Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Kushiel's Dart

It has been a looong time since I've read a fantasy saga that I couldn't put down. Not, in fact, since I worked for Disney and devoured The Mists of Avalon series 5 year ago. Since then, all of the longer sagas have seemed tedious, like I was pushing through, finishing what I started, etc. etc. Until, that is, I read Kushiel's Dart.

We follow Phedre, a young woman who we might call a sex worker {I hate the words "whore" and "slut" and I don't use them} but who is a priestess of Naamah and Elua, deities whose mantra is "love as thou wilt." She is sold into the service of "the night court" {all serve Naamah when they come of age} and is pledged into the household of an influential member of the royal court, Anafiel Delaunay, who also has a side mission for Phedre. He teaches her to analyze, to observe, to interact with nobility and helps her earn enough money for her "marque" or freedom. It is while she is in his service that he realizes she has the mark of Kushiel, the deity of pain. That is, she is  masochist and experiences pain as pleasure.

After the assignation which allows her to pay for her marque, she finds that her master and his household have been betrayed and she and her bodyguard are kidnapped to barbarian foreign lands. What follows is the story of her return to Terre d'Ange and the quest to bring the bretrayor to justice. She uses her talents and skills not only as one who serves Naamah but as one with Kushiel's Dart and one trained by Anafiel Delaunay to escape from being a captured slave, reunite warring armies, and fall in love with her body guard, a pledged celibate from the Casseline Brotherhood.

Although this book was referred to me by several folks who noticed I liked 50 Shades, this book is nothing like it. Though sexuality *is* mentioned, it's not graphic. You know what's happening, yes, and Phedre does have sex with quite a few people {and is a masochist besides}, but there's not really in-depth, play-by-play sex scenes in this novel. Carey does a great job of making those a bit more mysterious and of keeping the focus of the novel away from those scenes.

Kushiel's Dart is a rich story that will leave you begging for more. It moves at a measured pace but doesn't falter; I read this straight for a few days because I couldn't put it down. I loved the characterizations in this novel. The friendships were wonky and genuine {just like friendships in real-life}, people are unexpectedly kind and unexpectedly cruel, there is intrigue and pride for one's country. Absolutely one of the best novels I've read in awhile.

1 comment:

  1. My fiance actually read this book, or at least some of the books in this series. And while it's ridiculous, if he reads it, I automatically think I won't enjoy it. Ha! Which I guess limits me if I ever wanted to pick up a fantasy book.