Kushiel's Dart

Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Dart Cover

Kushiel's Dart



Just finished reading Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. KD turns into an epic story embracing love, politics, betrayal and mammoth battles.

The story revolves around Phedre, unluckily named and marred in beauty by a red mote in her left eye, her early childhood leaves her sold into slavery to The House of Night whose inhabitants serve Naamah in the ways of pleasure. Phedre's eye mote brings her to the attention of a wealthy noble, Delauney, who recognises Phedre's strange eye mote for what it truly is and buys her marque. Phedre is an assignette, marked by Kushiel' Dart and the only one of her kind to have been borne in years. She is one who enjoys both pain and pleasure and this blessing, or curse, will make her into the most sought after courtesan at court.

Delauney however as greater plans than simply pleasing the nobles. He trains Phedre, and his other student Alcuin, in the art of politics, languages and love. They become students of history and learn the true art of observation. Delauney intends to have not only two of the finest courtesans but also to teach the two to become spies adept not only in pleasing their patrons but enticing them to betray their secrets.

This novel is immense. The world building and attention to detail is second to none and the style of writing draws you into Phedre's tale in a beguiling fashion that makes it difficult to put the book down. I confess that I was doubtful picking this book up. Not only is it a huge tome but I wondered if it would turn more into some sort of erotica loosely dressed in fantasy robes but this wasn't the case. Yes there are a number of sexual encounters but the detail is far from sordid and there are only a few, in order to give the reader an idea of Phedre's world.

The crux of the story revolves around the sovereignty of Elan. The king is ill, and his only child and rightful heir to the throne is female and there are of course dissenters who would challenge her suitability. On top of this, to the North the Skaldic nations are for the first time joining their numbers, under the first man who would try to rule these wild tribes and bring them together under the one banner. Truly a force to be reckoned with whose sights are now set on the beautiful land of Terre d'Ange.

And so Delauney's spies cast their nets and begin to uncover those secrets that are most deadly when exposed. Their lives become endangered and in a cruel twist Phedre once again finds herself sold into slavery, this time to a Skaldic tribe.

I won't go further into the plot. Suffice to say there is much derring do, brave escapes, rallying of forces and other strange encounters culminating in the sort of epic battle you come to expect from the likes of Tolkien, with the few pitted against the many and where allies are garnered from the most unlikely sources.

I truly enjoyed this, it took a little while to really find it's feet but once it got going it was very entertaining. The characters are well rounded, the world building is nothing if not grand and, okay I admit, the young Cassiline warrior who becomes Phedre's bodyguard is very easy to read about! There, I'm fickle, but come on, nothing wrong with a bit of mind candy after all.

Lowering the tone aside, a really good read and apparently many more books already out there to continue the saga.