Returning to Terre d’Ange, Moirin finds the royal family broken. Wracked by unrelenting grief at the loss of his wife, Queen Jehanne, King Daniel is unable to rule. Prince Thierry, leading an expedition to explore the deadly jungles of Terra Nova, is halfway across the world. And three year old Desirée is a vision of her mother: tempestuous, intelligent, and fiery, but desperately lonely, and a vulnerable pawn in a game of shifting political allegiances.
As tensions mount, King Daniel asks that Moirin become Desirée’s oath-sworn protector. Navigating the intricate political landscape of the Court proves a difficult challenge, and when dire news arrives from overseas, the spirit of Queen Jehanne visits Moirin in a dream and bids her undertake an impossible quest.
Another specter from the past also haunts Moirin. Travelling with Thierry in the New World is Raphael de Mereliot, her manipulative former lover. Years ago, Raphael forced her to help him summon fallen angels in the hopes of acquiring mystical gifts and knowledge. It was a disastrous effort that nearly killed them, and Moirin must finally bear the costs of those bitter mistakes.
“I have seen the impossible. I have seen great and terrible wonders, and I tell you, the world is a vaster and stranger place than ever I had reckoned.”
I enjoyed the message of this book a lot. The message has always been “love as thou wilt”. That is true here, as well. But the bigger message is “kids can be hurt in more ways than just the physical”. That is a message I can get behind.
This is the most wholesome I think in the entire Kushiel universe. Yeah, a bunch of shit happens. Yes, I really wanted to strangle a few people in this book myself. But the kid, Desirée. She made it so wholesome. She is such a little kid, looking for validation from everyone, but she stays true to her nature. She isn’t the easiest kid to raise. It causes her a lot of grief from those who don’t understand her. Yet, she still hasn’t been broken by those who have wanted to break her in their image. And Moirin does everything she can to be able to allow this kid to stay true to herself, and not let anyone break her. That is a worthy, wholesome goal.
However, the machinations of those who seek power to use this kid make me so goddamn angry. If I loved my ereader less, he would be in a lot of pain right now. I was really angry. How can you think to use a kid like that?! It makes me so angry. They all talk about forming this little girl to their will, wiping out everything that make her Desirée. It is so depressing.
Over the course of the Kushiel story, we have travelled all over the world. We start in Western Europe with Phèdre, traveled to Skaldia (Germany) and Alba (England), ended up going to Menekhet (Egypt) and Jebe-Barkal (Ethiopia) after being taken to Khebbel-im-Akkad (Iran). With Imriel we traveled even further from home, started out going “close” to home in Caerdicca Unitas (Italy), and Alba (England) again, before having to go deep into Vralia (Russian) territory and sailing to Carthage in Northern Africa. So far with Moirin we have gone to Ch’in (China) and Bhodistan (India). Now, we’re going even further from home. Now we’re going to Terra Nova in the Americas.
The Americas shown to us are pretty neat. They start in the Mexico area and end up traveling through vast jungles into what appears to be Peru. If you know anything about geography you know how awful that trip is today, with cars. (Hell, you can’t even drive the whole way, even today. The landscape doesn’t allow for roads for portions of this trip!) It is jungle and worse.There are more ways to die than there are to live on this trip. That is the journey they have to take.
On the one hand, I love it. I love the new scenery, I love hearing about it all. Yet this is the ninth book in a row with such a massive undertaking of a journey. There are bits left out in the journey, because it is so, so long. They’re gone for two years on this journey, between travelling from France to Mexico to Peru to Mexico to France. This was a long, long journey. Cutting out parts of it saved my sanity, but it also made it feel sort of rushed. What was shown was mostly shown to put some peril in their way that is unique (or mostly unique) to the Americas, like malaria, or giant fucking snakes. Again, this saved my sanity, which is on a tenuous thread already, but it just felt rushed and curated to a very specific end.
We knew we would have to deal with Raphael de Mereliot now, it was going to be the last chance. We’ve been told that confrontation was coming. We knew since Naamah’s Kiss that the fallen angel wasn’t done with Raphael. That reckoning has come. It is.. Raphael has gone completely bug nuts. It is incredibly entertaining, very frightening, and kind of really made me angry at parts. I really like how Carey tied in small little parts that you wouldn’t have expected to come up again to this maddening of Raphael.
It is also interesting how beliefs of the area were tied into this story. In Naamah’s Curse, I got upset because every religion that was brought up had something wrong with it they had to change. Once again, the accept the local religions. I’m not angry this time. I’m just relieved.
Moirin’s destiny, her diadh-anam, is what drove this entire series. She is always following her diadh-anam, she is always consulting it to make sure she is going in the right direction. I began to wonder if it was worth it, if all she had gone through was worth this destiny. Phèdre’s fate was worth the journey. Moirin’s fate is mostly worth it. There was a lot of pain, a lot of people saved. She travelled a long, long way. She has the guy of her soul. But, did the pain outweigh the good? Mostly. Was the journey worth the destination? Mostly.
This is the end of the trilogy. This is the end of the current Kushiel world, at least until Carey decides to write more. I think this series was definitely worth the read if you like Phèdre’s trilogy. You just have to set aside the belief that it is going to be the same story. It isn’t. Moirin and Phèdre are two different people. However, it does feel to me like Moirin’s tale isn’t over. Phèdre got Imriel to raise into a good person with his own destiny to follow. Moirin gets Desirée, who hasn’t had a chance to tell her tale yet. I can’t believe that Jehanne’s child isn’t going to have an amazing tale to tell.
I’m really glad I read this series.