Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Series: Kushiel’s Legacy/Phèdre’s Trilogy/Kushiel’s Universe
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Adult Fiction, Speculative Fiction
My Rating: 5/5
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“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”
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As read in the synopsis, this novel is about an anguisette named Phédre who goes on a journey full of pain and pleasure to uncover all there is to learn around her. My friend was nice enough to let me borrow this wonderful read.
Before I get any further into this review, I will say this: This is not a children’s book. There is a lot of sexual content and otherwise disturbing content.
When I first started reading Kushiel’s Dart, I couldn’t get into it. I was in a weird place and the fact that I was reading about sex absolutely terrified me. Luckily, things changed, and I finally was able to continue reading.
Kushiel’s Dart is a wonderfully written book full of detail and words created just to describe things. I am a lover of epic fantasy and this one didn’t disappoint. I’ve read a lot of the other reviews on this book and there is a lot of negativity surrounding it… mostly because of the undeniable BDSM content.
While reading, we go on to learn that Phédre’s parents leave her where they best see fit. They figure that because she has Kushiel’s marking, that she’d be better off there. From a young age, she gets trained to serve her master in a way only those chosen can. When I started reading, I was a bit ignorant, but where she grew up was no less than a whore house, which makes things interesting. She hates being confined though, and tends to run off to visit her friend Hyacinthe, whom I loved. She eventually is bought by Delaunay who teaches her skills that will later come in handy, especially in her line of work. Phédre is constantly being told secrets which she promptly tells to her master.
Many people would argue, saying Phédre was a prostitute, and in some ways she was, but she was an information gatherer. People from the land would pay to have her for a night, to do what they pleased with her… and she liked it. Pleasure in pain. I think reading about her virginity loss was the worst for me though! But gosh, I’m not going to lie, some of those scenes were incredibly hot! Maybe not for someone that isn’t kinky at all, but you could imagine everything… from being strapped to a wooden X, to being caned and whipped… that’s what makes a good author. And it wasn’t just the sex scenes either, the sheer detail of Kushiel’s Dart was absolutely amazing. Whenever there was talk of food, I became intrigued and wanted to eat; whenever a character felt a specific emotion, I felt it too. Some people would argue there was too much detail, but I beg to differ – I LIKE that when I read an epic fantasy!
I don’t want to give too much of this book away, but all of these characters were memorable in some way or another, and the detail is to die for. I really enjoyed Phédre as a character. She was strong and intelligent, even in the darkest of times. All of the main characters have a story to tell and each is moving in its own way. I became attached to many, and despised many others. There was many a time my jaw would gape and I would sit there thinking, “Oh my god, that just happened! That REALLY just happened!” or, “No! N-no!” I almost shed a few tears as well. Almost.
From reading the first book in the series, I’d have to put it up there with Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s just too incredible not to, and that’s saying something.
I think as long as you’re not a prude or uncomfortable with a lot of sex and/or BDSM, and you enjoy epic fantasy, you’ll probably really enjoy Kushiel’s Dart. I read this quite some time ago, so I apologize for my review not being amazing, but it’s here now!
Enjoy, and happy reading!