Guest Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

May 24, 2015 5 stars, Book Review, Guest Post 8 ★★★★★

Guest Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline CareyKushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Series: Phèdre's Trilogy #1
Published by Tor Books on January 13, 2015 (reprint)
Genres: Adult SFF
Pages: 656
Format: Paperback
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

Guest Reader

This is one of our wonderful Guest Readers. Tabitha couldn't squeeze the book into her schedule so passed the book along to this ravenous reader so they could gobble it up and review it for Not Yet Read.
Guest Reader

8 Responses to “Guest Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey”

  1. kara-karina

    Awesome as for the whole series, Leanna! I finished the 9thi book couple of months ago and can honestly say that Phedre’s trilogy was the best! Might reread it sometime.
    kara-karina recently posted…The Postman Knock #124My Profile

  2. Tabitha (Pabkins)

    I am still around 25% thru this book. I think it was all the politics that didn’t work for me. I did love Phedre and the characters were great. I haven’t seen much of Melisande up until right when I stopped reading..that crazy time she spent with her and the prince oh my goodness! I hope to finish it. I grabbed the audio hoping that would work better for me. Fabulous review!!
    Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Guest Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline CareyMy Profile

    • Leeanna @

      I think I said to you and Anya that it IS one you have to be in a mood for. It’s a great comfort book for me, and a series I sometimes reread in the middle of a spat of bad review books. I still need to try her other series – I think you’ve read Agents of Hel, right?

      I’ve never tried it on audio – it’d be nice to make sure I’m mentally pronouncing names properly.

      I typically have at one Warcraft character per server named on a variation of Melisande, haha. That’s the level of my love.
      Leeanna @ recently posted…Book Review: Headstrong by Rachel SwabyMy Profile

  3. Lynn

    I’m currently reading this as a readalong which is a great way to read it as there’s so much discussion that it opens up the mind a little to what’s going on and helps to highlight things you might otherwise miss. I must admit that the politics I’m not totally up to speed with (and this is a reread) but I’m enjoying discovering the world and characters again.
    Lynn 😀
    Lynn recently posted…‘Summer’s lease hath all too short a date…’My Profile