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Book #1 - Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

 Title: Kushiel's Dart
Series: Kushiel's Legacy
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 901

Rating: 8/10

Books read: 1/50

Synopsis: (from back of book)

When Love cast me out it was Cruelty who took pity on me.

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.

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 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 Phedre 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.

Review:

I found this book a little hard to get into initially, but I persevered and I'm really glad I did. I would consider this to be a book more about politics and sex (in that order) than specifically a fantasy novel, but the fantasy elements were still good. There were times I liked Phedre, and times I didn't, but what really made the book for me was my fascination with Joscelin Verreuil, Phedre's Cassiline guard
.
Overall the book was really well written, and mildly complex. It's definitely not what I would consider a 'light reading' book, but it's worth it. I liked most of the characters, although there could have been a little more backstory for some of them. There are some themes that may disturb some people, for example the fact that Phedre's world seems to essentially be made up of courtesans and their clients, and that experiencing "pain and pleasure as one" effectively means that she's a BDSM submissive. Still, while there are some sexual elements, it's not porn by any means. There are a lot of religious elements, so having a little knowledge of Christianity makes the book read easier I think. I would definitely recommend it.

Love as thou wilt.
Tags: fantasy, politics, religion, sexual violence
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