If not for Imyril Reads and her Wyrd & Wonder crew, this book would probably have continued to sit on my shelves unread.
The Wyrd & Wonder crew hosted a readalong for Kushiel’s Dart back in September. I decided to participate since I already owned the book and it was one I’d always been curious about. For the readalong, we posted our answers to discussion questions each week, which I liked because then participants were able to see how each person was getting on with the book and reacting to the situations and characters we read about. I loved that the group was a mixture of first-time readers and rereaders. I think that made my experience with the story much richer and helped to make me anticipate what would come next.
We completed the novel back in September, or early October, but I’m just now getting around to the review because I hardly posted anything in November. But this will be a short one since I posted weekly reactions to the book as I read.
Phèdre’s Trilogy, book 1
In a kingdom born of angels, Phedre is an anguisette, cursed or blessed to find pleasure in pain. Sold to the Court of Night Blooming Flowers, her fate as a beautiful but anonymous courtesan was sealed. Her bond was purchased by the nobleman Anafiel Delauney, who recognized the scarlet mote in Phedre’s eye as the rare mark of one touched by a powerful deity. Under Delauney’s patronage she is trained in history, politics, language, and the use of body and mind as the ultimate weapon of subterfuge in a dangerous game of courtly intrigue.
Guided into the bed chambers of Terre D’Ange’s most influential nobles, Phedre uncovers a conspiracy against the throne so vast that even her teacher cannot see the whole of it. As her nation is besieged by invading hordes from the north, the most unthinkable threat to her beloved home comes from traitors within. Betrayed and blindsided by her own longings, only Phedre and her trusted bodyguard Joscelin are left to cross borders and warring armies in a race to stop the final blow from falling. Enter a lush world of pleasure houses, ambitious warlords, scheming courtiers, and the harsh justice of blessed deities through the eyes of a heroine like no other.
Sprawling and darkly sensual, Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Dart” is the start of a truly original fantasy series. (Goodreads)
Hey, that’s a really good Goodreads summary. I don’t find those often, but this one actually briefly states what the story is about.
Well, I didn’t read the summary before starting on the book, and I didn’t read the back cover either. If I read them prior to purchasing the book, then I forgot what I read by the time (years later) that I started reading because it was not at all what I expected… not that I knew what to expect.
The Night Court and what goes on there, especially Phèdre’s unique set of skills, caught me off guard because until now I’ve never read a fantasy story with erotic bits (at least, I don’t think I have… can’t quickly recall anything similar). I didn’t mind it, but I was surprised when those parts popped up, which wasn’t very often.
I really enjoyed the story and read through the weekly assigned sections for the readalong fairly quickly. I was hooked because there are several characters with shady backgrounds/personalities who I wanted to learn more about, and I was also curious about Phèdre and the red mote in her eye and if she is indeed “god touched,” as everyone tells her. As the story went along, there were several twists and shockers that left me on edge wondering what would happen next, what would become of my favorite characters, and how the story would wrap up. Basically, it was an engrossing, exciting read that kept me on edge and curious the entire time.
The world it’s set in is very interesting, so I look forward to reading the other books to learn more about it. I love fantasy novels that touches on gods and goddesses or includes some sort of religion in the story, so Kushiel’s Dart piqued my interest in that way as well. The gods (or rather, angels) do not physically appear in the story in this one (although I guess that’s a bit debatable regarding the Master of the Straits — is he a god?), but they seem to take notice of what’s going on and even lend a helping hand to their favored human at times. I wonder if they appear in other books or are at least a bit more obvious.
But really, this was a good read and one I would recommend, and I can’t wait to see what happens next, especially if Phèdre gets to confront Melisande again. I still want to know what it is that compels Phèdre toward Melisande like a magnet.
Another novel I’m glad the Wyrd & Wonder crew introduced me to this year. It was a good read, and I can’t wait to reread it.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Yep, I recommend you give it a try if you don’t mind a touch of erotica in your fantasy.
Quotes from the book
“Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity upon me.”
“Nothing spoils idle pleasure like too much awareness, and the Night Court was built upon idle pleasure.”