mark monday's Reviews > Kushiel's Dart

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
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Jun 12, 12

bookshelves: fantastickal

once upon a time, in response to the question What Would You Like To See In Fantasy, i responded:

1. i would like to see an old woman as a protagonist.
2. or an interesting demon - but not a 'sexy' PNR demon.
3. or more epic fantasies set in steamy, wet jungles rather than european-style forests or meadowlands.
4. or a hero who is also a slut (male or female).
5. or a YA fantasy series in which the hero grows progressively more villainous.

________

i felt confident that Kushiel's Dart would allow me to eliminate number 4. alas, 'tis not to be. Phedre is no slut. i don't care how much Carey tries to convince us otherwise, the girl is no slut.

let me just start off by venting my confusion. okay, in this world, Phedre is an anguisette, which means that she gets off on (1) ANY sexual contact OR (2) PAIN, the kind experienced by a submissive during an s&m scenario. i put the OR in there because the novel can't seem to make up its mind which kind she is. that was really frustrating. if it was the first kind, well, bravo. i suppose that would make her a kind of natural-born slut, and that's awesome for her, it's your thing, you know, do what you want to do.

but she's not a natural-born slut. she doesn't get hungry at the sight of a cute lad or lassie, she just doesn't have that kind of slutty appetite. i think someone who is chemically castrated may actually have more horniness than Phedre.

so maybe it is the latter... PAIN! but then i bumped into a bit of underlying ridiculousness there that i just couldn't wrap my little mind around. the novel takes, um, great pains to note that Phedre is the first of her kind in 3 generations to have such receptiveness to PAIN. apparently other folks couldn't possibly enjoy any level of pain, not ever - not even the subs of the Harlot House dedicated to servicing sadists. really? seriously? what kind of world is this, Narnia? the Lollipop Land? i found that to be entirely naive, and annoying. having genuine responsiveness to or enjoyment of a certain degree of pain in sex, let alone within an s&m or even rough sex scenario, is not exactly the rarest of sexual attributes. perhaps this strange lack of a not-uncommon ability, one that is actually widespread, is why this novel would be shelved within the Fantasy genre. what next - a fantasy world where no one's heard of doggy style?

okay, i guess i should actually review the book:

FOUR STARS for the first third! some excellent world-building, a sophisticated take on religion, and the emphasis on both politics and alternate sexualities was pleasing. the sex scenes were alternately graphic and subtle - i liked that, it lessened the monotony that comes with constant sexual description. the story was different things at different times: a coming of age tale; a novel of political maneouvering, treachery, and deceit; an elegant and erotic series of escalating sexcapades. Phedre & Delaunnay & Joscelin & Hyacinthe were all fun and enjoyable characters. overall, the country of Terre d'Ange is a fascinating place. if i were nobility, i would like to live there!

two quibbles:

first: the novel becomes rather repetitious when trying to convince the reader that Delaunnay is so much more than a glorified pimp and that Phedre is totally fine with whoring herself out, no prob at all... it remained somewhat unconvincing. but maybe that's just my non-fantasy world perspective speaking.

second: all doms were portrayed as at least semi-villainous, and brutal beyond the bedroom as well. OH COME ON JACQUELINE CAREY! that isn't fair. Joscelin - a man who clearly needs to more successfully sublimate his anger - should have the wherewithal to top Phedre, and he's no bad guy. Jos, get with the program! you too, Jacqueline Carey.

sadly, TWO STARS for the rest of the novel. it was just okay, and it paled in comparison to the originality of the first third. there was nothing new, just alternate fantasy versions of the early germanic tribes, early england, early ireland. the pages turned quickly but that feeling of reading something very different evaporated quickly. the ending... eh. i kinda got tired of everyone practically shitting themselves at the awesomeness of Phedre. and "Phedre's Boy's".... ugh, that's so corny. and the use of magic, whether it be the dromonde or the "Master of the Straits" was unconvincing, abrupt, and rather amateurish. ah well.

overall, the writing was above average. at times flowery, but that fits the novel. and there was enough promise in that first third that i'll probably take a chance on the second book. it would pain me to not find out where Phedre's freaky future sexploits take her.
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Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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message 1: by Joel (last edited May 02, 2011 09:53PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joel how is this going for you? i liked/hated it. apparently i am a livresette.

(fun with french!)


mark monday a little over a third of the way through (she just got enslaved by the skaldi).

so far, enjoying it a lot. some minor complaints around repetitiousness, but overall, pretty good so far.

without spoilers....what did you hate?


message 3: by Joel (last edited May 03, 2011 10:50AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joel it just goes on and on. the middle portion gets repetitive. she tells of a lot of side events that were largely inconsequential. the politics were more confusing than they should have been. most of all, the narrative voice (foreshadowing, "i will not speak overmuch of this, but..." etc.) gets annoying.


Mariel I wish she would have let things happen without all the drum rolls (that were louder than the bang). And either make it a cult story or not. How could she talk about wanting to be free and then do the opposite? The push and pull wasn't believable.

I love her other book Santa Olivia. Kushiel's fans seem to hate it, though.


mark monday the push & pull was definitely frustrating. it was as if carey felt some sort of personal tension around Phedre's characterization, which was then reflected in the character itself - and ended up with Phedre not making much sense at times. at least in how Phedre appeared to view herself, her relationships, and her place in the novel's world.

i will check out Santa Olivia!


message 6: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Liked your review! I never finished the book. Looks like I stopped at the right spot. I finished about of third of the book.


mark monday thanks eileen!


message 8: by Ecyoj (new) - added it

Ecyoj Re point 4, have u tried melusine? Something diff


mark monday i have not - but it's on the list! someday.


message 10: by Whitaker (last edited Jun 12, 2012 11:02PM) (new)

Whitaker what next - a fantasy world where no one's heard of doggy style?

To borrow from one of your other reviews:
BEST. LINE. EVER!!!!!


message 11: by mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday that would be a terrible world. even worse, the fantasy alternate dimension where no one has heard of oral sex. might as well be dead!


message 12: by Kent (new) - added it

Kent Coming soon to a bookstore near you--

JUNGLE SLUT, the new YA epic fantasy about an old slut who lives in a jungle and has lots of sweaty sex with a very interesting demon.

And look forward to the sequel,

JUNGLE SLUTTIER, where our slutty old protagonist succumbs to the worldview of the very interesting demon, and begins her descent into pure, sexual evil. A YA classic in the making!

Critics heap praise on JUNGLE SLUT in advance reviews:

"What the fuck." -- YA SFF Monitor
"Hella gross." -- Devin, age 14
"Eschews genre norms to an almost ridiculous degree. This page turner drips with sweat and other salty substances." -- Variety


message 13: by mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday oh my gosh, i love it. Kent: creative genius. MUST FIND ALTERNATE FANTASY DIMENSION WHERE THIS EXISTS AND THEN BUY IMMEDIATELY. it is like all my dreams, coming true at once.


message 14: by knig (new)

knig I kinda liked Kushiel's Dart, but read it five years ago so a bit murky now. However. Apropos your wishlist, number 4 does exist, here:

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty


message 15: by mark (last edited Jun 13, 2012 12:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday i remember being deeply disturbed by that one, when i had hoped to be, er, aroused. but i think i was in high school when i read it, it was one of those books that got sorta passed around by my group of friends. for some reason i am just not remembering the heroine as actually being 'slutty', only abused. "only", huh. probably due for a re-read, but maybe not. if it's as Story of O-ish as i remember, i'm not sure i have the interest.


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Kent wrote: "Coming soon to a bookstore near you--

JUNGLE SLUT, the new YA epic fantasy about an old slut who lives in a jungle and has lots of sweaty sex with a very interesting demon.

And look forward to th..."


Awesome. I'd read mark's review of it.


Anastasia I actually didn't think the patrons were portrayed very villainously, aside from Melisandre who is all kinds of messed up. Delaunay admittedly only sent her to his political enemies, people he wanted leverage on, but Claval was nice.
The thing that got me was that these guys paid 1000-whatever a time to go with a girl who ENJOYED the physical sensation of pain, as opposed to doing the same thing with a cheaper girl from Valerian who would put up with it but not actually like it. If they were villainous, I'd expect them not to shell out extra money making sure the girl was pleased.

My biggest problem with the book was the dramatic shift from BDSMsy edgy encounters in the first third to, well, vagueness and nothing down the line. I missed Childric d'Essom, and always wanted her to hook up with Barquiel L'Envers :(


message 18: by mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday My biggest problem with the book was the dramatic shift from BDSMsy edgy encounters in the first third to, well, vagueness and nothing down the line.

i really agree with this comment.


Tokies 5. or a YA fantasy series in which the hero grows progressively more villainous. The Shifter (Healing Wars #1)
by Janice Hardy


message 20: by mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday thanks for the rec Tokies!


message 21: by Renee (new) - added it

Renee Kent wrote: Coming soon to a bookstore near you--

JUNGLE SLUT, the new YA epic fantasy about an old slut who lives in a jungle and has lots of sweaty sex with a very interesting demon.

And look forward to the sequel,

JUNGLE SLUTTIER...


HAHAHA. oh my god.


Sophia Armitage Great review, my thoughts exactly


message 23: by mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday thanks Sophia!


message 24: by Michael (new)

Michael Purely for number 4. this is my favourite review I've read. I don't understand why heroines can't be sluts at the same time. You spoke my mind!


message 25: by mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

mark monday glad you enjoyed the review Michael!


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