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Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Legacy Series #1)

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Overview

A nation born of angels; vast, intricate, and surrounded by danger...
A woman born to servitude, unknowingly given access to the secrets of the realm...
A plot borne of evil, too cunning to be fathomed, too deadly to be known...

Sold into indentured servitude in the sumptuous and exotic Night Court as a child, Phèdre nó Delaunay is a woman who struggles for honor and duty, ...

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Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Legacy Series #1)

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Overview

A nation born of angels; vast, intricate, and surrounded by danger...
A woman born to servitude, unknowingly given access to the secrets of the realm...
A plot borne of evil, too cunning to be fathomed, too deadly to be known...

Sold into indentured servitude in the sumptuous and exotic Night Court as a child, Phèdre nó Delaunay is a woman who struggles for honor and duty, whose loyalty to the land she loves will take her to the edge of despair—and then beyond.

Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart—a tale about the violent death of an old age and the birth of a new. It is a novel of grandeur, luxury, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. A world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, deposed rulers, and a besieged Queen, a warrior-priest, the Prince of Travellers, barbarian warlords, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess...all seen through the unflinching eyes of an unforgettable heroine.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
"When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me." Phèdre was the product of an ill-advised union. The daughter of a merchant prince's son and an adept of the Night Court, she was born into a society of courtesans who followed in the service of their angels. She was a flawed child with the mark of the devil.

Sold into indentured servitude by indifferent parents, she had little reason for hope. But hope would come in the form of a banned poet named Anafiel Delaunay, who would become her mentor. He wanted her for her mark; he knew what it meant and how he could use it. He taught Phèdre to move within the royal halls virtually unseen -- to look, listen, and think. She learned to spy in places of power, and her greatest danger would be that eventually she would know too much.

Kushiel's Dart is an exotic, edgy, and sensual novel about politics, intrigue, betrayal, conspiracies, and desire. But a Harlequin romance this isn't, trust me. This is a well-written story that simply amazed me. (Jim Killen)

Robert Jordan
A very sophisticated fantasy, intricately plotted and a fascinating read.
Storm Constantine
Kushiel's Dart takes fantasy into shadowy, exotic corners it rarely dares to tread. The standard of the writing is so high, it's hard to believe this is a first novel. Jacqueline Carey is a writer to watch, as the cliché goes, but more important a writer to read.
Eric Van Lustbader
Perhaps once in a decade, if you are fortunate, you discover a debut novel as intoxicating as Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart. Part reimagined history, this sumptuous, spellbinding fantasy is kaleidoscopic in breadth, intimate in detail. It is sure to be read and talked about for years to come.
Library Journal
Trained from childhood to a life of servitude and espionage, Ph dre n Delaunay serves her master, Anafiel, as a courtesan and spy, ferreting out the dangerous secrets of the noble houses of Terre d'Ange. When she uncovers a treasonous conspiracy, however, her life takes on a new and deadly purpose. Set in a world reminiscent of late medieval and early Renaissance Europe, Carey's first novel portrays a society based upon political and sexual intrigue. The author's sensual prose, suitable for adult readers, should appeal to fans of Tanith Lee, Storm Constantine, and Terry Goodkind. Recommended for adult fantasy collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The physically exquisite inhabitants of Terre d'Ange reckon themselves descended from an angel, Blessed Elua. Among them, the arts of sexual expression are highly developed, with the various Houses of the Night Court catering for all needs. Young Phedre is unremarkably lovely-except that one eye is marked with a pinprick of red: Kushiel's Dart distinguishes her as a rare "anguissette" whose gift is to enjoy any form of sexual stimulation, including pain. Sold by her parents, she becomes the indentured servant of the noble Anafiel Delauney, who arranges for her an orthodox education-languages, politics, history, philosophy-as well as training in sexual skills. He also helps her sharpen her observational and critical faculties-she'll be not merely an exotic sexual toy, but a capable and unobtrusive spy. Phedre accepts only those clients she chooses, and receives no payment, though the satisfied ones give rich gifts. The information astute Phedre gathers for Delauney feeds some mysterious purpose he refuses to reveal-but his intrigues involve the Royal Family and the succession to the throne, as well as revenge. Delauney's former partner, now rival, the cold, calculating, and utterly ruthless Melisande Shahrizai nestles at the center of a series of truly Byzantine plots, intrigues, and treacheries; she aims not only to destroy Delauney but to rule Terre d'Ange. Phedre cannot resist Melisande or prevent Delauney's downfall, and is sold into slavery among the barbarian Skaldi. And Phedre's adventures, like Melisande's intrigues, have only just begun. Superbly detailed, fascinatingly textured, and sometimes unbearably intense: a resonant, deeply satisfying, and altogether remarkabledebut-but, emphatically, not for squeamish or judgmental readers.
From the Publisher
"A very sophisticated fantasy, intricately plotted and a fascinating [book]." —-Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765342980
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 3/15/2002
  • Series: Kushiel's Legacy Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 816
  • Sales rank: 142,171
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 10.96 (h) x 1.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Carey

Born in 1964, Jacqueline Carey was an avid reader since early childhood. She began writing in high school, not realizing her hobby would become a permanent vocation. After receiving B.A. degrees in psychology and English literature from Lake Forest College, she spent time living in London and working in a bookstore, then traveling throughout Europe. While living abroad, the desire to become a professional novelist emerged as a driving passion.

Upon returning she embarked in earnest on a writing career, which came to fruition some ten years later. During this time, she worked at the art center of an area college, gaining a strong background in the visual arts. This, along with her early studies in literature and psychology informs her work, as does a lifelong interest in mythology. She enjoys doing research on a wide variety of arcane topics, and an affinity for travel has take her from Finland to Egypt to date. Although often asked by inquiring fans, she does not, in fact, have any tattoos.

Jacqueline currently resides in west Michigan, where she is a founding member of the oldest Mardi Gras krewe in the state. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Kushiel's Legacy fantasy trilogy, including Kushiel's Dart, which received the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Fantasy in 2001. Other previous publications include a nonfiction book, various essays and short stories.

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Read an Excerpt

She will sell me to this cruel old woman, I thought, and experienced a thrill of terror. My mother stood with my hand in hers and gazed down at my upturned face. It is my last memory of her, those great, dark, lambent eyes searching my own, coming at last to rest upon the left. Through our joined hands, I felt the shudder she repressed.
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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacqueline Carey was born in 1964 in Highland Park, Illinois. After receiving BA degrees in psychology and English literature from Lake Forest College, she spent half a year living in London and working in a bookstore, traveling once her work permit expired. Upon returning to the US, she embarked on a writing career while working at a local college to provide steady income and traveling when possible, thus far ranging from Finland to Egypt. She lives in Saugatuck, Michigan. Her previous publications include various short stories, essays, and a nonfiction book, Angels: Celestial Spirits in Legend & Art. Kushiel’s Dart is her first novel.

IN HER OWN WORDS 

“Historical fantasy offers a unique reward. There is an inexpressible pleasure in examining the vast canvas of history and reworking it in broad strokes, of weaving together the threads of what might have been and what never was to create the world anew out of whole cloth. If the process succeeds, the end result is seamless.

 Being possessed of endless curiosity and a deep, abiding fascination with history, culture, and myth, I love doing the research needed to ground my work in tangible reality. And as a fantasy writer, I have an equal love for the process of forgetting, of allowing myself to recreate the world.

And at the heart of it always lies a story.

In no other genre does story occupy the place of precedence as it does in fantasy. All fantasy derives its roots from the oldest tales told by humankind, the myths and legends and fables that inspire wonder, awe, despair and passion, that teach us about justice, courage, and compassion. These are the stories the earliest poets sang. These are the archetypes that haunt our collective unconscious. 

The challenge lies in making these familiar elements one’s own and creating them anew, breathing fresh life into them. I seek to do this by incorporating aspects seldom dared before, by writing prose that speaks to my deep love of literature, by crafting vivid and memorable characters. Is fantasy relevant in a postmodern society? Yes. The old, old truths endure. A hero or heroine faces an insurmountable challenge and prevails through strength of will, through courage, through self-sacrifice and love. 

Thus are born the stories that shape our dreams.” 

—JACQUELINE CAREY

ABOUT THE BOOK

A nation born of angels, vast and intricate and surrounded by danger…

A woman born to servitude, unknowingly given access  to the secrets of the realm…

Born to parents who forsake her and sell her into servitude, bearing the weight of an ill-luck name and the  pin-prick of blood emblazoned in her gaze, Phèdre nó Delaunay is flawed, until one man transforms the prick of her unworth to a pearl of great price. Now Kushiel’s chosen is plucked from a life as an adept and given access to the secrets of the realm.

Phèdre nó Delaunay’s sumptuous and exotic life turns upside down upon the murder of her cherished master and savior Anafiel Delaunay. Caught in the midst of imperial treachery and sold into slavery, this anguissette is the only hope to save her nation born of angels from utter devastation. Kushiel’s Dart is a tale about the violent death of an old age and the birth of the new. It is a novel of grandeur, luxury, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Phèdre’s world exposes cunning poets,  deadly courtiers, deposed rules, a besieged Queen,  a warrior-priest, the Prince of Travelers and the Master  of Straits, barbarian warlords, heroic traitors, and a wily villainess … all seen through the unflinching eyes of an unforgettable heroine.

Here is the glittering and sensual epic of Machiavellian intrigue and corruption, pagan splendor, and high opulence. Phèdre nó Delaunay is a woman who struggles for honor and duty, whose loyalty to the land she loves takes her to the edge of despair and then salvation. 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 286 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(214)

4 Star

(43)

3 Star

(21)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 287 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Kushiel's Legacy

    Amazing book! There were times, in the first half, that I found it moving a bit slow, but it made up for it and then some! I think much of it had to do with being the first book of a series...often they begin fairly slow. She made up for it with beautifully written language. Great mythology and well-chosen names. Loosely based on Europe, France being the main area of the story. I can't even describe how brilliant the formation of the mythology is! She uses established mythology but builds on it. Lots of action, especially throughout the second half, and lovable characters. Interesting society with a large group of religious courtesans. I definitely will have to read more of these books!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    WOW

    I decided to go on a whim and read this book. I am a 30 year old male, So, I had a little trouble at first, thinking I was reading a romance novel. Boy, I was wrong. My whole being was captured right off bat. I was enthralled in the entire story. I could not put it down. The characters are beautifuly written. The plots and betrayals are masterfull. Carey also does a excellent job with descriptions. I loved how she mentioned the coach looking like a trap(lol). I can't wait to read all the others, Im too excited about the treasure I have found in Jacqueline Careys books.
    Please read and enjoy, I highly reccomend it...

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Kushiel: Another Great Series for Fiction Lovers

    I am always looking for a "fix" in the form of good fiction and Kushiel's Dart was unexpected pay-dirt. It would be easy to dismiss this gem by presuming it is lacks more than the charachter of Phedre'. Huge mistake!

    Not only do we deeply relate to the main character, we see a richly detailed adventure and highly developed charachters as intimately related by Phedre.

    A very good book. Pick it up and you will find yourself transported to an adventure rife with intrigue, passion, treachery, and good old fashion kinky lust. I liked it so much I bought the next two in the series. I have read the second and it is just as good as the first.

    You owe it to yourself. Escape into Phedre's world. Trust me. You'll like it.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2004

    Some things which bugged me¿

    Carey glosses over some of the more difficult parts of the book (i.e. battles or combat of any kind for that matter) which is interesting given a storyline that revolves in large part around war. I also got tired of thinking- hmmm it¿s a good thing this (insert evil characters name here) is totally undone by their lust for Phedre or she might not get out of this one. That happened over and over again, which leads me to the second thing that bugged me. Over the course of the novel Phedre somehow manages to screw virtually every character of any importance inside the storyline with the exception of those unfortunate enough to die early on. Does it ever even explain how she keeps from getting pregnant? Or how she keeps from catching a single disease? I also disliked the enormous lack of detail in parts of the novel where Carey was hurrying things to get to the next major event, usually Phedre having sexual relations or being physically abused with/by one of the other main characters. Anyways¿ As many of the other reviewers have pointed out the novel has quite a few strong suites as well. The storyline is original if predictable and Carey is obviously a talented writer. I wish Tor Books agreed with me that 90%Romance-10%Fantasy is not a Fantasy-Romance novel. It¿s a Romance with a few fantasy elements thrown in.

    6 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    One of My Favorite Books in the Fantasy Genre

    Despite fitting into the coming of age genre often seen in young adult fiction, this is a very adult book--in every way. I avoided this book at first although a friend raved about it. Prostitution in fiction is generally a deal breaker with me. I didn't expect to be entranced and sucked into a world where it's an honored profession and the heroine a celebrated practitioner--and one with a very wide masochistic streak--it's literally her selling point. Yet ultimately this book and the trilogy of the first three Kushiel books became among my top favorites in the fantasy genre. Carey creates such an engaging voice for Phedre, from the first line I was hooked, the world she creates is unique and the plot bubbles along nicely and delivers a great blend of fantasy, adventure and romance. I'd add that the trilogy as a whole is wonderful and if you love this book I don't think you'll be disappointed with Kushiel's Chosen and Kushiel's Avatar. I found the Kushiel books after the first trilogy not as moving, but still good reads.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    50 shades of what?

    I'm halfway through 50 Shades and i've just got to say that Phedre would eat "Mr. Grey" alive, steal all his business secrets, get two or three free cars, some lovely jewels, and be back in Joscelin's arms before he knew what hit him. I don't know why I'm even reading this stupid book. Please, mrs. Carey, when's your next book going to drop so i can stop reading this crap?

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2008

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    I Also Recommend:

    The Litany of One a'Cursed; potent, beautiful, and defiant writing for a modern reader

    I found Kushiel's Dart in B&N on a doldrums evening. I hadn't read a good book in some time and needed something refreshing, mentally stimulating, and gently challenging to excite my thoughts into refined pictures and imaginings. <BR/>Though I wasn't sure I would like reading a book I knew almost nothing about, I was pleasantly surprised when I began to read Kushiel's Dart, as it instantly drew me into the beautiful and estranged land of Terre D'Ange. The characters bloom into fascinating spectacles of ferocity, longing, beauty, and emotion. Every written person, be they of importance or no, weaves into the overall tapestry with a master's perfection. <BR/>Though the plot is sometimes difficult to decipher from the interceding emotions of supporting characters and livid sexual dialogues of Phedre--the storyteller--and her devious clients, one can still spot the underlying story, if given to such attentions, weaving between the pages.<BR/>I would not recommend this book to anyone who is easily discouraged by sexuality in reading. This is an "R"-rated story for a sophisticated reader who is not easily bored with a lack of bloodshed and easily deciphered characters.<BR/>If you find fancy in complex plotlines and advanced character development, this is the book for you.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2001

    Darkly erotic epic fantasy

    Great epic fantasy is successful when it takes you to places you have never entered before.Authors like George Martin,China Mieville, Robin Hobb, Steven Erikson and Goodkind are examples now add Jacqueline Carey name to this esteem list. 'When Love cast me out,it was Cruelty who took pity upon me.' These words help start up this dark erotic epic fantasy that will take you to the kingdom of Terre d'Ange, a country born of angels where prostitution is a holy act and court intrigue is most lethal.You will see this through the eyes of unforgettable heroine,Phedre who is sold to the engimatic Delaunay to be trained as a courtesan and schooled in foreign languages and is to become Delaunay's spy.She will learn her nation's darkest secrets and deadiliest conspiracies.Phedre's adventures will take her to the beds of her country's most powerful men, to be sold to slavery to a barbarian king and savior of her homeland from a brutal invasion! This lavish epic fantasy is filled with scenes of disturbing sexuality as Phedre who gets sexual pleasure through use of pain, court intrigue as she uncovers a treasonous plots to overthrow the king.This novel also boasts casts of characters like the warrior priest,Joscelin who vows to protect Phedre as he loses his heart toward her.The Noble Anafiel Delaunay, Phedre's owner who teaches her to become a master spy for his agendas.Hyacinthe,Phedre's kind-hearted friend who is the prince of travelers and to save his homeland will make a heartbreaking sacrifice and the power hungry Skaldian warlord, Waldemar who seeks to conquer Terre d'ange and the brilliant but utterly ruthless villianess, Melisandre who use machivellian manuvers in quest for ultimate power.Carey has the ability to tell scenes of disturbing sensuality and sweeping battle scenes.Carey's world-building abilities are excellent.So pick up this book and enter Phedre's world of dark desire and darker intrigue.You will never forget the journey!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    A fantastic adventure!

    This book had everything: love, adventure, conspiracy, sex, politics, frienship, war... I've never read fantasy before & it was difficult to follow at first but once I got going it all started making sense. I couldn't put it down! I'll read the rest in the series.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2003

    Not What I Expected

    I have read the Kushiel trilogy, and it was very interesting in the beginning. However, one starts to lose interest when there are so many confusing character names and nationalities, and there is more intrigue than I cared for. The main characters are interesting, and that is the only thing that kept me from putting the books down. Kushiel's Dart is the best of the three.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    No words can give justice to this brilliant novel

    The fantasy world that Carey creates with the land of Terre d'Ange, bears no equal. It is beautiful and dangerous, coveted and unyielding, a place of beauty and grace. Carey constructs an entire mythos of god and angels, among them Blessed Elua, whom created the D’Angelines. Under their religion, they follow a single rule: Love as thou wilt.
    Phèdre nó Delaunay was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. To her parents, she was flawed, and at a young age was sold into indentured servitude to the Night Court of Blooming Flowers. Her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman and banned poet, who not only gives Phèdre a home and family, but also a purpose. Recognizing the scarlet mote in her eye as more than a flaw, he explains to her that she was pricked by Kushiel's Dart, a rare anguissette and Kushiel’s Chosen; chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.
    Phèdre is trained from a young age in the art of sexual pleasure to be a courtesan, but under the tutelage of Anafiel Delaunay, she is also equally adept at espionage, able to observe, remember, and analyze.¬¬¬ Her diversified skill set, from her orthodox education, her knack for languages, and her desirable bedroom skills, makes her a prized possession. But soon, Phèdre becomes a pawn in a game that Delaunay is playing, and stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland.
    In Carey’s mesmerizing world, courtiers, royalty, traitors, and villains set Phèdre on a path to save the home she loves. As she undergoes her quest, she experiences treachery, betrayal, love, loss, sacrifice, war, conspiracy and desire at its most dangerous. Kushiel’s Dart is a truly epic adventure, Filled with mystery, fantasy, romance, erotica, and adventure that transports readers into the unknown and leaves them hanging on to every word.
    Kushiel’s Dart deserves the highest praise. A must read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2012

    I've loved this book for quite some time now, I think its quiet

    I've loved this book for quite some time now, I think its quiet interesting in the style that it was written in as well as the concept of an Intelligent, rather than outright sword-swinging men. What does drive me crazy about the eBook format is that its RIDDLED with horrible typos, some so horrible that I'm amazed in how it was accepted as finalized. As much as I love this author I have no interest in buying the rest until I'm certain that the change-over to eBook respects the authors work enough to pay attention to what they're supposed to be doing when rewriting her material for this program.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    Hard to follow

    I had heard of the author and wanted to try her books. However, I found the story difficult to get into -- confusing -- too many different 'families'. I ended up putting it down about 3/4 of the way through

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    This book is Epic

    An amazing story of epic proportion. This is not a one or two-day book read. You can not rush through reading Phedre's story. At times your eyes will tear and you will find yourself actually holding your breath. I was happy the author thought to include a map and glossary as I found myself referring to them many times. I look forward continuing reading this fantasy adventure with Kushiel's Chosen.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A good read for a long day. . .

    This book started out interesting enough, but there was nothing amazing about it. Once the reader understood the society all that was left were the slowly revealing consperices. Not my kind of book.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2008

    WOW - Great Read!

    This was an outstanding read. It was a bit slow, to start, but to be fair, there is a great deal of ground to cover - numerous characters, plots, sub-plots, etc. Once she gave you the foundation, however, she took off, and the book was a page turner from then on. Thoroughly enjoying in every sense. Not a book for teens, and not for the sex-shy type - parts require a definite respect for others choices in sexual interests. Beautifully descriptive, including the battle scenes. One of the few books that truly evokes every emotion possible - over and over again. If you like descriptive sagas, and multiple levels in a story line - and sex doesn't offend you when spoken of descriptively - buy this book. I guarantee you'll end up buying the rest in the series. I just did!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2008

    My all-time favorite book.

    This was one of the first books I read once I was old enough to leave the young adult section. I was afraid that years later it might not be as good as I remembered, it was better than my memory. Fantastic novel, the characters are rich and real. The heroes are beautifully flawed, I will probably read everything this author writes due to this one book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2001

    A Wild Ride!

    I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of Kushiel's Dart. This book blew my mind. It's really epic in scope with intrigue, betrayal, war, sex, love and honor. There are a lot of layers here-in addition to writing a wonderful story, Carey has distorted (and created) history and religon enough for it to be fun to figure out where she detoured from what we know as real. The main character, Phedre, is a courtesan and spy with an unlikely 'gift' (I don't want to spoil it). The book is told from her point of view. Let's just say that, as peculiar as she is, you have no trouble putting yourself in her shoes. You're 'there' all the way during this wild and fascinating ride. I recommend this for fantasy and non-fantasy readers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    Absolutely stunning series!

    This entire series builds so intricately that I imediately became hooked! The beggining of Kushiels Dart goes deep into the setting and characer plot. Read past that and you'll find yourself more than excited that you found this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    Best book series ever!!!!

    This is a must read. Great story lines and characters you cant help but fall in love with.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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