Author Highlight: Jacqueline Carey

The second author in this series is Jacqueline Carey. I’ve been reading Ms. Carey’s work for at least the last ten years, which is almost as long as she’s been writing. You can find her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @JCareyAuthor, or check out her official website, www.jacquelinecarey.com.

Now that’s all out-of-the-way. I first started reading Jacqueline Carey when I was deep into my high fantasy, read everything I can get my hands on, phase. I found her in my local library, not the one I work at now, but in the same system.  I picked up Kushiel’s Dart. It felt like a tome, easily topping four hundred pages, but I wanted to read it. It had something that called to me, political intrigue, warped relationships.  I don’t know, but I took it home and read it in a week. Then, I went back for the rest of the series: Kushiel’s Chosen and Kushiel’s Avatar. They aren’t hard books…until you fall in love with the characters and see their struggle and turmoil. You laugh with them and cry with and for them. Reading about the terminus, the Cassiline death dance, Isidore D’Aiglemort and the Unforgiven, ugh my heart. Those two scenes, especially, will never leave me. They’re from Kushiel’s Dart.

The series features not only an alternate universe, but an alternate version of Christianity. It’s as if Christ had a brother, Elua, who left Heaven voluntarily and was followed by nine angels: Azza, Anael, Camael, Cassiel, Eisheth, Kushiel, Naamah, and Shemhazai. The three most prominent in these first three books are Cassiel, who never left Blessed Elua’s side, Naamah, who lay with strangers to help feed the company (yes, she was a sex worker), and Kushiel, the angel of punishment. The main character. Phedre, is god-touched. She has brown eyes, but in her left iris is a red speck, marking her as an agent of the angel Kushiel, destined for greatness and to find pleasure in pain. An anguisette, a lypiphera, pain bearer.

She took a break from the series to write The Sundering duology: Banewreaker and Godslayer. I read somewhere that she wrote them as a sort of re-telling/homage to Tolkien from the POV of the villain. Of course, having never read The Lord of the Rings or any Middle Earth novels, I never picked up on that, though I did realize, as I was reading, that I was seriously in book love with the villain. It’s been a while since I’ve read this series, though it is one of my favorites.

Carey went back to Terre D’Ange with the Imriel trilogy, the second set in Kushiel’s Legacy. The first Kushiel’s Scion, still follows Phedre as she raises Imri as her own. But as a royal and the son of a traitor, Imriel must prove himself loyal to his cousin Ysandre, the Queen, which doesn’t go so well when he and Ysandre’s daughter and crown princess, Sidonie, fall in love. The second and third books, Kushiel’s Justice and Kushiel’s Mercy , follow Imri as he is married off, betrayed, widowed (widowered?), goes on soul-searching journey, and eventually returns to Terre D’Ange and Sidonie.

I realize that these are seriously skimpy descriptions, but the books are long and dense and delicious. You should give them a try. Because I said so. I’ll give a better reason later. Just trust me on this.

Between finishing the original six of Kushiel’s Legacy and starting a new trilogy set at least three generations later, Carey wrote the Santa Olivia duology: Santa Olivia and Saints Astray.

The Naamah trilogy: Naamah’s Kiss, Naamah’s Curse, Naamah’s Blessing,  follows Moirin, a descendant of the tribe whose chief betrayed Imriel by breaking an oath sworn on the lives and magic of his people. In much the same way as Phedre is god  touched, so it Moirin. How so? She is also a descendant of Alais, Sidonie’s little sister. As if not clear yet, the goddess who chose her is Naamah.

After the Naamah triology, Carey wrote the Agent of Hel trilogy: Dark Currents, Autumn Bones, and Poison Fruit. This series is much lighter and less epic. Daisy Johanssen is a hellspawn with the power to start the End of Days if she gives in to her Hell-given powers. This is where Carey says YA readers who want to explore her writings should start, especially if it’s the parents choosing the books. There is very little sex and not much cursing, two things in the above series’ have in abundance.

All the series’ have more than their fair share of violence and creepy things happening, but that shouldn’t stop you from reading. Read in order. Especially Kushiel’s Legacy.

For more info on Kushiel’s Legacy: http://kushiel.wikia.com/wiki/Terre_d’Ange

Another interesting thing you may want to Google: Court of Night Blooming Flowers.

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