- Paperback: 1040 pages
- Publisher: Tor; Reprints edition (5 Sept. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0330493744
- ISBN-13: 978-0330493741
- Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 4.7 x 17.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 74 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,492,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Kushiel's Dart Paperback – Unabridged, 5 Sep 2003
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A massive fantasy tale about the violent death of an old age and the birth of a new one. Here is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies.
A massive fantasy tale about the violent death of an old age and the birth of a new one. Here is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phedre no Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, and the arts of pleasure. Above all, she learns the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, yet talented spy, she may seem an unlikely heroine...but when Phedre stumbles upon a plot threatening her homeland, Terre d'Ange, she has no choice but to act. Betrayed into captivity in the barbarous northland of Skaldia, and accompanied only by disdainful young warrior-priest, Phedre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey, to return to her people and deliver them a warning of the impending invasion. And that proves only the first step in a quest that will take her to the edge of despair and beyond.See all Product description
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The characters are brilliant; hateful, cunning, ruthless, kind, enchanting, wonderful. Melisande is fantastic; I loved Delaunay and Alcuin, and Joscelin…as Sammy said, “Everyone needs a Joscelin!”. He’s a completely adorable idiot, and I loved his character development. As with the politics, people change over the course of the story – events do change their characters and their decisions, change how people view the world and how they react to it. It’s all done so well that you follow along with it, understanding and sympathising, even with those who act badly against Phedre.
And the world…wow. Terre d’Ange is a take on Earth, with some recognisable places; France, England, the Mediterranean. But the history is rewritten, Gods walked the earth, the cities are transformed. Myth and power mix into the political reality – a god can stop you crossing the sea as easily as a courtier can poison your food. Terre d’Ange’s culture is a wonderful creation, with the Houses and nobles, each with their own desires and structures and customs. When the story broadens out to the wider world, it’s just as enchanting – every land has its own differences, some subtle, some massive. The cultures borrow from Earth ones, but not in any majorly recognisable way – there’s none of the wholsesale borrowing that marrs a lot of fantasy worlds.
Also, just to warn people; don’t read this if you can’t cope with sex. It’s never gratuitous and always winds into the story (Game of Thrones could learn a lot!) but there’s quite a lot of it. It’s really well written, though; subtle and understated, despite often having a BDSM theme. So, just sayin’.
Overall? This is an absolutely breathtaking book; the worldbuilding and culture creation is amazing, the characters are brilliant, and the story keeps tugging along; what happens next? What happens next?
For anyone unsure whether to purchase this book, I would say it's a cross between Game of Thrones and the Black Jewel Trilogy, although without the raunch of either. For a main character who is a courtesan, the book is surprisingly tame. The descriptions are not graphic so fear not, if the thought had put you off, you won't be offended.
The book follows Phedre. We meet her first as a young child, sold into service as a courtesan in the name of the goddess Naamah. As she grows, her bond-keeper trains her to be the finest spy in the realm. With civil war brewing over the succession to the throne, an epic political game begins, spanning three nations.
The story Carey tells is rich, complex and incredibly gritty. It's not a pretty fantasy where everything falls out happily ever after and good triumphs over evil. The 'good' are sacrificed, the 'bad' sometimes get away with it. All of the characters make choices that hurt to think of. Phedre is a fascinating character. Her greatest strength is the thing she loathes most about herself, and she hates that, in some deep, dark place, she craves the things she forces herself to do of necessity for the safety of the nation.
The world of Terre D'Ange is rich with mythology and background. There's enough of the familiar in it to sort of comprehend the geography, which helps. It's a world that was well-built and Carey deserves every credit for that.
Her language is beautiful too - it's so old fashioned and descriptive, with long and beautiful words that should never have fallen out of fashion. It's wordsmithing at its most beautiful, without ever appearing pretentious or unnatural in the context of the story.
There also seems to be a moral tale underlying the whole story, whether the author intended it or not. It has to be said that I've thought often over the last few days about the nature of faith. It's not until Phedre offers herself of her own free will to a man she doesn't care for in order to secure safe passage that she truly understands the nature of her goddess. Likewise with Joscelin - his faith was a blind one. It wasn't until he had to walk in the path of his god that he really got it. The constant themes of love and sacrifice, honour and duty, ripple through this book with constant, thought-provoking touches. If you can step away from the breathtaking story unfolding to see what drives it beneath, it's something really quite special.
I know this reads as a love letter to the book, but it did have its flaws. The grammar is terrible. Also, I was so confused for much of the book by the characters. There are so many of them, from so many different houses, that I couldn't keep track of who was involved. The scope of the story is such that it needed them all, but I did get hopelessly lost. There are a handful of characters that I haven't yet figured out what their role is or what they were bound to. I wanted to take a star off for the flaws, but then I couldn't bring myself to do it. Nothing is perfect, but this came darn near close!
I have just downloaded the second and third in the series, which should tell you something.
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It was so difficult to follow personally, I was more than a bit confused by the plot at times, came...Read more