Andrea's Reviews > Kushiel's Dart

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
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Aug 05, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read from July 20 to August 05, 2012

Labeling this book as fantasy doesn't feel quite right. The setting is an alternative Europe, with a different take on Christianity. In this setting Jesus, erm, I mean Yeshua, had a child born by Magdalene from his blood, Elua. Said Elua was rejected by God, and travelled all over the world with his companions to find a home. They eventually ended up in France. Or Terre D'Ange as it's called in Kushiel's Dart.

The main protagonist of Kushiel's Dart is Phedre, a girl sold off to one of the Thirteen Houses as a child. The Thirteen Houses are basically sophisticated whorehouses where courtesans ply their trade. Phedre cannot officially join the house as she has a red speck in her eye, apparently marked by the devil. But she gets bought by a nobleman who calls the red mote Kushiel's Dart, which marks her as 'anguissette', a woman who enjoys pain. Delaunay, the nobleman, trains Phedre to be a courtesan spy, and in the course of the book, Phedre travels across Europe in service for her country, to stop the invasion of her homeland, etc.

Yeah, kinda hard to explain this book. It's beautifully written, no doubt, and I love the setting. Just like in The Lies of Locke Lamora, the heart of the story are politics and intrigues, backstabbing and surprising turns. It's a huge book, and there's a lot of stuff going on. I can't wait to read the next book in the trilogy. But...

It would have been five stars if it wasn't for the stupid BDSM angle of the book. The setting is fantastic, and it makes perfect sense that courtesans and whores make fantastic spies. I can even follow the ridiculous notion to make her an ambassador. But why the whole anguissette angle? Even without the vivid descriptions of her loving the paddle, the knives and the whips, it would have been a great story. It added absolutely nothing for me. Nothing whatsoever. Leaving that out wouldn't have changed the book at all. So, dunno. Or maybe I am just a sissy who likes vanilla sex.

Bonus points for the gay stuff. Phedre sleeps with any gender, and there's a gay love story at the heart of it all. Also, Melisande made a fascinating villain.
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Reading Progress

07/20/2012
1.0%
07/20/2012
8.0% "Yikes, this is a huge book. This will take a while."
07/25/2012
39.0% 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

It's good ;)


Pewter Well, the houses initially reject her because the red mark is seen as a flaw with no extra meaning behind it - it is only the mentor who buys her that recognises it as the mark of Kushiel, who is a redemptive angel. I think the anguisette stuff becomes pivotal because it colours her reactions, her relationship with divine beings, but I agree that there could have been more fade to black handling of the BDSM!

Secondly I feel that the book veers very close to abuse and noncon in the name of emotionally charged sex as plot point. The society is simultaneously sexually liberated, and built on the idea of child slavery and serfdom in general.


Andrea I agree with you, both points. FTB would have been a blessing. I felt very uncomfortable at points.

And yet, such an intriguing setting. Did you read the other books as well?


Caitlin (Ayashi) It makes me crazy that people assume just because I love these books that I am into BDSM. I am pretty sure that could not be further from the truth, unless I were a nun.

I think Melisande is perhaps one of the most interesting villains (male or female) I've ever read. She's very much not mwahahaha evil and while Phedre kind of made me crazy when it came to Melisande, I thought their relationship was... intriguing?

Plus I totally love Joscelin, not even gonna lie xD Reading about him coming to terms with Phedre and what she is was painful but I thought it was great. I kind of want to reread these books but my pile of stuff I haven't read yet is a bit too high.


message 5: by Pewter (last edited Aug 08, 2012 03:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pewter Yeah, I think I've read most of the books set in this particular 'verse', although I got extremely frustrated with Moirin.


Caitlin (Ayashi) I liked Moirin but I felt like she was a bit too much a slave to her destiny :/


Kate Labeling this book as fantasy doesn't feel quite right. The setting is an alternative Europe, with a different take on Christianity. In this setting Jesus, erm, I mean Yeshua, had a child born by Magdalene from his blood, Elua. Said Elua was rejected by God, and travelled all over the world with his companions to find a home. They eventually ended up in France. Or Terre D'Ange as it's called in Kushiel's Dart. <-- Thank you for that, I had the same feelings about this but had a hard time getting down.


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