Book Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Title: Kushiel’s Dart

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Series: Kushiel’s Legacy: Phedre Trilogy Book #1

Page Count: 672

Publish Date: June 23, 2001

Publisher: Tor


A nation born of angels, vast and intricate and surrounded by danger… a woman born to servitude, unknowingly given access to the secrets of the realm…

Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phédre 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, the arts of pleasure. And above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, a talented spy… and unlikely heroine. But when Phédre stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland, Terre d’Ange, she has no choice.

Betrayed into captivity in the barbarous northland of Skaldia and accompanied only by a disdainful young warrior-priest, Phédre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey to return to her people and deliver 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.

Phédre nó Delaunay is the woman who holds the keys to her realm’s deadly secrets, and whose courage will decide the very future of her world.

Kushiel’s Dart

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My Review:

Fantasy novels are my go-to when I want something new to read. The rich worlds, often filled with magic, are what draw me in. Kushiel’s Dart spent very little time on my TBR before I dove into this tome. While far from the usual fantasy novels I read, the world-building and rich storytelling in this book was its greatest appeal.

This book had me from page one. However, I must admit I was quite apprehensive at first, due to the synopsis of the book (it isn’t something I would normally read even if it is of the Fantasy genre) and because it was written in first person. I have this great dislike of books written in first person and have always said that a book in the Fantasy genre could not be written in first person, there are simply too many characters involved to pull it off. Well, Jacqueline Carey proved me wrong in this.

I must admit that I found the first four hundred pages or so a bit slow, not enough to turn me off reading but enough that I will willing to put the book down at any moment, the middle of a chapter or the middle of a paragraph it didn’t matter, I could set it down. But the moment it left my fingers I was reaching for it again, I just had to know what was going to happen next. The thing that really kept me glued to the pages was the intrigue of the book, the various mysteries that surrounded the numerous characters, and the bits of information that trickled in taunting you with the possibilities of answers but also leading to even more questions. And then of course there was the mystery surrounding Anafiel Delaunay. I kept wondering just who he was and what his true purpose was.

Even as some of the mysteries came to light, revealing answers I may have guessed at, and in most cases did not see coming, I was still enthralled with what would happen next. After the first half of the book, there was nothing that could make me put it down. Each paragraph and each chapter had me begging for more. Phedere is a strong character who kept surprising me along the way, I knew she was clever and well-versed in many things thanks to the training Delaunay saw her do, but even then I was impressed by the things she pulled off.

The sex scenes, if I can truly call them that, weren’t what I would expect out of this sort of book, considering what Phedere was. However, I did find them also disappointing. It seemed that they focused so much on her pleasurable torment that it was added as more of an afterthought at the end of ‘Oh and they also had sex’. That being said, I have never been afraid of reading sex scenes, but I felt that this book somewhat needed them, or at least needed better ones. The one scene I was dying to have better detail of was between Phedere and Josceline. I saw it coming and was glad it was happening, but again found myself disappointed at what was played out in that scene.

With all the characters in this book, I was very interested in their role in the puzzle pieces. How would they affect the next piece? Would they reveal who they truly were or continue to wear a mask that hides things? So many questions and as the book came to an end I realized how many are yet to be answered. Those answers will of course come in the next book and perhaps even the third book in the series. One thing I am looking forward to is finding out what will happen with Melisande, a character I both hate and love.

Have you read Kushiel’s Dart? What did you think of it?

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