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Erotic scenes, but tasteful with a plot (unlike something rubbish with Fifty in the title)
on 12 November 2012
I was surprised to find that this book had six reviews all with 5*, giving it a 100% score, which is surprising as it isn't that great a book. Don't get me wrong it isn't terrible, it is well written with good description of characters and palace politics, even the erotic scenes are written in a tasteful manner and not dragged out for too long unlike Fifty Shades Of Utter Rubbish That My Girlfriend Read Complained About But Still Brought The Other Two Books Because She's An Idiot And I Still Listen To Her Go On How Terrible They Are And I Have No Idea Why She Would Read Them As I Have A Copy Of Moby Dick Which Is An Amazing Book And I Would Enjoy Listening To Her Talking To Me About That.
The plot follows the young heroine Phedre no Delaunay, a young woman who has been taught the art of spying, making her a useful ally, and she is also a servant of Naamah, which means she is basically a submissive (if you don't know what that is then ask your parents, or you really have had a dull life, so start living it now!), which would make her a good bit on the side. Phedre returns to the city of Elua to find Melisande, an enemy of the realm who has sent Phedre a note saying that she will take the throne (always good when the enemy tells the good guy what they are planning, it makes it so easy, but I never get why? Haven't these guys seen a james Bond film?). Phedre returns to the service of Naamah much to her bodyguard Joscelin's dismay (they have a thing, it gets annoying really quick) so she can find out everyone's secrets while on her back/knees/tied up/wearing a mask/and all sorts of other wonderful ways which are described in this book with Phedre loving every moment, which she likes to keep telling us. The erotic side of this book does get a bit annoying, but it is written tastefully enough that it doesn't make me throw the book down because Carey wraps it up pretty quick.
There are a few annoying points to this book such as the first in that it takes to long for anything to happen, fair enough a scene needs to be set, but how much scene setting can happen while Phedre sleeps with someone, Joscelin sulks, and the chevaliers play dice with soldiers. The tension between Phedre and Joscelin gets old after twenty pages with him preying outside for a whole day, and then he spends his time sulking about, saying a few things, warning Phedre, and then sulking about again. What is annoying about this is that we know Joscelin is one priest you don't want to mess with, but this book he acts like a stroppy teenager until about page 500, Phedre keeps prattling on about how her heart aches for him, but then she goes off to sleep with someone else, so you kind of don't feel that bad for her. I can even see that if you want him to feel better then maybe you shouldn't keep sleeping with other people...just a thought. The other bit that is annoying about this book is that the map of her world is Europe, Alba is basically Britain led by the Picts and Terre D'Ange is France during the renaissance, and the Yeshuites, with their Rebbe and searching for a promised land remind me of a people...mormon perhaps?
Don't get me wrong, this isn't a poor book, far from it. The plot is good, each of the books have ended properly but kept open for a second and third. The erotic scenes are what put this book over most other fantasy, but Carey has written is tastefully (unlike a book with Fifty in the title) and has decided to spend more time on the plot, description, language, and writing style, rather than just write endless sex scenes (unlike something rubbish with Fifty in the title). The build up has some suspense to it, but is weakened by the fact that once you know where the attack will be, and that there is never enough time, it takes forever for Phedre to arrive. The confrontation is well written, allowing one's own imagination to picture the battle between Joscelin and his advisory, which is well chosen in this setting (unlike in The Wheel of Time where he just tells us the battle's about to happen and then the outcome, NOT FUNNY!). Carey has made a good two of a trilogy, and the second book is usually the weaker of the three so the finale should be interesting.