Impressions #6 (Jacqueline Carey)

Kushiel’s Dartdart

928 pages
Tor Books
published in 2002

Kushiel’s Legacy
1. Kushiel’s Dart
2. Kushiel’s Chosen
3. Kushiel’s Avatar

Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phèdre nó Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, and the arts of pleasure. Above all, she learns the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, yet talented spy, she may seem an unlikely heroine…but when Phèdre stumbles upon a plot threatening her homeland, Terre d’Ange, she has no choice but to act.
Betrayed into captivity in the barbarous northland of Skaldia, and accompanied only by disdainful young warrior-priest, Phèdre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey, to return to her people and deliver them a warning of the impending invasion. And that proves only the first step in a quest that will take her to the edge of despair and beyond.

I was a bit intimidated by the length of this book and the long French-Italian names of the characters didn’t help me and made it more complicated at first.

The story is told from Phèdre’s point of view and starts in her childhood. The language is very beautiful and reminds me of Old English sometimes. The start of the story is very calm, not much action going on and drags on a bit. A lot of things could have been shortened, especially in the later part of the book. It often felt like I was reading Phèdre’s biography. Apart from all of this, I enjoyed reading the book. I liked the style of narrating as well as the fact that the author keeps giving us information about the history of the country and the various religions in between so it’s not too much at once. I also liked Phèdre. Although she comes across as a Mary Sue she is not annoying and her own person with little quirks that make her special.

The political situation is complicated and I didn’t really get everything because everyone seems to be feuding with everyone and there’s a lot going on behind the curtains. Everyone has his own agenda and it’s Phèdre’s job to find out what is going on. The more she learns, the more the reader gets it as well xD

Phèdre is an Anguisette who experiences sexual pleasure from pain. There are a lot of sex scenes, but I thought they were all very well written and the book does not seem like one of those vampire soft porn novels. The sex scenes are not there for their own sake but actually bring the story forward and make sense. There’s a little bondage and SM happening, but not as often as I expected.

I also loved the romance in this book! It’s a slow build-up and just beautiful!

Kushiel’s Chosenkushiels

704 pages
Tor
published in 2003

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It is said that the angels found the land and saw it was good, and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye and sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with a very special mission–and the first to recognize her for who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.
Phèdre has trained in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Having stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren’t far off the mark.
The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phèdre’s brow, and they are not yet done with their charge–for while the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe that other heads should wear the crown. And those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge. To protect and serve, Phèdre will once again leave her beloved homeland.
From the sun-drenched villas of La Serenissima to the wilds of old Hellas, from a prison designed to drive the very gods mad to an island of immutable joy. Phèdre will meet old friends and new enemies and discover a plot so dreadful as to make the earth tremble, masterminded by the one person she cannot turn away from.

This book is the sequel to Kushiel’s Chosen, which I read a couple of years ago and picks up the storyline a few months after what happened in the end of the first book. Naturally I had some problems getting back into it as I forgot who most of the characters were and their long Italian or French names didn’t help. Also I first couldn’t remember who betrayed whom and lost the main plot a little. That was only in the beginning though and everything came back to me slowly.

The style of writing and the pacing are a lot like they were in the first book. It’s a slow built-up with beautiful language and sometimes very poetic. I liked it, just as I did with the first book.

Phèdre, who is once again our main character, is living a quiet life away from the adventurous capital and seems happy at first. But we soon realize that she is getting restless and her nature as an Anguisette makes her crave a return to where all the action takes place.

This leads to tension between her and her companion Joscelin. The relationship between both of them with all their struggles and drama and whatsoever plays an important role in this volume. I loved it to bits. The tragic, the heartbreak, everything about their relationship makes me feel for them so much. It is deep and layered and always developing. No Insta-Love here.

As I said before, the story itself is quite slow but it’s not necessarily a bad thing as the beautiful language makes up for it. Also we get to know different parts of Phèdre’s world and travel to a place that is similar to our Greece. We meet new interesting characters, get the usual amount of scheming and backstabbing and even encounter some of the major villains from the first book.

Phèdre is still quite the Mary Sue and that is one of the things that’s still annoying. She’s very beautiful (but so is everyone), but also an Anguisette which is something very rare and special. Apart from that she knows how to speak almost every language and is eager to learn more and very talented at it anyways. Somehow she is still a likeable character and very well written.

I liked the conclusion of this volume, there were a few surprises, and I will eventually pick up the last part of the trilogy.

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