This fantasy at first put me off because of the training details that Phedre receives in order to provide sexual experiences to those who request her favors. However, her life changes when she is becomes a member of the household of Anafiel Delaunay where she must earn her marque, a special artistic tattoo on her back that signifies that she has served her clients well. Phaedre grows to love and respect Delaunay and his other protege, Alcuin, with whom she becomes good friends. However, her closest friend is Hycinthe, who grew up on the streets, and who loves her for who she is as a person rather than the favors she is trained to provide. As the story unfolds one finds begins to identify with Phaedre whose life changes with the political intrigue with which Delaunay is involved. When Delaunay, Alcuin, and the household servants are murdered, Phaedre and her bodyguard, Joscelin, a member of a priest-like group trained in defensive tactics to protect those he serves are kidnapped and sold as slaves to a barbarian tribe that plans to invade the country. Life becomes more and more complex for Phaedre and Joscelin, who in their absence are convicted of the murders. Phaedre finds herself serving the young queen once her father dies and becomes a spy and her representative to help find her fiance and bring him to her for marriage.
The tale is action-packed and fast moving and fascinating. Will Phaedre fall in love with Hycinthe who through his success on the streets becomes known as the Prince of Travelers or will her heart belong to Joscelin who finds himself breaking every vow he made to keep Phaedre safe? Or, is love really in the cards for one such as Phaedre? Will the young queen survive the political chaos that follows her father's death to marry her fiance? One keeps turning the pages to discover the answers to these questions and others. I really enjoyed the book, in spite of its length.
As the last book in the trilogy, Kushiel's Avatar starts off with catching you up in the time that's passed, then it jumps right into the meat of the book.
I would say that there are two main plot lines in this book; one is obvious from the get-go, the other one will become obvious after the first few chapters. Surprisingly, it's the latter plot line that takes up the majority of the book. That one is also the more interesting of the two. This book kept me riveted to it for a good week, right before my finals. That should give you an inkling as to how interesting it is.
Joscelin and Phedre have both matured greatly from the previous book to this one, and it really shows in their interactions with each other. Phedre herself points out the differences too, on occasion.
As usual, they go on a journey that spans the very borders of the world, going where few venture. I'd like to mention that time is a very abstract concept in this book. I realize that a journey of such caliber will take a long time, but sometimes it doesn't sink in until the author explicitly mentions how long it's been since they were last in the city (or somewhere).
Kushiel's Avatar provided a fitting ending to Phedre's story, and I look forward to the next book in the series. If you have any doubts whether you should read this book, just read it. It won't disappoint.
Bravo! A thrilling end to a wonderful series written by Jacqueline Carey. I was skeptical at first with this series, thinking maybe I'm just reading this book for the sex and nothing else...boy was I wrong! I was ensnared into grandiose tales of intrigue and betrayal ratcheted with unending bouts of courage and love combed into decades of friendship and loyalty that only Carey's writing could inspire. I loved it!