Series: Phèdre's Trilogy #1
Published by Tor Books on January 13, 2015 (reprint)
Genres: Adult SFF
Buy on Amazon
"When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me."
In a kingdom born of angels, Phedre is an anguisette, cursed or blessed to find pleasure in pain. Sold to the Court of Night Blooming Flowers, her fate as a beautiful but anonymous courtesan was sealed. Her bond was purchased by the nobleman Anafiel Delauney, who recognized the scarlet mote in Phedre's eye as the rare mark of one touched by a powerful deity. Under Delauney's patronage she is trained in history, politics, language, and the use of body and mind as the ultimate weapon of subterfuge in a dangerous game of courtly intrigue.
Guided into the bed chambers of Terre D'Ange's most influential nobles, Phedre uncovers a conspiracy against the throne so vast that even her teacher cannot see the whole of it. As her nation is besieged by invading hordes from the north, the most unthinkable threat to her beloved home comes from traitors within. Betrayed and blindsided by her own longings, only Phedre and her trusted bodyguard Josselin are left to cross borders and warring armies in a race to stop the final blow from falling.
Enter a lush world of pleasure houses, ambitious warlords, scheming courtiers, and the harsh justice of blessed deities through the eyes of a heroine like no other. Sprawling and darkly sensual, Jacqueline Carey'sKushiel's Dart is the start of a truly original fantasy series.
KUSHIEL’S DART is one of my favorite books of all time. It was the first epic fantasy I ever read, and for that reason alone, it’s special to me. Jacqueline Carey created characters and a world I can always rely on, whether it’s my fifth or tenth reread. KUSHIEL’S DART is my ultimate comfort book. I actually had to buy a replacement copy because I wore out the spine on my first one.
I’ve picked three reasons I love KUSHIEL’S DART: Phèdre nó Delaunay, Melisande Shahrizai, and the representation of love.
KUSHIEL’S DART stars Phèdre nó Delaunay, anguissette, courtesan, and spy extraordinaire. Phèdre was my first example of a female main character in epic fantasy; even now, many are narrated by males. Yes, Phèdre can do just about anything, but even now, it’s still empowering for me to see a woman in the starring role, a woman who’s intelligent and confident in herself, in her beauty, allure, and capabilities. But Phèdre also knows how to submit, and submitting to her patrons is one way she gains knowledge. Delaunay, the man who saved her from obscurity by identifying the mote in her eye, trained Phèdre to be a spy, to use her god-given nature to experience pain and pleasure together as a way for him to gain information in the bedrooms of Terre d’Ange’s elite.
KUSHIEL’S DART also has one of my favorite villains of all time, Melisande Shahrizai. It’s great to have another woman as the main baddie, but it’s more than that. I like that Melisande has no scruples about using people for her own gains; she plays the game of thrones using human pawns. And the complicated relationship she has with Phèdre is soooo good. They’re bound by love and hate, by attraction and history. They’re also bound by their connection to Kushiel, who was the One God’s punisher.
Lastly, I love how KUSHIEL’S DART shows love. “Love as thou wilt” is the main commandment of Terre d’Ange. There’s no condemnation for any type of love. There are so many examples of loving relationships, from friendships to romances to love for one’s country and monarch. Terre d’Ange glorifies service to Naamah, one of Elua’s Companions who laid with kings for his freedom and peasants for his food. Pledging oneself to Naamah is an honor in Phèdre’s country, as is serving in the Night Court. Phèdre’s devotion to Naamah and “love as thou wilt” is also empowering to me, because do you know how refreshing it is to see sexuality as a positive thing? And beyond that, the friendships Phèdre builds, the journeys she takes, everything she endures in the name of love… well, I usually scoff at anything relating to love, but I enjoy it all here, which I think says something.
There’s so much more to KUSHIEL’S DART and the rest of Phèdre’s arc, but instead of writing a twenty page review, I focused on a few of my favorite things. I try to push this book on anyone I know who likes fantasy. While it’s not for everyone, I do recommend it if you’re looking for a complete fantasy series with tons of worldbuilding and mythology, intricate politics, developed characters and relationships, and more.
Reviewed by Leeanna!
My name’s Leeanna(which you probably figured out), and I’m an avid reader. I read anything and everything from YA to fantasy to nonfiction. I love all sorts of geeky things from Star Wars to Battlestar Galactica to the stock market. I run on Android and a Mac Book Air. I harbor delusions of publishing. My blog is over at LEANNA.ME
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