Books I've Read

BOOK REVIEW: Kushiel’s Avatar

Kushiel's AvatarTitle: Kushiel’s Avatar

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Pages: 702

Genre: Fantasy, Romance (bordering on Erotica, just as a warning)

Series: Phédre’s Trilogy #3

Edition: eBook

Blurb: The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It’s inhabited by the race that rose from the seed of angels, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman who recognized that she was pricked by Kushiel’s dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre’s path has been strange and dangerous. She has lain with princes and pirate kings, battled a wicked temptress, and saved two nations. Through it all, the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side, following the central precept of the angel Cassiel: Protect and serve.

But Phèdre’s plans will put his pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture to the Master of Straights, a bargain with the gods to save Phèdre and a nation. The search will take Phèdre and Joscelin across the world and down a fabled river to a forgotten land … and to a power so intense and mysterious, none dare speak its name.

Review: I did it! I finally finished Phédre’s Trilogy! That’s 2395 pages of amazingly beautiful writing right there. This last installment of the trilogy doesn’t disappoint, although it did start to drag a bit in parts. That might just be because I was so anxious to finish it.

I will include in this review, as I have in others, a few warnings. There are some very explicit sex scenes in this series, so if that isn’t your thing, you may want to pass. Also, this book in particular has some pretty gruesome torture/abuse scenes in it that you may want/need to skip.

Moving on to the rest of the review . . .

I only have a few complaints. First one is with our main character, Phédre. This is something that does happen throughout the series, so it’s not just this book, but EVERYONE is always completely enamored with her. And I get it. She’s beautiful and a rarity, having been touched by a god. It was occasionally a little much. The only other thing that bugged me at all, and this may have just been me, but I got confused with some of the locations they were going to. There were a LOT of them. This book goes far abroad in comparison to the previous two, and it was sometimes hard to keep all the new places straight.

That said, the world building in these books are amazing. Carey is such a visual writer with such a poetic style that it is easy to feel like you are there in the story. It is a truly immersive experience. While it got a little confusing at times, it was also really interesting to explore new parts of this world that she has created. It is loosely based on Europe, so this book was going more into the Middle East. A big cultural difference for our characters to navigate.

This book also brought back one of my favorite characters in the whole series, Hyacinthe. I was so glad to see the resolution of his story! I also really enjoyed Imriel’s character and, as he seems to be the focal point of the next trilogy, I might look into reading those one day. Not right now, of course, but they are definitely on my TBR.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Also . . . yay!!!!!

Reading colors your life

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – 6/4/19

tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

The Zenana, or women’s quarter, of Daršanga palace was a world unto itself. It was the Mahrkagir’s giant, Tahmuras, who escorted me there. He said nothing along the way, and I would have wondered if he were deaf and dumb, were it not for the alacrity with which he had obeyed the Mahrkagir’s command. Tahmuras strode down the halls, descending a stair, all but ignoring me as I stumbled in his wake.

Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey

I really need to make better progress on this book, but it’s so long!

No Top Ten today because I am short on time. Hopefully I can get back to doing those on a more regular basis as well.

Please leave your teasers in comments!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – 5/7/19

tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

We said our farewells to Brother Selbert in the morning, standing in the courtyard.”I am sorry,” he said, “that we could not give you the answers you sought.”

“You have given us what you had, my lord priest.” I inclined my head to him. “For that, I am grateful. It may be that the Queen will summon you to discuss your role in Imriel’s disappearance from La Serenissima. I will speak on behalf of your intentions.”

Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey

Only the teaser for today, although I do want to get back to participating in Top Ten Tuesday at some point.

Please share your teasers in comments!

Books I've Read

Book Review: Kushiel’s Chosen

Kushiel's ChosenTitleKushiel’s Chosen

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Pages: 678

Genre: Fantasy

SeriesPhèdre’s Trilogy #2

Edition: Paperback

Blurb: The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber—and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.

When she stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren’t far off the mark.

The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phèdre’s brow, and they are not finished with her. While the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe another should wear the crown… and those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge.

Review: First, I just want to say that it is so nice to get to do a regular review! I finished this one back in March, but with all the other NetGalley and blog tour stuff, I haven’t had a chance to put my thoughts down about this one yet. I think I overextended myself on some other commitments for a bit. Whoops.

Anyway, back to this book. This entire series has been sitting on my “Complete the Series” list for several years now, mostly because they are such a time commitment. These books are long! This second book in the trilogy was the shortest, and its still a behemoth! I absolutely adore Jacqueline Carey’s writing. It is beautiful and poetic, but I do think that there are bits that could be cut down just slightly. It rambles from time to time and, while they are beautiful rambles, it does sometimes drag on for a bit too long.

Phèdre is an interesting character who has to make a lot of tough decisions. She was a lot more independent in this book, which was nice to see, but she also does suffer a bit from everyone thinking that she is just amazing/captivating/intriguing/fascinating/etc. I think that part of that might just be the culture of Terre D’Ange and the fact that they are descended from the angels themselves. If you had angelic lineage, people would probably think you were pretty awesome too. Phèdre just takes it for granted at times, which would be odd to me, but makes sense for her.

Speaking of this world, we get to travel it a lot more, and Carey’s world building remains absolutely superb. It is loosely based on Europe, but she adds so much to it. I want to visit all of these places. It’s definitely one of the fictional worlds I wouldn’t mind living in. The political intrigue is also still top notch. Melisande Shahrizai remains a complicated and compelling adversary and, I can tell, will continue to be in the next book as well.

I gave this a 3 star rating on GoodReads, but that was only because of the dragging parts I mentioned earlier. I still highly recommend this book and this series. It is a good series to completely immerse yourself into, but ONLY if you are in for the long haul. Because it is long. And a haul.

Books I've Read

Re-Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's DartTitle: Kushiel’s Dart

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Series: Phedré’s Trilogy #1

Edition: Paperback

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

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – 2/12/19

tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

In truth, she would not. There had been Childric d’Essoms, before, and a minor lordling named Rogier Clavel. Delaunay had used me to get to them, and then to get to the Duc L’Envers. Neither of of us had forgotten. “I do not think the Lady Nicola is lost, my lord,” I said carefully. “Say rather she thinks we are about the same business, you and I.”

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

Got a good teaser for the week? Please leave it in the comments!

Books I've Read

Book #10

This next book comes from the Book Club over at the Mallorean Tavern. We just finished reading Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey and, I have to say, I’ve never read a book quite like it.

The main character is Phedre, a young woman who was born with a red mark on her left eye. This mark, called Kushiel’s Dart, is a sign from the god Kushiel that she is different – for the rest of her life, she will experience pleasure from pain. She is sold into indentured servitude until she can earn enough money to complete her marque, a large tattoo that covers her entire back. Phedre’s master, Anfiel Delauney, not only sees to her training as an adept, but also teaches her how to be observant and read people, using her to spy on various members of other noble houses. In the process, Phedre is pulled into a scheme that could threaten the entire kingdom.

The book does several things very well. The world that this takes place, Terre D’Ange, is very vividly described. The people there are descended from the angels and it is beautifully written. The culture is incredibly rich and detailed.

There were a few things that bothered me. For one thing, I had a difficult time getting involved with the story until about a third to a half of the way through. The beginning has so much to set up that it tended to be a lot of information dumping. There were so many names of places and people thrown at the reader so quickly, it was hard to keep track of who was who and how they were all related. The book is also full of sexuality, both heterosexual and homosexual. While this is not a bad thing, there are some scenes that were very explicit. Some of them were a little hard to read, especially since Phedre’s experiences were very sadomasochistic and some were very violent. Luckily, they are also fairly easy to skim over without missing large portions of the plot, if this sort of thing is uncomfortable for people to read.

Bottom line: the book ends with a fairly good cliffhanger, one that has convinced me to buy the next book. I’m guessing the next one will be easier since I now know the specifics of the story world. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, since I know some of the subject matter might be a turn off, but I thought it was pretty good.