Jul 04, 09
Read in July, 2009
Aaaaahhh. An amazing book that's the sixth in an amazing series. Though you'd really want to start with the first, the characters and story are simply glorious. I very nearly finished the last page and went back to the first to re-read it, but decided I'd rather dig up the whole series and read the entire story from the start.
An overview of the series as a whole: it's slightly fantasy (occasionally strongly fantasy, as I think the third, fifth, and sixth books are premised on some magical act) but otherwise set in an alternative Renaissance France. It's about politics and sexual intrigue over two generations. The characters' emotional lives and motivations grow and change in response to events around them, journeying hand-in-hand with fascinating plot developments.
A caveat, though, depending on your sensitivities. This quote is from the Publisher's Weekly review of Kushiel's Dart, the first book in the series: "Two demigods rule Phedre (the main female character): Naamah, for sensual love; and Kushiel, for sado-masochistic pain, his "dart" being a blood spot in Phedre's eye. Not everyone will go for Phedre's graphic if elegantly described sexual encounters, which usually involve the infliction of pain, whether from lashing, branding or even cutting." Phedre is an anguisette, a masochist through and through. But her relationships are handled wonderfully (if graphically), and there are clear discussions of such variables as contracts and safety words.
Really, though, and outstanding set of books. And by the same author as Santa Olivia, though in a world that is much more polished.