Kushiel’s Avatar is the third book in the Kushiel’s Legacy series, and the conclusion of a trilogy. Phèdre was prophesied ten years of peace after the events of Kushiel’s Chosen (review), and they are ending. The realm of Terre D’Ange has prospered, but Phèdre’s childhood friend Hyacinthe is still trapped on a lonely island, forced to keep watch over the waters between Alba and Terre D’Ange, and Phèdre has not found a way to free him yet. And Phèdre’s bane, Melisande Shahrizai is still living in the sanctuary of the temple of Asherat-of-the-Sea in La Serenissima.
Phèdre has been wondering what Melisande has been planning for years, but when she finally hears from her, it’s not what she expects. Melisande’s son Imriel is missing, believed abducted, and she begs Phèdre to find him. To Joscelin’s exasperation, she agrees, and this leads her around the world – from Africa to the Middle East, through some horrifying times.
It was a pleasure to explore more of Carey’s vision of alternate Earth – we visit Egypt, the Middle East, cross the desert into some African kingdoms and end up finding a lost tribe that has isolated themselves for over a millennium. Although I did miss Terre D’Ange a lot (I’m a sucker for political intrigue), the descriptions were beautiful and made me long to live in the days where the world was unexplored and you never quite knew what culture you’d meet as you explored.
Tbe journey that Carey takes us on is dark and fraught with magic and divinity. Although we’ve been told that Phèdre is Kushiel’s chosen from the very first book, it really hits home on her journey here. As Carey likes to say, “the gods use their chosen hard.” In the previous books, Phèdre saves the realm of Terre D’Ange – in this book, she saves the world, a young child and her childhood best friend, making the story both global and touching at the same time.
Phèdre and Joscelin are tested horrendously in the book – Phèdre has always known that her gift is a double edged sword, but now she realises just how far that can be taken. Joscelin has to ignore everything he stands for in order for the chance to protect and server. They’ve finally made peace with each other’s natures. and there’s no doubt that they will prevail intact (as opposed to the nail-biting suspense of the previous book) – despite the horrors they’ve both faced. These two are definitely one of my favourite fictional couples, and I say this as someone who usually scoffs at romance. And the rewards they gain at the end are unexpectedly sweet.
Overall – a twisted tale, but an exquisitely realised ending to the Phédre trilogy. Now, on to the Imriel trilogy!
- “The Uncommon Reader” by Alan Bennett
- “Codex Alera” by Jim Butcher