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 is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond.
Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart - a massive tale about the violent death of an old age and the birth of a new.
©2008 Jacqueline Carey; (P)2009 Tantor
"This brilliant and daring debut catapults Carey immediately into the top rank of fantasy novelists." (Publishers Weekly)
"A very sophisticated fantasy, intricately plotted and a fascinating audiobook." (Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series)
I found Phedre and the beginning of Kushiel's story years ago by chance. Another review calls this story "boring" because it seems to be only about sex, but there is much - much more to it. There are 6 books in total to this series and I found myself drawn back into it years later! The basis of culture in Terre D'Ange is very sexual, but it's integral to understand this as you follow the characters through their paths of self-discovery, what love means to them and how they must find it on each of their own terms, to live by their own rules in their world.
The plots and twists throughout this series are fabulous - when you think it's got to be almost over, you realize there's still more! I have this book in hardback and then the next 2, but I'm patiently waiting for them all to finish narration. I have the audio for books 4, 5 & 6 already and for the past several months have been listening to them repeatedly while I wait for the others to come out! I haven't listened to this audio version of the story yet, but I can't wait to rejoin Phedre as a young girl again and start all over!
After listening for 11 hours, I've had to switch to something else more fast paced. This book is so ploddingly slow, I just can't endure it right now. It's putting me to sleep at work while I listen to it. Who knows if I'll ever come back to finish it. In my experience, if the first several hours have put you to sleep - it generally doesn't get much better.
This is a great book, and the narrator is one of the best I've listened to. I generally only listen to audiobooks while I'm cleaning house, working out, ect, but I was so captivated by this series that I found myself staying up late to listen and my house sparkled! At first I thought it might be better to read it to help keep all the intricate details straight, but ended up preferring to listen because I enjoyed the narrator so much (I also would have driven myself crazy trying to figure out all the correct pronunciations). Although I would not recommend this to someone who is easily offended by graphic sex scenes or someone looking for a "light read", it is definitely right up my alley and I very much enjoyed it.
Even better as an audio book! I have always promised myself to go back and read this series again, but I've never found the time. BUT! As an audio book, the Kushiel series is AWESOME! I highly recommend it for adult readers who like their fantasy on the spicy side. (I also LOVE the narrator!) Be smart -- buy this one, and prepare to be amazed!
Eclectic bookworm...I listen to a little bit of everything. Give up after listening to something for 20 minutes and don't like it.
In my opinion, the audiobook was well worth the credit. At 31 hours, the story was long and immersive. The plot was elaborate, clever, and certainly very unique. The narrator was excellent. Still due to the somewhat taboo nature of the plot, my guess is it's not for everyone.
In Carey's imagined country of Terre d'Ange, prostitutes are "servants of naamah," a religious / spiritual designation. The protagonist Phedre is sold into indentured servitude by her mother at the age of 4. Fortunately for her, she is purchased by a cunning but ultimately kindhearted nobleman who sculpts her into a first-class courtesan with espionage capabilities, and the ability to speak multiple languages.
Phedre is unique among her kind in that she is marked by a god called Kushiel with a red mote in her eye. This mote essentially signifies that she enjoys being on the receiving end of s&m. Accordingly, her "patrons" tend to be on the more brooding and aggressive side.
Surprisingly, though, the book really is not that erotic. The sex scenes are glossed over and often all together omitted, serving mainly to move the plot and Phedre’s character development along.
At times the story seemed a bit dull and drawn out. I felt there could have been more romance and that some of the characters like Hyacinth, Joscelin, and Melisande could have been more developed. They seemed a bit two-dimensional and I couldn't get myself to care that much about them. I also noticed that Phedre continually (as in every 2 minutes or less) would say something like "whether it did any good I do not know," or "what they thought of me I cannot say," or "how much it grieved him I cannot guess." I'm sure Carey, clearly a skilled and gifted writer, was aware of this tendency so I'm wondering if this was merely a literary crutch or intentional, as in that was the manner of speaking in Terre d'Ange. Either way, I found it distracting.
All this being said, overall I thought it was a great audiobook and those who like historical fantasy novels with intricate plots, without the excess blood lust / testosterone of Game of Thrones, ought to give it a try.
A better narrator! Did no one screen this woman for her ability to do anything except pronounce pseudo-french words?! Awful voice overall, terrible accents, grating and grotesque.
Literally anyone else. Dear lord, Dobby from Harry Potter would have been easier to listen to. Ramming nails in my ears would have been a more pleasurable experience.
She does not know how to pace. Parts that are read with a pause for effect she bowls over with the grace of a steamroller. She reads the Viking-esque barbarians as pseudo-asian Hun type characters. They're Nords! Are you so damned limited in your accents? Oh, thank the LAWD you don't pronounce the last three letters of 'linguisement' but all forbid you give the damn Nords Nordic accents. AUGH.
Book Addict.My preferred books are historical fictions, fantasy (supernatural) fictions, or just good fiction.
I've read over 250+ books, and it is definitely in the top ⅓rd of my favorite books.
Even though Phèdre is the heroine of the story, I also felt a strong connection to the supporting characters such as Anaphaèl (her master), Iacente (her best friend), and Joceline (her companion).
Love her reading and truly appreciated giving each character their own voice and personality.
The story and thanks to the narrator, I felt as if I were part of the adventure too as a silent friend and felt strong emotions at times, enough that I cried over the loss of some of Phèdre's companions as if I had lost someone dear to me myself. I strongly felt some of the stress and weight that Phèdre's decisions could entail for herself.
If you are looking for a new and different epic adventure, you won't be disappointed. The story is beautiful and beautifully read.
A hopeless audiophile with my books with me wherever i go! Dystopia - paranormal romance - and even some erotica - I'm over 50 - not Dead!
Phèdre steals the show - despite it all. She is an Anguisette - which in modern parlance probably means sexual masochist. I cannot say i completely 'get' the draw as described - but i did get the eloquence with which it was described. I totally got the stream-of-conscience type explorations into Phedra's thought processes as she grew up and into herself. And although her being an Aguisette was a pivotal reality - it was only a portion of the person we learned of, and that she grew in to! Phèdre was one of the most realistically crafted characters I've encountered in a long time! She was hot, she was cold, she loved as she hated, she vascillated, she fought and she won and she lost, she made decisions and doggedly stuck to them - despite! That was her gift to the reader - being real.
It was just too long for one sitting - and i found the enforced breaks in listening great opportunities to think on the way Carey gently challenged religious and moral tomes.
Carey has crafted an interesting world - with a different moral and religious structure - giving one pause to consider their own beliefs on occasion. There are many paralells that can be made between Jewish tennets and those Carey has laid out. It is all done without intent to insult, and i believe she has accomplished that! The blending of various cultures is well done! I am amused that this series, this first book written so many years ago, is only now coming to general popularity, as our society is starting to openly explore and be more accepting of "alternate" lifestyles and sexual practices.
Carey takes us on a long trip, where we meet some lovely people, and some very scarey ones, and some very very memorable ones, but they are all real! Despite the Medieval-style timeframe, the intrigues and betrayals, loyalties and conflicts, the myths and legends, and loves, it all feel very timeless. There are those little bits of detail in the descriptions of a setting or situation that Carey does so well, without the violence necessarily becoming overpowering.
Phèdre and Joscelin are. What they are evolves, changes, becomes victim and beneficiary of wants, needs, desires, schemes and betrayals, and friendships and loves and loyalties of all types, from almost every possible direction. And yet ...
I am going to continue with this series - I enjoy Phèdre's world. I want to see where she has yet to go - what she can accomplish! What she and Joscelin can accomplish.
And she reminds me in so many ways - that which yeilds is not necessarily weak!!!
If you like immersing yourself in a new world- detailed descriptions and plots of religions, politics, cultures- this is a great book. The narrator is great for the most part, because her tone gives an ethereal ambiance. Her voice for male characters could be a little more varied; sometimes I lost track of which male character was talking, despite the accents. Kushiel's Dart overall is a terrific story and great audiobook.
I liked the world of believable fantasy that is weaved. The story is a bit complex to follow in the beginning, but quickly becomes one that is easily and enticing to follow.
Heads up for some slight S&M and sexual references, but nothing is as obvious and extensive as with say 50 Shades, but enough that it makes for a good addition to the credibility of the main character.
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