be together and they suspect that they only like each other because it is forbidden. To release this frustration, Mavros takes him to Valerian House once again. Given that Imriel has been drinking, however, Mavros books them a showing rather than participating directly. This helps Imriel to deal with his past and the frustration caused by his situation and his Kusheline blood.
That summer, Prince Talorcan and Princess Dorelei accompany Drustan on his annual trip to Terre d'Ange in the spring. Dorelei is sweet and kind-hearted, but Imriel is distracted with his love for Sidonie. He still agrees to wed Dorelei though, because, as Sidonie herself said, they are likely only in love with each other because it is forbidden. As well, Sidonie is not yet eighteen and therefore can not cross her mother's will, making any true relationship with Imriel impossible. Even still, Imriel is sad to be leaving her. Dorelei, sensing that he loves another, says she is willing to share him, as she knows D'Angelines do, but that she herself will be only with him, as is Alban custom. Imriel takes this to heart but assures her there is no one else.
Before the wedding, Imriel and Sidonie meet secretly at a Temple of Elua. There the Priest vows to keep his silence but discourages the two from being so secretive and continuing a relationship that will inevitably hurt others. Nevertheless, he provides them with a private room for their final love-making.
Mavros Shahrizai also takes him on a bachelor's party. Imriel is frustrated, angry, and rough, being in the perfect mood for Valerian House. Mavros, however, makes sure that Imriel does not get carried away and is always safe and sane in his play.
The next morning is the wedding. This is a public affair with all persons of import in attendance. They are given many gifts, though Imriel's most cherished gift is that from Drustan's family: vambraces carved with the image of the Cullach Gorym, their family emblem (their diadh-anam). Thus he is welcomed into the royal house of Alba. Imriel puts a good face on it but inside he feels nothing but sadness and a hollow feeling. It is hot, he is uncomfortable, and Sidonie is right there the whole time, watching him wed someone else. During the ceremony, Sidonie throws rose petals upon the couple. Imriel knows the true meaning of this: there is a passage in the Trois-Mille Joies that says to cover your lover in kisses is like falling flower petals. Everyone else at the wedding are happy, making Imriel's brooding and moping all the more poignant, though well-hidden.
Dorelei and Imriel make love that night, as Dorelei wishes to have a child, having lit a candle to Eisheth. In the following days, Imriel confesses to Dorelei that he is in love with someone else, to which she answers that she knows, but understands that theirs is a marriage of politics.
Eamonn arrives at court from Skaldia after winning the favor of his Skaldic bride Brigitta's family. Imriel tells to Eamonn of his relationship with Sidonie.
The party bound for Alba make preparations for their departure when Sidonie returns from her pilgrimage to Naamah's shrine. She and Imriel meet at a temple of Naamah for a last rendezvous before his departure.
The Lust Trap
After the wedding, they travel across Alba to the Prince's new home, Clunderry, with Dorelei's family using the 'open roads' (the taisgaidh), which are paths where no one is allowed to fight, be attacked or raided, and to which all Albans have access. During his first night on Alban soil, Imriel, missing Sidonie, fantasizes of her and pleasures himself, spilling his seed on the ground. Days later during his sleep he is woken by an irresistible lustful pull. He gets up and follows it. It leads him to a lone Alban woman, Morwen, who seems to have the ability to control him and wants him to have a child with her. Though he tries to refuse, the spell she has cast on him strong. Suddenly, some of the Albans from the escort interrupt them and the woman flees. The Albans tell him he was stupid indeed. By spreading his seed, filled with his lust and love, on the common soil, this woman has been given the tools to ensnared him by making a small mannekin of him, allowing her to call on him whenever she wishes. They also tell him that the two claw tattoos on her face means she is of the Maghuin Dhonn. The spell is strong and his only help is to go to an Ollamh, a religious druid-like figure.
The Ollamh casts a spell which binds his desire and makes him unable to feel the lust and pain he has been fighting throughout the series. The spell requires red ribbons to be tied to his wrists and ankles. Imriel must also wear a croonie-stone around his neck to protect himself. If any of these are taken off or broken, the spell will be broken and he will be under the woman's control again.
Imriel feels relieved and more clear-headed than he has been in months. There is a noticeable change in his mood. While he is still self-centered, he does not seem as sad as he was before and is able to grow to love. Dorelei, however, loses her visions of the future, saying that she feels as if a giant grey cloud were covering them from her sight. Still, Clunderry is peaceful and typical of an Alban noble's home. It is filled with people who are the salt of the earth. He Though he is somewhat successful at winning over his household, many are still reserved about this new D'Angeline pretty-boy Prince.
Imriel earns their respect, however, when he stages a raid on a neighbouring lord, Leodan of Briclaedh. This lord has challenged him and wants to steal his cattle and horses, perceiving Imriel to be in a position of weakness. Imriel stuns everyone by staging a preemptive raid on him before Leodan can attack Imriel. Such raids are done mainly to prove a ruler's mettle during times of peace. Imriel manages to escape from multiple attackers with no injuries, earning him praise and respect from all. This also garners him the friendship of Urist, a guard of Clunderry of good renown and well liked by the troops.
On the ride back, Imriel is elated. He finally feels he is accepted and respected, not because of his birth but because he has earned it. Then he again feels the lustful pull supposedly bound within him. He is again seized by an outside force and he rides into a sheltered wooded area, where the woman is waiting. He tries to resist as much as he can, but his body responds to her regardless. The woman attempts intercourse, but they are disturbed before anything more can happen. During the encounter Imriel learns that one of his red ties has been cut off during the battle. When he arrives home he goes to the local Ollamh, who recasts the spell before he even attends the celebratory feast.
Life continues in the Alban holding, and Dorelei and Imriel manage to develop a loving relationship. Dorelei is most certainly in love with Imriel, but Imriel's love is weak compared to his feelings for Sidonie. Dorelei has become pregnant and Imriel can not wait for his child.
Imriel's cousin, Alais arrives at Clunderry. During her stay she grows and matures significantly. She has been learning the arts of the Ollamh and loves it. Though she does not love Talorcan, she is leaving open the possibility of love, and does not refuse him.
One night, a letter arrives. Sidonie writes to Imriel telling him that, despite the distance, she is still in love with him. She tells him to stay in Alba, however, for at least the first year. Dorelei had promised him that, if Imriel was not happy after the first year, he could leave her and move back to Terre d'Ange. They could be as Drustan and Ysandre and see each other half the year, or even less. While reading this letter, Imriel is shocked at his lack of emotions. He can barely picture Sidonie's face, and all feelings for her are muted. Thus he decides to take a risk by removing the croonie-stone while he re-reads the letter. He is filled with sorrow and love. He misses her terribly and still loves her as well. After a short while and reading the letter a number of times, he returns the croonie-stone around his neck and returns to his bed with Dorelei.
Death, Change, and Magic
By spring, Dorelei is nearing the end of her pregnancy. She and Imriel are looking forward to their first child, and while love has grown between to the two, Imriel is still distracted by his love for Sidonie, though he is always caring and loving to Dorelei. Imriel also feels a commitment to being a part of his child's life.
Soon after the Day of Misrule, however, Morwen appears out of the woods right in front of Clunderry's men. She remains on the taisgaidh roads, but demands to see Imriel. Imriel meets her with all of his guards, the Ollamh, Alais, and Dorelei who insisted on coming along. Morwen says she is willing to make a deal with Imriel: if he will come with her to the circle of standing stones and let her show him the future, she will give him his mannekin thereby freeing him of her magic. The circle is not far away and is on taisgaidh lands. Imriel does not trust her but she says that if he wants to bring his troops he may, so long as they stay outside of the circle. Imriel then asks the advice of the Ollamh. She does not trust Morwen as well and advises that before the ceremony and in the stone circle, Morwen should swear not to harm Imriel or any of his family. Morwen agrees without hesitation and with none of the tell-tales of a lie. Imriel says he will take the day to decide and give her his decision at sunset. Morwen agrees and leaves as though she had melted into the woods themselves.
Imriel and Dorelei discuss the proposal and come to a decision. Imriel will take a large escort of the troops to the circle with him and be careful. Dorelei will not risk herself or the child by coming with him and will stay in Clunderry with the remaining guards. While it is dangerous, the reward would be Imriel's freedom, restoration of Dorelei's visions, and security for their unborn child. They deem the risk is worth the reward. They also finally decide on the name of the child: Aniel if it is a boy and Anielle if it is a girl.
That evening, Dorelei helps Imriel put on his vambraces and prepare for his meeting with Morwen. At the edge of taisgaidh roads, Morwen waits. Upon Imriel's agreement, she leads them to the standing stones. Night has fallen, and though there are many of Imriel's men carrying torches, the circle still has an eerie look about it. Morwen tells him that he can not wear any metal within the circle and that the lights must be put out. He asks why and she only replies that that is how the spell works. To verify his safety, he asks her to make the pledge with the Ollamh first. Morwen and the Ollamh go into the circle. Morwen swears:
- "No harm will befall Imriel de la Courcel of Clunderry this night, nor any member of his household, nor any person dear to him. I swear it by the stone and sea and sky, by all the gods of Alba, and by the diadh-anam of the Maghuin Dhonn. If I lie, let my magic be broken and my life be forfeit. Let every man and woman's hand be raised against me, let my name be gall on their lips. Let the gods and the diadh-anam forsake me, and let the land itself despise my footfall. Let my spirit wander for ten thousand years without solace."
The Ollamh is satisfied and departs for the outside of the circle. Morwen leads Imriel into the circle, after telling him to take off his shoes. She seemingly lifts one of the standing stones and takes out her things from under it, letting it fall back down behind her. On the stone table, she places her things and takes some tea, which she drinks first before giving it to Imriel. He asks her what it is. She says it is mushroom tea and a gift of the earth. She then paints her eyelids and his. Picking up the stone knife and a leather bag she passes the bag to him. He feels the mannekin inside it. Morwen then suddenly cuts his bindings and all his love, lusts, and emotions come flooding back. Morwen then cuts her wrists and holds his hands. Waiting, the tea starts to have an effect. Eventually he begins to see that the stones are telling him a story.
He sees a boy who is obviously his unborn son, Aniel. He sees Dorelei dead with Aniel holding on to him. He sees his son with Alais and then, as a teen, yelling at Urist. Then there is a pause. Morwen says this is because he has left Alban shores. He returns, however, and Imriel can see the glitter of intelligence in his eyes and glee at the causing of arguments. These arguments lead to wars between the tribes of Alba and the death of Talorcan. He is then named Cruarch and brings hundreds of D'Angeline soldiers to Alba, crushing all resistance. He sees women and children taken out of their homes and their homes being torched. He sees Aniel kill a wounded man begging for mercy. Aniel burns the sacred groves and drags away the standing stones. He is a fearless and cruel leader who hunts down the Maghuin Dhonn until all are gone, and redesigns Bryn Gorrydum into a D'Angeline city. Finally, Imriel begs her to stop and she does, letting go of his hands. "Your son is a monster, Imriel," she says.
Imriel asks why this is. She replies that she does not know, and at first the visions were of many possibilities. Dorelei would die before her second child is born and Imriel leaves Alban shores. At first there was Imriel and Morwen's daughter to balance Aniel, but now all that remained was this one vision. Imriel asks if she considered that her intervention caused this in the first place, and whether she considered not getting involved. With deep sorrow, she said she had considered it.
Imriel hears horns and sees the flaws in Morwen. Realizing the cuts were deeper than he though he learns an awful secret. Morwen has lied, harm is coming to Imriel's family. Her life is sacrificed for the good of the Maghuin Dhonn.
Imriel and his guards rush back to Clunderry, still under the effects of the mushroom tea. All is in a daze and blurry. The gates of the castle are open; Leodan of Briclaedh staged his counter cattle-raid on this night after hearing that the troops would be elsewhere. A giant bear is now trying to exit the castle. Imriel charges him, but is wounded by its paw and falls unconscious. When he wakes, he sees Dorelei lying on a table nearby, clearly dead.
Imriel falls into a deep depression. He has been severely injured by the bear, who is really the Maghuin Dhonn leader Berlik. He is transported to Bryn Gorrydum and being treated by an Eisandine healer. Alais would keep him company most days, but vengeance was what kept him alive; he wanted Berlik's death. The hunt for Berlik in Alba was unsuccessful, but Hyacinthe, the Master of the Straits, saw a large bear swim to Azzalle, across the straits. While he could not be sure it was Berlik, Imriel was. Imriel swears he will bring back Berlik's head and bury it at Dorelei's feet, a traditional custom in Alba. Urist promises to help him, as do a number of Clunderry's men.
The Long Hunt for Berlik
When Imriel is finally deemed to be well enough to ride, he tells Drustan of the arrangements, says goodbye to Alais, and departs for Terre d'Ange. In Azzalle, Urist and Imriel destroy the mannekin and cut his bindings. Imriel tells him who it was he loved all this time and, while shocked, Urist still dedicates himself to Imriel's service: "So you were good enough for the Cullach Gorrym, good enough to marry Dorelei mab Beidaia, good enough to beget Alba a successor, but not good enough for the Queen's daughter?"
They all ride for the City of Elua, dedicated to true love and the hunt for Berlik. Upon arriving at the Palace, Imriel immediately goes to Sidonie's quarters, sinks to his knees before her and wraps his arms around her waist. Ysandre walks in on the scene and is furious. Imriel walks out from the Palace, but not before Sidonie kisses him before the all those watching. Mavros offers the Shahrizai hunting estates outside of the City for Imriel and the Albans to stay out of the turmoil of the City. Sidonie comes to see him. After lovemaking, a royal escort led by Lord Amaury Trente come to take her back home. She refuses, saying she is a grown woman now over the age of majority, and that she will love who she loves freely.
Imriel learns that Phèdre and Joscelin still are not back from their mysterious journey, but he visits the house and has a pleasant visit with all. Upon gathering all the supplies and funding he needs, including from the royal coffers despite Ysandre's opinion of his affair with her daughter, he and the Albans depart for the north.
Their journey takes them through the Flatlands toward the new kingdom of Vralia. Imriel and Urist then book passage by boat to the capital of Vralia, following Berlik's trail. After being lost on an island for at least a month, they both make it to the capital Vralgrad. Urist is too injured to continue, however, and stays in Vralgrad. Imriel continues to follow rumours of Berlik south to the small town of Tarkov. Imriel has the unfortunate bad timing, however, to be in Tarkov for a Tartar raid. Seeing the scars on his behind left from Daršanga, the people think that he is a secret spy of the Tartars and put him in jail. He is stuck there for a long time with one other Tartar prisoner. He manages to escape through cunning, and helps free his Tartar companion so that he may be able to go back to the woman he loves.
From there Imriel follows the long-stale path of Berlik, or what he thinks is Berlik's path. He stops at a small Yeshuite Temple in Miroslas, the last reaches of civilization, and learns that Berlik stayed there for a time, seeking forgiveness. They try to discourage him from hunting down Berlik, but Imriel departs, still dedicated to his quest.
He spends many days and nights wandering the untamed forests in search of Berlik. He goes nearly mad with the silence, loneliness, and seemingly hopelessness of his mission. He is forced to send back his horse, hoping it will make it alive to a warm stable, for lack of sufficient food and fodder. Just before deciding that he must turn back before he starves, Berlik leaves him a sign. Following this trail he comes upon a small cabin that Berlik has built and obviously still lives in. There is a makeshift cross in his cabin and a fire still burning. Here, finally, Berlik appears. He is humbled and broken and asks only for his death, for only his death at the hands of Imriel can bring him atonement. Berlik tells him, "I prayed...I left a trail for you to follow, and I prayed that if you found me, the diadh-anam would accept my sacrifice as atonement, and not punish all of her people for my failure. When my magic returned to me, here in the woods, I knew it was so." Imriel asks why Berlik made it so hard for him. He replies, "Would you have come here with a humble heart if I had not?"
Berlik admits his mistakes, his fears, and admits that he should have trusted his gods more instead of only himself. He apologizes to Imriel and calls him "my avenging angel." As Imriel raises his sword, he knows the true meaning that Kushiel, the punisher of god, loved his charges too well. Imriel says, "I'm sorry," cuts off Berlik's head cleanly, and weeps.
After a day in Berlik's cabin, gathering more food and supplies, he departs back for his far-away home. After days of trudging, he is shocked to hear voices arguing in Rus and D'Angeline! They are not rescuers, however: they are soldiers from Tarkov, come to capture him. The D'Angeline they are arguing with is Maslin of Lombelon, sent by Sidonie to find Imriel. Maslin and Imriel manage to fight off the guards and make a truce of their once jealousy of each other. Maslin, it seems, has grown much in his travels as well. During their trek through the forests, Maslin ends up boiling Berlik's head for Imriel, in a sort of penance. It is disgusting work, but Maslin refuses to let Imriel do it. They then continue on their travels.
They travel together back to Tarkov. They try to disguise Imriel but Tarkov is the closest port for ferries headed to the city and eventually home. When they arrive in Tarkov, however, they find Phèdre and Joscelin, come to search for Imriel and join him on his long trek. Phèdre is arguing with the guards, trying to explain he is a royal Prince of Terre d'Ange and not a Tartar. While they do not believe her, none want to challenge them and grudgingly "allow" them to leave. In the capital, Joscelin meets his once pupil and now leader of the Yeshuites and most trusted advisor of King Vral, Micah ben Ximon.
As the weather improves, they take a boat back to the Flatlands and travel to Azzalle. Maslin chooses to stay in Vralia as a representative of Terre d'Ange, and because he has fallen in love with a local woman. Once they are back in Terre d'Ange, all are happy to report their arrival.
(this material is obtained from the preview at the end of the paper-back edition of Kushiel's Justice)
Imriel hurries back to Sidonie's side. The Queen has calmed down considerably but cannot countenance the relationship because of Imriel's parents. She cannot denounce it, however, because to do so would be to go against Elua's Precept.
He, Sidonie, Phèdre, Joscelin, and his Alban escort return to Clunderry to bury Berlik's head, fulfilling Imriel's promise. On their return to the City of Elua, they are greeted by a large group of people with black armbands, the victims of Melisande and Benedicte's machinations, showing a thumbs-down (see Kushiel's Mercy).
- Kushiel's Justice.
- Online interview with Jacqueline Carey about book
- Kushiel's Justice title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Online blog review of the book.