A fascinating tale of love, lust, betrayal and power, finely plotted and set in a lavishly imagined alternate renaissance Europe. Long, but fully realized and well worth the time spent on both this debut and the sequels.
The story includes some very adult (erotic) situations but the descriptions are not as graphic as can be found in other books.
#1 Kushiel's Legacy fantasy series, and first novel for Carey. Quite an ambitious first book at over 900 pages, but it captivates you right from the beginning and seems to read much quicker. WOW! This fantasy series is loosely based on our world, probably in medieval times, with fairly easily identifiable parallel countries/cultures, and a similar religion to Christianityâyet totally different. LOL I know that makes no sense but it's hard to describe. The story is told by PhÃªdre, a Servant of Naamah (basically a well-trained whore whose service is seen as a religious offering) whose marque (an intricate tattoo done on the backs of these Servants) is bought by a powerful, mysterious man involved in many political intrigues. PhÃªdre is trained not only to please her patrons sexually, but as a keen observer who reports back to the head of her household. Intricately woven, well-written and totally amazing first novel.
Although this book took a bit to get going and to read (900 pages), the story was excellent. Contrary to popular belief, the sensuality of the book was less than I had expected. Very good adventure, spy story, war story with a satisfying conclusion. A very good read
Bookfanatic reviewed Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Legacy, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 6
Intense, fabulous, wonderfully detailed, erotic, one of the best fantasy novels I've read. Be warned there is some S/M and bondage though not overly graphic or very uncomfortable for the reader. However, this isn't for people who are put off by reading things like that. If you get embarassed easily by fictional love scenes, skip this book. The mild S/M and bondage are essential to the storyline for the heroine has the rare birthmark of Kushiel's Dart meaning she experiences both pain and pleasure in the same way without any distinction between the two.
The writer successfully creates an alternative renaissance world in a universe very like our own. This is a great tail of love and revenge revolving around bizantine politics and intregue. The heroine is pure of heart but experiences pain as pleasure, making her the perfect spy among the wealthy elite who have a taste for rough games, while complicating her relationship with the man she loves.
I loved this book! Not only Kushiel's Dart but the 2 following books Kushiel's Chosen and Kusiel's Avatar! The books are so well written that I have read all three books at least 3 times each. I am sorry but this books are some of the few that I can't part with!:)
Better than "Game of Thrones"! This was the first fantasy book I've completed in 20 years. I tried reading GRR Martin, but It just didn't grab me like this book did. I prefer Carey's writing style and the fact that places she uses correspond to actual places. One reviewer said this is like Martin for Women. I'm a man and I completely disagree. I like plenty of guy books (Matthew Reilly), I just think Carey is a better writer than Martin. I found myself being possessed by this book much like Phedre was by Melisande. It's a great combination of intrigue, adventure, political scheming, love, war and some light S&M. I tend to read books quickly, but this one took a bit longer, and not just because it was 900 pp. I don't know if it was the dialect used by the author or all the different plot lines. It doesn't matter though, it was completely captivating and worth every minute! Can't wait to start the next one!
I had this book sitting on my shelf for a long while. I finally pulled it out, dusted it off and decided to read it. Within the first page I was wondering if this was a mistake. I felt the writing was kind of "flowery" and I wasn't used to that so I was a bit discouraged. I kept on with it though and decided if the first chapter didn't hold my attention I would just donate the book. Well by the first chapter I was hooked. I loved this book. I am now an overnight fan of Jacqueline Carey. This book blends in betrayal, battle, love, loss, sex and much more. The landscapes, costumes, people were so vividly captured in my mind. I would say that the only two downfalls to this book for me were that there were a whole lot of characters that I had a hard time keeping up with them and at the end Phedre just came off as too "perfect". Everything she did was without a flaw it seemed. But that's probably because she's Kushiel's Dart and meant to be that way. I highly recommend this book and will not hesitate to read her others.
Rayna C. reviewed Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Legacy, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 2
The 1st in the Greatest Heroine Driven Trilogy ever. One of the best fantasy novels I have ever read, only the Mists of Avalon tops this one. There is spy, intrigue, mystery, betrayal, familial ties and complex characters. A great read.
A wonderful book with a unique and unexpected heroine. I love the introduction to the world of Phedre which is like our world but with differences. It was so realistic and believable, I actually looked up the religion to see if it existed, surprised that I hadn't heard of it before. Jacqueline Carey's details are fantastic and her notions about religion and love are cutting edge. Phedre's journey not only the physical journey but her emotional and spiritual journey was riveting.
There are some very explicit sex themes in this book but I wouldn't describe any of the scenes as graphic. However sex, especially violent sex (strictly consensual) is a core facet of the main character and the theme of the book. And while it is a theme, it does not overtake the book and it isn't the plot, it is almost more of a character. I spent much of the first book trying to figure out of there is a "message" in the story, and while there are messages about love, I don't know if she's saying anything more profound than "different strokes for different folks".
This book will be a keeper and recommended to anyone. It isn't a romance novel at all, it is an epic odyssey.
A masochistic prostitute is trained for espionage in Terre d'Ange, a country ruled by a sect of Christianity whose highest law is "Love as thou wilt"... Not a book I would really have expected to get into.
But do not be fooled by the heroine's upbringing as a prostitute and the blatant S&M overtones- this is a well-written, well-plotted book, filled with political intrigue, an esquisite portrayal of an alternate history, and characters that win your heart and make you laugh. Phedre is certainly a unique heroine- not only is she proud of her status as the only living "anguisette", she considers it a religious calling and has no higher ambitions in life. But when events put her in a unique position to save her homeland and the people she loves from utter obliteration, damned if she doesn't rise to the occasion.
I don't recommend this for younger readers (this is definitely an NC-17 rating) or extremely devout Christians, but I'd definitely encourage serious readers of historical fiction and political intrigue to read it- you might be surprised to find how deep and absorbing a read it is.
I like this book. This book has reminded me of why I enjoy reading so much; whether it's the political intrigue or the vast world building and character development, I enjoy fantasies because they bring another world and reality to me. As a testament of this book's well written story, I have spent the week before my finals (and the week of my finals) reading instead of studying.
From the description alone, one can deduce that this has a lot of political drama and multi-layered plots laid by various factions in the story. Another thing that can be easily deduced is that sex is a central point of this book. Needless to say, this book has sex scenes, albeit well written ones that develop the story.
The only gripe that I have with this book is the somewhat slow beginning, although one can argue that it helps develop her character and the reasoning behind some of her future actions and behaviors. But I digress.
Don't be put off by the fact that the book is about a woman that likes sex because it is more than that. Give this book a chance and a lesson may perhaps be learned - to not be so quick to judge, whether a book or a person.
Excellent story, filled with joyful highs, and despairing, nightmarish lows. It's sensual on many levels, and exciting. The stories only get more exciting as the series goes on. The world is so richly described, the characters are so full and roundly portrayed, you find yourself loving people you should hate, and vice versa. Phadre's world mimics our own in many ways, unlike so many fantasy novels, you're not floundering around lost in a total alien geography.
Original, interesting story, so well told, I highly recommend grabbing this book, as well as the next two.
I had a hard time getting into the book and it felt like a lifetime to get it finished. I have had a lot of friends like this series but I personally won't continue. I am told the the series gets a lot better after the first book and that this book really is just laying the "groundwork" for the others.
This is a deceptively diabolical book that takes place in a fantastical Europe like setting. A sexy book filled with espionage and intrigue. I simply couldnt put this book down, waiting to see who would unravel the secrets of the characters and the realm in which they were taking place. This is a book that is extremely fast paced and traces the politics and sexual nature of a nation and its people.
I don't want to give it five stars because I couldn't finish and I now hate the book but that's no fault of the book itself.
This is actually amazing. I haven't been emotional involved in a book like this for SOSOSO long but the plot went a way that messed me up so bad I couldn't finish. I dunno. It's great and one of the best stories I've read in a REALLY long time.
If there was ever a book that was too good, this is it.
I didn't like the writer's style at first. She is very wordy and her sentences didn't flow well for me. However, I was able to get past that and this story is really good. Strong characters, adventure, and a good, interesting story line.
Okay- I feel as though there will be a lot of prefacing before I continue to the actual review. A little backstory first. . .I had been wanting to read the Gray Series (you know the one, 50 shades) but I had continually been told that it was poorly written, and repetitive in certain. . . scenes. So I just kind of threw it on my TBR pile, and my attitude was when (if) i get to it, then I get to it. In the meantime, family member gifted me the (almost) complete series of Kushiel by Jacqueline Carey, and basically said that this series will blow you away.
Now. . .I honestly would not consider myself a romance reader. I never really was into that kind of genre, I always stuck with science fiction, young adult, etc. However, looking for Kushiel at book sales, for some reason, was ALWAYS categorized in either Mystery' or Science Fiction'. Suffice it to say, if this truly is a Romance' novel/series, it converted me. . .at least just for this series.
Have you ever wanted to read a book simply by looking at the cover? For some reason or another, this particular book had come up in my recommendation list on Goodreads, shortly after said family member gifted me the series. The cover was appealing to me. First instinct was that it had an Egyptian theme, I thought great, there will be a bit of history reading this book, it's right up my alley. I'm not typically one to read the back of the book to see what the plot will be. I like to be surprised as the story progresses. That being said, let's review the book!
This book does NOT take place in Egypt lol. This book takes place in it's own world; Terre de Ange. Don't ask me how to pronounce 3/4 of the names in this book, I did my best. I can say (in my opinion) that this book is solely based off of two ideals that run the entire book; "Love as thou wilt" and "All knowledge is worth having". The first ideal is how the book starts. An unlikely marriage yields a child; not really an unwanted child, but her parents wanted better for her. So what other place would a parent of Terre de Ange drop off their child? Well at the Night Court, where else? So what exactly is the Night Court? Everyone who lives under the Night Court is a servant of Naamah. They are trained in what that particular house represents; modesty, healing, wealth, perfection, fragility, dignity, creativity, mysticism, devotion, sensuality, dominance, humor, and submission. When Phèdre is taken in, there is one distinguishing attribute that makes her stand out from anyone else; there is a red mote in her eye, Kushiel's Dart, that has not been seen for centuries. What her mark actually means is that derives pleasure from pain. Being Terre de Ange's first anguisette does not bode well for the house Phèdre belongs to; Fragility. She is defiant, expressive, rebellious, and adventurous. Luckily, a patron sees her potential and buys her so that she may study and find her own place in this world.
Phèdre now becomes known as "Delaunay's anguisette". Delaunay, having taken his second pupil now, makes sure that Phèdre studies language, behaviors, tactics, listening skills, tumbling, anything that would help in the world of politics. Phèdre is also taught in depth about Kushiel's Dart. She is trained as a servant of Naamah (basically a religious prostitution) although Phèdre's training is more harmful, and she must pick a "safe word" so that her patron's may know to stop. All patron's must first go through Delaunay, and then be approved by Phèdre. Because of her unique condition, Phèdre quickly gains popularity, too much popularity. Phèdre moves quickly through the ranks of politics, and thanks to her training takes what she hears, and applies it to practice to decipher meaning in upcoming events.
To become an individual servant of Naamah, one must have a completed "marque". This signifies independence, and the right to choose at one's own free will. It is during the last installment of Phèdre's marque that things go awry. Phèdre is betrayed by a patron, and is sold (or maybe kidnapped depending on how you look at it) to barbarians on the outskirts of Terre de Ange. By surviving her kidnappers, and adapting to her surroundings, Phèdre again uses her numerous abilities to foil a plot. It is at this point in the book that I could not put it down. See how a simple servant of Naamah becomes the Queen's most respected Comtesse of Terre de Ange.
Born into this world as "a whore's unwanted get", Phèdre goes above and beyond what anyone thinks she is capable of doing. What starts out as a meek and mild character, grown into a character who would demand respect because of her bravery and tactics. This was a long book, which by no means should put you off from reading it. It is a bit slow in the beginning, and there is a lot of information to take in. But give this book a serious chance. I have not read 50 shades of Gray, but from what I've heard, I'm pretty sure that Kushiel's Dart is far more engaging.
This is a very strangely complicated fantasy, but not hard to read despite the plethora of names and titles. I read it very fast--and it's 700 some pages, so that's saying something. I have no real interest in continuing the series. For the most part, it seemed pretty empty. Entertaining fluff. For staying power, it's about as filling as the average romance, but if you're into fantasy and find the average bodice buster formulaic, give this a try.
Maybe it is just not a book to my taste. Fantasy, history, sexual tones, but not bad. If you enjoy a lot of history you will love it. I kept wanting to read the last chapter, because I felt I skiped alot of it...just not interested in it. I have to admit I HAD to finish it, The autor did an amazing job, but NOT interested in book #2
I loved the political intrigue, the exquisitely detailed world, the well-considered cultures, and the quaint descriptions of masochistic desires. This all was done incredibly well.
The biggest thing that made me stop reading this book was the infrequent interruptions of Phedre looking back on the situation, rather than just letting the story play out. Many times these glances by Phedre into the past are completely unnecessary and just jolt the reader out of the current circumstances. It seems like some were written with the intent of foreshadowing, but never quite get there.
It just seems like Carey didn't have a firm grip on her narration in many parts of this book.
I loved this book. I enjoy the fact the hero in the book is a woman and she first started in a questionable career for someone from this time reading the book. I love fantasy books that are in a different time and in a different setting and this book provided everything that I love in a fantasy book. This will be a book that I will read again and again.
There is so much I could say about this book, but it would be impossible to explain it with complete accuracy. It's fantasy, intrigue, and romance. It's dark and gritty. It's unexpectedly entertaining.
First of all, this book is long. The plot elements are too many to summarize, so I'll just gloss over the main points. The setting is a sort of alternate reality historical Europe--most specifically Terre-D'Ange (France). It's told first person from the point of view of Phedre, a young girl who was given into servitude as a child. She grows up being trained as a courtesan and a spy--to pleasure men and women and to observe and interpret the things she sees. Phedre is unique in that she has the ability to yield to pain, taking pleasure in the process. As a result of this calling she is thrown into a world of intricate political intrigue, tumultuous romance, violence, and war. She is joined by a varied cast of secondary characters and villains, too many to list or describe.
There are a lot of great things about this book, and I believe it would appeal to a wide audience. Phedre is a unique character who stands out both by the standards of modern culture and withing her own world. As a result, I found her likable and for the most part relateable. The setting and culture created is extremely detailed and entertaing--from the political and social hierarchies, to the legends and religions, to the customs and languages. It takes some concentration to keep everything straight. Which is why I must warn- this isn't exactly light reading. Not only is the plot complex and full of politics, mysteries, and secret plots, but much of the content is vaguely disturbing. But if you put the time and thought into it, you will almost certainly find something appealing.
The parts that appealed to me specifically were the relationships. Phedre meets and interacts with quite a variety of characters. There is Hyacynthe, a gypsy boy she meets as a child. Joscelin, Phedre's protector who lives by strict priestly vows which are strongly tried by his growing love for her. I could go on, but the point is that there is every character type imaginable and there's quite a bit of development for each of them.
I had some issues with this book, and the top one is length. I like my books long, yes, but I hate filler. Was there much of it? No. But enough that I had moments of boredom, or later when I thought back on a chapter I realized it could have been cut to no ill effect. In fact I feel there were a few characters that could have been cut out as unnecessary to the plot. The language is very flowery, which is mostly a plus, but at times it detracts from the narrative--sometimes simpler would be better.
Overall, this is very impressive fantasy. I encourage readers to try it and draw their own conclusions--most fantasy fans should find something positive.
An absolutely fabulous book, full of sex, intrigue, and politics. Carey creates a believable world with a dark underbelly that's part fantasy and part nightmare. Just be warned that the series goes downhill from here.
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.
A great fantasy/romance read that my mother enjoyed greatly - the land of Terre d'Ange is the setting where a woman is trained in the ways of the bedchamber along with the ability to "watch" what goes on around her.
Book one of the kushiel books
Phedre no Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. sold inot indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with a very special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen forever to experience pain and pleasure as one.
Phedre 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, Phedre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundation 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 Phedre will get but one chance to save all that she hold dear.