This is one of my very favorite contemporary science-fiction novels. In all her books, Elliot proves again and again how well she can write love stori...moreThis is one of my very favorite contemporary science-fiction novels. In all her books, Elliot proves again and again how well she can write love stories, as I fall in love as the main character does. This particular series also uniquely combines elements of sci-fi and fantasy in a way that satisfies the needs of both kinds of readers. One recommendation for new readers--give the story some time to develop. Don't just put it down after the first chapter.(less)
I absolutely love Kate Elliott, but for the life of me I could not get through this book. It was a huge disappointment. Not only did her characters no...moreI absolutely love Kate Elliott, but for the life of me I could not get through this book. It was a huge disappointment. Not only did her characters not draw me in like the do in her other works, but the story felt very discordant between characters, like she was writing two different books and then decided to throw them into one novel together.(less)
I've read this sprawling, epic fantasy romance twice now, once in audio and once in print. I actually enjoyed it a bit more the first time through, in...moreI've read this sprawling, epic fantasy romance twice now, once in audio and once in print. I actually enjoyed it a bit more the first time through, in print. The plot takes so many unexpected turns that it was more fun not knowing what was going to happen next than anticipating the next remembered turn of the plot.
Kushiel's Dart is set in Terre d'Ange, a world of political intrigue and free sexual expression, founded by Elua, the illegitimate son of Yeshua ben Yosef (the son of One God), and his followers under the precept, "Love as Thou Wilt." One follower of whom is Kushiel, who served as the punisher for the One God.
Phedre no Delaunay, a child of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers (essentially a guild of high-priced courtesans), is marked with a red mote in one eye--a clear sign of Kushiel's influence. This makes her the first anguissette in three generations--one who takes pleasure from pain. The story follows Phedre from childhood, as she is trained in the arts of Night Court seduction and as a spy by her foster father and mentor. And into adulthood, where she quickly becomes enmeshed in the political intrigues surrounding the crown and the security of the kingdom itself.
This is an extremely epic journey (once the intrigue truly begins), that will take the reader far beyond Terre d'Ange as well as into the darker sides of pleasure, where the lines between pleasure and pain begin to blur. For those who are faint of heart and don't enjoy the more sexually explicit content, this one's not for you. On the other hand, while the first read through was pretty shocking, the second read through actually surprised me by how few sex scenes there actually are throughout the book. And quite a few are summarized or brushed over rather than giving moment-by-moment details. This novel definitely has a lot of characters, with constantly shifting alliances that you may have to work to keep track of. If you're used to reading 1,000+ page fantasy novels, this one should be no sweat. If you're rather newer to the genre, it may be a bit of a challenge.(less)