After finishing the phedre novels in the Kushiel Series, the next two books following Imriel's life have been staring at me from my bookshelf for quite a few months.
This 4th novel of Jaqueline Carey's fell far from my expectations based on her first 3. I think where she really went wrong was in introducing the struggles Imriel faced as a child into Phedre's point of view.
His character was introduced as a shephard orphan living quietly at a temple, not knowing his true royal birthright, where as the events leading up to his birth were a huge part of Phedre's story. He was then kidnapped and sold into slavery to an insane ruler in a far off land to be part of some demonic God worship rituals. The 3rd novel follows Phedre as she hunts his wherabouts down at the behest of Imriel's mother, a traitor of the realm and former enemy of Phedre's.
This novel could have quite easily left out this plot for another time, and focused instead on the other part of the plot entirely, that of discovering a way to rescue a different friend from a curse of the Gods. This could quite easily have been a wonderful end to her story, and left her the ability to introduce Imriel's character from a much younger age and describe his emotional struggles as he experiences them and built rapport with the reader. Instead, she based her first Imriel novel long after he was rescued and more about his emotional struggles with dealing with his history rather than true plot substance. Not the best, thats for sure.
Her 2nd Imriel novel turned out much better. This one had real plot and was much more seperate from his past. All in all a good read, and I am hopeful the 3rd and final chapter will be even better.
What I am most excited about though is another of Carey's novels entirely! Naamah's Kiss actually seems more like Phedre's story, but not entangled in this mixed up plot mentioned above. Quite excited to read that one! .... She really is a good writer, although the religious hints are anything but subtle.