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.
About the Author
Jacqueline Carey is the author of the bestselling Kushiel trilogy (Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen, and Kushiel's Avatar) and her epic fantasy duology, The Sundering (Banewreaker and Godslayer). She has won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Her books have been listed on many booksellers' top ten fantasy books lists. Always an avid reader, Carey began writing fiction as a hobby in high school. After graduating from Lake Forest College, she worked for six months at a bookstore in London, and returned to the United States with a driving passion to write professionally. She resides in western Michigan.
Read an Excerpt
Lest anyone should suppose that I am a cuckoo's child, got on the wrong side of the blanket by lusty peasant stock and sold into indenture in a shortfallen season, I may say that I am House-born and reared in the Night Court proper, for all the good it did me.
It is hard for me to resent my parents, although I envy them their naïveté. No one even told them, when I was born, that they gifted me with an ill-luck name. Phèdre, they called me, neither one knowing that it is a Hellene name, and cursed.
When I was born, I daresay they still had reason for hope. My eyes, scarce open, were yet of indeterminate color, and the appearance of a newborn babe is a fluid thing, changing from week to week. Blonde wisps may give way to curls of jet, the pallor of birth deepen to a richness like amber, and so on. But when my series of amniotic sea-changes were done, the thing was obvious.
I was flawed.
It is not, of course, that I lacked beauty, even as a babe. I am a D'Angeline, after all, and ever since Blessed Elua set foot on the soil of our fair nation and called it home, the world has known what it means to be D'Angeline. My soft features echoed my mother's, carved in miniature perfection. My skin, too fair for the canon of Jasmine House, was nonetheless a perfectly acceptable shade of ivory. My hair, which grew to curl in charming profusion, was the color of sable-in-shadows, reckoned a coup in some of the Houses. My limbs were straight and supple, my bones a marvel of delicate strength.
No, the problem was elsewhere.
To be sure, it was my eyes; and not even the pair of them, but merely the one.
Such a small thing on which to hinge such a fate. Nothing more than a mote, a fleck, a mere speck of color. If it had been any other hue, perhaps, it would have been a different story. My eyes, when they settled, were that color the poets call bistre, a deep and lustrous darkness, like a forest pool under the shade of ancient oaks. Outside Terre d'Ange, perhaps, one might call it brown, but the language spoke outside our nation's bounds is a pitiful thing when it comes to describing beauty. Bistre, then, rich and liquid-dark; save for the left eye, where in the iris that ringed the black pupil, a fleck of color shone.
And it shone red, and indeed, red is a poor word for the color it shone. Scarlet, call it, or crimson; redder than a rooster's wattles or the glazed apple in a pig's mouth.
Thus did I enter the world, with an ill-luck name and a pinprick of blood emblazoned in my gaze.
My mother was Liliane de Souverain, an adept of Jasmine House, and her line was ancient in the service of Naamah. My father was another matter, for he was the third son of a merchant prince and, alas, the acumen that raised his father to emeritus status in the City of Elua was spent in the seed that produced his elder brothers. For all three of us would have been better served had his passions led him to the door of another House; Bryony, perhaps, whose adepts are trained in financial cunning.
But Pierre Cantrel had a weak head and strong passions, so when coin swelled the purse at his belt and seed filled to bursting the purse between his legs, it was to Jasmine House, indolent and sensual, that he hied himself.
And there, of course, betwixt the ebb tide in his wits and the rising tide in his loins, he lost his heart in the bargain.
On the outside, it may not look it, but there are intricate laws and regulations governing the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, which only rustics from the provinces call anything but the Night Court. So it must be, for weodd, that I say it stillserve not only Naamah herself, but the great Houses of Parliament, the scions of Elua and his Companions, and sometimes, even, the House Royal itself. Indeed, more often than Royal cares to admit, we have served its sons and daughters.
Outsiders say adepts are bred like livestock, to produce children who fall within the House canon. Not so; or at least, no more so than any other marriage is arranged, for reason of politics or finance. We wed for aesthetics, true; but no one ever within my recollection was forced into a union distasteful to him or her. It would have violated the precepts of Blessed Elua to do so.
Still, it is true that my parents were an ill match, and when my father bid for her hand, the Dowayne of Jasmine House was moved to decline. No wonder, for my mother was cast true to the mold of her House, honey-skinned and ebon-haired, with great dark eyes like black pearls. My father, alas, was of a paler cast, with flaxen hair and eyes of murky blue. Who could say what the commingling of their seed would produce?
Me, of course; proving the Dowayne in the right. I have never denied it.
Since he could not have her by decree of the Night Court, my father eloped with my mother. She was free to do so, having made her marque by the age of nineteen. On the strength of his jingling purse and his father'sgrace, and the dowry my mother had made above her marque, they eloped.
I am sure, though I have never seen them to ask since I was but four, that both believed my mother would throw true, a perfect child, a House treasure, and the Dowayne would take me in open-armed. I would be reared and cherished, taught to love Blessed Elua and serve Naamah, and once I had made my marque, the House would tithe a portion to my parents. This I am sure they believed.
Doubtless it was a pleasant dream.
The Night Court is not unduly cruel, and during my mother's lying-in, Jasmine House had welcomed her back. There would be no support from its coffers for her unsanctioned husband, but the marriage was acknowledged and tolerated, having been executed with due process before a rural priest of Elua. In the normal course of events, if my appearance and budding nature fell within the canon of the House, I would have been reared wholly therein. If I met the canon of some other Houseas I nearly didits Dowayne would pay surety for my rearing until ten, when I would be formally adopted into my new household. Either way, did she choose, my mother would have been given over to the training of adepts and granted a pension against my marque. As my father's purse, however ardent, was not deep, this would have been the course they chose.
Alas, when it grew obvious that the scarlet mote in my eye was a permanent fixture, the Dowayne drew the line. I was flawed. Among all the Thirteen Houses, there was not one whose canon allowed for flawed goods of this kind. Jasmine House would not pay for my upkeep, and if my mother wished to remain, she must support us both in service, not training.
If he had little else, my father had his passions, andpride was one of them. He had taken my mother to wife, and her service was only for him and no longer to be laid at Naamah's altar. He begged of his father stewardship of a caravan en route to trade in Caerdicca Unitas, taking my mother and my two-year-old self with him, seeking our fortune.
It will come as no surprise, I think, that after a long and arduous journey in which he treated with brigands and mercenaries alikeand little enough difference between the two, since Tiberium fell and the surety of the highways was lostthat he traded at a loss. The Caerdicci no longer rule an empire, but they are shrewd traders.
So it was that fate found us two years later, travelweary and nigh unto penniless. I remember little of it, of course. What I remember best is the road, the smells and colors of it, and a member of the mercenaries who took it upon himself to guard my small person. He was a Skaldi tribesman, a northerner, bigger than an ox and uglier than sin. I liked to pull his mustaches, which hung on either side of his mouth; it made him smile, and I would laugh. He made me to understand, with langue d'oc and eloquent gestures, that he had a wife and a daughter my age, whom he missed. When the mercenaries and the caravan parted ways, I missed him, and for many months after.
Of my parents, I remember only that they were much together and much in love, with little time or regard for me. On the road, my father had his hands full, protecting the virtue of his bride. Once it was seen that my mother bore the marque of Naamah, the offers came daily, some made at the point of a blade. But he protected her virtue, from all save himself. When we returned to the City, her belly was beginning to swell.
My father, undaunted, had the temerity to beg of hisfather another chance, claiming the journey too long, the caravan ill-equipped, and himself naive in the ways of trade. This time, he vowed, it would be different. And this time, my grandfather, the merchant prince, drew his own line. He would allot a second chance to my parents, but they must guarantee the trade with a purse of their own.
What else were they to do? Nothing, I suppose. Aside from my mother's skills, which my father would not let her sell, I was their only commodity. To be fair, they would have shrunk in horror at the thought of selling me into indenture on the open market. It would come to that end, no matter, but I doubt either of them capable of looking so far down the line. No, instead my mother, whom after all, I must bless for it, took her courage in both hands and begged an audience with the Dowayne of Cereus House.
Of the Thirteen Houses, Night-Blooming Cereus is and has always been First. It was founded by Enediel Vintesoir some six hundred years past, and from it has grown the Night Court proper. Since the time of Vintesoir, it has been customary for the Dowayne of Cereus House to represent the Night Court with a seat on the City Judiciary; it is said, too, that many a Dowayne of that House has had privilege of the King's ear.
Mayhap it is true; from what I have learned, it is certainly possible. In its founder's time, Cereus House served only Naamah and the scions of Elua. Since then, trade has prospered, and while the court has thrived, it has grown notably more bourgeois in clientele: to wit, my father. But by any accounting, the Dowayne of Cereus House remained a formidable figure.
As everyone knows, beauty is at its most poignant when the cold hand of Death holds poised to wither it imminently. Upon such fragile transience was the fameof Cereus House founded. One could see, still, in the Dowayne, the ghostly echo of the beauty that had blossomed in her heyday, as a pressed flower retains its form, brittle and frail, its essence fled. In the general course of things, when beauty passes, the flower bows its head upon the stem and fails. Sometimes, though, when the petals droop, a framework of tempered steel is revealed within.
Such a one was Miriam Bouscevre, the Dowayne of Cereus House. Thin and fine as parchment was her skin, and her hair white with age, but her eyes, ah! She sat fixed in her chair, upright as a girl of seventeen, and her eyes were like gimlets, grey as steel.
I remember standing in the courtyard upon marble flagstones, holding my mother's hand as she stammered forth her plight. The advent of true love, the elopement, her own Dowayne's decree, the failure of the caravan and my grandfather's bargain. I remember how she spoke of my father still with love and admiration, sure that the next purse, the next sojourn, would make his fortune. I remember how she cited, voice bold and trembling, her years of service, the exhortation of Blessed Elua: Love as thou wilt. And I remember, at last, how the fountain of her voice ran dry, and the Dowayne moved one hand. Not lifted, not quite; a pair of fingers, perhaps, laden with rings.
"Bring the child here."
So we approached her chair, my mother trembling and I oddly fearless, as children are wont to be at the least apt of times. The Dowayne lifted my chin with one ringladen finger and took survey of my features.
Did a flicker of something, some uncertainty, cross her mien when her gaze fell on the scarlet mote in my left eye? Even now, I am not sure; and if it did, it passedswiftly. She withdrew her hand and returned her gaze to my mother, stern and abiding.
"Jehan spoke truly," she said. "The child is unfit to serve the Thirteen Houses. Yet she is comely, and being raised to the Court, may fetch a considerable bond price. In recognition of your years of service, I will make you this offer."
The Dowayne named a figure, and I could feel a flutter of excitement set my mother atremble beside me. It was a charm of hers, this trembling. "Blessed lady" my mother began.
Watching hawk-like, the ancient Dowayne cut her off with a gesture. "These are the terms," she said, voice remorseless. "You will tell no one. When you take up residence, it will be outside the City. For the world's concern, the child you spawn four months hence shall be the first. We will not have it said that Cereus House gives succor to a whore's unwanted get."
At that I heard my mother's soft indrawn breath of shock, and witnessed the old woman's eyes narrow in satisfaction. So that is what I am, then, my child-self thought; a whore's unwanted get.
"It is not" My mother's voice trembled.
"It is my offer." The ancient voice was pitiless. She will sell me to this cruel old woman, I thought, and experienced a thrill of terror. Even then, unknowing, I knew it as such. "We will raise the child as one of our own, until she is ten. Any ability she has, we will foster. Her bond-price will command respect. That much, I offer you, Liliane. Can you offer her as much?"
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, searching my own, coming at last to rest upon the left. Through our joined hands, I felt the shudder she repressed.
"Take her, then." Letting go my hand, she shoved me violently. I stumbled forward, falling against the Dowayne's chair. She moved only to tug gently upon the silken cord of a bell-pull. A sound like silver chimes rang in the distance, and an adept glided unobtrusive from behind a discreet screen, gathering me effortlessly, drawing me away by one hand. I turned my head at the last for one final glimpse of my mother, but her face was averted, shoulders shaking with soundless tears. The sun that filtered through the high windows and cast a green-tinged shade through the flowers shone with blue highlights on the ebony river of her hair.
"Come," the adept said soothingly, and her voice was as cool and liquid as flowing water. Led away, I looked up in trust. She was a child of Cereus House, pale and exquisite. I had entered a different world.
Is it any wonder, then, that I became what I did? Delaunay maintains that it was ever my destiny, and perhaps he is right, but this I know is true: When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity upon me.
Copyright © 2001 by Jacqueline Carey
Table of Contents
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.
Questions for Discussion
1. Anafiel Delaunay opened his home to Alcuin and Phèdre, gave them his name, and treated them like family. Yet at the same time, he benefited from their services to Naamah as a means to spy on his enemies and gain insight into plottings against the throne. Alcuin and Phèdre in turn would do anything to please Delaunay, even risk their lives. Do you feel that Delaunay knowingly took advantage of Alcuin and Phèdre's loyalty to him? Do you feel Delaunay allowed Phèdre to accept dangerous assignations, knowing that her love for him would drive her to do anything to make him proud?
2. Delaunay often spoke of Rolande's rashness as being the cause of his downfall in the Battle of Three Princes. Did you feel that Delaunay's better judgment was also clouded by his obsession to avenge Rolande's death and his solemn oath to protect Rolande's only daughter, the Dauphine?
3. Delaunay had treated Phèdre like a daughter and was the only person to turn her "curse" into a blessing. Yet when Phèdre discovers Delaunay and Alcuin are romantically involved, she cries bitter tears of despair. Did you feel she was upset because she wanted to be intimate with Delaunay? Or did you attribute her despair to sibling rivalry? Was she jealous of Alcuin for once again being Delaunay's favorite pupil?
4. Melisande Shahrizai proves to be a dangerous woman to Delaunay, Alcuin, Phèdre, and all of Terre d'Ange. She's a lethal combination of blinding beauty, cunning intelligence, and evil ambition. Yet she is first introduced as a friend to Delaunay. Do you feel that with all of Delaunay's knowledge of human nature he should have seen Melisande as a threat much earlier on? Or do you feel he was always aware of how dangerous she was and neglected to protect himself, Alcuin, and Phèdre from Melisande's deceitful machinations?
5. Hyacinthe is Phèdre's only real friend, since before she even enters Naamah's services. Up until the war in Alba, their relationship had always been platonic. Or was it? Did you feel that there were feelings of unrequited love for either of them? Did Phèdre harbor feelings to one day be with Hyacinthe? Do you feel Phèdre and Hyacinthe have some unfinished business to settle in the sequel to Kushiel's Dart?
6. When Joscelin and Phèdre are first sold as slaves to the Skaldi, they're treated fairly well by many of them, in particular, Hedwig and Gunter. Gunter even allows Joscelin to defend himself against Evrard the Sharptongued, after which Joscelin is allowed to join the Skaldi as Gunter's bodyguard. It's not until they are traded to Waldemar Selig's steading that they are truly mistreated. Would you have liked to know that Gunter's steading had escaped the war without injury? When Joscelin and Phèdre escape Selig's steading, did it upset you when Phèdre was forced to kill Harald the Beardless, one of the thanes in Gunter's steading who had been kind to her?
7. Blessed Elua says "Love as thou wilt." Yet when Joscelin Verreuil does just that with Phèdre, he is cast out of the Cassiline Brotherhood. While it was Joscelin's choice to remain with Phèdre, did you feel that the Cassilines should have respected Elua's will?
8. Joscelin has a difficult time accepting Phèdre's status as an anguissette and the services that accompany the role of one of Kushiel's servants. In the sequel, do you feel that Joscelin will learn to accept Phèdre's need to serve Kushiel? Or is this something that could eventually destroy their relationship?
9. While reading Kushiel's Dart, did you find yourself wishing that Phèdre would stop being an anguissette and settle down to marry Joscelin? Early on in the book, did you think that Delaunay and Phèdre might end up together?
10. Jacqueline Carey has left Kushiel's Dart wide open for a sequel. What are some of the things you'd like to see happen in her next book? How would you like Joscelin and Phèdre's relationship to develop? How will the book resurrect Melisande? Will Phèdre be able to resist Melisande's charms? Do you hope Hyacinthe will return as a main character again?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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!
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...
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you find fancy in complex plotlines and advanced character development, this is the book for you.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
This decadent read was life-changing for me. I had never considered the central question Carey seems to be asking throughout the novel, which is: what would a society look like if it was built on a religious philosophy of sex positivity? Certain elements of Carey's world are just stunningly different from our own. Hardly anyone in Terre d'Ange will judge you for your sexual choices (and those who do judge are deep and interesting characters in their own way). This openness allows the author to explore the taboo questions that naturally follow: if a society is built on sex positivity, what kinds of industry would grow from there? How might capitalism take root? How do people treat each other? How happy are people who live in this world? Beyond that, Carey's writing style is wonderfully creative. She'll keep you engaged throughout the read. The legacy of Kushiel's Dart is firey and intriguing. The character interactions are exquisite. It's just a juicy, wonderful read. If I had to compare this to popular literature, my closest estimate would be that it's a cross between Game of Thrones and 50 Shades of Grey. However, it has an interesting emphasis on consent. I'd be interested in seeing the controversial arguments that might arise from the way these books deal with a particular understanding of consent. Highly recommend this read.
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.
This is a must read. Great story lines and characters you cant help but fall in love with.
I thought this was a lot longer of a book than it needed to be but spans a huge territory. The writing style is just okay, and a little hard to get used to in the beginning. Very complex adventure story but likable.
It took me a while to actually get this book to read. I kept looking at it and never getting it, finally after about 2 months of it catching my eye every time I looked for a new book, I got it! I am glad I did. It is a pretty long book and a lot (I mean a LOT) of different characters, but it was pretty good. There is a lot of detail in it, and made me blush a few times, but overall it was a fun read. Sometimes there was too much detail making it a dry read, but the author made up for it with its gripping scenes that would make me read a few more chapters before going to bed. If you are okay with a few detailed sex scenes to make you blush, politics, conspiracies, romance, love and a story to keep you guessing, this is a great series.
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
This book was sexy, full of surprises, a dangerously good. The characters were memorable and distinct. It certainly surpassed my expectations.
This book revolves around the interesting job skill of it's main character. There was not as much 'romance' as I expected, but if you're looking for a book about political persuits and twists...this is the book for you. I definitely plan on reading the whole series, and have already purchased the second book.
In Terre d¿Ange, physical perfection means freedom and anything less denotes some form of bondage. Phedre no Delaunay is born with a red speck on her left eye, which means a life of slavery. Because of he ¿scarlet letter¿ on her eye, as a child, she is sold to eventually work as a servant of Naamah, providing pleasures to the free people of Terre d¿Ange. However, unlike the rest of the free masses, noble freethinker Anafiel Delaunay, upon seeing the red spot, feels Phedre¿s mar is not a flaw. He believes it represents a greater perfection. He buys Phedre¿s marque and begins to educate her for more than the art of pleasure. She begins to spy for him, but soon becomes embroiled in a dastardly plot to dethrone the King, in which she struggles to warn His Highness before doomsday arrives. KUSHIEL¿S DART is a powerful, extraordinary exotic political fantasy that never slows down yet fully develops the key cast and the culture. The epic fantasy story line is loaded with action that flows due to the characters seeming genuine while providing a deep look into a different culture and way of life. No one will believe that this is Jacqueline Carey¿s debut because her first published novel has to have come from someone with at least a five-book resume. Harriet Klausner
Whew. There’s definitely some steamy goodness in this book. I’ve seen some people on the internet getting all huffy about it—she’s so young! She’s a sex worker! It’s BDSM! And sure, if there’s just no pleasure sensor in your body that lights up with a little bit of consensual violence, maybe you’ll find parts of the story too distasteful for you to enjoy the rest. As for me, I very much enjoyed reading about Phedre no Delaunay. Sold to one of the Houses of the Night-Blooming Court at a young age, Phedre’s marque is bought at ten by Anafiel Delaunay. He trains her in the arts of subtly and spying, and at sixteen Phedre uses her courtesan skills to uncover many secrets for the good of the realm. When I first started reading, for maybe the first page, I was put off by the narrative voice. I could tell I was in for denser reading than most other Young Adult, and I could tell that the author was our very own main character, older and wiser and telling us her story. That sometimes puts me off, knowing that we might have certain things spoiled for us, the delightful suspense taken away because our narrator already knows how the story ends. The writing is careful, though, and clever. And rather than detract, the narrative style actually adds to the story, building up more suspense as Phedre marvels at her ignorance at times, and drops sly hints to say that things were different, back then. The narrative voice reminded me partly of Wraeththu, by Storm Constantine, and partly of The Shadow of the Torturer, by Gene Wolfe. It wasn’t an unpleasant reminder—I greatly enjoyed those books, and reading Kushiel’s Dart brought me back to being a teenager, reading books off my high school sweetheart’s bookshelf. The amount of political intrigue in this book might be off-putting to some, and to be quite honest, I expected to get bored of it myself. I’m not really one for those types of stories, with all their twists and turns and subtle implications. I think there is probably quite a bit that went over my head, actually, though I don’t feel like I’m missing any essential piece of the story. However, the pacing of this story was extraordinary. I always wanted to know more. Secrets were unveiled at just the right time, or another delicious sexual encounter would occur, or a romance would take wing just when I might otherwise be finding my attention straying. I haven’t been glued to a book like that in quite some time, actually, and it was satisfying and wonderful. I’m currently reading the second book in the series, and loving it as well. Major props to my Mama Bear from my graduate program, for putting me on to this series (her favorite). I’m glad to finally be reading them, and happy to find that they are so damn enjoyable.