Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)” as Want to Read:
Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Kushiel's Dart

(Phèdre's Trilogy #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  78,042 ratings  ·  4,205 reviews
The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good... and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond
Paperback, 901 pages
Published September 5th 2003 by Tor Fantasy (first published June 23rd 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Kushiel's Dart, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Eric I'm a middle-aged male reader of sci-fi and fantasy, both contemporary (The Expanse series, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc...) and classic (Isaac Asimov,…moreI'm a middle-aged male reader of sci-fi and fantasy, both contemporary (The Expanse series, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc...) and classic (Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, etc...). I really didn't know what to expect when I picked up Kushiel's Dart, the cover intrigued me, as well as the stated premise on the back.

Perhaps it would be simpler to define what audience this novel will turn-off: readers that prefer fast-paced action over deliberate world/character building will be turned off and likely abandon the book; and you definitely will never finish it if you are strongly uncomfortable with male homosexuality (i.e. homophobic). If the mere idea of a gay relationship turns your stomach, this series is not for you.

Now, I found the world/character-building was top-notch, which also included the spiritual/religious setting (i.e. religious beliefs and their influence on the D'Angeline culture. Sex, as an expression of love or affection, infuses D'Angeline society, but the author uses its depiction sparingly and always to drive the story along. This is still primarily a fantasy novel (set in a very sensual society) that features some sex; it's not 50 Shades of Grey. Gay relationships are depicted in a way that makes sense to a married, very heterosexual male in his 50's (me).

The story is written from the main character's perspective who, while trained as a courtesan and spy, doesn't necessarily see or understand everything that is happening (i.e. she is an imperfect narrator). She sometimes misjudges situations, sometimes with tragic consequences. Readers that find the political intrigue confusing forget that Phèdre is just as confused as they are; we can only figure it out as fast as Phèdre, because we only share her perspective and not that of other characters (like in A Song of Ice and Fire).

She is torn between her nature (a servant of the angel Naamah, but marked by the angel Kushiel), her affections (friends and lovers) and her sense of justice. She is a flawed heroine. The setting is what I'd qualify as "low-magic", but where divine elements play an important role.

I hope that answers your question!(less)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  78,042 ratings  ·  4,205 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)
Kat Kennedy

tortoise sex

Did you cop a big eyeful of that? That's right. Those Tortoises are totally boning. Now, I'm sure there's many a tortoise out there who would find that image very appealing. Unfortunately, I don't.

And this is my BIG PROBLEM with Kushiel's Dart.

Not that it's full of tortoise sex, mind you. There's almost no tortoise sex at all! It's that the sex in this book just does nothing for me. In fact, I'd probably enjoy tortoise sex more.

I'm hardly going to elaborate on my proclivities in the bedroom. It'
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Just a disclaimer here: This will be a very difficult review to write. In order to truly review this book, I have to talk about my own views on things and how books affect me personally. I am opening myself up here, which always makes me squirm. If you are reading this review and you don't agree with my beliefs on things, that's totally fine. But, I am not going to deny how I feel, because that is very important to me when I review a book, since I read books emotionally and not from a detached s ...more
Zen Cho
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff
I enjoyed this a lot at first, in a stupid trashy way, but got bored after a while, which is why I took so long to finish it. I think it reaches its height of trashy fun in Terre d'Ange; all the bits with Phedre living with the Skaldic tribes, getting away from them in the wintry tundra etc. etc. drag a lot for me. Maybe it's just 'cos "swept away by a barbarian!" isn't my kink.

Carey has a habit of saying really obvious things in a hilariously portentous way, e.g.

I asked him to pass the butter,
Emily May
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, fantasy, 2011

I don't care how long a book is, if it's failed to wow me by page 361 then I think it's time to give up, right?

I understand a few things about this book. Firstly, that Jacqueline Carey is actually not a bad writer, that the world created and the politics of it are well thought out... but I still don't understand why this book hasn't got more mixed reviews. Are there that many people into hardcore bdsm? Let's face it, that's what this book is really about.

Yeah, so... sex. I am open-minded abo
There is this new guy at my office. The moment I learned he used to work at B&N, I wanted to run to his desk and start hounding him about books.

Then I thought, Don’t scare him off. Pace yourself. I started stealthy checking the cover of the books he’d read during lunch. I tested the waters before team meetings – dropping the names of authors from different genres. Turns out he reads a lot of fantasy, which is great. I have always enjoyed the genre and seem to lean heavily toward it this year. W
This is going to be a very unpopular review. So, to all of you who may hate me after reading this, I apologize in advance.

From the rave reviews, and based on the vast number of people who seemingly loved this book enough to tattoo a representation of it on their body, I expected it to blow me away. I love fantasy, I love stories with a kick-ass female lead, and despite the fact that this might tell you a bit more about me than you bargained for, I was really looking forward to enjoying a bit of
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The first thing everyone usually talks about regarding the Kushiel books is the sex, so I'll get it out of the way first: S&M, not for the faint of heart, absolutely integral to the plot.

It's easy to summarize the book very briefly or very in-depth; it's almost impossible to do anything in between, so I'll keep it brief; Phedre is an elite courtesan in Terre D'Ange, a land whose residents boast traces of angelic blood in their veins. She is trained as a spy by a mysterious courtier, and must na
mark monday
Apr 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-modern
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 all
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

💀 DNF at 21%.

Finally! A DNF! Believe it or not, it’s been such a long time since I added a book to my beloved DNF Graveyard that my murderous babies were getting super concerned and stuff! (So much so that they even considered calling Dr. Prawn to the rescue *eyeroll* Foolish—if bloodthirsty—crustaceans can be so foolish—if bloodthirsty—sometimes.) Worry not, homicidal children mine, for your beloved father still is as easily peeved and bored as ever! Yay and stuff!

Okay, I don’t want to spend th
J.G. Keely
Oct 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
This book is so overwrought, so full of tangled, convoluted prose, that I found it hard to take seriously. The world, instead of being built up as an original creation, seems to be taken fairly whole cloth from the French Court of Louis XIV. I know everybody steals, but the best writers steal the most, and I could have used some more depth of inspiration.

Then, of course, there is the sex. The constant rampant, submissive, fetishy, 'pain=pleasure' sex. Sex is fine, even porn is fine, but the shee
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a fucking sublime masterpiece, albeit with emphasis on the fucking.

A grand epic of court intrigue in a historical world evocative of the historical fantasies of Guy Gavriel Kay, Kushiel’s Dart introduces the land of Terre d’Ange in its most perilous hour, saved only by the machinations of a young and rather special courtesan.

It has perhaps the best ever example in fantasy of a feminine female protagonist (a woman who is not just a manly man in female form). It has a whole array of magnifice
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
*** 4 ***

A buddy read with my friend Iain and the Kushiel fans:)

"...“That which yields is not always weak.”..."

Well this was ... unexpected... Maybe I should make it a point to read the blurbs of the books before I start reading them, but I like to be surprised by the content of the story I get into. As it is, all I do is check out the ratings some of my GR friends give and then decide yay or nay accordingly. I tried to erase all expectations for the Kushiel's Dartbefore opening the book, b
This book was soooooo not what I was expecting it to be.

For some reason, I had it in my head that this was some sort of paranormal romance? And that it was sort of trashy? I have no idea where I got those ideas from, because they couldn't be further from the truth. This book is epic fantasy, well-written, has intricate plotting, seriously intense worldbuilding . . . and it's not your mom and pop's epic fantasy, either. It's sexy. Like, SEXY sexy. Sex is a vital part of the world in Kushiel's Dar

Awww, Goodreads Recommendations Engine! I suddenly feel we're friends! Just hope this doesn't get you into trouble...
TW for this review: long discussion of rape and consent.


Edit x2: Is it bothering anyone else that Phedre's name is apparently pronounced close to 'FAY-dra', but the accent on the first e is an accent grave? as opposed to an accent aigu, which would actually produce that hard 'a' sound in French? Because it's bothering me. If you're gonna do expy!France, don't fuck up the language. What's written there is closer to 'Fedruh'.
Edit x3: I
Jan 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
I usually don't like to review books until I finish them, but I don't think my complaints with this book are ones that will be rectified in the rest of the tome.
-Very few authors do political intrigue well. Carey is not one of them, since I have no idea what's going on half the time.
-Part of the reason for this is that characters are poorly introduced, often with little context to remember them by or in groups of several people such that you have no idea which characters to remember and which on
Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Noticed this has been shelved several times as 'Romance' and even as 'erotica', but I think its important to note that there is a difference between books which are actually Romance, but contain fantasy elements; and books which are Fantasy but contain some romance. I'd say this book definately falls into the latter category. Certainly some parts are somewhat graphic on the bdsm parts, but thats where it's important for plot and character, a lot of 'encounters' were suprisingly of the tasteful f ...more
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, fantasy
I wish I'd known what Kushiel's dart truly was about before reading it, it's not my type of book at all. I'm settling now at 3 stars but there's a high chance I'll lower my rating to 2.

This isn't a proper review as much as some things I would've liked to know before reading Kushiel's Dart.

The protagonist is basically a very expensive prostitute. She feels pleasure with pain, hence she's very interesting to those nobles who like BDSM. We have explicit scenes of them hurting her, in creative ways
Dec 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Kushiel’s Dart is an epic book, which I enjoyed. In fact, I long to read another book of this epic scale. The world Jacqueline Carey presents is rich and beautiful, with its own mythology and its own customs. Little details like the exotic wines, elaborate tattoos, and breathtaking fabrics, make my mind swim with ideas. Truly the book is a feast for the imagination.

I was intrigued with all the characters too. Everyone, Delaunay, Alcunun, Hyacinthe, Joscelin and of course, Phedre herself, all s
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
What a wonderful book.

Thankfully, I did expect the BDSM and the sex, but I did not expect how amazing the world building would turn out to be.

Kushiel's Dart is less a fantasy and more an alternative history of Europe. The main protagonist, Phèdre, was born with a crimson ring around the iris of one of her eyes: Kushiel's Dart. Kushiel's followers endure and inflict pain, mingling it with pleasure.

This book has a vast cast to the point where I was hugging the Dramatis Personae with tears in my ey
Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Tight, intricate plotting, side characters with a mythological flavor (I swear The Master of the Straights came right out of The Odyssey), And Phedre- the heroine of the story.

Never would I have guessed I would like a character with masochistic tendencies who sleeps with "whoever she wilt". But I did.

I also liked the way the author weaves politics, war, betrayal, treachery and love into this story, and rather adeptly in my opinion.

Such intricate plotting can often get tangled and leave open ends
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I honestly don't know
Recommended to Mimi by: a lot of people
Feels like I just finished a whole series in a matter of days.

Not quite fantasy but epic in scope and depth. There's a lot of world building that can seem like tedious writing at first, but all the disordered pieces of the puzzle do come together at the end and there's a huge pay off--the battle at the end had me on the edge of my seat for days.

Star rating to be determined at a later date because I just don't know at the moment. There's a lot to unpack, still, but I'll definitely finish this se
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No. Didn't really like it. Still haven't gotten halfway into it. Sadly, I also bought the next two volumes. Just too slow and convoluted and uninteresting. Maybe I'll give it another try sometime, but...

Okay... so... three years later, I gave this novel a second chance, and my opinion of it could not have changed more drastically! Whereas the book began very, very slowly and introduced so many characters that they were difficult to keep track of, after I picked it up again and kept reading, I fo
I don't normally do a very long or thorough review for books that are part of a trilogy: I tend to wait for the end of the trilogy. But Kushiel's Dart is an exception, mainly because there's enough action and intrigue for a whole trilogy in the first book alone. A lot of people start their reviews by saying that this book is not for everyone. Well, bah to that. No book is for everyone. Kushiel's Dart does deal with a lot of sex. Kinky sex. I thought, on the whole, that part was well done -- and ...more
Marie Lu
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
So lush, fantastical, sexy, and romantic. <3
Somewhat appropriate that so much of this very, very, very long book is about masochism.

Just saying.
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I read and enjoyed Kushiel’s Dart years ago after it won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and I’ve recently re-read it so that I can finish the series (I’ve read only the first trilogy) and move on to Ms. Carey’s newer books. This time I listened to Tantor Audio’s version, which was read by the incredibly talented Anne Flosnik.

The Kushiel series is set in an alternate Europe which is easily recognized by its geography, language, culture, religion, myth
4.5 stars. A little too long generally, the beginning is too dense especially with regard to the world building in the beginning. But after the beginning and aside from the length, I loved this book. It is beautifully written, the main character is inspiring, the side characters are fun to read about, the romance is very sweet, the world created is enormous and creative. I love how the author pushes beyond what is comfortable for many people in terms of relationships and sexuality. Unlike other ...more
Dichotomy Girl
**********BREAKING NEWS 4/18/2018*************
Jacqueline Carey announced "Okay, some news I was keeping under wraps until it was 100% official just kinda blew up on Twitter, so I'll just go ahead and share it here! Almost 20 years after writing "Kushiel's Dart," I'm writing Joscelin's version of the story."

This is Tor's Book of the month for July 2017, and available for free download (you need to provide an email address). So if you've somehow managed to not read is the time!

Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kushiel’s Dart is the first book in an epic fantasy series consisting of three trilogies for a total of nine books. I enjoyed it a lot, although I did have a few complaints.

The story is narrated by the main character, Phèdre, some undisclosed amount of time after the events in the story. Phèdre more-or-less fits the typical epic fantasy main character in that she was sold by her mother when she was I believe four years old. Not exactly the epic fantasy orphan, but close enough. Beyond that, tho
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
SciFi and Fantasy...: "Kushiel's Dart" Discuss Everything *Spoilers* 7 90 Feb 06, 2021 06:10PM  
SF/F Read Alongs: [September] Kushiel's Dart 68 40 Nov 18, 2020 05:20AM  
Vampires, Weres a...: Kushiel’s Dart 30 15 Oct 13, 2020 10:03AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Black Jewels Trilogy: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness (The Black Jewels, #1-3)
  • Daughter of the Forest  (Sevenwaters, #1)
  • Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels, #1)
  • Brainwalker
  • Tooth for Tooth (Talion #2)
  • Queen of the Darkness (The Black Jewels, #3)
  • Poison Study (Study, #1)
  • Edge of Madness (Edge of Collapse #2)
  • Heir to the Shadows (The Black Jewels, #2)
  • Toe to Toe
  • The Mageborn Traitor (Exiles, #2)
  • Breaking: After the Thaw (The Thaw Chronicles, #2)
  • Trollskallen (Edvard Frosts Ekspedisjoner, #1)
  • Or What You Will
  • The Traitor's Mercy (Starian Cycle #1)
  • Seeking Safety (Gateway to Chaos #1)
  • Son of the Shadows (Sevenwaters, #2)
  • Possession of My Soul (The Three Immortal Blades, #1)
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jacqueline Carey (born 1964 in Highland Park, Illinois) is an author and novelist, primarily of fantasy fiction.

She attended Lake Forest College, receiving B.A.'s in psychology and English literature. During college, she spent 6 months working in a bookstore as part of a wo

Other books in the series

Phèdre's Trilogy (3 books)
  • Kushiel's Chosen (Phèdre's Trilogy, #2)
  • Kushiel's Avatar (Phèdre's Trilogy, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate...
465 likes · 288 comments
“All knowledge is worth having.” 648 likes
“That which yields is not always weak.” 598 likes
More quotes…