Title: Kushiel’s Dart
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Series: Phedré’s Trilogy #1
Original Review: February 20, 2012
Blurb: The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.
Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair…and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.
Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart – a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.
Review: I’m going to start doing this more when I re-read a book, especially if it has been a while. I usually try to read new-to-me books so I have a good amount of review fodder, but that stops me from re-reading some favorites. Plus, it’s interesting to see how my thoughts about the book have changed.
I will say that I enjoyed the book a lot more this time around, probably because I knew what I was getting into from the beginning. Jacqueline Carey has a beautiful, flowing, poetic writing style that fits epic fantasy perfectly, but it can feel a bit dragging in places. This book is 900 pages long. That’s a lot. It’s a commitment for sure. This time around, I knew that and prepared myself to the long haul. When you do that, the writing is very enjoyable. Plus, now that I know where the story is going, I can appreciate the way the beginning (which I had originally said was hard for me to get into) really sets up these characters and the intrigue that binds them all together. This book is beautiful, though. It makes you want to visit the City of Eula, to roam the Court of Night Flowers.
I still stand by my statement that this book is not for everyone. It crosses the line into erotica many times, so if you are at all uncomfortable reading sex scenes, you may want to sit this one out. Some of them are graphic and a bit brutal too, given Phedré’s . . . abilities? Gifts? However you want to put it. They do not make up the bulk of the book, so you can skim them if you need to, but Phedré also uses these . . . visits to learn things about her clients. She is very much a spy for her master. So if you skim the sex scenes there is a chance you might miss something important that will come up later in the story.
When I read this the first time, I bought book 2, Kushiel’s Chosen, but never got around to reading it. It’s a bit shorter than book 1, but still a pretty good sized book. As I’ve said in my WWW posts, I am reading it right now. It’s on my list of series to try and finish this year, and since these are big books, I figured it was best to get started on them early!
GoodReads rating: 4 Stars