The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land beautiful and its people welcoming and it was here that Elu and those angels who came from heaven to walk with him made their home in ages past. The ensuing race, the D’Angelines, that rose from the seed of angels and men live this day by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
There is a strong sexual component to these books but not in a gratuitous and unnecessary manner, the sensual aspect of these books is not the point of the tale but it is a part of the culture and is woven skillfully into the story that tracks the journey of the wonderful characters we’re introduced to by Jacqueline Carey. I am not normally drawn to such stories but the richness of the writing and the amazing wealth of detail given to the setting draws you in as much as the intricately drawn characters.
For those with a love of ancient cultures you will recognize various versions of different lands traveled to in this series as well as the variety of religions down through the ages. This is no tawdry collection of erotic moments linked with little care for the story itself but a rich evocative tale woven through with sensuality as the characters face such circumstances that would test the mettle of most. Underlying all this is the potent message of a land built on the premise of Love As Thou Wilt, which while sounding simple is much more complex as love is not always used well and the knowledge that the love of power or money is still love.
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. But she is far more than that ,in their culture they subscribe to the idea that at times the gods feel such pain for humanity that from time to time will choose a mortal to bear it for them. To endure with compassion and be the tool of Kushiel who prior to his fall was known as The Punisher of God.
Mighty Kushiel of rod and weal/Late of the brazen portals/With blood-tipped dart, a wound unhealed/Pricks the eyes of chosen mortals – Jacqueline Carey
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. In time those who would discount her learn all to well that which yields is not always weak.
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 and like Dune the story continues in Kushiel’s Chosen and then in the battle for much more than a crown in Kushiels Avatar.
This trilogy is the first arc in this Kushiel Cycle which is followed with another trilogy set in the years following Kushiel’s Avatar and brings closure too much that was left for us to ponder on after reading the first three books. I will be adding an overview similar to this one for the next trilogy in the next few days.
You may have noticed that unlike a number of the reviews you find here at WordPress I haven’t gone into great detail regarding the story itself, this is simply because I’ve always found the joy is in the reading and would want you to approach these books without a preconceived idea regarding the plot itself as I find ‘spoilers’ a bit tiresome myself. I will say that it is one that took me to such interesting places and brought such joy and sorrow and the need to know what happened as any book I have ever read.
In the genre of Fantasy/Romance [not a usual favorite of mine] I think it is a stand out and have re-read it many times and each time I find something new to enjoy. So I hope you take the chance to have a read as I am sure it will captivate you as it did me.