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Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)
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Caitlin For me, it's Phèdre and Joscelin's romance. Reading the books makes my heart ache in a good way. Maybe it's just not for you though.


Artkdz Zelnio | 8 comments For me it was the well-written characters. I really felt for them and got past the whole bondage, etc. thing into the emotions they felt.


Necrophidian | 74 comments Amber wrote: "I can't decide if it's because I am just not into bondage or pain, etc. or what."

All I can offer is that this probably isn't it. I know lotsa people in that scene. Some of 'em love the series, some of 'em don't. So, if you're not positive it's the detraction... it's probably not the detraction. At least not in general. Maybe it's something more specific about it that's tweaking you?


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Robert Stubbs | 15 comments Amber wrote: "I couldn't get into this series. Almost everyone I know seems to like it. Can someone explain to me...WHY?
I read the first one and tried to get through the second one, but every time I got into..."


If you don't like the books then don't beat yourself up over the reasons why. Its perfectly fine to have an opinion different than all the other people you know. I in fact read the first three books in the series because a friend like them but decided while I can see why she enjoyed them they just weren't to my personal taste.


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Brittney | 49 comments If it is the bondage aspect that is the problem I would recommend that you try reading Jacqueline Carey's Naamah series instead. It is a spin off from these books. It takes place a couple of hundred years after the first book. It helps to be familiar with the earlier books but isn't strictly necessary. Moirin isn't into pain the way Phedre is but she is still very much into sex. If the general attitude towards sex in these books is the problem for you the Naamah books won't be any better than than the Kushiel books. Personally I love them. They are some of my favorite books ever but I can understand that they wouldn't be for everyone. There are very few authors who can make me cry for 150 pages and leave me desperate for more.


Molly (mollyrichmer) I loved these books, but people who don't like to keep up with a lot of names and political intrigue probably want to steer clear. Getting into the first book was hard for me because there was so much exposition, but I really got into it when the action started. I just love Terre d'Ange and the whole world Carey creates. It's coherent in a way that most authors can't manage, and I'm a stickler for good world-building.


Kara | 5 comments Molly wrote: "I loved these books, but people who don't like to keep up with a lot of names and political intrigue probably want to steer clear. Getting into the first book was hard for me because there was so ..."

I agree - the world-building in that series was really well done.


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Felicia (feliciaday) | 740 comments Mod
I think this is one of my top 5 of all time series, but I don't think everyone will ever like anything. Jocelyn and Phedre are the best romantic couple I've read, or at least one of the top. But if you're not into it, you're not into it, no apologies necessary!


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You are not alone! I have had a hard time getting into the books as well. I think I may have started it five or six times and it has been on my bookshelf for about that many years as well. The thing is, it seems like a series I would really like but I always hit a wall when I'm reading it and I do not know why. Oh well, maybe the next attempt will finally be the successful one!


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Carolyn F. | 34 comments I started it, and then stopped reading it because I was bored out of my mind. I just think wrong book and wrong time. I'm going to try it again, but it'll way down in my pile


Natasha Heck (natashamheck) I loved the writing style of the book very much, but it was difficult to keep up with the world a bit for me. Once I was able to relate it to things, the whole story opened up to me. I can see why it is hard to get into them, and sometimes that just happens. I find if I can't get into books after 50-100 pages, it is time to move on. There is so much out there, and sometimes, it just isn't for everyone.

And putting it lower on your list is not a bad idea. It took me three times to get through all of The Lord of the Rings (talk about the wrong book not to be into), but I'm glad I had the experience once I got through it (after three years).


message 12: by Joanna (last edited Apr 13, 2012 11:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joanna | 33 comments Amber wrote: "I couldn't get into this series. Almost everyone I know seems to like it. Can someone explain to me...WHY?
I read the first one and tried to get through the second one, but every time I got into..."


Took me a while to get into it because of Phedre's "voice". It was very flowery and overly descriptive. Definitely unlike anything I'd read before. But I got over it eventually and grew to love it.


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Carolyn F. | 34 comments That's good to know Jo and Natasha - I have about 5-6 of her books. I'll just wait a year to start them again.


Nathan | 7 comments I agree. Phedre's voice kept me from getting into the book as early as I would've liked.


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Coral (coralm) | 58 comments Carey's writing can be tough. It's definitely not an easy read and you have to kind of dedicate time to figuring out the world and the people involved for it to make any sense. That said, I do love the Phedre books, but I have to really be in the mood for them.


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Kari | 32 comments Hmm I think I might retry this book after all these comments. Personally I couldn't get past the first 20 pages, and didn't even know there was so much sexy stuff in it ! Which is why I wanna try again, lol.

Though it might be that with me J.Carey's writing style just doesn't work.


Rachel | 89 comments For what it's worth - if you don't like the flowery dialogue and political intrigue, still give Kushiel's Avatar a try. The book begins in such a way as to make you think that this is another story about political intrigue - but then the story takes a severe left turn, and becomes about 200 pages of the best horror writing I've ever read.


Candy (heartlessone) | 83 comments This is one of my favorite series, but truthfully it is chock full of political intrigue and there are TONS of characters and places to keep track of. In a fantasy novel/series that's sometimes a pain. There were times I'd find myself backtracking to make sure I was reading about who I thought I was reading about, but I have read the series more than once, I enjoyed the tale that much.


Patricia I have started Kushiel's Dart about a month ago. I had a rough start, I don't know if it's my understanding of the English language or Carey's writing style, but I really had trouble getting started.
Once the hard part was over I found myself captivated by the world, but I do have to agree with Coral; I really have to be in the mood to read it. Which is probably why it is taking me much longer to finish the first book than it usually would. Still, I see myself finishing this book and the others in the series, and possibly returning to them at a later time.


Lindsay (roguefire) | 85 comments It took me a few times to get into it as well. It's not the easiest of reads and I tend to read super fast. I had to make myself calm down, slow down and really take in Carey's words and the land she's created. Turns out the books are magical - I haven't finished the whole series yet and can't wait!


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Lisa Marsh | 22 comments I've just started reading this for the second time since it is June's book. The first time I loved the story, but found both the prose and the political intrigue sometimes overwhelming. However, starting it again and knowing what to expect and how the story ends has really helped. It may just be one of those books that needs to be read several times to really understand the depth of the world and its characters. Not that I'm complaining--I love books that have great reread value!


Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments I definitely agree that I can have trouble with Carey's writing style, I have attempted to read her other series/books outside this setting and never got very far before I just abandoned the book.


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Rachel (poppysocks70) So. I've just started reading this and I'm loving the world building and how it's written. My big problem is how much a seven year old knows about sex and how accepting she is of what her life will be and actually looking forward to it. I'm only up to chapter six and all that I can think is that it seems to be about child grooming and I really don't want to carry on reading if it is.


Amanda | 4 comments I absolutely LOVE this series, I think the writing is amazing -- just beautiful and poetic in a way -- and I'm a total sucker for well-written first person narratives as they're so much more immersive for me.

The world building really is incredible as well.

If the only real problem is the more risque sex then I would have to agree with the other commenter that said you might want to skip reading the rest of the series and try the Naamah books instead because if anything, the last book of the first Kushiel set is waaay more intense than the first two. Guaranteed to shock you, probably not in a good way. The second set of Kushiel books, not quite as bad but the underlying current of kind of dark sex is still there.

The Naamah books still has the great writing and world-building, I don't think Moirin (and the story itself) is QUITE as compelling as Phedre, but it's still a really good read that I'd highly recommend.


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Kristen (aubi) | 13 comments I really haven't seen anything evil in the way they treat the children. It's their culture. Even today we have cultures in our world that treat their children much much worse. I guess to me it seems more like their version of school. Now I havnt gotten very far yet, so maybe i'll get to it..


Rachel | 89 comments For what it's worth, I knew how babies were made when I was six. I asked, my mom answered honestly and in an age-appropriate way. But even though I had a technical understanding of sex, I didn't really 'get it' the way I did when I got older. I also understood as a child that this was something adults did, like driving a car or having a job.

I, personally, don't think it's traumatizing or damaging for children to know what sex is (something that grownups do because it feels good) and that they can reasonably expect it to be a part of their adult life, if they want. I think the only traumatizing aspect is our weird cultural hangups about sex and pleasure and how our bodies work.

Also, I don't think any of the children being raised by the Night Court will be compelled to become courtesans. If they really don't want to, they certainly won't have to - to do otherwise would be shocking heresy in Terre d'Ange. Without giving away too many spoilers, this is something Anafiel alludes to in a conversation he has about Alcuin.


Michelle | 1 comments I LOVE these books. The worldbuilding, the intrigue, the story of Phedre and Joscelin... But my husband couldn't even finish the first one. I think he said he gave up while they were tromping around in the snow b/c nothing was happening.

However, I didn't like the Naamah books nearly as much. They were decent reads, but I didn't feel like they had the depth or complexity of the Kushiel books.


AnnaBanana Pascone (snapdragnful) | 89 comments Rachel wrote: "Also, I don't think any of the children being raised by the Night Court will be compelled to become courtesans. If they really don't want to, they certainly won't have to - to do otherwise would be shocking heresy in Terre d'Ange. Without giving away too many spoilers, this is something Anafiel alludes to in a conversation he has about Alcuin"

Anafiel actually asks Phedre repeatedly at different points in her education if she is certain that this was the path she wished to follow, and she never wavered.


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NJ Mix | 12 comments Rachel wrote: "So. I've just started reading this and I'm loving the world building and how it's written. My big problem is how much a seven year old knows about sex and how accepting she is of what her life will..."

To reiterate what others have said, (this may be spoilerish) the children do not necessarily become courtesans; their respective houses also have other non-sexual specialties where they can earn their marques. Eglantine and Bryony immediately come to mind for me as examples. Sure, they're aware of the sexual side, but nothing is forced in the Night Court.


Kenna Clause (sixfiveotwo) | 17 comments I'm not in to political intrigue, especially with so many places, houses, names, etc. but I still enjoyed this book. Phedre's journey is quite a ride. Props for choosing it.


Sophia | 13 comments I generally love political intrigue in literature along with any sort of new world to get to know. I especially liked Kushiel's Legacy because it has that alternate history element where a lot of aspects are recognizable but still refreshingly different from our own world. The interest then comes from the comparison rather than the complete newness. And as mentioned it has really good characterization as well.

Also, I've been told I just have a good mind for details and I find it pretty easy to get absorbed in a book. A lot of people seemed to find Phedre's language difficult but I sank into it fairly quickly (I may or may not have started using "mayhap" in everyday speech >.> <.<). So I'm sure that helped me out quite a bit.

Furthermore... I honestly spent most of Phedre's trilogy and quite a bit of the next trilogy hoping for more interaction with Melisande to show. Up. Somehow. So that anticipation definitely pushed me through it fairly quickly. God if she could get her own book I would read the Hell out of it.


AnnaBanana Pascone (snapdragnful) | 89 comments Sophia wrote: "Furthermore... I honestly spent most of Phedre's trilogy and quite a bit of the next trilogy hoping for more interaction with Melisande to show. Up. Somehow. So that anticipation definitely pushed me through it fairly quickly. God if she could get her own book I would read the Hell out of it"

I was the complete opposite! The same for most of what you said, I didn't have any trouble with the details, loved the intrigue and alternate history (and it IS an alternate history, regardless of what others may prefer to believe) and I didn't even notice there was anything different about how Phedre spoke until people started commenting on the "flowery language" lol. But I absolutely hate Melisande and it pissed me off to NO END that she wasn't dealt with properly in the first book. She was so annoying. The ONLY thing I didn't like about the series is that the author made Melisande almost omnipotent, like she wasn't even human, and she pretty much just sucked as a villain. All they had to do was kill her, and no one manned up enough to get it done. So super lame. You don't deliberately just keep a villain alive just so you get to write more books, there was PLENTY of story there without crappy Melisande. But since I love the stories, I just had to forgive that part and take the rest of the books as they are. I just rolled my eyes whenever Phedre got weak in the knees or whatever.

(PS. No offense, I just feel really strongly about it lol)


Christopher | 14 comments I would definitely read a Melisande book, and I think she could support one. But I don't think one is forthcoming. As rare as her in-person appearances are in the series, she is an important thread running throughout, and I feel her story is complete as Phedre (and later Imriel) tell their stories.

Also, while I agree that every time she appeared "in the flesh" I got excited, I don't actually wish she had shown up more. I think that part of what makes her seem so powerful, mysterious, and sexy is her tendency to only appear at crucial narrative junctures. You know when she shows up, Phedre's world is about to go topsy turvey (ok, you know that after the first book is over, anyway). I don't think she's depicted as omnipotent, just very very good at "the game" she and Delaunay play. She is a master of the Xanatos gambit, and always has an escape route for the worst-case scenario. Then again, I like intricate plots and villains who force pyrrhic victories for the protagonist. And frankly, I think she makes the perfect foil for Phedre to examine who and what she is. I can see how Phedre getting "weak in the knees" all the time could be annoying, but the introspection which follows as she better understands herself is fascinating, and one of my favorite parts of the series.


message 34: by Sophia (last edited Jun 06, 2012 11:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sophia | 13 comments AnnaBanana wrote: Melisande and it pissed me off to NO END that she wasn't dealt with properly in the first book. She was so annoying. The ONLY thing I didn't like about the series is that the author made Melisande almost omnipotent, like she wasn't even human, and she pretty much just sucked as a villain. ...
(PS. No offense, I just feel really strongly about it lol)


Probably some SPOILERS in this:

You see, I obviously had a very different view of Melisande. I wouldn't say she's presented as not human, so much as she's well... pretty much a sociopath in addition to the standard sadism of her family. I believe at one point she states that she did what she did because she could, which is somewhat similar to sociopaths who kill people because they can and it makes them feel powerful. She's good at knowing how to use people, but she never really cares about them (at least in the earlier books). Since humans generally thrive on community, this sets her apart since she really can't comprehend the idea of community.

Her power comes from the fact that she accepts this about herself and I always got the feeling that her ambition had a lot to do with asserting herself over what she couldn't be a part of. Phedre is basically the only exception to this, perhaps because they both seem to believe they understand the other in a unique way and it's the fact that she's basically in love with Phedre that is consistently her undoing.

I suppose there were points where they could have just killed her and saved a lot of trouble. But they had a legal system that was structured a certain way and to just chop her head off ASAP would have violated that system. And if anyone had the resources to weasel out of that situation it would probably be her. I'll admit I was conflicted about that at the end of the first book... part of me cheer and another part was like, "Oh f*ck."

At any rate, no offense taken. I've been taking a Women's Studies class about vampires (it's kinda awesome) this term and one thing we've become very aware of is that two completely opposing interpretations of a novel can both be perfectly valid. =P

Edit: Also, I would agree with everything Christopher said above me.


Duckie84 | 33 comments This series is one of my favorites of all time. The first three pages of the book hooked me. I find Carey's descriptions fascinating and never tedious.
I also believe the woman can REALLY write sex.

The reason I suggest the series to so many people is it has something for everyone; romance, intrigue, travel, war, a full world, and heart.


message 36: by AnnaBanana (last edited Jun 06, 2012 12:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

AnnaBanana Pascone (snapdragnful) | 89 comments I don't believe that Phedre being an anguisette would so fundamentally change her character to the point where she could forgive the one person who killed her father figure, whom she was also quite a bit in love with (gross?) and her adopted brother. That doesn't seem like a part of her character as a person, and seeing her be all wishy-washy about a sociopath (good point Sophia) just because...why?...makes no sense. Also, since I have read the other books where she clearly hasn't learned any lessons about Melisande or listens to any advice regarding her, and doesn't react in the same way to other Shahrizai (who also understand what she is) it just all seems so annoying.

That being said, I think I am having a hard time separating how I WANTED them to deal with her rather than how the characters actually did. I read the books for the first time a while ago, this was my third time, so I think a lot of the awe has worn off, and I see all the spots where a discreet assassination would have made the book considerably shorter and all the other books more interesting. Unfortunately, every time I start to make that argument, I refute myself with the knowledge that their religion is so focused on love and acceptance that it may not have occurred to any of them. After the second book though, none of them have any excuse for not making it happen, and some of the secondary characters are just ruthless enough to do it, so why didn't they?

And another reason is that I never found her sexy. Even when first reading it, before I knew what really happened, I wasn't interested in her as a character so the fact that she was the main villain was a bit of a disappointment.

As to her having an escape route for every scenario, if she was smart enough to figure out every possible outcome, why wasn't she smart enough to expect that Phedre might foil her plans if she didn't even bother to kill her? It seems out of character for Melisande to leave a loose string like that. Maybe not allowing Phedre to live, but to leave a member of the Casseline brotherhood with her? Certain things that I didn't notice the first couple of times I read the books now seem like deus ex machina.


Christopher | 14 comments AnnaBanana wrote: "Why wasn't she smart enough to expect that Phedre might foil her plans if she didn't even bother to kill her? It seems out of character for Melisande to leave a loose string like that."

That's an interesting question. I'll have to pay attention to this as I continue to re-read. I'm not sure I remember events precisely enough to formulate an argument for this.


AnnaBanana Pascone (snapdragnful) | 89 comments Christopher wrote: "That's an interesting question. I'll have to pay attention to this as I continue to re-read. I'm not sure I remember events precisely enough to formulate an argument for this."

Her reasoning in the book is that Phedre is one of a kind, and also (and this might be in the second book, so forgive me) killing a scion of Kushiel is worth a thousand years of penitence, but killing his chosen is worth 10 thousand years or something. So it might be for religious reasons, but if she is really a sociopath, why would she care about that? And would she even believe that there are repercussions to her actions? I don't know that much about sociopaths.


Sophia | 13 comments AnnaBanana wrote: "Her reasoning in the book is that Phedre is one of a kind, and also (and this might be in the second book, so forgive me) killing a scion of Kushiel is worth a thousand years of penitence, but killing his chosen is worth 10 thousand years or something. So it might be for religious reasons, but if she is really a sociopath, why would she care about that? And would she even believe that there are repercussions to her actions? I don't know that much about sociopaths."

I believe it was that for someone to kill an anguisette it was 1,000 years of punishment, but for a scion of Kushiel to kill one it was 10,000 years. I can't claim a huge knowledge base on sociopaths either, but I believe it tends to be characterized by an inability to empathize with others and a desire to assert power. She claims that she does what she does because she loves the game, but is incapable of caring about the pieces which is a fairly good summary of that mindset. And I don't think it's been stated anywhere conclusively that she is a sociopath, that's just how I interpreted her character in the earlier books. In the later ones she actually seems to feel genuine remorse, which I believe is inconsistent with the behavior of sociopathy. But don't quote me on that.

Also, she does seem to have her own personal ethical code, which includes following the precepts of Elua. She is, after all, basically living proof of Kushiel's influence on the world so it makes sense that she'd pay attention to religion.


Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments Having been on the receiving end of some people who play cruel mind games and bringing up a point that they mention in the book - she may have wanted someone to know exactly what she had done in a show of her "artistry." Melisandre does promise that if Phedre survives that she will basically find her to turn Phedre into her personal toy, she doesn't seem to view Phedre as any sort of threat in the long run but does consider her someone capable of comprehending what was done. Possibly a bit of hubris on the part of Melisandre.


Laura (lorcoops) | 22 comments I'm really struggling to even finish this first book. I like her writing, I like the world building, I'm just finding it a little bit boring, more than a little bit wierd, and I don't particularly care for any of the characters. I think I actually preferred last months book to this one!


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Lauren (llewis2) | 1 comments Laura wrote: "I'm really struggling to even finish this first book. I like her writing, I like the world building, I'm just finding it a little bit boring, more than a little bit wierd, and I don't particularly ..."

I am so with you..I wish I bought it in paperback and not on the kindle so I could still return it. But I am going to power through because I am intrigued by the world more than the characters...all I know is I am only 31% done with the book and the end seems far far away...


Laura (lorcoops) | 22 comments Lauren wrote: I am so with you..."

I would recommend persevering... I finished the book yesterday and it did get a whole lot better around chapter 30-40. In the end though this is still a book I liked, but didn't love.


message 44: by Max (last edited Jul 24, 2017 04:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Max (maxv) | 6 comments Amber wrote: "I couldn't get into this series. Almost everyone I know seems to like it. Can someone explain to me...WHY?
I read the first one and tried to get through the second one, but every time I got into a ..."


I get you. It wasn't the S&M that turned me off though. I really got into the first book from the start. I didn't even mind Joscelin (when he appears all blond and blue-eyed, it's so obvious that he is going to be Phedre's One and that was so lame).

The problem is that there's a lot of repetition. The world building, mainly the religious part, is complex and well done. But the characters are not so well built. We get the story from Phedre's perspective, and she tells and doesn't show. Most characters are just two dimensional. They only serve a purpose to move Phedre's story along. The main villain is not even a proper villain. Some characters are killed off the moment they get interesting (I'm talking Isidore).

The second book is really weak. The third one is better, but not as good as the first. You can skim through the second one and read the third one if you want to finish the series. I had high hopes for this series but it became a major letdown for me :( Anyone know any books with similar themes but are better written?


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