For July's book club, we read Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. Here's what I thought!
***Kushiel’s Dart far exceeded my expectations! Even though I had been meaning to read this book for a while now, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t still a little bit hesitant to start. Mainly because the book is really long (1015 pages!), dense and would most likely be filled with political intrigue (not always a favorite for me). And yet, none of that mattered because the book was good. Like really good. I was so impressed with the author’s level of detail when it came to world-building and just the scope of her imagination. It was definitely different from any other fantasy book I had read before.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is from Terre d'Ange, a land that thrives on beauty, grace and loving unapologetically. So when she's born with a scarlet mote in her left eye that's presumed to be an imperfection, she's sold into servitude as a child to one of Terre d'Ange's many temples. But even as a young child, we see this spark of intelligence and fire that only grows when someone finally recognizes who and what she is. And that person is Anafiel Delaunay who knows that she's pricked by Kushiel's Dart (hence the mote!) and chosen by that goddess to experience pain and pleasure as one. He takes Phèdre under his wing as a protégé and that's when her story truly begins. She essentially becomes trained to be his spy and uses not only the skills he's cultivated in her but also that of a courtesan's. The book ultimately comes down to Phèdre unraveling the tangled weave of intrigue around her, surviving at all costs, taking down the villian and coming to terms with herself.
But while the story and writing alone impressed me, it was really the characters that reeled me in. As I said Phèdre is unapologetically herself and I love the ownership she strongly displayed over her decisions, her body and her desires. If you read the synopsis and are wary of the S&M undertones, don't be. It may be a huge part of who Phèdre is but it's actually tastefully done and not gratuitous at all. As the book progresses, there are many people who make an impact in her life. My favorites being: Anafiel, Alcuin (a fellow protégé who's more like a foster brother), Joscelin Verreuil (a special warrior assigned to protect Phèdre that I totally loved) and her best friend Hyacinthe. I wish she had had a female friend to confide in but the latter two guys are so great that I almost didn't notice.
Book Club QuestionsFor every series we read, we'll be answering the same three questions at the end of our mini-reviews.
Favorite book | Since I only read one book so far, I'd have to say this one!
Favorite character | It's a tie between Phèdre and Joscelin.
Would you read more from this author? | Yes! But I will say her books are a commitment. I want to continue the series but I'll probably take my time doing so and revisit this world again later.
For those of you who read the series with us,
what did you think?
Also, make sure to check out Alexa's thoughts on the series!