Sunday, July 10, 2016

Kushiel's Dart

Phedre's parents sold her at an early age to the Night Court as an indentured servant. The red mark in her eye and her name mark her as cursed and thus unfit for anything that would change her financial future. Delauney stumbles upon her and recognizes her mark as Kushiel's Dart, a person who feels pain as pleasure who hasn't been seen in the realm for ages. He buys her bond and trains her in both courtly and sensual arts. Above all, he trains her to observant and retain even the smallest bits of information. Now renowned as an accomplished courtesan, her services are coveted by many and she collects many bits of information and secrets for Delauney. She stumbles upon a plan to betray the kingdom to a foreign force and she's discovered. Lost in a foreign land with only a hostile guard at her side, she has to find her way back to her homeland to warn of the coming destruction.

I wasn't expecting a lot from Kushiel's Dart. I assumed it would be very fluffy and romance focused, but I was wrong. I was surprised that the book is close to a thousand pages long. It has more in common with Game of Thrones in the political intrigue and spying realm and the high fantasy world world is as if not more complex than Westeros. The Phedre's home is called Terre d'Ange, Land of Angels. It was settled by Elua, the product of Yeshua's (Jesus) blood and Magdelene's tears. Carey's takes a different version Christian mythology and makes it polytheistic with deities like Naamah (sexuality and prostitution), Cassiel (discipline, celibacy, and guardianship), and Kushiel (pain and chastisement). The society is therefore completely different.

The Cassiline Brotherhood and servants of Naamah are equally respected. Different sexual preferences are normal. The way servants of Naamah are trained and employed are healthy and respectful of all. Breaking these conventions means social ostracization and legal repercussions. Phedre's evolution from scared little girl with no prospects to successful, confident servant of Naamah was well written and overwhelmingly positive. The depictions of her services with patrons isn't as descriptive as I thought it would be. It wasn't crass or overly detailed. There is sex, masochism, sadism, orgies, bondage, and a love triangle, but it doesn't take precedence over the main plotlines. Phedre's struggle to get back to her lands was especially exciting and my favorite part of the story.

Only a few things bothered me. One part had a god physically attacks and traps Phedre's group, which I felt was a little out of place as no other deities or mythical creatures were present.The language is quite formal and sometimes hard to follow. At times, the narrative could have used some editing. I don't mind slow moving stories, but this tried my patience at times.  I feel like this one book could have been at least 2 or 3 books all by itself. It was quite the saga. Other than that, Kushiel's Dart was an enjoyable. It has romance, intrigue, war realistically rendered, and friendship. I'm not sure if I will continue the series, but Kushiel's Dart was a fun lengthy read. Carey's complex world is the best part as its detail and vision are a rarity,

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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