Kushiel's Dart

Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Dart Cover

Kushiel's Dart


Some of the best world building I have come across lately.

Ms Carey seems to have gone through world history cherry-picking for interesting cultures, irrespective of contemporaneity, added her own mythology and a full cast of well developed characters. The result is a brilliant melange.

I've seen it noted that the language is overly flowery. I listened to the audio book and once I got used to the cadence of the reader the language seemed well suited to the story giving it the atmosphere of Memoirs of a Geisha set in an 11th century Aquitaine Court.

Much has been said about the sexual content of the book, particularly the 'hardcore BDSM' content. I found the description laughable. Phedre is, I would hazard a guess, a sexual masochist. This gives her some notoriety and standing in a society whose main precept is 'Love as thou wilt' However I think it is more of device to explain her unusual standing than a titillating adjunct. There is no erotic content, the sexual descriptions are relatively clinical rather than arousing. As for 'hardcore BDSM' whoever thinks that has obviously never read any of that genre, let alone anything hardcore.

I wouldn't even categorise this book as a romance. There was a classic opportunity for a love triangle - that mainstay of romances - that was instead dealt with maturely, though none the less emotive for that. Phedre's relationships with all those around her are rich and complex, more so where her feelings are ambiguous or inappropriate.

Most of all though this is a story rich in intrigue which I found much more captivating than, say, Game of Thrones. Complex political alliances, treachery, heroism, broken vows this fantasy has them all.

I loved the way everything fit together. The thinly disguised Ancient British culture and the pseudo-viking tribes, the travelling people and the various cults. Nothing impresses me more than a world built with internal consistency so that the way characters behave not only makes sense but is inevitable. This starts with the myth of Eluah and his angels founding Terre D'Ange and everything flows from that.

I look forward to reading the sequels.