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

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

by Jacqueline Carey


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765379726
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 01/13/2015
Series: Kushiel's Legacy Series , #1
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 525,904
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

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 taken 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.

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.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

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.

"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."

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?

Customer Reviews

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Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Legacy Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 342 reviews.
Oneira More than 1 year ago
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!
DAY-READER More than 1 year ago
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...
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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?
Cunhafish More than 1 year ago
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.
Sevonne More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
mrsvaljones More than 1 year ago
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!
Dark_Revan More than 1 year ago
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.
mdp More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Nika Nesh More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read. Great story lines and characters you cant help but fall in love with.
PhotographerReader_Julie More than 1 year ago
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.
akaSunshine More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Bittersweet12 More than 1 year ago
This book was sexy, full of surprises, a dangerously good. The characters were memorable and distinct. It certainly surpassed my expectations.
Athena01 More than 1 year ago
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.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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

xicanti on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A young courtesan and spy gets caught up in a plot against her beloved country.I was really looking forward to this, going in. It came highly recommended, and it has a killer first sentence. I could really see myself sinking into it, to the point where I¿d have to rush out and buy the sequel the second I was done.Unfortunately, I found it slow going, and I really struggled to figure out why. On the surface, this book has a lot going for it. The world is lovingly rendered and incredibly detailed. It¿s got a complex plot with an epic sweep to it. Aside from the war, the conflict is largely internal; something I always appreciate. And hell, there¿s bondage! I should¿ve been all over this book.And yet, I just wasn¿t. I was about two hundred and fifty pages in before I realized why. Phèdre may be the narrator, but this isn¿t really her story. Things happen around her, not to her. With a few key exceptions, she spends most of the book as an observer, not a participant. Even after she begins to take a more active role, the book remains a somewhat uneven blend of Phèdre's Story and Things Happening To Other People With Phèdre As Witness.It could still have been interesting and engaging, but the things going on in Phèdre's own life just weren't enough to balance out the big, epic, world-changing stuff. There are a few personal moments, true, (and some really interesting conflicts, much later on), but I didn¿t feel as though they were built up as well as they could have been. As someone who reads primarily for character, I found it frustrating. I¿d much rather have heard about how Phèdre related to those around her than about the grand, epic struggle to save the country.There were a few moments, though, where I could see glimpses of what this book might have been had Carey delved further into Phèdre and her compatriots. It¿s these bits, more than anything else, that have convinced me to give the sequel a go. So many people have spoken highly of this series that I¿m not quite ready to abandon it yet.