Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kushiel's Legacy: books set in alt-medieval Europe

I've just finished a great series of books by Jacqueline Carey. Not only were the books well-written, but also sex-positive, and set in a fascinating period of history/alternate history. Fallen angel Blessed Elua is the founder of Terre d'Ange (resembles France), the "Land of the Angels" and with his companions, ancestor of the  D'Angeline people. The command he left was "love as thou wilt", and the novels are an examination of how love and sexual freedom could have changed the world.

There are three intertwined trilogies. The first, Phèdre Trilogy series follows the story of Phèdre nó Delaunay, the foremost courtesan of her day. Phèdre was a thrilling hero, as she and her bodyguard, companion and lover, and eventual consort, Joscelin Verreuil traveled far and wide. In the final novel of the trilogy, they find and save their eventual foster son, prince Imriel.

The Imriel Trilogy series (UK title: Treason's Heir trilogy) follows the story of Imriel de la Courcel nó Montreve. It was lovely to see Phèdre and Joscelin again, as minor characters, and to see Imriel overcome the horrors of his past and his treasonous ancestry.

The final books are set one hundred years later. Called the Moirin Trilogy, they follow the story of Moirin of the Maghuin Dhonn from Alba, who is half D'Angeline. These books take us to China, Mongolia, Russia (or perhaps the Ukraine), up into the Himilayas and down into India, and finally to the Aztec and Inca civilizations.

I really loved these books. They have enriched my thinking about religion, love, sex and human nature and the power of ideas playing out in history. The characters were wonderful to spend time with, and as usual I love seeing cultures in contrast.